2012 outdoors in review: Wet and wild

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2012 - 1:33 AM
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The St. Louis River raged out of control in June. Among the damage done in northeastern Minnesota was the wiped-out swinging bridge in Jay Cooke State Park.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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From balmy winter temperatures that cut the ice-fishing season short, to the controversial inaugural wolf hunting season, to new roadside checks for boaters — for outdoors enthusiasts, 2012 was a year to remember.

Here’s a look at some highlights:

Wolves targeted

The state's first managed wolf hunt was expected to be controversial, and it was. But there were surprises: More than 23,000 people applied for 6,000 licenses. And when the Legislature required the wolf hunting season to coincide with the firearms deer season, some thought deer hunters with wolf licenses wouldn't have much luck bagging the canines. Wrong. They killed 147. The historic season is almost over -- more than 300 wolves have been killed -- but the controversy isn't. One lawsuit has been filed to try to stop the season, and another is expected. Legislators also could weigh in.

Checking boats

The DNR ramped up efforts in 2012 to stop the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil. Officers checked nearly 18,000 boaters and issued 2,500 citations and warnings -- a 14 percent violation rate. And for the first time, officers conducted random roadside checks, where the violation rate was 31 percent. Bottom line: A significant percentage of the state's 2.3 million boaters are still violating the law, risking the spread of invasive species to other waters.

Invasive species spread

Zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species continue to spread to Minnesota waters. This year, officials found zebra mussels in a small Iron Range mine pit lake ominously close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. And they were confirmed in Lake Minnewaska -- the first in the Minnesota River watershed to be infected. And more Asian carp -- bighead, silver and grass -- are showing up in Minnesota's rivers, too.

Weird weather

Thawed by unseasonably warm temperatures, many Minnesota lakes shattered ice-out records last spring, ending the ice-fishing season early. Bummer. The ice was gone so quickly that the Legislature considered, but rejected, moving up the fishing opener by a week. Then a torrent in June flooded northeastern Minnesota, while drought gripped much of southern Minnesota.

Saying farewell

We lost some giants in the outdoors world in 2012. Among them: Ray Ostrom, 85, of Bloomington, and business partner Ron Weber, 84, of Edina, who changed fishing forever when they began importing hand-carved Rapala baits in 1959. Also Don McMillan, 74, of Mendota Heights, former president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, all-around good guy who promoted Minnesota's Legacy Amendment and the constitutional amendment to preserve hunting and fishing.

Other news

• Mille Lacs walleyes were again in the spotlight: DNR gill-net surveys showed a declining number of male walleyes and a drop in the overall walleye population to the lowest levels in 40 years. Officials are trying to figure out what's happening.

• Three miles of Mississippi River shoreline and 2,000 acres of woods in Crow Wing County will be protected and open for public use, using $11 million in Legacy Act money.

• State waterfowl hunters saw, for the first time, three separate hunting zones and split seasons. The goal was to maximize hunting opportunities.

Where are the deer?

Total deer harvest for 2012 isn't yet known because archers remain in the field until Dec. 31, but there is little doubt the whitetail kill will be less than in 2011. And last year's harvest was 7 percent less than in 2010. Officials expected the decline this season because fewer antlerless permits were issued in many areas -- an attempt to reduce harvest to boost deer numbers. Officials think it's working.

From balmy winter temperatures that cut the ice-fishing season short, to the controversial inaugural wolf hunting season, to new roadside checks for boaters -- for outdoors enthusiasts, 2012 was a year to remember. Here's a look at some highlights:

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Detroit 95 FINAL
Washington 99
Atlanta 93 FINAL
Miami 91
Toronto 98 FINAL
New York 103
Memphis 101 FINAL
Minnesota 97
Brooklyn 104 FINAL
Dallas 94
Milwaukee 75 FINAL
Utah 82
San Antonio 101 FINAL
Phoenix 74
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
New Jersey 2 FINAL
Columbus 0
Arizona 1 FINAL
Boston 4
Toronto 0 FINAL
Montreal 4
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Colorado 1
St. Louis 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Ottawa 4 FINAL
San Jose 2
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
Utah State 74 FINAL
Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
Oakland 63 FINAL
Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
Campbell 65 FINAL
Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 FINAL
Kansas 69
Chattanooga 61 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 58
SE Louisiana 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 74
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 64
Old Dominion 70 FINAL
North Texas 57
Arkansas State 60 FINAL
Texas State 70
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Tennessee St 62 FINAL
Belmont 88
Princeton 80 FINAL
Brown 62
Dartmouth 56 FINAL
Cornell 45
Tennessee 49 FINAL
Florida 66
Jacksonville St 55 FINAL
Morehead State 87
San Jose St 51 FINAL
Nevada 62
Florida A&M 65 FINAL
NC A&T 77
Iowa 81 FINAL
Penn State 77
Loyola Marymount 49 FINAL
Pepperdine 65
Miss State 68 FINAL
South Carolina 81
Savannah State 68 FINAL
SC State 57
Miss Valley St 49 FINAL
Jackson State 73
Alcorn State 63 FINAL
Southern U 71
Harvard 80 FINAL
Columbia 70
George Washington 66 FINAL
Davidson 77
Syracuse 54 FINAL
Duke 73
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Eastern Ky 70
UNC-Wilmington 55 FINAL
Elon 74
Stony Brook 74 FINAL
Hartford 59
Northwestern 60 FINAL
Illinois 86
Western Ill 64 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Buffalo 71 FINAL
Kent State 65
Incarnate Word 66 FINAL
Lamar 79
Cal State Fullerton 47 FINAL
Long Beach State 70
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
Fla Atlantic 63 FINAL
Marshall 79
Richmond 63 FINAL
Saint Josephs 57
George Mason 78 FINAL
Saint Louis 50
Austin Peay 65 FINAL
SE Missouri St 89
Ball State 59 FINAL
Toledo 70
Penn 50 FINAL
Yale 55
Milwaukee 82 FINAL
Youngstown St 74
Stetson 71 FINAL
North Florida 86
USC Upstate 65 FINAL
Northern Ky 84
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 70
Abilene Christian 55 FINAL
New Orleans 75
Murray State 73 FINAL
UT Martin 67
Hampton 68 FINAL
Howard 67
Prairie View 75 FINAL
Alabama A&M 72
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 56
Tulsa 74 FINAL
Memphis 72
Wyoming 57 FINAL
UNLV 69
Central Mich 55 FINAL
Northern Ill 73
Denver 57 FINAL
Oral Roberts 60
Charlotte 77 FINAL
Rice 76
Boise State 56 FINAL
San Diego St 46
St Marys-CA 70 FINAL
Santa Clara 71
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Southern Miss 63
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 61 FINAL
Western Ky 77
Stephen F Austin 102 FINAL
Houston Baptist 87
Grambling St 57 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Ga Southern 58 FINAL
Louisiana 68
Auburn 55 FINAL
Texas A&M 80
Ark-Little Rock 73 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 82
Sam Houston St 59 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 61
Arizona 63 FINAL
Utah 57
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Northern Colorado 76
UC Davis 66 FINAL
Cal Poly 56
New Mexico 55 FINAL
Fresno State 59
BYU 73 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Pacific 55 FINAL
San Francisco 65
Idaho State 57 FINAL
Weber State 61
Sacramento St 73 FINAL
Portland State 60
UC Riverside 76 FINAL
CS-Northridge 83
Washington 55 FINAL
USC 70
CS-Bakersfield 43 FINAL
Seattle 53
UC Irvine 51 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Southern U 76
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 88 FINAL
FIU 47
UAB 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Georgia Southern 35 FINAL
Louisiana 62
Grambling 59 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Ark-Little Rock 48 FINAL
TX-Arlington 38
Cornell 33 FINAL
Dartmouth 54
Columbia 81 FINAL
Harvard 82
Brown 67 FINAL
(14) Princeton 79
USC 62 FINAL
Washington St 68
(24) California 55 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 73
Yale 33 FINAL
Penn 59
Murray State 74 FINAL
UT Martin 87
Loyola-Maryland 50 FINAL
Navy 59
Jacksonville 47 FINAL
(21) Fla Gulf Coast 78
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 62
Rice 59 FINAL
Charlotte 78
Colgate 61 FINAL
Lehigh 60
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
UC-Riverside 70
Kansas 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 58
Oklahoma St 47 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
New Mexico St 80
North Dakota 66 FINAL
Southern Utah 73
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67
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