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Initial sandhill crane season opens Sept. 4

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Minnesota's waterfowl hunting season will open at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

The early goose season will open Sept. 4. So will a first-ever sandhill crane season. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Sept. 18.

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"Though waterfowl bag limit and season length decisions will not be made until following the Mississippi Flyway Council and federal regulation meetings later in July, we're getting the word out about the opening dates now so hunters can plan ahead," said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief.

Sandhill cranes

For the first time in the modern era, Minnesotans will have the opportunity to harvest sandhill cranes in far northwestern Minnesota. The season will run from Saturday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 10. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset until the opening day of duck season on Oct. 2, when shooting hours for sandhill cranes are the same as for waterfowl.

The open area will consist of the "Northwest Goose Zone," which includes portions of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Polk counties. There will be a daily bag limit of two birds with a possession limit of four.

"We're happy to be able to offer this opportunity," said Simon. "Ten other Central Flyway states have been hunting cranes for years."

Sandhill cranes that occur in northwestern Minnesota are part of the midcontinent population, which is estimated at more than 450,000. This number is above the population goal of 349,000. Sandhill cranes have long been considered "recovered" and have been hunted in some states since 1961.

Hunters will be required to use nontoxic shot. A $3.50 permit will be required to hunt cranes in Minnesota. Permits can be purchased at any of the 1,600 DNR license vendors across the state. Additional information can be found in the 2010 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations supplement that will be available in August.

No sandhill crane hunting is permitted within 100 yards of surface water through Sept. 22. This restriction also applies to Canada goose hunters in this zone during the early September season.

Goose season

The early Canada goose season will open statewide on Saturday, Sept. 4. The September season is designed to harvest Minnesota-breeding geese prior to the arrival of migrant geese. Hunter survey results show about 36 percent of Minnesota's goose harvest occurs during the early September season.

The early season is open statewide through Sept. 22. Bag limits for Canada geese will be five per day, statewide. A required $4 permit is valid for both early and late season goose hunting. Permits are available wherever hunting and angling licenses are sold.

Like last year, the restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water has been lifted for the Southeast and Metro goose zones. The restriction applies only to the Northwest Goose Zone, the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2010 Waterfowl Supplement for details.

Youth Waterfowl

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 18. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a non-hunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required).

Ducks, Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. There are no license requirements, except hunters age 13 to 15 must have a firearms safety certificate or an apprentice hunter validation in their possession. All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.

The DNR and Ducks Unlimited will again offer several mentored hunts for youth ages 12 to 15 on Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day. The DNR will announce hunt locations and application details at a later date.

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