Minnesota DNR News

Minnesota Wildlife


DNR News Release

For Immediate Release:

March 17, 2020

Questions? Contact DNR Information Center by email or call 888-646-6367.

DNR issues open water regulations to protect Mille Lacs walleye

Additional regulation changes for trophy northern pike and bass

Walleye angling on Mille Lacs Lake will be catch-and-release only for this year’s open water season, with the exception of the month of July, when walleye fishing will be closed.

Additionally, anglers will not be allowed to use live bait for any species in July, except sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length for targeting northern pike and muskellunge.

The new walleye rule is among several regulations changes this year. Bass and northern pike also have new regulations.

The restrictive walleye rule for the open water season is due in part to a record ice fishing season on Mille Lacs this winter.

Poor ice conditions on other lakes focused attention on Mille Lacs, resulting in the highest fishing pressure there in 30 years: almost 30,000 pounds of harvest. This leaves only 57,800 pounds available for the state’s open water season under the safe harvest level established for 2020 by the state and the eight Chippewa bands that have treaty fishing rights.

“We know any summer walleye closure is disappointing, but anglers have told us they prefer a planned temporary closure in July to an unplanned one later in the season,” said Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The addition of the live bait ban allows for the shortest closure to ensure we remain within the set allocation and support the long-term interest of the walleye fishery.”

Walleye are particularly vulnerable in July because, as water temperature increases, so too does “hooking mortality”—the tendency for fish to die after being caught and released. By implementing fishing restrictions when walleye are most vulnerable, and reducing angler take, anglers could potentially gain two months or more of late-summer and fall fishing.

Walleye season opens on Saturday, May 9, and continues through Monday, Nov. 30.

Other regulations
Mille Lacs also is a destination for quality bass, northern pike, and muskellunge fishing.

During the July live bait ban, anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge can use sucker minnows greater than 8 inches in length.

New regulations to maintain and improve fishing for bass and northern pike include:

  • Immediate release of all smallmouth and largemouth bass greater than 17 inches during the harvest season that begins Saturday, May 23.

  • Limit of three largemouth and smallmouth bass.

  • Release all northern pike greater than 30 inches.

  • Limit of three northern pike from Saturday, May 9, through Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

The DNR heard good support for these bass and pike changes.

“People who come to Mille Lacs for smallmouth and northern pike are hoping to catch a real trophy,” Parsons said.

More information about fishing regulations on Mille Lacs Lake, ongoing DNR management and research, and Mille Lacs-area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website.

Stay informed! Here’s a weekly summary of upcoming wildlife and habitat management activities, and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

hunter in blaze orange walking in snowy mountainous area

Carcass import restrictions in effect

Hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose out of state cannot bring the entire animal back to Minnesota. The restriction has been in place since 2016 under rules adopted by the DNR. In 2019, the carcass import ban was enacted in state statute. Find details at the DNR webpage about carcass import and movement restrictions.

For videos on how to cape a trophy deer, quarter a deer and collect a lymph node sample, visit the CWD video page.

DNR finds wild deer with EHD in southeastern Minnesota

Tests initiated by the DNR have confirmed that a wild deer near Caledonia in southeastern Minnesota’s Houston County died from epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a viral infection to which members of the deer family are susceptible.

Houston County is the second county where wild deer have contracted EHD. Earlier this month, the disease was confirmed in six wild deer in the St. Stephens area of Stearns County. Additional deer in a six-square mile area in that county are suspected to have died from the virus. More information about EHD in wild deer is available on the DNR website.

hunter and dog going away

Apply to serve on budget oversight committees

Are you interested in helping review and make recommendations on how the DNR spends your hunting and fishing license dollars? You can now apply through Friday, Oct. 11, to serve on committees that review Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund Report. The fund is the fiscal foundation for many of the state’s core natural resource management functions. Find the details and how to apply on the DNR website.

#climateweekmn Minnesota Climate Week Let's Chat! Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with talk balloons and rain, rain clouds

Have questions about climate change?

Join us for a Climate Change Twitter Town Hall on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 2 p.m.

We’ll have climate change scientists on hand to answer your questions about how climate change is affecting Minnesota, and what the DNR is doing to adapt to and mitigate these changes.

To participate, simply log onto Twitter, go to @mndnr, and watch for the #ClimateWeekMN hashtag.

Find hunting information

You can find the information you need about hunting and trapping regulations, harvest registration, contacting a conservation officer and pursuing a variety of species on the DNR hunting page at mndnr.gov/hunting.

firearms instructor of the year

Minnesota DNR Enforcement Southwest Regional Training Officer Jen Mueller presented Brad Wells, of Grenada, with the 2018 DNR volunteer firearms safety instructor of the year award. Shown at right is Franklin Flack, of the Minnesota Volunteer Safety Instructor Association.

Granada man is 2018 DNR volunteer firearms safety instructor of the year

Brad Wells, of Granada in southern Minnesota, has been named the 2018 firearms safety volunteer instructor of the year, by the Department of Natural Resources. A retired teacher and the assistant coach of his local high school clay target league team, Wells has been the lead firearms safety instructor in his area for the past 18 years. He’s been a firearms safety instructor for more than 20 years.

Wells, who taught elementary school for more than 30 years, has been instrumental in increasing the number of firearms safety instructors in his area. As the number of women and girls signing up for firearms safety has risen in recent years, Wells has responded by working to add more female instructors.

So why does Wells devote so much of himself to teaching others about safe firearms handling, ethical hunting, and Minnesota’s natural resources? According to his fellow instructors, who nominated him for the award, Wells has this to say: “I do this for selfish reasons. That one day you will fill my shoes so that I can see my children, grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren utilize this great resource and shooting sport we fight to preserve.”

Wells also has been active in the Fairmont Trap Club and helped build its rifle and pistol range. He’s secured grants to improve the facility, served on its board of directors, and been part of events hosted there. Wells is active in conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, and seeks out opportunities to educate adults and kids alike about the outdoors.

“Volunteer instructors like Brad are what bring the DNR’s safety education programs to life,” said Jen Mueller, southwest regional training officer for the DNR Enforcement Division. “Their dedication to the students, safety and our natural resources is inspiring. We couldn’t be more thankful to have leaders like Brad working alongside us to help foster stronger connections to fishing, hunting and the outdoors.”

More than 4,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR firearms safety courses across the state, annually certifying an average of about 24,000 adults and youth. Since the firearms safety program began in 1955, more than 1.5 million students have been certified. DNR firearms safety certification is required of anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 to buy a hunting license in Minnesota. Youth age 11 and older can attend a firearms safety certification course and receive their certificate. Certificates become valid at age 12 for 11-year-olds who complete the course.

For more information on the dates and locations of available safety courses, see mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html or call 800-366-8917.


Hunters reminded to avoid inadvertent migratory waterfowl baiting

With the early Canada goose season opening Sept. 1 – and the regular duck and goose seasons on the horizon – hunters must know what’s occurring in the fields they plan to hunt to avoid a situation in which they’d be hunting over bait.

This year’s wet spring, especially across the southern part of Minnesota, left many farmers scrambling to get their crops in the ground. In some instances, they decided to forego planting crops such as corn and soybeans and instead planted cover crops like oats and other small grains.

Whatever’s been planted in a field, hunters must know this: If the crop is still standing or has been harvested under a normal agricultural practice, it wouldn’t be considered a baited field. But in situations where a field has been disked or plowed prior to harvest of the grain, for example, the field would be considered baited and hunters could be cited.

According to the 2019 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, it’s illegal to hunt migratory waterfowl by the aid of baiting or on or over a baited area where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. A baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after removal of bait.

“The responsibility falls on hunters to know where they’re hunting and what farmers have done with their fields up to that point,” said Lt. Col. Greg Salo, assistant director of the DNR Enforcement Division.

For more information, hunters should consult the regulations or contact the conservation officer in the area they plan to hunt.


collared bear with ear tags

Hunters asked not to shoot ear-tagged and radio-collared research bears

The Minnesota bear hunting season opens Saturday, Sept. 1, and the Department of Natural Resources is asking hunters to avoid shooting marked research bears. These bears are marked with distinctively large, colorful ear tags and have radio collars.

Researchers with the DNR are monitoring about 30 radio collared black bears across the state, especially in zones 27, 25 and 45, and in parts of the no-quota zone. Most of them are in or near the Chippewa National Forest between Grand Rapids and Bigfork.

Others are farther north, near Orr or Voyageurs National Park. Some collared bears are also around Camp Ripley, and in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and Plummer.

“We’re asking hunters to watch out for these valuable research bears, and avoid shooting them. These collared bears are providing much of the data that is being used in bear management,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research scientist.

A key to the research is looking at year-to-year changes in natural food supplies and how that affects individual bears in terms of their habitat use, physical condition, denning, reproduction and interactions with people. This research is not designed to evaluate mortality from hunting. Trapping new bears every year to replace the ones killed cannot substitute for long-term data on individuals, added Garshelis.

Most of the collars have GPS units. The GPS coordinates are either uploaded to a satellite, or stored in the collar and downloaded by DNR researchers when they visit the bears in their dens. Each bear provides several thousand data points per year.

The bear’s coat often hides the collar, especially in the fall. And most of the collars are black.  But all collared bears have large (3 by 2 inch), colorful ear tags so hunters can simply identify a collared animal by these large tags, whether or not a collar is visible. The tags should be plainly visible when a bear is at a bait, or on trail cam photos.

Photos of collared research bears and some research findings gained from them are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/bear.

DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations. For this reason, taking a bear with a radio collar is legal; however, waiting a few minutes to get a clear view of the bear’s head would reveal whether it has large ear tags, which indicates that it is collared. Bears with small ear tags (1 by 1/4 inch) are not collared but are important for other ongoing research projects. It is okay to take a bear with these small ear tags; if you do, report it as you would with any collared bear.

Any hunters who do shoot a collared bear should bring the collar to a bear registration station and call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at 218-328-8874 or 218-328-8879 to report shooting a collared bear.

Also, most collared bears have a small implanted heart monitor under the skin on the left chest. This contains valuable information stored in memory. Hunters who find this device while skinning the bear should leave it with the collar. Hunters with trail cam photos of ear tagged bears are asked to email the photos, and locational information to mndnrbearcams@gmail.com.

DNR News Release

For Immediate Release:

Aug. 7, 2019

DNR issues decision on requests to reconsider PolyMet tailings basin permits

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen today issued an order denying requests by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, multiple environmental organizations and some individuals to reconsider the tailings dam permits issued to PolyMet on Nov. 1, 2018.

The DNR takes the safety of all tailings dams it regulates very seriously and the agency understands concerns raised about recent dam failures in other countries.

The DNR subjected PolyMet’s tailings dam proposal to years of rigorous modeling and independent review. The agency’s review was conducted by experienced DNR engineers, as well as nationally and internationally recognized dam safety experts.

“While we were confident in our original analysis of the PolyMet tailings dam, we have carefully examined the requests for reconsideration and related information about recent dam failures in other parts of the world,” Strommen said. “We understand people’s concerns with these dam failures and whether those events indicate a fundamental design issue with PolyMet’s dam. Our analysis demonstrates that there are significant differences in site conditions, engineering design, and operating requirements and we remain confident in the safety of the PolyMet tailings dam as permitted.”

Basis for the DNR’s decision
After carefully evaluating the reconsideration requests, the DNR has determined that the requestors did not raise any new issues that materially affect the DNR’s decision to issue the tailings dam permits.

The requests for reconsideration raised the following concerns about the approved PolyMet tailings dam permits:

  • the failure of the Brumadinho Dam in Brazil is evidence of new stability concerns regarding the upstream construction design of tailings basins;
  • the use of the “Olson Method” to analyze the strength, liquefaction, and stability of the Brumadinho dam inherently means that its use to analyze the PolyMet tailings dam was flawed; and
  • recent inspections of the existing LTV tailings basin at the PolyMet site call into question assumptions about tailings drainage and materials strength in the basin.

‘Critical’ differences between PolyMet and Brumadinho dams
The DNR’s dam safety experts carefully evaluated each of the claims in the requests for reconsideration. The DNR found that while both the PolyMet and the Brumadinho dams include the use of “upstream construction” methods, there are critical differences that must be understood and evaluated to draw technically valid comparisons and conclusions. There are multiple factors that go into the construction of a safe dam, and PolyMet’s permitted dam design is significantly different and safer than the Brumadinho dam in the following ways:

  • Safety factors for the PolyMet dam were established using conservative assumptions to assess the basin’s stability under extreme conditions. These assumptions include that the entire basin had liquefied, been subjected to extreme rainfall, and been subjected to an earthquake. The analysis of the Brumadinho dam failed to include anything close to this level of assessment.
  • PolyMet’s dam will be built on flat topography, far from any community, and using ring-dike construction. The Brumadinho dam was constructed on a hillside, directly above a community, with higher-risk valley construction.
  • PolyMet’s dam will have very gradual side slopes (7:1 overall) that are inherently more stable than the Brumadinho dam which had an overall slope of 4:1.
  • PolyMet’s dam has virtually no inflow of surface waters into the basin. The Brumadinho dam had significant inflow from the adjacent watershed that necessitated the diversion of runoff from surrounding hillsides away from the tailings basin and dam. It appears this diversion system failed, resulting in heavy flows into the basin for weeks immediately prior to the dam’s failure.
  • The PolyMet tailings dam is located in an area of little or no seismic activity. The Brumadinho dam is located in an area of moderate seismic activity.
  • PolyMet’s dam is approximately eight miles from its mine site, which minimizes any risk of blasting impacts to the dam. Reports indicate that there had been mine blasting in close proximity to the Brumadinho dam on the morning of the failure.

Modeling correctly applied to PolyMet dam
The Olson Method, named after dam engineer Dr. Scott Olson, is an established and peer-reviewed method that was incorrectly applied at Brumadinho, resulting in inaccurate safety factors for the site and failure to recognize that the tailings at the site were highly liquefiable. The analysis PolyMet supplied to the DNR correctly applied the Olson Method, with Dr. Olson’s oversight; assumed complete liquefaction; and resulted in higher factors of safety. The Olson Method analysis was subject to extensive review by DNR’s dam safety experts and independent experts under contract to the DNR.

The modeling used to analyze the undrained strength of the tailings in the LTV basin already accounted for the conditions observed during recent inspections. Whether or not these portions of the basin are currently drained has no bearing on the undrained strength analysis of the dam.  All of the material properties in the basin were obtained for the existing conditions and used in the undrained strength analysis.

The DNR remains confident that the permitted PolyMet tailings basin dam, if properly constructed, operated, and maintained, will be safe and protective of human health and the environment.

The DNR will continue to learn all it can from the tailings dam failure at Brumadinho and use that information to help ensure long-term safety of all tailings dams in Minnesota.

The DNR’s decision denying the reconsideration requests will be available at mndnr.gov/polymet.

July 30, 2019

Stay informed! Here’s a weekly summary of upcoming wildlife and habitat management activities, and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

Minnesota Hunting Regulations cover from 2019 with a deer, woods, logo and #huntmn, effective date through June 30, 2020 and mndnr.gov/hunting

Deer season regulations available

Hunters can start planning ahead for significant changes to deer season regulations.

The 2019 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations handbook is now available on the DNR’s deer hunting page at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

Hunting licenses go on sale this Thursday, Aug. 1, and are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-646-6367 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Remember to check that your license information is up-to-date and to sign the license.

Youth deer season goes statewide

A statewide youth deer season runs from Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20, for youth hunters ages 10-17. In the past, the youth season was only available in the southeast, northwest and Twin Cities metro permit areas.

Deer feeding and attractant ban expands Sept. 1

Minnesotans in central and southeast Minnesota should pay close attention to the deer feeding and attractant ban rule. The area where deer feeding and using deer attractants is prohibited will expand starting Sunday, Sept. 1, in areas of central and southeast Minnesota where CWD was detected in farmed or wild deer.

Feeding and attractants increase the risk of disease transmission between animals by bringing them together in close contact, which is a mechanism for CWD spread.

antlerless deer in Minnesota

Read up on CWD changes

There are several changes to deer permit area numbering this year that will clarify where CWD management and surveillance occurs. Deer permit areas within a CWD management zone, in southeast and north central Minnesota, will now be part of a 600-series permit areas. The metro deer permit area will be renamed to 701 from 601.

Carcass import ban continues

The DNR is, as in previous years, enforcing carcass movement restrictions to limit the spread of disease. Hunters will also need to be aware of mandatory sampling during all deer seasons in the CWD management zones (southeast and north central), and over the opening weekend of the firearms season in the CWD control zone (southeast, bordering the CWD management zone) and in surveillance areas (central).

grassland and sky on a CPL project

Legacy grant applications open starting Aug. 1

Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements can apply for Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grants.

These grants help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife.

In all, $10.3 million in Legacy grants are available this year. Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications for the Expedited Conservation Project cycle until 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, and for the traditional and metro grant cycles until 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cpl.

Twins ball and hat on the ball with DNR logo

Hunting license gets you a Twins cap

Your hunting or fishing license gets you access to a special Minnesota Twins ticket package and a free blaze orange Twins cap! The next date on this year’s Minnesota DNR Days partnership with the Twins is a 7:10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, game against the Kansas City Royals.

Anyone with a 2019 Minnesota fishing or hunting license can purchase reserved game tickets online through this special offer and receive an exclusive hat you’ll pick up at the game.

fishing license with DNR logo, 19, to Willy W Walleye and all the license text and signature line

Caution when you buy a license

Don’t get scammed! Hunters and anglers who buy their licenses online should do so only from the Minnesota DNR website. There are websites that claim to sell fishing and hunting licenses – and will take your money – but you may come away from the transaction with extra charges or with improper licensure. When you buy a license online, always start at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, which will redirect you to DNR’s license vendor at jc.activeoutdoorsolutions.com.

Minnesota Fishing

July 30, 2019

Stay informed! Here’s a weekly summary of upcoming fisheries and habitat management activities, and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

a large sunfish

DNR seeks to

improve sunfish sizes

Large sunfish are scarce in many Minnesota lakes.

Local fisheries managers with the DNR are responding to angler desire for bigger sunfish by seeking out specific lakes that would be a good fit for improving sunfish size quality by reducing sunfish bag limits.

Starting this summer, fisheries managers will be meeting with local angling groups to gauge support for reducing the sunfish bag limit on some lakes through the DNR’s process of proposing special regulations. Learn more about large sunfish and the Quality Bluegill Initiative on the DNR website.

An angler fishing on the Mississippi River

Fish the mighty Mississippi

Anyone who wants to try fishing is invited to family fishing events happening at four locations over four days along the Mississippi River.

The events are geared toward anyone who doesn’t much have experience with fishing, lacks fishing equipment or wants to learn how to fish on the river’s edge. People can attend one or more days:

  • Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Coon Rapids, 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15
  • Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, 4-8 p.m. Friday Aug. 16
  • Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
  • Lake Rebecca Park in Hastings, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18.

Can’t make it? Potential anglers who want to learn how to fish can visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/GoFishing.

walleye in a net

Cass Lake draft plan available

Cass Lake – one of Minnesota’s 10 large walleye lakes – has a new draft management plan and the DNR is seeking input on it. The plan outlines the proposed five-year fish population objectives and fisheries management actions for Cass Lake and connected waters on the Cass Lake Chain, and incorporates recommendations from a 14-member Cass Lake Fisheries Input Group.

Check out the draft plan online, and you’ll be able to comment online, or pick up a paper questionnaire at the Bemidji Area Fisheries office. The final plan will be completed in October.

lake scene

Come talk about fishing, AIS and access

You’re invited to join conversations about public access to Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, providing excellent recreational fishing and stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). You can attend any of three meetings that start 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, in Alexandria; Saturday, Aug. 10, in Brainerd; and Thursday, Aug. 15, in Monticello. Find the details and register online.

Twins ball graphic

Fishing license gets you a Twins cap

Your fishing or hunting license gets you access to a special Minnesota Twins ticket package and a free blaze orange Twins cap! The next date on this year’s Minnesota DNR Days partnership with the Twins is a 7:10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, game against the Kansas City Royals.

Anyone with a 2019 Minnesota fishing or hunting license can purchase reserved game tickets online through this special offer and receive an exclusive hat you’ll pick up at the game.

A fishing license to Willy W Walleye with license text and signature line

Caution when you buy a license

Don’t get scammed! Anglers and hunters who buy their licenses online should do so only from the Minnesota DNR website. There are websites that claim to sell fishing and hunting licenses – and will take your money – but you may come away from the transaction with extra charges or with improper licensure. When you buy a license online, always start at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, which will redirect you to DNR’s license vendor at jc.activeoutdoorsolutions.com.

For Immediate Release:

June 21, 2019

bee on flower

Pollinators are key to Minnesota’s environmental health

Without them, we wouldn’t have some of our favorite foods. They are vital to a healthy environment. They’re also beautiful and fascinating to watch. They’re pollinators, and this week is dedicated to understanding, appreciating and helping them.

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are needed to pollinate plants that provide Minnesota food crops such as fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some of these foods are important for wildlife, too. Black bears, for example, eat raspberries that are pollinated by bumble bees. Honey bees and native pollinators contribute millions of dollars to Minnesota’s agricultural economy.

Pollinators play a critical role in keeping our environment healthy. They help maintain the health of the many plants that stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. These plants also buffer waterways, store carbon, and provide habitat for other wildlife. Plus, flowering landscapes are beautiful. Without pollinators, our environment would look very different.

“Pollinators are so important, not just to flowers but to our whole environment, and there are many simple things Minnesotans can do to help pollinators,” said DNR invertebrate ecologist Jessica Petersen.

To help pollinators:

  • Plant a variety of flowers, especially those that are native to the area.
  • Keep gardens blooming all season long; choose plants that provide pollen and nectar in the spring, summer and fall.
  • Provide nesting sites by allowing dead branches and logs to remain, leaving bare earth for ground-nesting insects, or installing bee nesting blocks.
  • Reduce pesticide use.
  • Become a citizen scientist and help researchers collect data about pollinators and their habitat.
  • Tell friends and family about pollinators and inspire them to take action.

A list of pollinator resources is available on the DNR website.

Minnesota DNR News

Questions? The DNR Information Center now answers your calls from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and


a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday and offers interpreter services. Call 888-646-6367 or email info.dnr@state.mn.us.

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