Coyote hunters have been out in force in southern Minnesota over the past two weeks for an activity showing signs of growth.

Carrol Henderson, nongame wildlife program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said the state's annual harvest from hunting and trapping ranges from 17,000 to 44,000 coyotes, with numbers influenced by pelt prices.

"Long-term trends show numbers up in the agricultural/prairie region and down in the northern forested zone," Henderson said.

DNR Conservation Officer Thor Nelson said Tuesday that the sport is attracting new participants in the region he covers out of New Ulm.

While coyotes are unprotected and can be hunted year-around in Minnesota, winter brings out the most hunters.

Snow cover makes the animals easier to detect and their fur is in peak condition.

But Nelson said the trend in his area is probably driven more by sporting interest than fur values. Coyote hunting contests are more in vogue, and Nelson said he fielded a lot of questions last weekend from entrants in a Wabasso area contest.

"The sport is definitely growing in popularity," Nelson said.

Honors for six, Carstens

Pro Football Hall of Fame member and former Vikings coach Bud Grant was inducted into the Minnesota Waterfowl Association (MWA) Hall of Fame on Saturday in ceremonies that honored six individuals and Carstens Industries, a Minnesota maker of duck boats.

The Class of 2016 was honored by the MWA after the annual Minnesota Waterfowl Symposium, held this year at a Bloomington hotel.

Other inductees were Tim Bremicker, longtime wildlife manager for the DNR; Greg Berg, former executive director of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association; the late Oscar Quam, master decoy maker and duck caller; Jerry Raedeke, renowned wildlife artist; and Doug Smith, veteran print journalist who worked for 20 years as an outdoors writer for the Star Tribune before recently retiring.