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DULUTH — We mark the seasons as honking geese head south and as robins return north. Every autumn we marvel at their numbers going south, and every spring we delight that they have come back. But until now scientists have never been able to put a number on exactly how many birds migrate across North America. The bird experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology now have done that, using data from 143 weather radar stations across North America from 2013-17. Their findings were published Monday, Sept. 17, in the Journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
DULUTH — The nearly half-century tally of birds that fly over Hawk Ridge every autumn is really a snapshot of annual migration, impacted by weather and natural cycles, and not necessarily a population survey. But the tale of two raptors that fly over Duluth on their way south each autumn are shining examples of what researchers are seeing across North America — two birds heading the same way this time of year way but going in opposite directions as a species.
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.
DEER RIVER, Minn. — It was Fourth of July week and Minnesota Conservation Officer Mike Fairbanks had just come on shift when he heard his radio crackle with reports of a missing boy. Fairbanks radioed back that he and his partner were available to help in the search being quickly organized by Itasca County sheriff's deputies. By the time Fairbanks arrived on the scene, deputies were combing the boy's rural Bovey home, yard and outbuildings. But Fairbanks and Si, his 6-year-old partner, went in a different direction.
DULUTH, Minn.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Steel Corp. on Wednesday announced a $75 million cleanup and restoration project at the company's former Duluth steel mill along the St. Louis River. The project will deal with nearly 700,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, some of it on land but most of it in the Spirit Lake area of the St. Louis River estuary off Duluth's Morgan Park neighborhood.
DULUTH—The number of ducks across North America dropped 13 percent this year from last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported this week, but waterfowl numbers are still higher than long-term averages. The estimated number of waterfowl sunk to 41.2 million ducks this summer, down from 47.3 million last year. The number of mallards dropped to 11.4 million from 12.9 million in 2017.
SOLON SPRINGS, Wis. — Bear didn't quite live up to his name, with a sunny disposition and fast-moving tail that seemed to wag the 45-pound dog. And when it was his turn in the field, the 14-month-old nailed it. He quartered in ever-increasing semi-circles until he found good scent, then flushed a planted chukar partridge, retrieving it to his owner's hand after it was shot before heading off to find and flush another without missing a beat. And all while obeying all of his handler's commands.
DULUTH—In theory, the wild rice growing along the lower St. Louis River is there for geese to enjoy — that's why natural resource agencies are working so hard to bring it back. But when the expanding resident population of giant Canada geese start munching on manoomin well before it's even ripe, destroying the entire stalk, they can cause a lot of damage. Enter Sam Hansen, a biology student at the University of Wisconsin Superior, who was tasked with checking out an idea. Why not draft volunteer kayakers, canoeists and paddle boarders to scare the geese away?
DULUTH—Alex Comstock pulled back on his bow, steadied his aim and let fly an arrow across a steep gully. The 57-yard shot was perfect, nailing the 6 x 6 bull elk right in the sweet spot. And it was the second bug bull he shot in 10 minutes. Of course, Comstock was shooting at foam targets and not the real thing — testing out a couple of the 80 different outdoor 3D archery targets available at Mont du Lac Resort July 27-29 as part of the second annual Bowest event.
TWO HARBORS, Minn. — The Heck series of gravel road bicycle races continues next weekend with the 225-mile Heck Epic: a two-day endurance race taking cyclists up the North Shore from Two Harbors to Grand Marais and back on some of the most scenic — and less traveled — gravel roads of Cook and Lake counties. The Epic is the second of three Heck series races this summer. The Le Grand du Nord race was in May and the third race — the 10th annual Heck of the North — is coming in September.