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Drainage had an impact, of course. Other important habitat was lost, too, including grasslands and native prairies — landscapes we never recovered in sufficient number or size.
An indifferent citizenry was to blame for much of this, as was ineffective conservation leadership. Long gone were the DNR conservation hardliners of old.
Anyway, little by little, Minnesota hunters gave up on ducks. Or they hunted them in other states.
Then things got really weird. With habitat fast disappearing, the DNR, rather than promoting conservation to the public at large, and instead of establishing more refuges to hold ducks in the state longer, or limiting the hours hunters could shoot to give ducks a place to rest — instead the DNR expanded hunting opportunities.
Think about it: Minnesota had an early goose season, beginning Sept. 1. Then Youth Waterfowl, followed by the regular duck opener. All in the first three weeks or so of September.
I thought northern states were supposed to protect their breeding duck populations, not shoot them disproportionately on their home waters.
You’re thinking old school, grandson. By 2014, the DNR had decided to sustain duck hunting — and sell licenses — by putting as many guns in the field as early in the season as possible, to increase the kill.
But the last straw for duck hunting in Minnesota?
That would be the seven-day September teal season the DNR initiated in 2014 in which one “mistake’’ duck — you know, a hen mallard — could be killed.
It all worked. For a while. Then, about five years ago, in 2020, there were no more ducks in the state, in September or any other time, just a remnant population here and there.
And that’s how duck hunting died in Minnesota.
Dennis Anderson • firstname.lastname@example.org
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