Carrol Henderson: Champion of Minnesota's nongame wildlife

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH
  • Updated: March 13, 2013 - 12:14 AM
hide

Carrol Henderson, head of the DNR's non-game wildlife program for 35 years.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Carrol Henderson has raised Minnesota’s nongame wildlife program since it hatched 36 years ago, fostering both species and good will.

Standing on Mississippi River shoreline, gazing at hundreds of trumpeter swans cavorting there, Carrol Henderson can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction.

Once nearly absent from the state, the huge birds with 7-foot wingspans were reintroduced in the 1980s through the efforts of several agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources nongame wildlife program, headed by Henderson. Now, more than 5,000 trumpeters thrive here, including the hundreds that gather each winter on the Mississippi River near Monticello.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling,’’ said Henderson, who played a key role in jump-starting the population with trumpeter eggs from Alaska.

The recovery of Minnesota’s swans is one of the biggest success stories of the state’s nongame wildlife program, launched 36 years ago. Henderson, 66, is the oft-recognized face of the program he’s headed since its inception. One of the first such programs in the nation, it also is credited with helping restore the peregrine falcon and bluebird populations as well as reintroducing otters to western Minnesota and monitoring the state’s beloved loons.

In all, the program is responsible for more than 700 nongame species.

“Carrol has been one of the biggest household names the DNR has had,’’ said Steve Hirsch, director of the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division. “He’s so passionate and committed to nongame wildlife that he inspires others to feel that way, too."

Though once a one-man show, the program now has 16 employees working around the state to help nongame wildlife. Volunteers, groups and other agencies have been instrumental in the program’s success, too, he said.

“Ours is a tiny program,’’ he said. “We can’t do all the work. We’ll never have enough money. But if we get people inspired to help wildlife through our program, it multiplies itself many times over.’’

Henderson has kindled citizen interest by authoring five books for the DNR, including “Landscaping for Wildlife,” “Woodworking for Wildlife,” “Wild About Birds: The DNR Bird Feeding Guide,’’ and “Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality.’’ More than 250,000 copies have been sold.

“If you can show people what they can do on their own property, they’ll do it,’’ Henderson said. “People say it’s changed their lives.’’

The nongame wildlife program is unusual in that it is almost entirely dependent on donations.

“People think we get money from the lottery and from the Game and Fish Fund [from hunting and fishing license fees], but we don’t,’’ said the DNR’s Lori Naumann.

A tax-form checkoff was launched in 1980, allowing state taxpayers to donate to the program. Last year, 66,000 residents gave more than $1 million. That generated another $1 million match from the state’s critical habitat license plate program, which is funded by citizens voluntarily paying an extra $30 or more for a wildlife license plate. And the program got another $700,000 in matching federal grants.

It turns out Henderson probably has been the largest donor. All royalties from his DNR books — more than $250,000 so far — have gone to the program.

While Minnesotans have consistently donated more than $1 million to the program via the tax checkoffs, there are concerns.

“The number of people contributing has been declining, though the amount they give has increased,’’ said Naumann. Twenty years ago, 130,000 people gave an average of $7.37. Last year, the 66,000 contributors — about 2 percent of those who filed tax returns — gave an average of $16.14.

“I know more than 2 percent of our population cares about wildlife,’’ Henderson said. The falloff might be tied to the passing of older, conservation-minded citizens.

“We’re losing them, like older hunters and anglers,’’ he said. “We have to make a more concerted effort to reach young people and create future conservationists.’’

Some recent wildlife issues have hurt donations, too, Henderson said. The reinstatement of a mourning dove hunting season in 2004, the launching of a sandhill crane hunting season in 2010, and the opening of a wolf hunting season last fall are examples.

“We got letters, phone calls, e-mails” from people opposed to hunting those species, said Naumann.

A remote video camera that peers into an eagles’ nest near the Twin Cities is one way the program has tried to reach more people this winter. Three eggs produced by the adult pair failed to hatch, but the live feed, available on the DNR’s website, generated 100,000 unique viewers and $1,700 in donations, some from out of state.

Meanwhile, Henderson said he’s still having too much fun to retire.
“This is such a rewarding job, I don’t see a good reason to head out the door.’’
 

 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Washington
Golden State 6:30 PM
Miami
Detroit 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Sacramento 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8:00 PM
Denver
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Columbus
Ottawa 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Nashville
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Arizona
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Calgary 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 57 FINAL
North Florida 77
MD-Eastern Shore 55 2nd Half 0:10
Bucknell 53
Western Carolina 70 FINAL
Georgia State 85
BYU 111 2nd Half 4:23
Chaminade 79
Evansville 12 1st Half 10:37
Green Bay 6
Alabama 6:00 PM
Arizona State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
SE Missouri St 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
NC Central 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Columbia
Citadel 6:00 PM
Florida State
Houston 6:00 PM
Harvard
William Peace 6:00 PM
High Point
Texas-Arlington 6:00 PM
Kentucky
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
La Salle
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Chicago State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Ark-Pine Bluff 6:00 PM
Ohio
Hartford 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Jackson State 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Long Island 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Hofstra 6:00 PM
South Florida
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Loyola-Maryland 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Penn 6:00 PM
Temple
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toledo
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Virginia
Northern Iowa 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Western Ill 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Ohio Valley 6:00 PM
Wofford
Toccoa Falls 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Mount Ida 6:00 PM
UMass Lowell
Kansas State 6:30 PM
Arizona
Binghamton 6:30 PM
Army
Central Arkansas 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Howard 6:30 PM
UMBC
VA Commonwealth 6:30 PM
Oregon
Akron 6:30 PM
Penn State
Arkansas 6:30 PM
SMU
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Bradley
Eastern Ill 7:00 PM
Creighton
St Xavier 7:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
Nebraska
NC A&T 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Columbia International 7:00 PM
SC State
Troy 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
St Francis-PA 7:00 PM
Texas
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Southern U 7:00 PM
Tulane
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Jarvis Christian 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
MN-Crookston 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
Lamar 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
IUPUI 7:05 PM
Drake
San Francisco 7:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Charlotte
Air Force 8:00 PM
Colorado
Boise State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Louisiana 8:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Maryland 8:30 PM
Iowa State
Northwestern 8:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Villanova 9:00 PM
Michigan
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Bristol University 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Cal State Fullerton 10:00 PM
USC
Delaware 10:00 PM
Stanford
Ohio U 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
UMKC 48 FINAL
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 69 FINAL
LSU 67
Tulsa 67 FINAL
Texas Southern 64
SE Missouri St 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
Air Force 28 2nd Half 7:29
Army 64
Towson 40 2nd Half 13:09
UMBC 28
St Bonaventure 23 2nd Half
Penn State 24
Johnson C. Smith 5:00 PM
NC A&T
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
SC State
Texas-El Paso 4 1st Half 13:30
Kansas State 12
Cheyney 12 1st Half 10:30
MD-Eastern Shore 17
Winthrop 11 1st Half 11:30
NC Central 1
Quinnipiac 10 1st Half 10:23
(2) Notre Dame 29
Buffalo 5:30 PM
(8) Duke
Washington St 6:00 PM
Hampton
Bryant 6:00 PM
Brown
Vermont 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
St Francis-NY 6:00 PM
NJIT
(21) Rutgers 6:00 PM
Wagner
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 6:00 PM
Monmouth
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
UCF
SIU-Edwardsville 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Howard
Fordham 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Drexel
Liberty 6:00 PM
Elon
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Penn
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Akron
Grambling 6:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Western Ky 6:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Arizona State 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Charleston Southern 6:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Southern 6:00 PM
(22) Georgia
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Mercer
Hillsdale 6:00 PM
Eastern Michigan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Rider
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
George Mason 6:00 PM
Navy
High Point 6:00 PM
Davidson
Old Dominion 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
SW Assemblies 6:30 PM
Houston Baptist
LSU-Alexandria 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Wofford 6:30 PM
Jacksonville St
ULM 7:00 PM
(25) Miss State
Morgan State 7:00 PM
(20) Oklahoma St
Lyon 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Lamar 7:00 PM
Texas State
Mobile 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
St Edwards 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 7:00 PM
(17) Iowa
Southern U 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Harvard 7:00 PM
Holy Cross
Colorado 8:00 PM
Denver
Portland State 8:00 PM
Oregon
Montana State 8:00 PM
San Diego
Idaho 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
Boise State
Nevada 9:30 PM
San Francisco
Yale 10:59 PM
Alaska-Anchorage
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close