Current News

News that may be of interest to you, provided by Rich Staffon

Minnesota Moose Survey - Here is some good news. The recently completed moose survey finds stable counts and reasons for optimism. See MPR News article below for details:

New Minnesota moose survey finds stable counts, reasons for optimism | MPR News

The number of northern Minnesota moose is the highest since 2011, when the population was midway through a steep decline, according to DNR estimates from its annual January survey. However, the ...

The Rise and Fall of Deer Populations in NE Minnesota

Here is an interesting and in-depth Outdoor Life article by Patrick Durkin that describes the reasons behind the decline in deer numbers in NE Minnesota. While a problem for us deer hunters, this decline should be benefiting the moose population because fewer deer in the woods means fewer cases of brain worm for the moose.

Deer Hunting in the Northwoods Is on the Decline. Will It Ever Rebound? | Outdoor Life

Legislative Hearing on Dangers of Lead

The Ikes have long advocated for banning the use of lead ammo and tackle because of the deadly impacts to wildlife who accidentally ingest lead from lost tackle and bullet fragements left in animal carcasses. There is some hopeful action on this issue in the legislature this year as recently reported below by John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune:

Minnesota lawmakers hear about dangers of lead -

Since the initial announcement in late 2015 of their desire to reintroduce elk to areas near their reservation, members of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, as well as the Izaak Walton League (Ikes), have closely followed the detailed planning process.

The Band has been meticulous in articulating their ideas, and have invested and partnered in independent, high-quality research to support their elk reintroduction plan. In early July of 2021, the Band voted to approve the project and expressed a wish to work with MN DNR to move this project forward.

The Ikes continue to be hopeful that the State will take this opportunity to restore a native species once found in this part of Minnesota. We ask that you begin this important dialogue with the Fond du Lac Band.

Read the full letter here

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including white-tailed deer. It is found globally and in about half of the states in the U.S. CWD remains relatively rare in Minnesota at this time, but is a concern as there is no known cure. The Minnesota DNR, the IWLA and other organizations are working hard to limit its spread.

On Sept. 7, 2021, the St. Louis County Board passed a resolution for a public hearing to consider a moratorium on captive deer farms in the county. This could be a major step forward in the effort to prevent the spread of CWD into the northern forests of Minnesota. 

At the same time, the Minnesota Conservation Federation is leading a coalition of conservation groups, including the Ikes, in drafting a position statement asking the Minnesota legislature to ban cervid farms and the movement of captive cervids in the state (see below). These are encouraging developments, and they mirror a resolution our chapter wrote on the CWD issue in 2019. However, there will likely be a great deal of resistance from the agriculture industry.

IWLA Resolution Statement Regarding CWD and Cervid Farms

Recently, the Minnesota Conservation Federation worked with numerous other organizations, including the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League, to develop a CWD Action Coalition Position Statement regarding CWD and cervid farms, as follows (see the complete position statement here):

Be it resolved that we hereby agree and advocate for:

[1] The use of the word “cervid” is intended to include all members of the Cervidae family, including, but not limited to, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, etc.[2] Based on information provided by the USDA we estimate the total compensation to the operators, under the USDA model, to be approximately $24 million. This number is generated from the $3,000 maximum payout allowed by the UDSA for a cervid animal, multiplied by the roughly 8,000 captive cervids present in the state according to the Board of Animal Health September 2020 Farmed Cervid Program Report.

Where is the mercury coming from that is polluting the St. Louis River Estuary?

Below is a link to a great article by Stephanie Hemphill on the mercury issue and some of the research that is being done to understand the source of this serious problem.

By Stephanie Hemphill

"We'll use these stable isotope fingerprints of mercury to look at what source is being methylated and getting into the fish,” says USGS's Sarah Janssen.

DNR Update for Grassy Point and Kingsbury Bay

Read here for the latest update from the DNR on these habitat restoration projects. 

Bill to Restore America's Grasslands

The Izaak Walton League is encouraging Congress to introduce and pass a North American Grasslands Conservation Act to fund restoration of the nation's disappearing grasslands. The program would focus on work with private landowners since farms and ranches are key to preserving these ecosystems. Grasslands are vital for wildlife, local economies and capturing carbon. Here is a link to learn more about the issue and take action:

Read more and take action.

Oil in the Water

Here is a link to a article with a surprizing story about oil-polluted water near Otter Creek in Carlton County from a long ago spill that Enbridege is supposed to clean up as part of thier Line 3 pipeline project. Who knew?

Enbridge has to clean up water it polluted decades ago in order to use it for Line 3 dewatering

Fire in the Arrowhead

Wildfires have been much in the news lately. Here is a link to an very well done and informative article that explains why we are having this problem with fire. This is not so much a climate change issue as it is a forest management issue that magnifies climate change. It details what needs to be done to resolve the problem and to improve our forest compostion and move our northern forest more towrds what it looked like prior to the logging days. It is a classic tale of fighting fire with fire! 

Wild Rice

For years the MPCA has been unable and unwilling to regulate the discharge of sulfates into the wild rice waters of the state. That has suddenly changed with a recent ruling by the US EPA that requires the state to list 30 of the most polluted wild rice waters on the state's impaired waters list. This is a significant development that could finally force the state to protect wild rice from sulfate discharges by industrial activities like waste water treatment plants and mining. For more details see the April 29 Star Tribune article by Jennifer Bjorhus. The comment period is open until May 31 on this ruling. We plan to submit comments recommending that additional impaired waters be included in the listing. This could be a game changer for mining permits.

Boundary Waters Bill

Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota has recently introduced a bill to protect the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park from sulfide-mining. The bill HR 2794 and can be seen here. ​​The Izaak Walton League and many others have signed on to a letter supporting this legislation. The bill would permanently withdraw from the federal mining program 234,328 acres of federal lands within the Boundary Waters watershed. The bill specifically targets copper-nickel mining and does not limit taconite or sand and gravel mining operations. Please spread the word about this bill and ask folks to contact their representative to support HR 2794. We will need lots of support from other congressional districts to make this happen!

Weak Mining Regulations

Minnesota is touted as a state with strong environmental standards. However, as this Duluth News Tribune article by Ann Cohen, attorney with the MCEA explains, the state's mining regulations are not as strong as we might hope. The Ikes are not opposed to mining per se. We need the minerals these mines can provide, although much more should be done with recycling and reusing first. Until we have regulations and mine plans that truly protect our lands and waters, we believe the minerals should stay in the ground. See more at the Duluth News Tribune.

Approximately $100 Million Available for Wildlife Habitat Grants - SAINT PAUL, Minn., April 1, 2021 – The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) today issued its annual Call for Funding Request from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Approximately $100 million will be available for both metro and statewide grants to aid Minnesota habitat restoration, preservation and enhancement. Requests are due to the LSOHC Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 4 p.m. The funds for approved programs signed into law during the 2022 legislative session will be available Thursday, July 1, 2022.


Since the Outdoor Heritage Fund’s creation in 2008, $1.2 billion in on-the-ground habitat programs has been recommended and over 1 million acres of Minnesota forests, prairies and wetlands have been restored, protected and/or enhanced. The latest set of recommendations for $127.8 million is currently before the Minnesota legislature.


The process is competitive and open to all who wish to apply. “These grants are focused on restoring, protecting and enhancing habitat for fish, game and wildlife,” said Mark Johnson, LSOHC Executive Director. “This beneficially impacts our natural resources of course, but it also enriches the lives of Minnesotans through a healthier, more accessible environment.”


Proposal requirements and terms of funding are outlined in the Call for Funding Request. To view details or learn more, visit: For answers to specific questions, contact LSOHC Staff:


About Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is composed of eight citizens and four legislators and makes annual recommendations to the legislature for use of the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of four funds established as a result of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment, passed by Minnesota voters in November of 2008. The amendment established a dedicated sales tax increase of three-eighths of 1%. One-third of the dollars raised are deposited in the Outdoor Heritage Fund and expenditures must be used to restore, protect and enhance Minnesota’s wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife. Current LSOHC members are listed on the LSOHC website members page:

Douglas Tallamy is the author of "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens" and "Natures Best Hope." He also has a website Homegrown National Park where you can learn more about planting to restore biodiversity.

homegrown national park™ is a grassroots call-to-action to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks.

Senator Tina Smith Moves to Protect Boundary Waters

Our senator has just sent a letter to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture asking them to complete the environmental review for a 20-year ban on copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed. Below is information from Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters that provides the details. We encourage you to contact Senator Tina Smith to thank her for her letter and maybe even write a letter to the editor of your local paper: 

Partners and coalition members of the Campaign to Save the BWCA,


We have exciting news this Friday to close out the week and are asking you help amplify to your following. 


Senator Smith just sent a letter to Secretaries Haaland and Vilsack urging the Biden Administration to re-initiate an environmental review process for a 20 year ban on sulfide-ore copper mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park!


We have the letter hosted on our website here if you'd like to read it.


I have a set of talking points, social media guidance and a sample LTE linked here and our press release is below.


Here's a set of photos you can use - please give photo credit if the person's name is in the title.


We need the Senator to feel the appreciation from all Americans for taking this giant step forward toward protections for the Boundary Waters - America's most visited Wilderness. Please consider sending the suggested tweets @SenTinaSmith with #savethebwca.  


Our Campaign has also sent an email to our supporters and is rolling out a text-to-action campaign asking people to call her DC office In addition to social media. Over the weekend and into next week we'll be pushing out a drumbeat of thanks. Please follow @SavetheBWCA and like/retweet to help amplify. 





Thank Sen. Smith for standing up for the BWCA by sending a message or calling directly to her office below. It's because of supporters like you and decision makers like Sen. Smith that we can and will achieve permanent protection for the Boundary Waters.


Call 202-224-5641 to thank Senator Smith now.


Send a message to thank Sen. Smith for her leadership


  For the Boundary Waters,

Spencer Shaver

Conservation Director

Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters

Photo: Alex Falconer

Masterful Video of Tadpole Migration - Here is a link to a really fascinating and enjoyable video about the migration of the western toad. I know you will enjoy this short but unique view of the underwater world of the western toad tadpole. It will bring back memories of when you were a kid and were fascinated by the wonder of schools of tadpoles in a lake or pond near where you lived.

Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration

Four years in the making, join my journey with the western toad in this short nature documentary. For more visit: Follow me on Facebook and Instagram: @maxwelhohn For stock footage and professional nature video services visit: