The biggest outdoors news and tales of interest from 2008
Outdoors news is part of what makes the Northland special. From bluebills to bills in the Legislature, here are the stories that stood out in 2008.
* State Sen. Satveer Chaudary, DFL-Fridley, introduced a bill proposing to move Minnesota's fishing opener a week earlier each year to increase angler enjoyment and to benefit resorts. Later in the session, Chaudary withdrew the bill, which drew little support.
* Minnesota Legislature passed a bill putting the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot in November. Proponents had been pushing for nine years to get such a bill passed.
* Ice went out of many lakes just in time for the Minnesota fishing opener on May 10.
* Steelhead and Kamloops rainbow trout numbers were down on Minnesota's North Shore this spring. Kamloops numbers (314 at the French River trap) were their lowest ever.
* ATV riders at Silver Bay came close but failed to break the record for the longest ATV parade during an event June 14. A total of 1,083 riders took part, short of Kentucky's record of 1,138 set in 2006.
* Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were up about 9 percent in Northeastern Minnesota and up 12 percent in northern Wisconsin.
* Eric Thomas of Duluth successfully completed a 2,120-mile solo sailboat race, the Singlehanded TransPacific Yacht Race. He placed second in his class.
* Mary Shideler, the "kayak lady" of Grand Rapids, paddled her 909th Itasca County lake. She's out to paddle all of the county's 1,007 lakes.
* Mountain bikers completed volunteer efforts to build 8½ miles of new mountain biking trails in the Piedmont neighborhood.
* Grouse hunters reported seeing a few more birds than last fall, corresponding with the increased drumming counts last spring.
* About 1,200 to 1,500 bluebills (scaup) died on Lake Winnibigoshish near Deer River this fall as a result of a snail-borne parasite. Last year, about 7,000 bluebills died on the lake from the same cause.
* Two new studies supported earlier findings in Minnesota and North Dakota about lead fragmentation in deer. A Minnesota study, using sheep instead of deer, showed that lead fragments were found as far as 18 inches from the wound channel. And a North Dakota study in October found that people who ate game harvested with lead bullets had higher levels of lead in their blood than people who do not eat game shot with lead. Studies have not indicated what levels of lead are harmful to humans.
* Minnesota voters passed Minnesota's Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment by a 56 to 42 percent margin, increasing sales tax by 3/8ths of 1 percent and generating about $300 million annually.
* New regulations allow youths ages 10 and 11 to take big game in Minnesota without first taking firearms safety classes, as long as the youths are within immediate reach of a parent or guardian.
* A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources official said conservation officers in Northeastern Minnesota were "overwhelmed" by deer-baiting cases this fall. The practice has increased each of the past several years.
* A University of Wisconsin study indicates the state has twice as many black bears as the current estimate of 13,000. DNR officials concur with results.
* Minnesota's firearms deer harvest was down about 19 percent from last year across Northeastern Minnesota. Biologists believe liberal seasons in past years has brought the herd down to target levels.
* Wisconsin's gun deer harvest was down about 20 percent from last year statewide, prompting many hunters to question the deer population estimates of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
* As of mid-December, about 450 deer had been taken in Duluth's city bowhunt, which continues through Dec. 31. Last year, hunters took 567 deer in the hunt.
* In a change initiated by the Minnesota Legislature, the winter lake trout and stream trout seasons will begin Jan. 15 and continue through March 31 both in and out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.