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Outdoors notebook: Hoeven, Heinrich introduce CWD Research and Management Act

Bipartisan legislation would empower state, tribal governments to address and prevent CWD outbreaks.

CWD deer
This emaciated deer in Iowa County, Wisconsin, was later confirmed to have chronic wasting disease.
Contributed / Wisconsin DNR
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WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday in the U.S. Senate aims to address the growing problem of chronic wasting disease in wild populations of deer, elk and moose.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., introduced the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act. The bill is a Senate companion to legislation the House of Representatives passed last December with an overwhelming 393-33 vote.

The bill would authorize $70 million per year, split evenly to support both the research and management of CWD. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would administer the funds through cooperative agreements with state and tribal wildlife agencies and agriculture departments.

Scott Peterson, deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said there's “a pretty high likelihood” a bill will be introduced to strip the department of its authority to ban the

The legislation also includes an authorization for USDA and state and tribal agencies to develop educational materials to inform the public on CWD and directs USDA to review its herd certification program within 18 months, according to a news release from Hoeven’s office.

“CWD is a growing threat to both wildlife and livestock, impacting sportsmen, ranchers and the local ecology of regions across the U.S.,” Hoeven said. “Our legislation would empower state and tribal governments to better manage and prevent outbreaks of this deadly disease, while also advancing new methods for detecting CWD and limiting its spread.”


U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Hoeven is a ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, both D-Minn., are among the original cosponsors of the Senate bill.

“The bipartisan Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act will help ensure state and tribal agencies on the front lines of controlling this disease have the resources they need to better understand and stop its spread,” John Bradley, executive director of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, said in a statement. “Conserving our deer herds and protecting our hunting heritage will require investing in solutions that match the scale of the problem, and this bill does exactly that.”

A prion disease that is ultimately fatal, CWD has now spread to wild deer herds in 29 states and three Canadian provinces.

– Herald staff report

Third angler sentenced in LOW overlimit case

BAUDETTE, Minn. – A third angler has been sentenced for keeping too many walleyes and saugers on Lake of the Woods during a fishing trip on the opening weekend of the 2021 Minnesota deer season.

Yevgeniy Simonovich, 29, Elk River, Minnesota, was sentenced to pay $150 in restitution and $50 in court costs for his role in the incident, court records show.

Two of his fishing partners, David Sysa, 23, Cedar, Minnesota; and Michael Sysa, 22, Oak Grove, Minnesota, each were sentenced in March to pay $795 in fines and restitution.


The anglers were charged after Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Corey Sura found them with 72 walleyes and saugers during a check of their boat and vehicle Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, at the Wheeler’s Point boat ramp. The count put the three men, along with a juvenile angler who wasn’t charged, with 48 fish over their limit. DNR conservation Ben Huener of Roseau, Minnesota, assisted.

The juvenile received a warning, court records show.

Conservation officers seized the 72 fish, which were donated to the Senior Living Center in Warroad, Minnesota, for residents’ consumption.

The charges are misdemeanors.

– Brad Dokken

Minnesota moms fish free May 7-8

ST. PAUL – During Take a Mom Fishing Weekend on Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, May 8, moms who live in Minnesota can fish without buying a license.

The Minnesota Legislature established this special weekend in 1988 to coincide with Mother’s Day. Most years, the fishing opener and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend are on the same weekend, but not this year. On Take a Mom Fishing weekend, fishing is open for many species including crappies, sunfish and catfish, or native fish such as buffalo, suckers, bullheads or sheepshead. Walleye and northern pike seasons will open the following weekend on Saturday, May 14.

More info: mndnr.gov/Fishing .


– Herald staff report

New sunfish regs in effect on 52 lakes

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota DNR reminds sunfish anglers to closely check the 2022 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet and signs at water accesses for new sunfish limits that went into effect March 1 on 52 lakes and connected waters.

The new regulations lower limits on specific waters as part of a DNR initiative to protect and improve sunfish sizes. The changes are in response to angler-driven concerns over the declining sizes of sunfish in Minnesota.

Anglers can keep only the prescribed number of fish per day but can return the next day for another limit if they don’t exceed the statewide inland water possession limit of 20 sunfish per angler. Minnesota fishing regulations use sunfish as the generic name for bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, orange-spotted sunfish, longear, warmouth and their hybrids.

More about the Quality Sunfish Initiative is available at mndnr.gov/Sunfish .

– Herald staff report

Bear hunting apps due May 6

ST. PAUL – Prospective bear hunters have until Friday, May 6, to apply for a Minnesota bear hunting license, the DNR said in a reminder. Applications for the 2022 season can be submitted online, at any license agent or by calling (888) 665-4236. Bear season opens Thursday, Sept. 1, and closes Sunday, Oct. 16.

Lottery winners will be notified by Wednesday, June 1. The deadline to purchase bear hunting licenses awarded by lottery is Monday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unsold licenses will be available over the counter starting at noon Thursday, Aug. 4.

An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be sold over the counter for the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in the no-quota area.

Hunters with a bear license who are interested in taking a problem bear should contact the area DNR wildlife manager ( mndnr.gov/Areas/Wildlife ) to be added to the hunter contact list for notification as opportunities arise.

More info: mndnr.gov/Hunting/Bear .

– Herald staff report

NDGF launches Dry Lake walleye study

BISMARCK – Fisheries staff from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department launched a walleye tagging project this spring at Dry Lake in McIntosh County to assess how anglers are using the lake's walleye population. Trap netting is the main tool that fisheries crews use to collect walleyes to tag, Game and Fish said on its Facebook page.

The recent historic blizzard followed by record low temperatures created some difficult working conditions but crews have managed to tag 1,546 walleye so far, the department said earlier this week. Fish tagging studies provide important information for biologists who manage walleye populations across North Dakota.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish can report it at gf.nd.gov/contact/tagged-fish-reporting .

Dry Lake covers 5,471.1 acres and has an average depth of 14.1 feet, with a maximum depth of 24.1 feet, department statistics show.

– Herald staff report

DNR offers shooting range grants

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota DNR is offering $125,000 in grants as part of a program to provide people with more and better places to safely participate in shooting sports.

The steady increase in the popularity of shooting sports has created capacity issues at some shooting ranges in Minnesota, the DNR said.

The application period is open-ended, and the grant money is available July 1 on a first-come, first-served basis, the DNR said. The grants, which require a 1:1 match, are available to work on five-stand, pistol, rifle, skeet or trap ranges.

Grants from $2,500 to $25,000 are available, and grantees must allow members of the public to shoot at reasonable times and for reasonable fees, the DNR said.

“One of the best parts of shooting sports is they’re available to people of all ages and abilities,” Chuck Niska, shooting range coordinator, said in a statement. “Shooting is a fun and safe way to get outside and develop deeper connections with the outdoors.”

In the current application period, the DNR will focus on providing funds for new range development to new grantees from outstate areas.

More info: mndnr.gov/Grants/Recreation/RangeDev3.html .
– Herald staff report

Minnesota again wins ‘CoCoRaHS Cup’

ST. PAUL – Minnesota added more rainfall monitoring volunteers during the annual March recruitment than any other state and set a new national recruiting record for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), the DNR said.

The recruiting effort, led by the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota office of the National Weather Service, resulted in 365 new volunteers and brought the “CoCoRaHS Cup” to Minnesota for the third year in a row.

Minnesota broke the previous record last year as well by recruiting 270 new volunteers.

The rain, snow and hail data gathered and reported by volunteers are not only important in tracking weather trends and the effects of climate change, but they also serve anyone who needs daily local area precipitation reports for any purpose.

“We’re so grateful to our national record number of volunteers in Minnesota,” State Climatologist Luigi Romolo said in a statement. “While it’s fun to win cups and set records, the real winner here is science. The data from these new recruits will go a long way to help our day-to-day operations.”

The new observers join more than 1,000 other daily precipitation observers who volunteer as part of the state’s MnGage network, making Minnesota’s resident precipitation observing program the most comprehensive in the country.

The national CoCoRaHS network includes more than 20,000 volunteers nationwide who measure precipitation in their backyards using a standard 4-inch-diameter rain gauge.

More info: CoCoRaHS.org or luigi.romolo@state.mn.us .

– Herald staff report

A pair of northern flickers forage in south Grand Forks this week during migration.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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