Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season begins this weekend
Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season opens a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 24, with the same regulations as last year. Minnesota has three waterfowl hunting zones — north, central and south — that share the Sept. 24 season opener but have varying end dates. The central and south zones also have a mid-season closure Oct. 3-7.
Hunters should check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s waterfowl hunting page for complete information including season dates, regulations, a waterfowl identification guide and weekly waterfowl migration reports. Waterfowl hunting regulations are also available in Hmong, Karen, Somali and Spanish on the DNR website.
The DNR is advising waterfowl hunters to take precautions for avian influenza when handling harvested birds to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. The virus poses a low risk to humans but can be spread by contact with sick birds and by hunting equipment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes these recommendations for hunters to protect themselves from avian influenza:
- Do not handle or eat sick game.
- Field dress and prepare game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
- Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game.
- When done handling game, wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant, and clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that came in contact with game.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
- All game should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before being consumed.
In a change, USDA allows hunter-harvested birds into U.S. from Canada
Hunter-harvested, unprocessed wild game bird meat or carcasses that originate in or go through Canada will be permitted to enter the United States, per a Sept. 12 update by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service. The update lifts some restrictions that the USDA made effective Sept. 2.
The USDA worked with stakeholders and other federal agencies to provide options for importing hunter-harvested wild bird meat or carcasses that address the avian influenza transmission risk to domestic poultry. Hunters now are allowed to import hunter-harvested wild bird meat or carcasses from or going through Canada, under several conditions, and hunters should carefully review those conditions on the USDA website.
Teach a kid to hunt small game during Take a Kid Hunting Weekend
Getting youth outdoors in pursuit of squirrels, rabbits and other small game is the focus of Take a Kid Hunting Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25. During the weekend, adult Minnesota residents accompanied by a youth younger than age 16 may hunt small game without a license, although they must comply with open seasons, limits and other regulations.
Hunting small game is a great way to introduce kids to hunting. Kids learn how to search for game sign, properly handle firearms and access hunting land — all without too much time sitting still and being quiet. Anyone who wants to learn how to hunt can find helpful how-to guides on the DNR website including a recorded webinar about how to get started small game hunting. Small game hunting regulations are available at the DNR small game hunting page.
DNR webinars cover preparing for archery deer season, North Shore birding
The DNR invites people interested in wildlife and outdoor skills to tune in to upcoming webinars that will discuss preparing for archery deer season and birding on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
The first webinar is at noon Wednesday, Sept. 21. Dana Keller, an archery coach at A-1 Archery in Hudson and a Level 3 USA Archery coach and bowhunter, will discuss how to prepare for the upcoming archery deer season and ways to have a more successful hunting season this year.
The second webinar is at noon, Wednesday, Sept. 28. Lake Superior and the North Shore create a natural funnel that birds follow during their annual fall migration. Margie Menzies, education program director with Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, will discuss fall bird migration near Lake Superior and the observatory’s fall bird count.
The webinars are part of the DNR’s Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series. The webinars are free but registration is required. More information is available on the outdoor skills and stewardship page of the DNR website.