Staff Directory 6370563

Tony Kennedy

Reporter | Outdoors
Phone: 612-673-4213

Tony Kennedy is an outdoors writer covering Minnesota news about fishing, hunting, wildlife, conservation, camping, natural resource management, public land, forests and water.

T"A Minnesota native, Kennedy lives in the Twin Cities and on land surrounding a Driftless Area trout stream. Previously, he was an investigative reporter at the Star Tribune, an Associated Press newsman and a beat writer covering the environment, aviation, state politics and police. His journalism career started at Marquette University, a small-town newspaper in Indiana and The St. Cloud Times. Kennedy's wife is an inner-city kindergarten teacher and their two boys are crazy about hockey and the outdoors.
Recent content from Tony Kennedy
Sen. Foung Hawj, D-St. Paul, has been a frequent visitor with friends and family to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Majority shift in Minn. Senate leads way for new fish and game leader

Sen. Foung Hawj's committee will deal heavily with legislation and funding around hunting, fishing, conservation and recreation.
Ice teams from four Lake of the Woods fishing resorts in the Wheelers Point area now stand united as a result of the $20 million buyout.

New owners make cold-blooded investment in ice fishing on Lake of the Woods

A pair of private investors is betting a cool $20 million after buying four distinct resorts on Wheelers Point.
Sam Harris of Maple Grove with the spike buck he shot during firearms season at his family’s camp near Fergus Falls

Deer hunters finish primary gun season with less to show

DNR says adverse weather contributed to the markedly lower harvest across Minnesota.
Whitetail harvest numbers on the opening weekend were relatively dismal.

Success lagged for many during opening weekend of deer firearms season

In a slow start, hunters in Minnesota took 23% fewer whitetails than during 2021 opener.
Andrew Weber of Woodbury in a tree stand on opening morning with his daughter Julia, 13. The two were keeping a 50-year tradition of hunting with clos

Father, daughter match wits with whitetails in Crow Wing County

On public land, two Twin Cities families continue 50 years of tradition on the opening of the firearms deer season.
Changes in agriculture, better access to hunting areas due to drought and a cultural shift toward passing on young bucks have helped upgrade this year

To experience Minnesota's deer hunting boom, drive ... south?

Exceeding other parts of the state, the deer harvest has been growing based on a population that is stable to increasing.
Jared Mazurek is the new executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

State's largest deer hunting organization hires educator as new executive director

A native Minnesotan involved in environmental education in Colorado has been chosen as the new executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.
A pair of whitetail bucks pause while feeding in a soybean field during the early morning in Rusk County this summer.

As deer opener nears, many Minnesota hunters face new rules

CWD testing will be mandatory on opening weekend in eight disease management zones, including two new ones.
Ice fishing season is fast approaching. When anglers arrive at Upper Red Lake, they’ll be greeted with reminders and tools for proper disposal of ru

Red Lake ice anglers will see new emphasis on sanitation

Pollution fighters are trying to steer human biowaste and trash off the ice.
Retired Minnesota DNR forester Jim Kelley looks up at large white pine trees, some 200 years or older, in the Cloquet Valley State Forest Friday, Sept

On Minnesota's DNR hunting lands, intensified logging rattles wildlife managers

Current and retired managers criticize some of the "cords and boards" practices of tree harvesting. The DNR commissioner says changes will be made if needed.
Jackson Davis, 13, of Owatonna, has lived for duck hunting since he was 7. Last weekend, he took advantage of the experimental early teal season along

Results vary for teal and goose hunters as waterfowl season opens

Geese were wary and hard to find, but a number of teal hunters were delighted by ample flocks.
A farm-raised whitetail buck inside the hunting grounds at a Todd Co. deer farm. Trophy hunts also have been part of the business at a Winona County d

CWD found on prominent deer farm in Winona County

The herd owner, whose brother heads the Minnesota Senate, responded with an anti-government rant.
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association executive director Craig Engwall  is taking a newly created position at the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resou

Another Minnesota hunters' group is searching for a new leader

Craig Engwall is leaving the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to return to state government.
Tyler Winter, an environmental scientist and champion of Minnesota’s native rough fish, with a bigmouth buffalo he caught this week in the Twin Citi

Fresh look at rough fish and their protection builds steam

The DNR dodged a legislative push to intensify efforts to protect native rough fish, but the movement to protect them lives on.
Sam “Sobi” Sobieck has given up other job opportunities in the fishing industry to pursue his passion for self-made fishing and outdoor adventure

Minnesota man lives dream of fishing for a living with 'Sobi' YouTube videos

Sam Sobieck has developed a growing fan base by mixing friendship and fun into a series of four-season outdoors adventures.
Republican state Sen. Carrie Ruud, who headed the Environment and Natural Resource Policy and Legacy Finance Committee, is leaving the Senate after bu

Outdoors champion Carrie Ruud leaving the Senate

The Republican state senator from Breezy Point talks about sour politics and success in her fights for conservation, hunting, fishing, parks and trails.
Cora Gross, of Walker-Hackensack Akeley High school fist bumped a teammate during competition in the Class-3A-Trap match up at the Alexandria Shooting

Shooting stars: Thousands of young trap shooters flocking to Alexandria tournament

There aren't any tryouts and kids sign up as early as sixth grade for their school teams, where they compete for high-gun and all-state honors, as well as spots in next week's state tournament in Prior Lake.
Ely area native Willy Vosburgh is one of 18 BWCA outfitters authorized by the U.S. Forest Service to tow canoe groups on established routes to speed t

Hitchin' a ride in the BWCA - but for how long?

In limited areas of canoe country, small motorboats can jet you to the edge of the back country. But those days may be numbered by a long-simmering legal push to crack down on motorized towboats.
Now that the COVID-19 fishing boom of 2020 and 2021 has subsided, DNR officials wonder how far fishing license sales will slide. As of the Friday befo

DNR official: Weather, license sales created 'crummy spring' for fishing

Minnesota's collective impulse to fish over the past two years has faded as travel and leisure choices have multiplied, returning closer to normal.
Newly formed Lake Country Air is based in South St. Paul, but it’s bread-and-butter business is flying to and from the south shore of Lake of the Wo

Closed roads give rise to charters to Northwest Angle, other remote areas

Leave South St. Paul at 6 a.m. and be fishing on the Northwest Angle three hours later? Road closures during the pandemic led to a flight service that has proven popular with metro-area anglers.
Terry Vollmer of Birchdale caught his limit of walleyes and saugers on the fast-flowing Rainy River by 11 a.m.

High water, high spirits converge on opening day on Rainy River

If you could tuck away from the Rainy River's fast-flowing current on Saturday, the walleyes were biting.
Stocking walleyes in Minnesota: Where science meets the trophy shot

Stocking walleyes in Minnesota: Where science meets the trophy shot

This Minnesota Fishing Opener, here is a look at the life cycle of a stocked walleye, so key to a healthy population of the state's signature fish.
DNR fisheries biologists capture walleyes in order to develop management plans for premier fishing lakes. The science is key to sustaining good fishin

Forum leaders say it's time to reinvest in fishing in Minnesota

First-ever fishing summit by anglers' group pushes for hatchery upgrades and boat launch fixes.
Didymo, or Rock Snot, clings to rocks underwater in the Onion River on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

'Rock Snot' algae mystery has researchers blitzing the North Shore

Aiming to protect fish in Lake Superior, teams race to understand a messy invader previously foreign to trout streams Up North.
A deer, caught on a hunter’s trail camera, trudged through deep snow in St. Louis County this winter

Winter conditions keep grip Up North, but whitetails show resilience

Also: Minnesota loses an original Lessard-Sams council member, and the walleye bag is raised on Upper Red Lake.
Ice fishing’s popularity has increased, and one byproduct has been more overnights at ice shelters at places like Lake of the Woods.

Ice fishing trash problems persist on popular Minnesota waters

As the activity soars in popularity, discarding human waste adds to complexity of garbage problem on Red Lake and Lake of the Woods.
Indian Lake Wildlife Management Area started years ago with a parcel sold by a conservation-minded landowner who was done farming.

'Just a beautiful complex': Minnesota maps new hunting and wildlife areas full of benefits

Many to the south, the new Wildlife Management Areas total almost 5,300 acres.
Gov. Tim Walz laughed while fishing in a traditional opening-day entourage during the 2019 Governor’s Fishing Opener in Albert Lea.

New-look Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener is heavy on talk

Gov. Tim Walz will fish on opening day, but the state's celebration of fishing and tourism will steer attention elsewhere.
The Fish and Wildlife Division will stick to the status quo on leadership jobs, but will strive for more collaboration. An example was last year’s f

DNR's two-person leadership of fish and wildlife won't be blended

The decision ends more than two years of angst for active and retired resource managers who opposed the idea of unifying leadership jobs that now run in pairs.
A Department of Natural Resources wildlife supervisor tagged a buck and a doe taken by a hunter to the mandatory CWD sampling station in Crosby in the

DNR will monitor statewide after chronic wasting disease case in Grand Rapids

The move was prompted by the detection of the lethal disease in a whitetail deer for the first time in Grand Rapids.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty found humor in his first catch during 2009’s Governor’s Fishing Opener on White Bear Lake. His wife, Mary, was in on the laugh.

A pivot away from traditional Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener is at hand

One DNR official said there was no "oomph'' among potential host communities to take on the challenge.
The St. Croix River as seen from Afton State Park. Metro rivers would benefit from conservation projects proposed in this year’s Outdoor Heritage Fu

Metro habitat projects win record share of Legacy Amendment dollars

$26 million distribution includes acquisition and preservation of big woods in city of Rogers.
A whitetail deer caught on trail camera in northeastern Minnesota on Jan. 5. The temp was 5 degrees below zero and the snow was nearly to her belly. I

Minnesota's severe winter burdening deer Up North, could affect hunting

Misery for deer is arriving after two months of energy-sapping snow depths and unrelenting stretches of subzero temperatures. Some are starving, others have lost their wariness of people.
Former state Sen. Bob Lessard testified this week in favor of a bill that would restore full funding to a dedicated outdoors account.

Minnesota outdoors lovers push to recapture dedicated funding

Wheels are turning at the Legislature for the return of full funding to a dedicated account for hunting, fishing, parks and trails.
Minnesota Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, was riding this 2022 Polaris snowmobile, courtesy of Polaris Inc., when he crashed, fell and was seriously

More answers as dust settles on senators' snowmobile crash

The DNR's enforcement chief quickly informed the local sheriff that he was involved in the crash, then was startled when the sheriff's news release didn't disclose it.
The tipis at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne.

DNR's new director of state parks and trails brings science background

An agency insider, Ann Pierce was a deputy director in the ecological and water resources division.
DNR enforcement chief Col. Rodmen Smith was involved in the snowmobile crash that seriously injured state Sen. John Jasinski last week.

Snowmobile crash that seriously injured state senator included DNR enforcement chief

Rodmen Smith reported that Sen. John Jasinski's snowmobile struck his snowmobile from behind, starting a collision that ended with Jasinski under another sled.
A peewee hockey team from Cottage Grove, Minn., mixed in some ice fishing on Lake of the Woods during a tournament last weekend in Warroad. It’s bec

Hockey team faces off with walleyes on trip to Warroad

A group of local peewees took time to explore the nexus between hockey and ice fishing on a trip to the Minnesota side of Lake of the Woods.
A Minnesota deer farmer shows off antlers from genetically modified monster buck raised in captivity. The display was at outdoors show in Wisconsin in

DNR calls for tougher deer farm rules to fight chronic wasting disease

A report to lawmakers said inspections of 50 deer farms turned up 17 violations of existing rules meant to thwart lethal chronic wasting disease.
A piece of the governor’s proposed bonding and supplemental budget would strengthen the DNR’s ability to fight wildfires from the air.

Budget surplus has DNR thinking 'once-in-a-generation' investment

When the Legislature convenes next week, DNR commissioner Sarah Strommen will advocate for a major investment in fishing, wetlands, better access to recreation areas and more.
Heron Lake in far southwestern Minnesota was once considered one of North America’s most productive waterfowl lakes.

Fish and wildlife managers put 'more teeth' in southwest's Heron Lake

A new DNR management plan for the historic duck hunting area emphasizes stocking of game fish to control carp and bullheads.
BWCA outfitters aren’t happy with the 13 percent reduction in entry permit availability recently imposed by the U.S. Forest Service for 2022 and bey

BWCA outfitters say Forest Service went too far in reducing permits

Guides and others say recent decisions were made without seeking their opinions and that most of the damage to the wilderness last year was done by a small number of visitors.
Fred Pritzker

Fred Pritzker, trial lawyer, formidable adversary to Fortune 500 companies, dies at 71

Fred Pritzker, a trial lawyer who became a formidable adversary to Fortune 500 companies across the nation in matters of food poisoning, natural gas explosions…
“Don’t just feel at home — make Middle River your home!’’ That’s the slogan city officials in the goose capital of Minnesota have paired w

Free land, cable and beer: State's tiny goose capital wants you to move there

Make Middle River your home and perks include a free lot, a Sportsmen's Club membership and a $100 gift certificate to a tavern in town.
“We’re using all the tools we have to manage the wilderness to keep it as the amazing place that people love to visit,’’ said Forest Service s

Forest Service cuts access to BWCA to relieve crowding

About 23,000 fewer people will be allowed to enter the wilderness area this year under a reduction in the availability of entry permits.
DNR crews work on the enclosure project last year in Beltrami County. The state reimbursed the county for the commercial value of the timber. Total co

Minnesota deer farmer fights state over illegal carcass dump

Regulators demand he maintain and pay for a fence to protect wild deer against chronic wasting disease.
Hunters, trappers, environmentalists, tribal authorities and animal rights groups will get a look at Minnesota’s proposed wolf management plan when

Five outdoor issues in Minnesota worth watching in 2022

Changes in the hopper for wolf management, walleye limits, BWCA access, deer farms and outdoors funding.
The proposed Houston Trail project in the Driftless Area could be headed for more environmental review

Review finds stewardship gaps in motorized trail project in Houston

There is no record of the DNR following federal environmental protocol early on in the development of a Driftless Area off-roading park in the southeastern Minnesota city.
From ice fishing's ramp-up to marking the solstice, a list of winter tales

From ice fishing's ramp-up to marking the solstice, a list of winter tales

Ice fishing, the winter solstice and a last chance for hunters who are up for braving the December chill make are among the outdoor themes as 2021 winds down.
A Dakota County hunter cooperated with a CWD sampling crew in Hastings on opening day of the 2021 firearms season. Testing was mandatory on opening we

More sparks but no fire in DNR's ongoing fight against CWD

There were surprising new cases, some good news and continued persistence of chronic wasting disease in southeast Minnesota.
Testing for deer disease in the Brainerd lakes area will continue for several more hunting seasons because a whitetail recently tested positive for ch

DNR drops plan to end CWD testing after another deer tests positive near Brainerd

Testing in the Brainerd area will continue for several more hunting seasons because a whitetail recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
BWCA overnight paddling permits will be more scarce in 2022 in response to crowding in some places

Forest Service reducing access to BWCA next year in response to crowding

Outfitters were notified this week that the availability of permits required for overnight paddling trips will be reduced at select entry points.
Josh Peterson, center, has taken five deer in two states this season. His best was a wild 10-point buck taken on private land in Afton.

Blinded by a stroke at 14, his world lights up while hunting

Now 20 years old and with his father as wingman, Josh Peterson of Woodbury has been on an epic harvest of whitetails — taking five deer on outings in Minnesota and Iowa.
DNR Conservation Officer Charles Scott spotted the lost hunter from the air and directed rescuers on the ground to the location. They aided him out of

Opening weekend save: Lost hunter found, thanks to speedy call for help

Cellphones and GPS have undoubtedly boosted hunter safety during Minnesota's deer seasons, but getting lost in the woods isn't a thing of the past.
These fish were among the walleyes and saugers allegedly poached.

DNR: Walleye poachers near Baudette were 48 fish over limit

Three Twin Cities area men who went fishing instead of hunting during opening weekend of the deer season were caught poaching from Rainy River and Lake of the Woods, according to charges.
Darla Fisher, 82, has leaned on family and friends to transform her 80 acres of woodland and prairie into a haven for monster bucks.

82-year-old Wisconsin woman loves to hunt: 'I want to shoot big deer'

Darla Fisher, a kindhearted 82-year-old great-grandmother in western Wisconsin, would rather hunt than quilt.
Of the 58,370 deer harvested on opening weekend, more than 57 percent were adult bucks. The overall kill was 11% below last year’s harvest on openin

Deer harvest lags on Minnesota's opening weekend

Wildlife managers still hoping to match 2020 harvest of nearly 200,000 whitetails.
evin Hinrichs, 61, of Bloomington, with the 10-point buck he shot on opening day of the 2021 firearms deer season. He didn’t miss when his opportuni

Adrenaline, reflection mix in Minnesota hunter's big moment

Bloomington's Kevin Hinrichs takes the buck of his lifetime.
Jeff Pedersen, center, is flanked by two sons, Karl, left, and Gene. It was Gene, 15, a student at Tartan High School, who harvested the deer early S

Fair skies, antsy bucks greet deer hunters on Opening Day

Youth hunters at Afton State Park saw lots of movement while similar success was fount at CWD checkpoints near Hastings.
The Department of Natural Resources is encouraging hunters to have a plan if they are hunting in zones that require testing. Dumpsters are provided at

Deer hunters crucial to Minnesota's fight against chronic wasting disease

Far more deer will be tested on opening weekend than ever before.
OHV stands for Off-Highway Vehicle and these lawn signs in Houston, Minn., express local opposition to a high-density, motorized vehicle trail project

DNR scrutinized for its review of a proposed motorized trail complex in southern Minn.

Federal officials want to know if the DNR upheld review standards while shepherding a project meant to attract off-roaders to the blufflands town of Houston.
Scott Ward of Inver Grove Heights with a rooster he took near Madelia. He was part of a four-person hunting party that saw a surprisingly good number

Pheasant opener in Madelia bright, merry and birdy

Madelia is the self-proclaimed "Pheasant Capital of Minnesota'' and Saturday it delivered an impressive supply of ringnecks
State wildlife officials are scrambling to protect Minnesota’s herd.

New crackdown could halt captive deer movement for year or more

The DNR is banning movement of farmed whitetail deer once again to protect against spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, which threatens to ruin the state's $1.3 billion deer hunting economy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned that DNR logging decisions on public hunting and recreation lands don’t always prioritize wildlife ha

Fish & Wildlife Service leans on Minnesota DNR to correct course on logging

Conditions placed on outdoors grant money to ensure wildlife, hunting and other recreation receives proper priority.
Chaska’s Jim Hautman won this year’s competition for the 2022-2023 Federal Duck Stamp with this acrylic painting of a pair of redheads afloat in h

Minnesota's duck stamp dynasty still flying high

Wildlife artist Jim Hautman won his sixth federal duck stamp contest, adding to the painting fame he shares with two brothers.
DNR has spent $14 million in tax dollars to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease among wild deer. The agency’s biologists have linked some o

Interest grows in stopping spread of CWD in Minnesota

Hunters, tribes, conservation groups and St. Louis County call on state to get rid of deer farms.
Climatologists foresee the northeastern boreal forest receding or going away, possibly as early as 2070.

Wildlife managers foresee winners, losers as climate change alters Minnesota forests

Elk relocation project exemplifies long-range forest wildlife planning in the era of climate change.
In spring the male ruffed grouse proclaims his property rights by engaging in a “drumming” display.

Gearing up, Minnesota grouse hunters will head out hopeful

Spring drumming counts were down, but good nesting conditions bode well for the harvest.
A mother moose returned to check on her calves as she foraged at dusk July 13 on Topaz Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Nature's way: Fire in the wilderness a positive for wildlife who live there

As the Greenwood fire threatened to spread to historic proportions this week, people who manage the forest couldn't help but think of a vivid silver lining.
Miranda Klassen, 14, (left) and her sister Ava, 11, pose inside a cutout in the lobby of this summer’s Grand American trap shooting competition in S

Caught up in trapshooting, Minnesota farm family blasts away for fun and glory

The Klassen family embodies a sporting movement that has swept 11,000 Minnesota high school kids into team shootouts at local gun clubs and larger tournament venues.
The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with record sales of firearms have created a shortage of ammunition in the United States that has impacting competition

Hunters beset by ongoing ammo shortage, price hikes

The scarcity of rounds is changing sporting behaviors, impinging on the youth movement in competitive target shooting and greatly inflating the price of going afield.
Minnesota’s Northwest Region fisheries supervisor, Henry Drewes, is retiring after a 35-year career at the DNR. Here he is with a trophy-sized walle

Retiring fisheries supervisor left fingerprints around the state

Henry Drewes ascended inside the DNR for 35 years while constantly urging his peers to make fishing better.
Baylor Litsey rode his dirt bike May 7 on a county road near Nemadji State Forest.

Big spending throws more fuel in Minnesota's ATV boom

Reflecting the activity's popularity, DNR allocation will speed work on motorized trails in the northeast.
Kelly Straka was hired to start Sept. 15 as the Department of Natural Resources’ new wildlife section chief, filling a job that’s been vacant for

Minnesota DNR names Straka new wildlife chief

Kelly Straka, an expert in wildlife health who has worked for natural resource agencies in Michigan and Missouri, has been hired as the new wildlife section manager at the Department of Natural Resources.
An initial view of the Astray fire July 7 near Ely.

Wildfire threat shaking things up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Some entry points and lakes were closed Thursday, and that complicates plans for those intending to paddle.