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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Agassiz manager retires, DNR seeks bear den locations etc.

Anderson retires as Agassiz manager

The manager of Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Minnesota has retired after more than 16 years on the job.

Maggie Anderson's last day was Friday.

A New Jersey native, Anderson, of Thief River Falls, spent 38½ years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers Agassiz and other national wildlife refuges. Before becoming Agassiz manager in 1995, Anderson worked at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Lansing, Iowa.

Agassiz NWR is located in Marshall County northeast of Thief River Falls.

Anderson said she plans to stay involved with the refuge as a volunteer. She also hopes to spend more time outdoors, something she wasn't always able to do as refuge manager.

Last week, Anderson said she hiked into the refuge's wilderness area, an expanse of black spruce and tamarack bog that often is inaccessible. With no snow and everything frozen, though, access was easy, Anderson said.

"That reminded me, 'this is what I want to do more of,'" she said Friday. "I want to be out."

Assistant refuge manager Jim Graham will serve as acting manager for the next three to six months until the Service names a replacement, Anderson said.

-- Brad Dokken

DNR seeks locations of northwest bear dens

Minnesota black bear researchers are seeking information about occupied bear dens in northwest Minnesota. Since 2007, the Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota have been conducting a cooperative bear study in Kittson, Marshall, Pennington and Red Lake counties.

"We would appreciate it if folks with information about denning bears within this study area this year would contact us," said Dave Garshelis, bear project leader for the DNR in Grand Rapids, Minn. "The farther west the den is located, the better. We might be interested in radio-collaring the bear."

Minnesota has approximately 20,000 black bears, the only species of bear in the state. Bears hibernate in dens during winter for as long as six or seven months, usually leaving the den in early April.

People who know of any denning black bear in the study area should contact Garshelis at (218) 327-4146.

-- Forum Communications

USDA outlines Kittson County wolf stats

Federal animal control experts have taken 86 problem wolves in Kittson County of northwest Minnesota since 1977, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A report compiled by John Hart, district wildlife supervisor of USDA Wildlife Services in Grand Rapids, Minn., shows there were 141 reported incidents of wolf depredation from 1977 to 2011; 105, or 74.4 percent of those reports were verified as being caused by wolves.

John Swanson of St. Paul, a grassroots activist who owns land in Kittson County, requested the wolf damage report and forwarded the information to the Herald.

The most wolves taken was 16 in 2011, according to the report. There were 10 incidents of verified damage in 2010 and 2007, with six wolves taken in 2010 and four in 2007. While 16 wolves were taken in 2011, there were six incidents of verified damage and two that couldn't be verified.

With the exception of 1996, the highest numbers of complaints all have occurred since 2000. In 1996, 10 wolves were taken in response to six reports of damage, all of which were verified.

If all goes according to plan, wolf management will return to state control early this year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late December recommended removing wolves in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin from federal protection and returning management to the states because populations have exceeded recovery goals.

The Service first has to publish the proposal in the Federal Register, and there'll be a 30-day comment period. The Service has attempted to delist wolves in the past, only to have the action overturned in the courts after wolf advocacy groups filed lawsuits.

Minnesota has about 3,000 wolves, more than twice the number called for under the federal recovery plan. All three states have management plans ready to go, and the Service will continue to monitor populations for the next five years, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

-- Brad Dokken

Did you know?

- Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed January to be "Learn a Snow Sport Month" in Minnesota. He also is urging people to get outdoors to enjoy a winter sport. "Humans are not meant to hibernate," Dayton said. "Learning a winter sport provides an excellent way to make the most of our winter weather by using the great outdoors as a healthy alternative for cabin fever."

- Anyone planning to make an online camping reservation at a Minnesota state park is out of luck until March 1. According to the DNR, the online reservation system closed down Monday for upgrades and will be unavailable through Feb. 29. Info:

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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