Online tool helps hunters, wildlife watchers
Hunters and wildlife watchers can glean a wealth of information about Minnesota's 1,400 wildlife management areas (WMA) on the Minnesota Department Natural Resources (DNR) website at www.mndnr.gov/wmas.
"We are well into the suite of fall hunting seasons that we enjoy in Minnesota but there are still lots of opportunities including muzzleloader deer, archery deer, grouse and pheasant that remain open well into December," said Bob Welsh, DNR wildlife habitat program manager. "With seasons for squirrel and rabbit open until the end of February, a little bit of homework up front can help you find ideal habitat for hunting as well as wildlife and bird viewing."
A new feature of the online WMA information tool provides a habitat management report, which allows users to see the primary species at which WMA management activities are directed, what types of habitat wildlife managers are working to create and the management strategies and activities being pursued.
The new feature has not been implemented for every WMA but information is being collected and added as it becomes available so all WMAs eventually will have the new feature in place.
"This information can help people understand the management activities that are taking place," Welsh said. "They can see the rationale behind clearing timber, a prescribed burn or drawing down the water level in an impoundment. Previously, the online tool gave WMA users the ability to locate a WMA and see a very general map. This new tool gives visitors some insight as to the habitat management that is occurring. Never before has a user been able to functionally pre-scout an area before arriving."
Other information provided by the online WMA tool includes the unit's name, size, directions, the nearest town and a printable map. Tool users also will find information about wildlife species they can expect to see; basic information about onsite and nearby facilities; and a list of allowable recreational opportunities.
Links to an interactive cover map and the DNR's recreation compass, which shows surrounding destinations, are provided.
Users can download files for compatible GPS devices that show WMA boundaries at www.mndnr.gov/mobile.
People who have visited a particular WMA and want to comment on its condition or provide information to the area wildlife manager can click on the "make comments" link to complete the WMA condition survey.
"The online information tool is a valuable resource that allows hunters and wildlife watchers to assess the information available and determine the best locations for what they're seeking," Welsh said.