As 2004 draws to a close I would like to chronicle the top ten outdoor news events as I see them (or better yet, as I remember them). As you will note these listings have a definite slant toward Minnesota issues, but I did throw in a few with national significance, as well.
#10. Flying Asian Carp Found In Lake Pepin:
We were first warned of the potential dangers of what could happen to the aquatic ecosystem if several Asian Carp species are allowed to migrate further upstream in the Mississippi River. At first it was almost comical to see the video on the news of this Asian Flying Carp that literally will jump out of the water prompted apparently by boat motors. Then, we were told just how dangerous these fish could be to the ecosystem as they are voracious foragers that will compete with native (more desired) species.
9. Coyotes Invading the Twin Cities:
Back in early December it was first brought to the attention of TV news viewers how urban growth was encroaching on wildlife habitat. WRONG!!! Those of us who know about the population explosion of coyotes in Minnesota during the past 25 years know it is the coyote that is invading us. A mere quarter century ago this canine was limited mostly to just a select few counties in the western portion of the state…today the coyote can be found in EVERY county in Minnesota’s diverse landscape. All 87 counties from the agricultural belt to the deep forested areas of northern Minnesota now play host to this predator. It is the coyote that is just beginning to conflict with our urban cities, and my prediction is within 5 years it will be black bear invading the Twin Cities as wild populations are on the move expanding their normal ranges.
8. Minnesota Celebrates First Dove Season:
For the first time in over 30 years Minnesota hunters joined the vast majority of other states who hold a mourning dove season.
7. No Fatal Hunting Accidents:
Not since 1998 has Minnesota gone without any hunting fatalities in the state. When you consider this means that over 500,000 hunters toting guns did not negatively make the news by accidentally shooting another hunter…this deserves to be celebrated. It shows that hunter education does work because if you were to compare this with accident records from 40 years ago you would see it was not uncommon for as many as 10 Minnesota hunters to die each fall in hunting-related accidents.
6. Minnesota sues North Dakota in Federal Court:
Minnesota becomes the first state to file a lawsuit against another state over hunter discrimination. There were five counts or claims of the discrimination which all fall under the Interstate Commerce Clause; Discriminatory Season Opening Date, Discriminatory Geographic Restrictions, Discriminatory Treatment of Nonresident Landowners, Discriminatory Access to Public Lands, Discriminatory License Fees. At the time of this writing I am not sure where this Federal Court case stands. (Steve, can you help out??)
5. U.S. Outfitters Lawsuit:
In a somewhat similar issue to the one we just discussed, here a commercial interest sued the State of Arizona and eventually won in the 9th Circuit Court on a case of discrimination against non-resident hunting opportunities. Stay tuned, these issues are only going to get more prevalent in the years to come as more states try to protect their resources for their residents…and non-residents want the same opportunities as residents.
4. Humane Society of U.S. & Fund For Animals Merge:
Two well-funded anti-sportsman groups combine forces to mount an attack against bowhunting. Watch for this developing story that is going to pit sportsmen against antis in a battle the likes of which we have not seen in over 20 years.
3. Poor Duck Hunting:
This past fall proved to be one of the worst duck hunting seasons on record for Minnesota hunters. Very few hunters experienced a banner year, and from most reports it was a dismal year due to many factors. The future of duck hunting in Minnesota at this point is not looking bright, so we expect several meetings and symposiums in the coming months to address the problem.
2. Re-election of President Bush:
This blog site made no bones about who we supported in the past presidential election, and because it consumed so much of the media coverage for over a year…I rank this as the runner up story effecting sportsmen during 2004. I truly believe, as I have previously stated, that the choice in candidates was quite clear. Gun owners especially rejoiced in the re-election of President Bush.
1. Wisconsin Hunting Killings:
And finally, the number one story of the year that will undoubtedly have long-term effects for all of us in the future, comes from Wisconsin with the slayings of the deer hunters in rural Sawyer County. This high-profile case has been described by some as the “9/11 for hunters,” and by all accounts it might affect some change in all of our attitudes toward issues of trespassing and the Hmong culture integrating into our outdoor society. Stay tuned.
All in all, 2004 was an interesting year in many ways for sportsmen. If you disagree with my listing, please leave a comment and tell me how you would rate the top stories of 2004. I’m interested to hear how you might have seen things differently.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.