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Last update: October 1, 2004 at 12:17 AM
Dennis Anderson: Follow the leader?
Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune
October 1, 2004 ANDY1001

Historically, Minnesota has put more waterfowl hunters in the field than any other state. Despite low duck numbers in recent years, and declining duck hunting opportunities in Minnesota, interest here in wetlands and ducks remains strong.

Case in point:

Through Monday, the DNR sold more than 92,000 state duck stamps, meaning that perhaps something approaching that number of Minnesotans sought ducks last weekend during the season's first days.

But were the state's duck managers proportionately represented in the field?

Below is a chart showing the hierarchy of responsibility in Minnesota for wetlands and duck management. See for yourself how many of these people hunted ducks in Minnesota on opening day.

Draw what you will from this information. But one conclusion seems apparent:

In Minnesota -- which is facing an ongoing wetlands and wetlands-wildlife crisis -- you don't have to be a duck hunter to manage ducks, wetlands or duck hunters.

Perhaps therein lies part of the state's problem.

Because until a person sees firsthand just how dramatically the state's landscape has been transformed, and feels the heartache for the resulting loss of wildlife, the scope of the crisis can't be fully appreciated.

Name DNR-related responsibilities Hunted ducks on opening day?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty Appoints commissioner, helps set agency priorities and policies, No

Mike Bull, policy adviser to the governor, he serves as Pawlenty's liaison to the DNR, Doesn't hunt

Gene Merriam, DNR Commissioner Carries out Pawlenty's DNR directives. Manages DNR in keeping with its mission to sustain the state's natural-resources indefinitely, No

Mark Holsten, Deputy DNR Commissioner Oversees DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, among other duties, No

Brad Moore, Assistant DNR Commissioner Oversees DNR divisions other than Fish and Wildlife, including State Parks, No

John Guenther, Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife Manages Fish and Wildlife Division, No

Larry Nelson, Deputy Director of Fish and Wildlife, Division Assists in managing Fish and Wildlife Division, No

Dave Schad, Operations Section Manager Fish and Wildlife Division, Oversees regional DNR fish and wildlife managers, Yes, with two friends in south-west Minnesota averaging two birds per hunter

Ron Payer, Programs Section Manager, he oversees Fish and Wildlife Division programs managed by Mike DonCarlos (below) No

Mike DonCarlos, Assistant Program Manager for Wildlife, Fish and Wildlife Division, he oversees DNR Wetlands Program Consultant (below) No

Ray Norrgard, Fish and Wildlife Division, Wetlands Program Consultant, , he oversees DNR shallow lakes (waterfowl) program Yes, east of Fergus Falls, guiding a young hunter who shot one duck Saturday and another Sunday

Ed Boggess, Policy Section Manager Fish and Wildlife Division, he oversees DNR Research Manager (below) No

Jack Wingate, Research Manager Oversees DNR fish and wildlife research No

Jeff Lawrence, Fish and Wildlife Division, Wetlands Research Group Leader, Manages waterfowl surveys and other waterfowl research Yes, in South Dakota, with his daughters and a friend who lives in South Dakota. Hunting there there was "fair," Lawrence said, with teal most abundant.

Steve Cordts, Waterfowl specialist, Fish and Wildlife Division act as agency's point person for duck issues, Conducts waterfowl surveys, serves on waterfowl committee, No (family emergency)
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