Hunters, trappers and wildlife watchers in the Polk and Red Lake county areas benefit from the management, habitat and oversight work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Crookston area wildlife staff.
Acting Area Manager Emily Hutchins oversees an area in northwestern Minnesota that includes 1.5 million acres of public and private land. The area includes 52 Wildlife Management Areas totaling 26,273 acres; one state waterfowl refuge; two state game refuges; and one migratory bird feeding and resting area.
- Our work
- Planning prescribed brush land and grassland burns on approximately 1,500 acres annually. In 2017, wildlife crews successfully conducted 12 burns totaling 2,400 acres on 10 WMAs.
- Monitoring invasive plants and noxious weeds on 30 WMAs, and then taking steps to eliminate them by mowing, burning or chemically treating them. Crews treated 150 acres in 2017.
- Administering 10 cooperative farming agreements and haying leases covering 1,000 acres and managing three grazing leases on 800-plus acres in 2017. Food plots for wildlife are arranged within the cooperative farming agreements and vary year to year depending on the crops planted, location and objectives. Grazing leases facilitate management of grassland and wetlands using rotational grazing in cooperation with local ranchers.
- Conducting annual surveys consisting of, but not limited to, prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse drumming counts, frog and toad surveys, August roadside counts, small mammal surveys and helicopter deer surveys.
- Monitoring and maintaining WMA and refuge boundary signs as well as maintaining and developing parking areas, walking trails and access roads on more than 52 WMAs.
- Participating in public outreach events including guest lecturing, field trips and leading labs at local universities; working with outdoors and conservation organizations to improve habitat; staffing a wildlife booth at the Polk County Fair; serving and advising numerous non-profit groups; maintaining a prairie chicken viewing blind for public use; and responding to various local requests for DNR staff such as youth days, environmental field days, hunter education and safety classes and job shadows.