Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration

Adult and youth hunter silhouetted against the sunrise

A heritage of conservation

Conservation benefits all of us. It needs us in the outdoors, passing on to future generations what we know and why we do it. It also depends on a portion of the dollars you spend to enjoy the outdoors.

If you've ever purchased a firearm, bow, arrows, rod and reel or fueled up your boat, you're part of the most successful effort to conserve fish and wildlife in Minnesota – the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.

Aquatic habitats


Often unseen and little known, healthy and natural aquatic habitat provides fish with the food, cover and water quality they need.

Sport Fish RestorationChanges in land use, modification of sensitive riparian zones and degradation or loss of critical aquatic habitat threaten fisheries habitats. Control or elimination of incompatible land use activities< is necessary to insure the protection and restoration of important habitat areas. Acquisition of key parcels to meet specific management objectives is required to maintain the integrity of Minnesota fisheries habitats.


Better fishing


Electro-fishing in a stream is part of a management strategy to determine fish populations.

Sport Fish RestorationLake and stream management plans enable DNR area fisheries supervisors to prioritize management of waters to effectively allocate effort so all waters for which they are responsible receive appropriate evaluation and management. Effective management plans are based on accurate and current data collected during lake and stream surveys, population assessments and management evaluation studies.


Fish stocking


A fisheries crew stocks walleye in western Minnesota.

Sport Fish RestorationStocking is one of the tools DNR uses to maintain, expand and enhance Minnesota's angling opportunities. Fish are stocked for a variety of reasonsincluding angler exploitation, habitat degradation, reduced abundance of native species, the ability of a resource to sustain a fishery as well as reintroducing and supplementing current fish populations in some waters.


Science on your behalf


A fisheries research biologist checks data on northern pike movements in a northern Minnesota lake.

Sport Fish RestorationFishing pressure on many Minnesota lakes and streams has increased to the level that it is oftentimes detrimental to fishing quality if not to the fisheries resource. To prevent further overexploitation of the aquatic resource, to try to preserve fishing quality,and to protect the aquatic environment, more applied research is needed. The main function of fisheries research in Minnesota is to provide fish managers more effective and/or efficient ways to manage aquatic resources.


Aquatic and angling know-how


Nationally recognized, award-winning curriculum is part of the resource and stewardship learning experience MinnAqua offers.

Sport Fish RestorationMinnAqua is a statewide education program designed to teach angling recreation and stewardship as well as the ecology and conservation of aquatic habitats. MinnAqua education specialists and interns partner with schools, youth groups, community and outdoor organizations to conduct fishing and aquatic education programs throughout Minnesota.


Hunting and outdoor understanding


An outdoor coach assists a youth with trap shooting.

Sport Fish RestorationThis DNR program focuses on reducing barriers to participation and opening doors of opportunity for youth and adults. It strives to promote a positive image of hunters and hunting in an effort to preserve and foster hunting's place as an important part of Minnesota's outdoor heritage. It supports hunters and hunting by reducing barriers to participation and opening doors of opportunity and promotes a positive image of hunters and hunting in an effort to preserve and foster hunting's place as an important part of Minnesota's outdoor heritage.


Easier access


Maintaining access to public lands to create and improve outdoor experiences is one of the main tasks of area wildlife offices throughout Minnesota.

Minnesotans enjoy free access to 1,420 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) encompassing more than 1.3 million acres. This grant is used to maintain roads, trails and water accesses, which facilitates recreational use of each area, increases user satisfaction and maintains the recreational user base. Grant funds also are used to maintain user facilities such as parking lots and hunting blinds, which prolongs the useful life of WMA assets.


Habitat conservation


A wildlife crew works to maintain and improve grassland habitat.

Sport Fish RestorationIncreased demand on natural resources along with changes in land use, habitat fragmentation and conflicting outdoor recreation uses continue to challenge the DNR's ability to meet its mission. These changes weaken the ability of natural ecosystems to sustain or renew themselves. This federal grant allows DNR to conduct resource assessment of wildlife habitat on Wildlife Management Areas statewide annually as well as restore, conserve, manage and enhance a wide variety of Minnesota habitat.


Healthy wildlife


Wildlife biologists draw a blood sample from a white-tailed deer during a northwestern Minnesota research project.

This grant helps DNR maintain sustainable populations of wildlife at levels consistent with habitat conditions and social tolerance; maintain or increase quality public hunting opportunities; identify and control wildlife disease outbreaks to minimize adverse impacts to wildlife populations, domestic livestock, and human health; and monitor the gray wolf population to maintain state management.


Helpful advice


Answering questions and providing guidance that help other landowners better manage habitat is one of DNR's roles.

Sport Fish RestorationImproved wildlife habitat and sound techniques and policies to reduce wildlife damage and nuisances are the goals of the technical guidance grant, which funds DNR efforts to provide advice and recommendations to private landowners, conservation groups, government agencies and other land and water management organizations.


Preserving nature


Minnesota's iconic moose is just one of the many wildlife species that benefit from the DNR's habitat acquisition and management work.

Sport Fish RestorationAcquiring additional land for Wildlife Management Areas provides additional acres for wildlife production and habitat as well as creating additional public hunting, trapping and other recreational uses. Preserving these areas also helps conserve water, protect unique vegetation communities, buffer encroaching development and preserve natural beauty and open space.


Wildlife information


The prairie chicken, located primarily in northwestern Minnesota, is just one of the many wildlife species DNR wildlife staff monitor.

Sport Fish RestorationAccurate surveys conducted to determine the abundance, distribution and condition of wildlife populations are an important tool for wildlife resource managers to make informed, science-based decisions and for hunters and wildlife watchers, who reference the information to improve their outdoor experiences.


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