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Two Minnesota anglers learned the hard way that Ontario doesn't mess around when it comes to fish and game law violations and big fines. Russell R. Sikkila Jr. of Chisholm was fined $800 (Canadian dollars) for trying to sneak a dozen leeches into Sand Point Lake, while Carl W. Brandt of Forest Lake was fined $1,500 for hiding bags of leeches in a worm cooler as he crossed the border at Fort Frances. Both men pleaded guilty to smuggling leeches into Ontario in violation of the import ban on most live bait. The cases were heard last week in court in Fort Frances.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House on Wednesday debated legislation that would reopen areas near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota to copper-nickel exploration and potential mining, but stopped short of taking any vote. House members hotly debated the bill that would end an Obama-administration ban on exploration and mining near the federal wilderness. But a memo from the House whip said a final vote was postponed until Thursday, Nov. 30.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, Nov. 28, passed legislation that orders the U.S. Forest Service to move forward with a land exchange giving PolyMet Mining access to the site where it hopes to build Minnesota's first-ever copper-nickel mine. The bill passed 309-99 and would, if it becomes law, nullify lawsuits filed by environmental groups to stop the land exchange.
DULUTH — It took eight years, 700 volunteers and thousands of hours in the field but Minnesota has its first new breeding bird atlas since 1936. The new, interactive online atlas is considered the bible of Minnesota's native birds, documenting species that nest and raise their young in the state's forests, prairies, suburbs and cities. Volunteers joined researchers from the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute and Audubon Minnesota, fanning out across 2,353 townships — some 99.5 percent of the state.
VIRGINIA, Minn. — James Larson says he drives past a lake near his home in Aurora, Minnesota, and, if the rainfall has been right, sees a flourishing stand of wild rice. "Every year it gets thicker and thicker and thicker," said Larson, a union employee at United Taconite. Larson's comments joined a chorus of Iron Range residents, business and civic leaders who asked state Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter to reject the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's proposed rule to limit sulfate and sulfides in waters where wild rice grows.
DULUTH—Two Duluth-area conservation officers chased down two suspected poachers Saturday night, Oct. 21, in what became a haunting tale of paranormal behavior. Conservation officers Andy Schmidt and Kipp Duncan, who patrol the Duluth area for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, were staking out a cemetery near where there had been recent complaints of people "shining" deer.
DULUTH — Drivers on Minnesota highways are slightly more likely to hit a deer this year than last according to an annual assessment by State Farm Insurance. The company said an estimated 1-in-74 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 drivers in 2016. Minnesota retained its rank as No. 7 among all 50 states in how likely drivers are to hit a deer on the road.
DULUTH — Minnesota's wolf population jumped 25 percent in the past year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Monday, Sept. 25, in large part to an increasing northern deer herd. The DNR said its annual survey showed an estimated 2,856 wolves spread among 500 packs, up from 2,278 wolves in 438 packs in the 2015-2016 survey. Wolf numbers had remained flat or declined some for several years before this year's jump.
ST. PAUL — State Auditor Rebecca Otto on Wednesday, Sept. 20, became the first and maybe only candidate for Minnesota governor to propose a state "price on carbon," part of a proposed multi-point energy independence plan that's heavy on renewable energy. Her "RenewMN" carbon tax aims to reduce carbon dioxide, the pollutant that the vast majority of scientists who study the issue say is causing global warming, but also aims to create Minnesota-based jobs in renewable energy and energy conservation industries.