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AMATEURS GUIDE: Sandhill crane season is first in 94 years

This is the fox photographed July 16. Note the long white hairs on his hindquarters. Here he's getting ready to pounce on a mouse. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 2
Kathy Dennis took this photo of a male pelican on Leech Lake last weekend. He has the odd bill protuberance that shows up during mating season and drops off when the nesting process starts.2 / 2

Last week I photographed a little red fox near Big Sand Lake.

My colleague Gravy spotted something I'd overlooked - a thick fur mantle beginning to grow on the little guy's hindquarters.

That may be an early sign of winter, but it's somewhat at odds with the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center.

The Grand Forks office predicts an average to warmer fall with ample moisture.

Then LaNina moves in, carrying lots of snow and cold, a typical Minnesota winter.

Maybe that's what the fox is preparing for, but he sure will sweat out the fall.

Let us know if you see any changing signs of nature.


Kathy Dennis photographed a pelican on Leech Lake last weekend.

It's nice to see the giant, albeit clumsy, white birds in the region.

Last year I photographed them on Portage Lake thanks to a boat ride from Marilyn Peterson. They were also spotted on Big Mantrap Lake for a day or two before moving on.

This spring Dan Schneeman reported seeing them on Lower Bottle Lake in his bay. They only came for a day before vamoosing.

They're fun to watch as they plop their girth down into the water. No graceful landings there. It's all whoomp and splash.


Stan Gardinich wrote: "This year, I have seen more sandhill cranes in Becida than ever before. I saw a pair yesterday in a newly hayed field in Becida. Why do they need to be hunted?"

Stan may have answered his own question but he's also bemoaning a newly announced sandhill crane season in six of Minnesota's northwest counties beginning Sept. 4.

Hubbard County is not among them.

As with all hunted species, the DNR studies populations and trends. If wildlife officials determine a sustainable harvest is possible, a hunting season is opened.

This one will be about six weeks, ending Oct. 10.

According to the DNR, the open area will consist of the "Northwest Goose Zone," which includes portions of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Polk counties. There will be a daily bag limit of two birds with a possession limit of four.

Stan, don't fret. I come from western North Dakota where sandhill cranes run all over the place. They're wily birds and tough to bring down. Hunters will be required to use nontoxic shot.

Cranes, by the way, are also tough to photograph. They're skittery around humans.

Send your sightings to sarahs@parkrapidsenter

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Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364