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Small game hunting down, says DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday the results of a recent survey that small game hunters have the fewest numbers since 1969, and have been trending lower for the past 20 years. 

The survey was sent out to hunters of grouse, waterfowl, and squirrels which helps estimate both hunters and harvest by type of small game. Tracking license sales also contributes the largest portion of funding for wildlife management and habitats. The decline in license sales and harvest reflect an aging hunting population which can be results of competing activities, time constraints, limited access to hunting lands and changing relationships with the natural world. 

Pheasant hunting saw an increase of 19-percent in 2018, likely due to an increase of hunters from the previous year. Despite that, ruffed grouse harvest was down 30-percent. Decreased harvests were also seen in waterfowl including ducks and Canada geese. 

To counteract the declining numbers, the DNR and wildlife conservation continues to be a core value of Minnesotans. In 2008, Minnesotans voted to amend the state constitution to support actions that benefit Minnesota’s natural resources. The “Legacy Amendment” increased the sales tax by ? of one percent to protect drinking water sources, to preserve arts and cultural heritage, support parks and trails, and protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.