Statewide: May 16, 2012 Archive
Minnesota is home to the largest American White Pelican colony in North America.
In 1968 the pelican was nearly extinct in Minnesota, down to one known breeding pair, state Department of Natural Resources researchers say.
Now there are an estimated 50,000 white pelicans in the state. Most of the birds winter in the Gulf of Mexico and return in the spring to raise young.
About 34,000 nest on Marsh Lake, in western Minnesota. On just one island nearly a half mile long and a few hundred feet wide, about 10,000 pelicans nest along with thousands of gulls and cormorants.
It's a bill-to-tail mass of birds and eggs and chicks. You can't take your eyes off the ground while walking because you'll step on a nest.
Researcher Jeff DiMatteo has been to the spot for about 25 years to band young pelicans He worries that the pelican colony is gaining notoriety, and attracting more birding enthusiasts and amateur photographers.
The islands on Marsh Lake are a protected sanctuary.
Trespassing on the islands can lead to citations and fines, according to Minnesota DNR Non-Game Wildlife Program Supervisor Carrol Henderson.
"Pelican colonies are at a critical stage of nesting right now, with many newly hatched chicks. Only researchers with appropriate permits may visit the island to conduct their studies," Henderson said. "Otherwise, pelicans at this stage of nesting will not tolerate trespassing by photographers or curious members of the public because it can result in the death of young."
Researcher Jeff DiMatteo says that's exactly what happened last year at the Marsh Lake Colony. An unidentified photographer paddled out to one of the islands and set up a blind. The parents left their nests and refused to return until the photographer left. Several hundred chicks died as a result. Dimatteo worries growing interest in pelicans will lead people to "love em to death."
To minimize the impact of his research trips to the colony, Dimatteo doesn't spend much time in any one area. He moves slowly to avoid alarming the pelicans.
I also worried about how to record the birds without unnecessary disturbance. Pelicans don't make a lot of noise. To obtain the sound of adults on the nest, I stashed a small recorder among the nests, collecting it when researchers returned to the area an hour later.
There have been cases of pelican colonies abandoned after too much disturbance. A few years ago thousands of pelicans abandoned chicks and eggs at the Chase Lake Refuge in North Dakota. The reason remains unclear. No one knows the limits of the pelicans tolerance for disturbance.
The DNR's Carrol Henderson says people who want to see pelicans should check out a colony on Pigeon Lake near Hutchinson. There is a Highway Scenic Overlook that was provided specifically for birdwatchers to view the colony from a safe distance.
Posted at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Interior Department calls Duluth's casino contract invalid
Duluth News Tribune: "The city of Duluth's efforts to hold on to a casino revenue-sharing agreement with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have been dealt another blow."
Workers authorize strike at 8 Twin Cities hospitals
Star Tribune: "Workers at eight Twin Cities hospitals could be off their jobs later this month in a temporary strike over a new contract."
$628K sought for redistricting costs
AP "The Minnesota court panel that settled the latest round of political redistricting is now being asked to cover more than $628,000 in legal bills for the Democrats, Republicans and citizens who joined the lawsuit."
Mankato woman, 21, drowns in Blue Earth River
Mankato Free Press: "A woman and three of her friends got on their inner tubes, floated away from the sandy shores of Rapidan Dam Park and started what was going to be a lazy trip down the Blue Earth River on a warm May afternoon."
Hegseth seeks Medicare, Social Security overhauls
MPR News: "Delegates to the state Republican convention will endorse a candidate for U.S. Senate later this week. MPR News is looking at what each of the candidates is proposing to do about the nation's budget deficit."
Duluth School Board begins laying off teachers
Duluth News Tribune: "Six non-tenured teachers were laid off Tuesday by the Duluth School Board in a 5-1 vote.The layoffs include four special education teachers, one English teacher and one social studies teacher."
Engaging teens in pregnancy prevention may be paying off
MPR News: "In the sex education classes teens take in Minnesota schools, abstinence has been touted as the only 100 percent effective way to avoid pregnancy. But survey statistics don't give abstinence the credit."
Chisago Lakes fishing tournament goal? Kill the carp
Pioneer Press: "The Chisago Lakes Lions Club has a solution for the common carp that are muddying area waters: catch as many as you can, and kill them."
Paul campaign lays out delegate strategy
Politico: "On a call with reporters this morning, Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton laid out the campaign's strategy for winning delegates going forward and stressed that Paul's supporters won't cause problems at the Republican convention in Tampa this summer."
Mystery donor gives $7 million to Coleman group
USA Today: "An anonymous donor gave $7 million to the American Action Network, a conservative group that spent millions to aid Republicans in the 2010 midterm congressional elections, according to tax returns the organization is filing with the Internal Revenue Service."
Lawmakers react to end of session
KAAL: "Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and state legislators kept Minnesota under budget, adjourned on time, and without a government shutdown. But besides a Vikings stadium deal, lawmakers were quick to blame one another on a relatively slow session."
Majority in poll: Retire Fighting Sioux nickname
Forum of Fargo Moorhead: "A month before the electoral showdown over the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname, a new statewide poll shows likely voters inclined toward allowing the university to retire the historic name and logo."
Goodhue County Public Health building evacuated after OSHA complaint
Rochester Post Bulletin: "In an ironic development, Goodhue County officials have been forced to begin evacuating 21 employees from the Goodhue County Public Health building after receiving a list of health concerns from the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) in St. Paul."
50 years of government spending, in 1 graph
Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR
Planet Money: "Of each dollar the federal government spends, how much goes to health care? How much goes to defense? How much goes to other programs? And how has spending changed over time?"
Posted at 8:41 AM on May 16, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Arrowhead
"...caught this bear walking along the South Pier this morning (May 15, 2012) Click to enlarge. Below, the bear climbed down from the pier, on its way to the beach. I first heard about it when the Chief Bridge operator, Ryan Beamer made an announcement on the bridge public address system."
The bear startled an angler further down the pier.
More photos and the rest of the story at Duluth Shipping News.