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Outdoors Notebook: Congress includes CWD legislation in federal budget bill

The legislation bolsters CWD research and prioritizes funding for state and tribal wildlife agencies that have the highest incidence and greatest risk of CWD.

ND elk
A herd of North Dakota elk on the move in this undated photo.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department

MISSOULA, Mont. – Congress included the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act within the Omnibus Budget Bill that passed before adjournment of the recently completed 117th session, according to a news release from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

That means critical financial help is on the way for researchers and wildlife managers dealing with CWD, RMEF said.

“This funding to fight CWD was a 2022 legislative priority for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and is vitally important for the future of elk and other ungulates, CWD research, wildlife management and hunting,” Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO, said in a statement.

RMEF worked with the Boone and Crockett Club to organize a coalition of conservation and wildlife organizations that worked together for a year and a half leading up to the legislative victory.

“This took a lot of heavy lifting and work behind the scenes,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “RMEF met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and had at least 50 calls or meetings with staff and members to get bipartisan sponsors and secure votes for passage. RMEF members also generated hundreds of letters to their representatives that helped turn the tide.”


The legislation bolsters CWD research to develop testing methods, enhance detection efforts, better understand genetic resistance and assists with management by prioritizing funding for state and tribal wildlife agencies that have the highest incidence and greatest risk of CWD.

Congress appropriated $19.5 million for CWD efforts in 2023.

– Herald staff report

Copper Roundtable session set

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hosting a Copper Roundtable from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd, Minn.

First held in 2015 and 2016, the Copper Roundtable will be reconvened this year to provide grassroots stakeholders with the opportunity to connect, share information and get updates from each other on the topic of non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

Among the roundtable goals is a commitment to include all stakeholders in a discussion of the risks of spent lead ammunition to non-target wildlife and humans, and the benefits of copper ammunition for hunting.

– Herald staff report

Ducks Unlimited marks 86 years

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Ducks Unlimited marks its 86th anniversary Sunday, Jan. 29, the conservation group said in a news release.


In 1937, a small group set out to save North America’s waterfowl populations while celebrating the continent’s strong waterfowling heritage. Stressing the critical role wetlands play across North America, DU committed to this mission at the height of the Great Depression and one of the worst droughts in history.

Ducks Unlimited logo.jpg
Contributed/Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited today calls itself “the world's largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization.” The conservation group’s work has led to the conservation of more than 15 million acres and counting, thanks to tireless support from generations of DU members, volunteers and partners who are part of the organization’s mission to conserve and restore wetlands and other vital habitats for North America’s waterfowl.

“Thanks to the passion and steadfast dedication of our more than 1 million volunteers, members and supporters, Ducks Unlimited has produced phenomenal results in 86 years,” DU President Chuck Smith said in a statement. “That dedication was evident as 575,000 acres of habitat were protected or restored in Fiscal Year 2022. DU’s mission brings us together and delivers results. We’re accelerating our efforts to reach 16 million acres in record time.”
– Herald staff report

DNR tool provides lake health info

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota DNR has created a new online tool, called the Watershed Health Assessment Framework for Lakes (WHAF for Lakes), to provide easy access to water quality and health information for thousands of Minnesota lakes.

WHAF for Lakes is part of the DNR’s Watershed Health Assessment Framework (mndnr.gov/whaf/about/watershed-reports.html) and is funded by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

“Our staff did very innovative work over the past year to create this valuable new tool,” Katie Smith, director of the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division, said in a statement. “WHAF for Lakes will benefit anyone who wants to know more about a particular lake’s water quality and the health of the aquatic habitat and community in that lake. It will also help guide decisions about lake protection and restoration.”

Users can compare a lake’s health measures to other nearby lakes. Along with graphics showing a lake’s relative water quality, biology and hydrology, WHAF for Lakes includes information about basic lake characteristics and lake stewardship. Quick access to this information will help Minnesotans, local government and water resource agencies work together on comprehensive watershed management efforts.

WHAF for Lakes can be accessed by searching for a particular watershed ( arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/ewr/whaflakes ), exploring watershed health with the WHAF Map ( arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/ewr/whaf2 ) or using the DNR’s popular LakeFinder page ( mndnr.gov/lakefind ).


– Herald staff report

Species profile: Black bears

ST. PAUL – January is a time of renewal and new life for Minnesota’s black bear population.

Mother bears will give birth to their cubs in mid-January to early February. Cubs are born with their eyes closed and weigh about a pound. They grow quickly, weighing about 4 to 6 pounds by early March. The average litter size is 2.7 in Minnesota, which means that litters of three are more common than litters of two. The largest litter ever documented here is five, although Pennsylvania holds the record for the largest litter in North America – six cubs. Litter sizes of first-time mothers are typically smaller than those of experienced mothers.

Bears wait longer than any other large mammal in Minnesota to reproduce. Food availability in the state’s forests is the driving factor for when bears first produce cubs. In the food-rich central and northwestern forests of the state, bears often reproduce at 4 years old. The food-poor northernmost forests along the Canadian border do not have oaks (which produce nutritious acorns), causing bears to not typically reproduce until 6 years of age or older. Bears reproduce at 5 years old in the rest of bear range.

Learn more about black bears on the DNR website.

– Herald staff report

Remove gear from North Dakota WMAs

BISMARCK – North Dakota hunters must remove tree stands, blinds, steps and other personal items such as cameras from all wildlife management areas by Jan. 31, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said in a reminder.

Items not removed by Jan. 31 are considered abandoned property and are subject to removal and confiscation by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.


– Herald staff report

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