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
Jake Skarloken, left, with his monster northern pike. He released the fish.

The monster Minnesota fish that got away (from the record books)

In the awe of a 30-pound northern pike he caught in the BWCAW, Jake Skarloken forgot to photograph the beast against a measuring tape. It cost him a state record.
The bluffs, valleys and hardwoods of southeast Minnesota, especially the area in and near Whitewater wildlife management area, are ideal for wild turk

More wild turkeys, hunters made for a spring hunt unlike any other

The harvest in Minnesota set a new record of 16,600 birds harvested.
Kelly Straka will become the leader of the DNR's Fish and Wildlife Division.

DNR reveals a new leader for the Fish and Wildlife Division

Kelly Straka, a native Minnesotan with outdoors experience here and in Hawaii, Missouri and Michigan, will replace retiring Dave Olfelt.
Legislators added more than 18,000 acres of forested hunting land by approving the purchase of old PotlatchDeltic lands in north-central and northeast

Electronic licensing, carp deterrent are outdoors wins at Capitol

Outdoor Heritage Fund delivered a record $192 million to enhance habitat and support wildlife.
Anglers head out from a packed boat access early Saturday morning on Bald Eagle Lake in White Bear Lake.

The weather and the bite made for a dreamy state fishing opener

The bite might have been mixed in places, but there was certainty for many Minnesotans: It was an ideal day to be out.
Adelynn Petersen, 12, Parker Wiemann, 14, and Katelyn Magnuson, 13, from left, fish for whatever they can catch during the Root River Roundup on Satur

Live: Updates and photos from the Minnesota fishing opener

Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are participating in Saturday's fishing opener, with walleye the preferred game fish.
(left to right) Darren Heimbuch, Mary Heimbuch age-6, Katherin Heimbuch age-9, and Barry Heimbuch (grandfather), from Debuque IA, fished in Seaton Lak

The weather and license sales point to a solid Minnesota fishing opener

325,000 fishing licenses of all types could be sold by sunrise Saturday, with youth sales a high point.
Eric Hexom signs the fishing license Joanne Rousseau provided him at Ebner's Live Bait in Elk River last July.

Licensing for Minnesota recreation making major leap to digital age

You'll still be able to buy a paper license at your favorite bait shop or store, but most hunters, anglers, boaters, snowmobilers, ATV riders and skiers will carry permissions on their phones.
Federal officials have decided not to list sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota and elsewhere.

Wildlife agency: Sturgeon won't go on endangered species list

In a decision welcomed by Minnesota's fishing community and the DNR, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it won't list lake sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act.
It's been shotguns and muzzleloaders only for deer hunters since 1942 south of a line from Moorhead to Taylors Falls.

Will 'shotgun only' zone for deer in southern Minnesota be abolished?

There's still a chance for a breakthrough affecting the annual whitetail harvest — Minnesota's most popular form of hunting — for the southern half of the state.
The Brown's Creek State Trail is among those that could get enhancements with the new funding.

Legislation directs millions toward dozens of Minnesota outdoors projects

The executive director of the commission responsible for choosing the projects said acceptance at the Capitol arrived earlier than ever before.
Federal officials could interfere with sturgeon fishing in Minnesota if they list the giant fish under the Endangered Species Act.

Drama on a federal level encircles a fish thriving in Minnesota

Sturgeon numbers here are strong, but anglers, guides, resorts and the DNR are still bracing for a possible endangered species listing.
Big Ten deer hunting rankings? Minnesota isn't power you'd expect.

Big Ten deer hunting rankings? Minnesota isn't power you'd expect.

When it comes to deer hunting, there are four other states that have Big Ten schools and outshine Minnesota when you look at the data.
Upper Red Lake is one of Minnesota's hottest walleye fisheries and it attracts anglers from all over the Upper Midwest.

Legislation would give state land to Red Lake Nation

Local residents say they were blindsided by the Upper Red Lake proposal; DNR said it was not consulted about bills.
Sport anglers, including groups on large boat launches, and Chippewa netters both covet Lake Mille Lacs' famed walleyes.

State: Walleyes caught on Mille Lacs can't be kept until August

Walleye bag limits on two of Minnesota's most popular lakes have been cut back this year, including no keepers on Mille Lacs until at least mid-August.
Thursday, May 31, 2001-Grand Rapids-This is the second day of a three-day Forest Summit being held by the DNR to explore new harvest techniques that c

Minnesota legislative auditor reviewing conflict over DNR timber sales

The review will look at the actions that led to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sanction.
DAVID JOLES * djoles@startribune.com Fort Snelling, MN - Jan. 10, 2010- The DNR and REI teamed up to promote snow sports on national Winter Trails Day

Harvest is official: Minnesota's deer hunt season was a downer

The DNR's final deer hunting harvest report reveals whitetail declines, even with less severe winter up north.
Despite the combination of miserable ice conditions and low fishing pressure on Lake Mille Lacs this winter, anglers have harvested about 8,000 pounds

Rough Mille Lacs ice season at odds with great fishing. What's going on?

The lake's overall walleye population is down 10%. But despite the population decline, the catch rate on Mille Lacs this winter has soared to its highest level in at least 35 years, even with bad ice conditions.
State conservation officials on Thursday will begin detailing their strategy for expanding the range and size of Minnesota's elk population, estimated

Pot use in state parks, new hiking trail, elk politics in mix at Legislature

Big grant money for the outdoors will be in play at the 2024 legislative session along with policy proposals ranging from marijuana limitations in state parks to a repeal that would allow more elk to roam.
A walleye is netted, caught on the Twin Pines Resort boat at sunset Wednesday, July 29, 2015, during an evening excursion on Lake Mille Lacs.](DAVID J

Fewer walleye on Mille Lacs will mean tighter regulations this year

"We're going to pump the brakes a little bit this year so we don't have to take more drastic action later on," a DNR official said in explaining what's ahead.
Fish Lake is in a fully developed watershed district, where it provides an oasis of public recreation — including good fishing for northern pike and

Fish Lake in Maple Grove will be removed from impaired waters list

State has worked to restore the popular, heavily used lake plagued by pollution.
1854 Treaty Authority continues to prioritize the study of Minnesota's moose population. Shown, a visual from a survey in 2023.

Champions of Minnesota's wild places have busy 2024 ahead

The lengths Minnesota land and wildlife managers go to manage the state's resources can at times appear like a horizon without end. But what are their priorities for this year?
An ice team member at Sportsman's Resort cruised across Lake of the Woods in a Bomber in 2017.

Lake of the Woods 'Bombers' remain winter workhorses

For decades, the tracked vehicles have been the go-to means to ferry the icefishing masses on the massive lake.
Changing the walleye limit doesn’t appear feasible this year, a state official said, but is possible for the 2025-26 fishing season.

DNR explores a weighty walleye change: reducing the daily limit

The idea failed at the Legislature, but the DNR might try to cut the take-home limit from six walleyes to four using its own rule-making authority.
DNR-approved logging on state wildlife management areas continues to draw scrutiny from outside the agency. The Minnesota Legislative Auditor is now a

Minnesota legislative auditor opens probe of DNR's oversight of public hunting lands

The assessment is related to allegedly inappropriate logging on some state wildlife management areas.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has revised language in its latest multi-million dollar wildlife habitat grant to ensure that Minnesota prioritizes

Grant conditions revised to ensure DNR logging serves wildlife

The DNR must follow more detailed reporting requirements to show, in advance, how each timber sale will improve wildlife habitat.
Vehicles, like this one seen in 2021, are a routine way of ferrying anglers across Lake of the Woods.

Man killed when commercial transport vehicle crashes through Lake of the Woods ice

Several passengers and the driver escaped from the "bomber." It's the season's second known ice-related fatality in Minnesota.
Unrelenting warmth has stunted Minnesota’s ice fishing season. In many places, the ice is too thin to support fish houses like this one — occupied

Mild winter has changed landscape for eager state ice fishers

Anglers are itching for a deep freeze, with ice production weeks behind schedule in some areas of the state.

Ice fishing season rides into state — and it needn't be a cold mess

Remembers when overnights on the ice were more about survival than fun? The way it was then isn't the way it is now, especially if you take advantage of what's available.

Ice fishing season rides into Minnesota — and it needn't be a cold mess

Remembers when overnights on the ice were more about survival than fun? The way it was then isn't the way it is now, especially if you take advantage of what's available.
A new deer hunters group is challenging the management of gray wolves.

New Minnesota deer hunters group wants changes in wolf politics

With meetings across the north, Hunters For Hunters seeks to amplify voices of people who believe Minnesota's wolf population is a problem going unaddressed.
Deer hunters in Wisconsin enjoyed comfortable weather during the primary firearms season, but they harvested substantially fewer deer than a year ago.

Wisconsin firearms deer harvest by hunters takes a dive, too

With some data echoing Minnesota's plight, hunters in Wisconsin took nearly 18% fewer deer than last year, DNR says.
The latest harvest report showed a cumulative kill of 130,812 deer so far this fall, a 7.45% decline compared to a year ago.

Even with solid weather, Minnesota's whitetail harvest continues to disappoint

The primary firearms hunt yielded fewer deer than desired by DNR wildlife managers, who also pointed out declining license sales.
Scott Ward of Inver Grove Heights said fishing big walleyes on Mille Lacs in November was like stealing time.

Mille Lacs passes hype test as a walleye angler's dream in late fall

Tales of big walleyes after Halloween rang true on a November joyride in Garrison Bay, and a good bite is expected through winter.
Hunters at deer camps in northeastern Minnesota struggled once again to find whitetails on opening weekend of the firearms deer season.

Data and observations back it up: Not much bang in Minnesota deer opener

Wolf complaints and vacant deer camps were widespread up north, where hunting was the worst.
Equipped with copper ammunition and a 20-gauge shotgun, Jeremiah Lee, 13, of Hastings hunted Saturday, accompanied by his father Cody.

Like many Minnesotans, young hunter had visions of a buck on deer opener

A 13-year-old Hastings boy was among Minnesota's thousands in pursuit of success on opening day.
Trae Waynes and a partner are sweeping up land in western Wisconsin bluff country, which also is prime whitetail buck territory.

Former Viking Trae Waynes leaves the football field for the forest

The former Vikings defensive back is making a splash in western Wisconsin as a hunting outfitter offering a curated whitetail deer experience. "I knew I didn't want to play football forever," he says.
Two men were accidently shot in separate incidents during the youth firearms deer season.

2 hunting mentors accidentally shot during youth firearms deer season

The cases in Sherburne and Hubbard counties over MEA weekend involved mistakes by young hunters. The statewide deer season opens Nov. 4.
King’s Cove Marina in Hastings will wrap more than 350 boats during the fall pull-out season.

Legislation seeks solution for sea of leftover boat shrink wrap

Rep. Larry Kraft, DFL-St. Louis Park, has introduced a bill to make producers of the film responsible for its collection and recycling.
A University of Minnesota wolf research group set out to debunk this billboard purchased by deer hunters.

Researchers push against anti-wolf billboard in northern Minnesota

A roadside billboard along Hwy. 53 on the Iron Range has caused a controversy by suggesting that legalized hunting of wolves could save tens of thousands of baby deer.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a say in how the Department of Natural Resources manages logging on public hunting lands that receive tens of m

DNR will receive federal aid held up by logging practices that triggered reprimand

The Fish and Wildlife Service had halted the funding over concerns the DNR was failing to consider wildlife when logging on hunting lands.
Minnesota’s duck hunting season opened Saturday with a strong harvest.

Minnesota duck hunting gets off to a flying — and in some places, record-making — start

The DNR's waterfowl specialist graded opening weekend as "very good to excellent," and some records were set.
The pheasant population in Minnesota remained resilient through a tough winter.

State bear harvest down; outlooks promising for grouse, pheasants

Fall hunting is almost in full swing, with duck and goose hunters joining on Saturday with the opening of their primary season.
Minnesota duck hunters will stage themselves in blinds all around the state for Saturday’s season opener.

Optimism over Minnesota duck opener tempered by 'so-so' surveys

Spring counts were called "so-so at best," but production of ducklings and goslings seemed to go well, DNR said.
Logging on state wildlife management areas continues to draw criticism from DNR’s own wildlife managers, five years into the agency’s Sustainable

Internal DNR survey results: 90% disagree with approach to logging

A survey was sent to wildlife section employees about the agency's handling of logging on lands where wildlife considerations are required to come first.
The DNR says Gull Lake has the right stuff to be a fishing destination for quality northern pike, without affecting the core walleye fishery.

Famous Minnesota walleye lake in line for a northern upgrade

Gull Lake could see an upgrade of its northern pike population if the Minnesota DNR finalizes a proposed experimental fishing regulation. The northerns are often an accidental catch for anglers.
A rooster rises from the tall grass.

Pheasant population doubles in state's southwest corner; declines elsewhere

But a DNR summary of this year's survey said pheasant indices remain well below their long-term averages in most other regions of Minnesota.
Jim Denney, right, and Connor Halsa met and displayed the money found at the bottom of the Lake of the Woods.

Legendary catch: Minnesota teen reels in wallet with $2,000, returns it

Connor Halsa of Moorhead returned every penny and gained a friend for life when connected with Iowa livestock hauler Jim Denney.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has had $22 million in federal wildlife habitat grants put on hold for violating logging regulations.

What happens when the federal government shuts off state wildlife habitat funds?

The federal wildlife program in the news this month for being violated by the Minnesota DNR has given more than $400 million into the state over the past 20 years
Minnesota’s early hunting season for teal, now in its third year, overlaps with the state’s early September harvest of wild rice.

New Minnesota rules will keep teal hunters away from tribal ricing areas

Ricers on the White Earth Nation and Leech Lake reservations won't have to share water with duck hunters during the five-day teal season starting Sept. 2
Four years after DNR’s own wildlife managers and foresters complained about logging quotas, the issue still shrouds the agency.

DNR abruptly pauses logging on federally aided hunting lands

The pause is the latest development in the ongoing conflict over efforts to make sure the DNR's timber sales are mainly for wildlife purposes — not to satisfy relentless timber quotas.
Logging on federally funded state hunting land is on hold while the DNR makes amends to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

$22 million withheld from DNR until it follows rules for logging sales

Until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is satisfied that its policies are no longer being violated, it will withhold the grant money that was scheduled to go to the state.
Minnesota’s 2023 Hunting and Trapping Regulations rulebook is now available online. Printed copies will be published late, toward the end of August.

DNR lowers bag limits in 38 deer permit areas after tough winters

The policy coincides with statewide rule changes, including expanded use of crossbows during archery season.
Live bait dealer Marshall Koep examined a sample of fatheads he trapped June 2 from a farm pond he rents in Otter Tail County.

As concerns mount, state's live bait trappers battling severe shortage

Overall demand hasn't grown over the years. But today's trappers face a shrinking universe of wild lakes, ponds, rivers and streams suitable for state-approved harvesting.
Wildfire smoke made for a hazy sunset May 16 in the metro.

Surprised? Wildfire smoke isn't having big impact on northern Minnesota

Parts of Minnesota have been largely unaffected, yet some outfitters, resort owners and others still have fielded a lot of questions.
A limited number of hunters are affected by a partial state ban against lead ammunition, but Federal Ammunition strongly opposes the move.

Federal Ammunition rips Minnesota DNR for lead ammo ban on some public lands

The company's president says it's a precursor to a possible broader ban after a directive affecting 56 Scientific and Natural Areas and some state park hunts.
Joey Vanyo, president of Minnesota Kayak Bass Fishing League, with an 18-inch smallmouth bass caught on Lake Koronis.

Fishing's new thing: Tournament angling for bass in souped-up kayaks

The tournaments, including one set for next month in Minneapolis, are designed for people who fish from kayaks but want more intensity than fun-centered lake outings.
Hunters will not be allowed to use lead ammo in 56 Scientific and Natural Areas.

DNR bans lead ammo on some state land, stops short of fishing tackle ban

Harmful to wildlife and habitat, lead ammo is now illegal in 56 Scientific and Natural Areas in Minnesota where hunting is allowed.
A hotshot crew prepared to fight the Spice Lake fire on June 17.

What the Forest Service and partners have learned about fighting wildfires in the wilderness

A command center in Grand Rapids monitors weather, tracks fuel loads — and stays at the ready.
Kevin Hinrichs, aka “The Dutchman,’’ telling stories behind the front desk at his Rainy River fishing resort.

Wit, wisdom and howls: Meet 'The Dutchman' of Minnesota's most 'sturgeony' fishing resort

"The Dutchman" howls like a wolf and likens himself to "Barbara Walters with a fishing pole." He'll teach you how to catch "dinos" on the Rainy River.
Morel mushrooms

Conflict sprouts over wild mushroom hunting as DNR considers bag limits

A DNR official confirmed that collection limits are under consideration out of concern over unchecked increases in mushroom harvesting. Berry picking limits at state parks could also be proposed.
A jar full of laboratory-preserved deer ticks.

Are swallowed ticks spreading chronic wasting disease in wild deer?

University researchers in Minnesota and Wisconsin have identified a possible infection point for healthy deer during social grooming.
Captive fawns grazing on a deer farm in southwestern Minnesota by Scott Fier, president of the Minnesota Deer Farmers Association. Photo provided by S

Death of deer farms a matter of time under new laws, group president says

Minnesota Deer Farmers Association president says owners are being unfairly crushed by new state legislation.
Aerial photo of the Spice Lake Fire in the BWCA where Forest Service officials are working on a public safety plan.

Wildfire west of Gunflint Trail in BWCA prompts closing part of area

U.S. Forest Service officials are working on a plan to suppress the blaze and close travel routes to keep paddlers safe.

The fight is on: Inside the battle to save the BWCA's motorized towboats

The U.S. Forest Service and a group of outfitters are pushing back against a lawsuit that seeks to ban the long-established shuttles to protect the solitude cherished by BWCA visitors.
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

Judge declines to halt motorized towboat usage in BWCA lawsuit

A towboat usage limit of some kind could still result as the litigation continues. Outfitters have decried the lawsuit as elitist.
Thirteen deer hunters gathered at this camp near Tower, Minn., in 2012. Two of the hunters also had permits to shoot a wolf.

Guns, wolves cause split between Walz and popular deer hunting group

The event's original partner, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is disgruntled over the governor's leadership on gun control and wolf hunting.
DNR’s outmoded Waterville fish hatchery will be rebuilt with up to $20 million in new money from a sweeping outdoors bill finalized by the Legislatu

Legislature passes jumbo outdoors bill with 'transformational' money

If you care about fishing, final legislation heading to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz might be considered a record catch. Hunters and visitors to state parks also will see improvements.
Walleye limits were common during opening weekend on Upper Red Lake.

Anglers find walleye heaven, fish kills on an opener when attendance sagged

Reports were upbeat in the north, but bad weather fouled the celebration on southern lakes. License sales were the lowest since 2014.
Scott Ward of Inver Grove Heights. right, and Jack Kennedy of Cottage Grove with an Opening Day walleye from Lake Sarah in Murray County.

Lake Sarah shines again: Minnesota Fishing Opener on the Prairie

Relentless rain, strong winds and a flood watch gave walleye chasers in southern Minnesota a morning to remember on a lake that showed a few glimpses of its star power.
A herd of deer stopped to feed at Fort Snelling State Park, Wednesday, February 10, 2021 in Bloomington, MN. The park sits at the confluence of the Mi

Legislators vote for ban on new deer farms to fight wasting disease

The agreement would strengthen fencing requirements around captive whitetail herds and place new restrictions on importing captive deer from areas where CWD is a problem.
A plowed ice road on Rainy Lake inside Voyageurs National Park. A preliminary proposal would limit non-snowmobiles from traveling beyond the park's ic

In fight over frozen Voyageurs lakes, vehicles could be restricted

A plan introduced by the superintendent at Voyageurs National Park would end free-ranging access to ice fishing by trucks, cars, all-terrain vehicles and other non-snowmobiles.
Patrick, a tow boat operator who works for an outfitter on Moose Lake near Ely, ties down the second of two canoes for a group of paddlers leaving the

Judge to decide fate of motorized towboats in the BWCA for 2023

An environmental group has sought to stop the longstanding practice, which is strongly supported by the U.S. Forest Service.
Upper Red Lake walleye anglers will be allowed to harvest five fish when the season opens May 13.

Walleye bag limit jumps to five on Upper Red Lake

An over-abundance of 15-inch walleyes triggered the move — the biggest bag limit since the lake was depleted of walleyes in the late 1990s.
Tim Englund of North Country Bait trapping golden shiners from a pond in Hubbard County.

Desperate bait dealers turn to DNR to address minnow shortage

The agency is exploring ways to lift harvest barriers for trappers who keep losing access to minnow ponds.