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Wolf supporters moved Wednesday, Sept. 19, to force the federal government to develop a broader recovery plan for wolves across more of the U.S., even as the Trump administration and other groups are trying to remove federal protections for the big predators. The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violating the Endangered Species Act by never developing a comprehensive recovery plan for gray wolves nationwide. The notice is a legal heads-up that a lawsuit is coming in 60 days.
DULUTH — What a difference a few mild winters and a lot more doe permits can make. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area deer meetings, held at wildlife offices across the state in recent weeks, attracted surprisingly few hunters — some meetings went unattended and the most heavily attended attracted just 14 people. Across northeastern Minnesota, Tower and Grand Rapids attracted eight people each with only five in Two Harbors and just two in International Falls. And not a one of them brought pitchforks and torches.
LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH — Forgive Gerry Albert if he gets a little excited when he catches walleyes here. "Here's another one!'' Albert shouted as he set the hook on a walleye, working to keep a tight line and run his outboard in whitecaps. "Ohhh, and I think it's a keeper!" Big Winnie is Albert's lake, so to speak. He's the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' large lakes fisheries specialist for the huge reservoir — 67,000 acres, 88 square miles — northwest of Deer River.
DULUTH — If you're hoping for a campsite at Gooseberry Falls State Park over Memorial Day weekend, you're probably out of luck. Same for Jay Cooke, Split Rock, Tettegouche and most of the region's other most popular state park campgrounds — they're 100 percent booked for the three-day, unofficial opening of the summer camping season. But if you're willing to drive a little and maybe try some new locations, there are still available campsites in the state park system for the upcoming long weekend.
GRAND RAPIDS, MInn. — Rick Horton of Grand Rapids was just back from a spring turkey when he noticed the ticks, about a dozen of them, dug into his skin. "They were several on my back, between my shoulder blades. And several in places I can't mention," said Horton, who spent three days crawling around in Kansas prairie grass to shoot a tom turkey. "I was camping out. No shower. I was literally crawling on top of ticks for three days. And I didn't do anything to prevent it."
NISSWA, Minn. — Weather turned fast in the Brainerd lakes area, going from snowstorm season to fire season. Snow cover took a beating over the weekend with temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Monday's high reached 70 degrees—resulting in perfect conditions for fires. And fire season indeed arrived, as flames and smoke moved rapidly through a row of pine trees and grasses Monday afternoon along Crow Wing County Highway 4, burning close to 20 acres in Lake Edward Township, east of Nisswa.
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Wednesday, March 28, said it has filed a response defending its proposed wild rice sulfate standard that in January was panned by a state administrative law judge. PCA officials say their proposed sulfate pollution standard is a good compromise that protects wild rice in places where sulfate pollution might damage it, but also allows more sulfate pollution in lakes and rivers where it may not harm the plant.
On Thursday, The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the environmental review for the proposed Enbridge Energy Line 3 replacement oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. The PUC, after delaying the decision in December and saying the Minnesota Department of Commerce needed to answer more questions, this time signed off on the environmental impact statement as adequate. The decision was expected because the commission asked for relatively minor changes at its December meeting.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The first zebra mussel babies, called veligers, were confirmed in Lake Winnibigoshish in 2012. By 2016 the first adult mussels were spotted. By 2018 the invasive filter-feeders are everywhere in the lake, located west of Grand Rapids. "They've just exploded in number in just a couple years. It's amazing. They're on every smooth substrate down there," said Gerry Albert, Lake Winnibigoshish large-lakes fisheries specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
DULUTH—Northeastern Minnesota's moose population dropped some during the past year, but it appears to have leveled off after the big declines of a decade ago. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that its annual winter moose estimate came in at 3,030 moose, an 18 percent drop compared to 3,710 moose in 2017. The agency said the decline was statistically insignificant.