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
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.
The Raptor Center will open again to the public; paddling options abound; and a Fourth of July cycling events returns.

Embrace your freedom to enjoy Minnesota's outdoors with these 12 ideas

From seeing wildlife to self-powered fun, activities are opening up to meet any interests.
The DNR’s latest muskie research will overlap diet and population studies.

Muskie research findings illuminate the specie's impact and future

Research to help inform DNR management plan.
A cyclists campsite in northern Minnesota

New campgrounds and improved sites pop up to meet Minnesota demand

With a massive base of 4,652 campsites already available by reservation in state parks and state forests, planners are prioritizing quality over quantity.
A Waste Management dumpster for deer carcasses in Rochester, Minnesota.

Deer farming drives predicament over CWD-infested dump site

Minnesota officials are scrambling to fight against the spread of chronic wasting disease in northern deer herds where the always fatal neurological disease has traveled via deer farming
Minnesota ATV riders have access to 2,875 miles of state trails, more than a 100% increase since 2005. ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.com

ATV boom reshaping Minnesota's forests and DNR's priorities

A multimillion-dollar ATV trail building boom is trying to accommodate the tens of thousands of new off-road machines sold to Minnesotans.
Wild deer in northern Minnesota face a threat from contagious, disease-causing prions in the soil and on other surfaces at an illegal dump site on pub

Infected deer farm, dumping pose threat to northern Minnesota's deer population

At least one discarded carcass had chronic wasting disease.
The shadow of Ryder Dang, 10, of Shakopee, was cast on the water as he fished below the dam at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park.

Stretch of Upper Mississippi seeing bigger fish numbers, and bigger fish

It took a little while, but the fish eventually started biting near Red Wing.
David Whitescarver of Golden Valley, left, and Scott Ward of Inver Grove Heights held a  a 51-inch sturgeon caught and released late last week east of

Sturgeon make spring another weighty affair in all the right ways

Biggest spring turnout is for sturgeon and 'the action's been hot.'
Al Lindner, left, and Marv Koep outside the shop.

Through the 1970s and on, Nisswa bait shop was epicenter of opener

As this year's May 15 fishing opener approaches, thoughts turn to fishing openers past and the joyful stampede of walleye anglers that jammed bait shops Up North for two days of round-the-clock sales.
The proposed route for four-wheelers and others is set on existing roadways.

DNR again denies review of motorized backroad route proposal Up North

Reidents are concerned that the Border to Border Touring Route will increase traffic of high-impact vehicles on natural surface roads in remote forest lands
A 10-point buck with velvet antlers in summer. Minnesota deer hunters will notice new regulations next week when the DNR releases its rule book for th

CWD reaches a new northern limit with discovery of deer disease in Beltrami County

Discovery on Beltrami County farm threatens animals on tribal lands.
State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen’s panel has altered a list of 2019 projects recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources th

Senate panel again tries to alter wildlife habitat projects with constitutional backing

2019 projects tied to lottery proceeds are cut and lumped into bill.
“Rough fish” include bullheads, carp, suckers, and dogfish (low-oxygen tolerant fish species).

DNR pushes for new respect of Minnesota's rough fish

Agency wants to reverse culture of disrespect with targeted new campaign.
Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs will be tightly controlled and conservatively managed for the foreseeable future to avoid unplanned closures needed in r

Walleye harvest a central topic as DNR lays out Mille Lacs plan

The agency's higher goal over the next five years is to maximize fishing opportunity, including catch-and-release.
Unlike last year, anglers will get to keep a walleye early in the season.

Mille Lacs anglers will get to keep a walleye early in the season

Early season anglers on Mille Lacs will be allowed a one-walleye bag limit this year before the season shifts to catch-and-release regulations in June.
Finding their freedom outdoors

Finding their freedom outdoors

These Minnesotans went into the wild for different reasons, but all have experienced unmistakable awe.
The sun illuminated a dramatic palisade on South Fowl Lake Friday night near the dam.

What makes a great trip to the BWCA — from the experts

A trip into the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a long weekend is a must. So, too, are gaining some skills and taking on a longer adventure.
The Department of Natural Resources plans to enlist hunters again to provide deer spleens for study.

DNR says it will look harder at insecticides' effect on Minnesota deer

Discussions already have begun with wildlife officials in North Dakota to collaborate on a research paper showing dispersal of the chemicals in deer from both states.
A nice walleye caught on Lake Mille Lacs. On Wednesday, the DNR heard recommendations on early-season walleye limits from a panel.

One-walleye limit proposed on Mille Lacs for early-season anglers

For the remainder of the year, walleye fishing would be limited to catch and release with a two-week closure in July
Most of the hatchery-raised lake trout stocked by Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff in mine pit lakes in the Crosby-Ironton area are yea

Accidental lake trout spawned expansion in Crosby area mine lakes

Stocking mishap on Cuyuna mine lake has started dedicated effort in Crosby area.
Gunflint Lake was frozen and snow covered with a view into Canada on Monday, February 1, 2021. ]

Gunflint Trail's backwoods living is still a draw; so, too, is a fast internet

Of all that has changed over centuries along the Gunflint Trail, the greeting that pines whisper to old-timers and newcomers alike has been constant.
Hundreds of anglers ply the Mississippi River near Red Wing in spring to seek walleyes amd saiger that swim upstream from Lake Pepin to spawn.

Good old days are now for Lake Pepin perch and walleye anglers

Consecutive years of high water during spawning have helped walleye, too.
CBoys member Ben Roth takes his share of spills during the filming of YouTube videos, but he excels at riding wheelies of all types.

With throttles wide open, small-town 'CBoys' achieve YouTube stardom

Five young gear heads regale YouTube with daring thrills and spills.
Sunfish, bluegills and crappies — collectively known as panfish — are the most sought-after finned species in Minnesota.

Plan to raise bluegill numbers by lowering bag limits gaining support

DNR is pinpointing lakes for growing sunfish populations.
Eelpout destined for a ‘pout fry at the 2017 Eelpout Festival.

Harvest season possible for eelpout, a fish on the rise

Research shows vulnerability; first bag limit possible in 2022.
Held-up outdoors projects, issues piled high for Minnesota lawmakers

Held-up outdoors projects, issues piled high for Minnesota lawmakers

Minnesota legislators who care about fish, wildlife and other natural resources are poised for a five-month session expected to be dominated by fiscal matters and COVID-19 precautions.
This busy scene from Upper Red Lake on opening day of the 2020 walleye season foreshadowed a statewide surge in fishing and greater participation in m

When so much else slumped in 2020, nature took off

The outdoors lured new participants in 2020.
Craig Ihrke with a buck he arrowed this fall.

'Like a prion bomb': Chronic wasting disease mystery hits near La Crescent

DNR and landowners search for answers for hot spot near La Crescent.
Benjamin Knutson of Inver Grove Heights had spent years trying to catch a giant muskie. Fishing Mille Lacs on Nov. 25, he finally landed his first, a

Epic muskie day lifts young fishing guide into rare air

Benjamin Knutson achieved the inconceivable by landing two 50-inch muskies on the same outing on Mille Lacs.
Lacey Lupien, 33, of Lancaster, Minn., with the giant elk she shot 3 miles from her home in Kittson County. She harvested the bull in August, and it w

Bull elk is second-largest on record taken in Minnesota

The 7-by-8 rack with a gross score of 380 and a net score of a little more than 367 is now the second-largest Minnesota elk scored for the Boone and Crockett conservation club.
Ron Lindner, fishing with his granddaughter in 2009.

Ron Lindner, who founded a family fishing empire, dies at 86

Lindner, of Brainerd, described himself as a daydreamer but worked obsessively as a salesman, fishing guide, inventor, educator, storyteller, outdoors pioneer and ambassador.
Jake Gonse, 16, of Anoka, felled this monster 12-pointer in Houston County on opening morning. His grandfather, retired Star Tribune outdoors columnis

Minnesota deer opener was poor for harvest and CWD sampling

Harvest down nearly a third from last year; weather cited.
Zeb McInerny with his 13-year-old daughter, Ella, on Friday afternoon outside their home in rural Rockford. The family won a hunting license lottery f

Father, daughter, deer: 'Such a good opportunity'

Forty-six Minnesota state parks were closed this weekend to hold deer hunts of one sort or another. Afton's hunt is one of 15 set aside for youths.
Minnesota deer camps will have a different feel in some places because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Into the woods: Deer hunting camps will have different feel this season

Many families will be altering their traditions this weekend as Minnesota's deep season starts."Everybody hates it, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do.''
When chronic wasting disease testing was mandatory last year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sampled 18,571 deer.

CWD surveillance collapsing from a majority of hunters' indifference to testing

Not enough hunters are volunteering their deer for testing, challenging disease researchers.
One of the 1,300 spruce tree tops the agency recently seized from alleged thieves who entered a public forest without a harvest permit to cut and sell

'Thieving in the woods': DNR officers try to corral spruce top pirates

Conservation officers have turned up at least 15,000 pieces headed for back-channel selling.
The survey overestimated last year’s duck harvest in Minnesota.

Small game survey shows greater hunting success for pheasants, grouse

Minnesota small game hunters enjoyed a higher rate of success for most species last year, including pheasants, according to the annual survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources.
Trevor Montez, center, steered his mud boat through a backwater on the Mississippi River on his family’s return from the state duck season opener no

Duck-crazy Cottage Grove family lives to hunt

In an era when conservationists and wildlife managers are yearning for an injection of youth to reverse a decades-long decline in waterfowl hunting, Tyler, Trevor, Travis and 16-year-old Tanner Montez are bucking the trend.
Hunters hunkered in cover and waited for ducks to arrive near the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Weaver, Minn.

Judging from opener, Minnesota is seeing a revival of duck hunting

Counter to recent years, stamp sales are up and reports are positive.
Off-highway vehicle use in Minnesota, like that among ATVs, has increased since the pandemic hit.

Fatal mix: More off-road vehicles, reckless drivers create surge in deaths

So far this year, an unprecedented surge in ATV ridership across Minnesota has led to 20 fatal accidents — more deaths than the state normally sees in a year.
A walleye caught on Mille Lacs earlier this year.

Fall walleye fishing on Mille Lacs after July shutdown is successful

Walleye harvest by state-licensed anglers totaled 64,339 pounds through August; the 2020 allotment was 87,800 pounds.
Phased logging has proven to be a great way to improve habitat for wildlife like grouse.

Ruffed Grouse Society project would improve Minnesota's degrading hunter walking trails

Ruffie group's push for trail upgrades comes as hunter numbers decline.
Lucky 7 Bear Bait supplies hunters with sweets rejected for human consumption.

How sweet it is: Cambridge couple lead the nation in bear bait trade

Walk-up sales at the nation's biggest provider of bulk bear bait are just a fraction of overall operations, but Jen Carlson and her husband, Cory, enjoy their customers' hunting tales and bear photos as much now as they did 21 years ago.
Don Pereira, the former fisheries chief for the state of Minnesota, joined a multi-species fishing club after his retirement. The Waterdogs have been

Old-school Waterdogs stick to the ways of their fishing club

Founded by two conservation-minded anglers who wanted to bond with fishermen who would "take to the water like dogs," the old-school club is thriving after 38 years
In this photo from 2013, DNR biologists Steve Merchant, left, and Lou Cornicelli talk about the decline in Minnesota's moose population.

Minnesota DNR's top wildlife scientist departs agency

Lou Cornicelli led the state's effort to stop chronic wasting disease in deer.
Fishing guide Matt Quick of St. Michael distributed tackle and other gear to, clockwise from bottom, Andy Schneider, Jake Gundry and Josh Cocking.

A little fishing tackle goes a long way after kids' stolen gear replenished

Someone stole the fishing gear of three 12-year-olds in St. Michael, but a pro fishing guide led an effort to replenish it.
Theories abound on how Canada’s closed border will affect duck hunting this year. People seem to be in agreement that thousands of Americans will tr

With Canada closed, duck hunters will pile into North Dakota this year

Heading north to Canada likely is not an option, so Minnesota waterfowlers are expected, in large numbers, to try North Dakota instead.
YMCA’s Camp Menogyn does more than lead teens on wilderness trips into the Boundary Waters. Guides also train campers for backpacking, paddling and

YMCA cuts affecting Camp Menogyn and Camp Widjiwagan cause controversy

Glen Gunderson, chief executive president of the nonprofit association, has successfully allayed some fears that the YMCA could be losing interest in camping. But his strong reassurances haven't ended the controversy.
Kevin Nelson led a tour at the Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park, a site to benefit from new federal funding.

Minnesota's outdoor gems stand to gain from landmark government act

Voyageurs Park Superintendent Bob DeGross said the blockbuster act raises hopes for restoration of many undeveloped historic sites inside the boundaries of Minnesota's leading national park property.
Deer head drop boxes like this one in southeastern Minnesota have become a fixture during recent deer hunts

DNR changes deer test process in CWD zones, has other new regulations

Illnesses affecting humans and animals drive many adjustments.
Flood waters overtook the intersection of 12th and Florence Street in Baldwin, Wis. in the early hours of June 29.

Rush River trout ride out damaging flood in western Wisconsin

Even young trout survived as did most stream banks.
Liaison Ray Ruiz brings a fresh urban perspective and zeal to his DNR job. He also appears to have the hookup on landing bass on the Mississippi River

Fishing in the city: DNR's Ruiz shows off hotspots near downtown

Ray Ruiz's job with the Department of Natural Resources is to work with diverse metro area community groups to increase participation in fishing.
A buoy at the lakeshore in Angle Inlet. The marker matches the design of its "sister" buoy in Key West, Fla.

It's not an easy trek, but Angle Inlet still can be reached

The temporary closure of Canada's border has cut off the only land route to Angle Inlet. For now, nearly all traffic is by boat. The routes vary from 30 to 50 miles long and can be dangerous if ill-equipped or inexperienced.
Turkey hunting increased this spring, but groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation are hurting financially. The group laid off 51 employees thi

Pandemic has harmed fundraisers that conservation groups depend on

Despite the surge in hunting and fishing during the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesota's wildlife conservation groups are retrenching to cope with a fundraising crisis.
Mille Lacs walleye

Fishing has been bonkers: On Mille Lacs, lots of anglers and walleyes

The head-spinning measurements of activity on the lake, as reported in the most recent DNR data, mesh with reports by fishing guides, bait store owners and conservation officers.
Collin Cody of Grand Rapids learned to captain a drift boat on the trout rivers of Colorado before moving back to his home state.

Collin Cody and his drift boat guide others to fly fish on Mississippi

The teacher leverages his passion for fly fishing and drifting into a unique Minnesota guide service.

DNR pivots on fishing tournaments: Live weigh-ins allowed

Previous outdoor recreation guidelines set by the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health prohibited live weigh-ins.
A wild elk herd in northwestern Minnesota crossed grassland. The Department of Natural Resources is working with the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior

Far from done, but a comeback plan for elk north of Hinckley advances

Project taken up by DNR and Fond du Lac Band could include moving some elk to Hinckley area.
Vickie Jones led the processing line at Mohn Fish Market on a recent day. Her father, Ralph Mohn, is at the end of the line. The family business was f

Twin Cities appetites keeping Mississippi River fish market alive

At least 85% of the daily catch at Mohn Fish Market is purchased by retailers along University Avenue in St. Paul and in other Asian enclaves in the metro area.
Paul McEnroe in 2009. The longtime investigative journalist, who worked 35 years for the Star Tribune, has died at age 69.

Paul McEnroe, legendary Minnesota investigative journalist, dies at 69

McEnroe developed an unrivaled trove of sources ranging from hotel bellhops to federal judges to strangers to break news around the world.
Jon Stravers listened for cerulean warblers on a backwater of the Mississippi River near his home in McGregor, Iowa. Stravers is a free-sprited, indep

Stravers serves as eyes and ears of the Driftless Area

Researcher "Hawk Daddy" is part of restoration effort near southeast part of state.