|The annual youth archery deer hunt at Camp Ripley is one of the most popular hunts in the state.|
Little Falls Area Wildlife Manager Beau Liddell has helped provide special hunting opportunities for thousands of people, including disabled veterans and youth. But budgets squeezed between increasing costs and declining revenues could put the future of some of those opportunities in jeopardy.
Already, Liddell's station has had to cut back on important wildlife management activities. He's had to eliminate nearly all habitat work on private lands and assistance to landowners.
Scent post surveys and other population assessment efforts have suffered. Outreach to area schools and sportsmen's clubs has been reduced 90 percent.
With inadequate resources to undertake new shallow lake and wetland surveys, opportunities for improving waterfowl habitat are being missed. Maintenance of access roads, trails and parking lots at WMAs has been pared to the bare minimum.
The capacity to work with local government to minimize wildlife impacts resulting from new developments has nearly disappeared.
"We've been able to maintain quality habitat and offer an excellent range and variety of hunting opportunities up to now," Liddell says. "But we've cut any and all fat from our plates and soon we'll have to start trimming muscle without a solution to the funding problem."
The bottom line?
The quality and range of public hunting opportunities available in the Little Falls area will suffer without an increase in license fees.
The Minnesota DNR's Little Falls wildlife area includes 1.6 million acres of public and private lands and waters in Benton, Morrison and Todd counties, providing excellent hunting and trapping opportunities for a wide array of species, including deer, turkey, pheasant, grouse, waterfowl, woodcock, doves and furbearers.