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First Ice-Mike

Destruction of Habitat on WPAs

60 posts in this topic

Anyone else fed up with all the great pheasant and deer habitat being destroyed by way of cutting down all trees?? Just learned of plans to cut down hundreds of trees on a WPA a half mile from my house. This public land is very popular with pheasant hunters and is a beautiful and charming place to spend time. If they are allowed to take all the trees out lots of good pheasant cover will be level full with snow in the winter. I'm considering getting some local wildlife groups and PF involved to try and put a stop to it - they have already wrecked a couple nice places to hunt in my area and probably contributed to the death of quite a few birds this winter. Any thoughts??

FI

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now i don't know about the exact situation and what kind of trees these are but generally pheasants are grassland birds and full grown trees prevent good native grasses from being fully established.

Trees and pheasant hunting are not something that often go hand in hand.

Who is cutting down the trees? If it is on federal land there must be a management plan and a good reason for it. Diseased trees or habitat enhancement are two things that come to my mind

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Trees protect cover from blowing in with snow during storms in the winter. Trees and shelter belts are the only things that keep pheasants alive during the blizzards we have most winters. I'm sure they are cutting them down to keep the hawks from perching in them and picking off ducklings in the spring.

FI

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FI Mike, I would say your best thing to do is call the DNR office and ask them why they are cutting them down. We often assume things and they many times are way off track. So I would recomend you calling to find out why. Just ask them why, but I would suggest not being confrontational with the questioning. Remember, the ones you will talk to are likely not at all involved in the decision making.

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Could you give us the name of the WPA? There could be a lot of reasons to get rid of trees. Might be a buckthorn removal project. Might just be that the trees are too old and need thinning out. Hard to say but one thought I have is that the agencies that do this work don't have enough money to do what needs to be done so i sort of doubt they're just doing it for

sh--- and giggles.

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The guy at the Soil and Water Conservation Office told us they are cutting down all the trees because if you have trees you will not have ducks. I guess I'm the only one that thinks this is wrong.

FI

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they did the same thing to my local wma which was great for huning last year when the trees were there but this year flat out sucked!! wiht only 3 ducks taken out of that wma..

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Should have asked the guy at the SWC if he's ever watched Duckmen.

Trees are not the kryptonite for ducks. I would do my best to overturn their decision, even if it doesn't change this spot, it might help out the WMA just down the road.

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Trees are great for raptors to sit in and scan for birds (ducks and pheasant). My understanding is that is one of the reasons why the trees were being cut down.

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Quote:
Trees protect cover from blowing in with snow during storms in the winter.

Pines trees and hedgerows might but deciduous trees don't. Are all trees being removed or just the deciduous trees.

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All trees are to be removed - and a grove of deciduous trees will stop alot of snow and provide one heck of a windbreak. These trees are protecting a lot of prime winter pheasant cover. If they are that worried about raptors they'll have to cut down all the telephone poles and take down a handful of highline towers than run through the property as well. I just can't get my head around cutting down perfectly good trees just so raptors can't perch in them - it might save a few ducks, but it will kill a whole lot more pheasants.

FI

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FI Mike, again, I can't believe the SWCD is in charge of making the decision of cutting down the trees. I am very good friends with our former SWCD director and show cattle for one it's current board members. You really need to get the real answer from the person making the real decision... The DNR office. We can all sit and speculate, but until you know the absolute answer from the people who actuall make the decision, that is all we really have, speculation! I am not trying to sound like a pain in the tush here, but I would rather you get all the answers you deserve and the only way to do that is to contact your regional DNR office.

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I doubt the DNR has anything to say on the subject if it is a WPA. Im pretty sure the USFWS has a policy in place to remove all treas from all WPA's eventually because the main reason they are there is for the production of waterfowl. Pheasants, Deer and other Wildlife are secondary. If you want to talk to the person in charge it is likely the project leader for the areas Wetland Management District.

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cutting down trees goes beyond ducks. many species of songbirds are not successful unless they have large open grasslands to nest in.

sdstatekid is right. if it's a WPA, then the DNR or the SWCD has nothing to do with it. it's the USFWS's decision.

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first ice Mike,

First off, what area of the state are you in?

Second, as others have said, if its WMA - Wildlife Management Area, talk to the DNR. If it’s a WPA - Waterfowl Production Area, talk to the Fish and Wildlife Service. For the F&WS, search for them on the Web, they have region offices located in Litchfield, Fergus Falls, etc.

It’s probably a WPA and the Fish and Wildlife service, all they can think about is ducks, to heck with pheasants and deer. Here in NW Kandiyohi county I'm right in the center of some of their devastation, the head guy in Litchfield, Scott Glup, all he can think about is prairie. Some nice WPA's in this area have had all their trees cut down. Most of these properties were old farms, they had some old farm groves that made good deer hunting spots, and also had good pheasant cover, for both fall hunting and winter cover, now they're all gone. Then to top it off, they drop these trees here and there, they never burn up, it sucks when you're pheasant hunting and run across that [PoorWordUsage], overgrown in grass.

Now I understand the role of fire and grasslands, I burn my CRP to enhance it, but when people are dying for places to hunt, they're wrecking a lot of good deer and pheasant habitat. I can even show you a spot where they cut evergreens the boy scouts had planted with the intention of providing winter habitat.

For you guys that defend their tree cutting and destruction, find me a study that says aerial predators are really a problem for pheasants and ducks.

I had a pheasant feeder out all winter that I could watch, it was by some large trees, not once did I see a owl or hawk in those trees!!! When I asked a pheasant habitat specialist about the pros and cons of feeders vs. plots, the first words out of his mouth was 'owls and hawks'. Mmmmm, pheasants are day animals and owls are night animals, it’s almost like they use it as a scare tactic to justify their existence.

Another one of my pet peeves with the F&WS is their single minded focus on ducks. They have all these big grasslands that they manage, but if there are no crops around there are no pheasants. If they'd put a food plot in every one, we'd have twice the pheasants. Also, they think every basin needs water in it, sometimes leaving those cattails are the only cover that pheasants have in that area. But all they can think about is ducks.

Done with my rant, as you can tell I'm no fan of the F&WS!!!!!

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I drove by a WPA near Deer Park WI yestersay and th is bare now

They have done the same to many WPA in western MN as well

MWal

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The reason all the FWS thinks about is ducks IS that ducks are how they got the areas in the first place, Im pretty sure a huge percentage of the WPA's were bought with duck stamp money. Also, their management plans only deal with migratory birds and threatened or endangered species. It doesn't matter if its right or wrong, that is what there plans call for, so pheasants and deer produced are only a byproduct of the habitat they put in place for the migratory birds.

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That is exactly what is going on here - it's an old farm place that is now WPA. I talked to Fish and Wildlife - all trees are being removed - they don't care about pheasants or deer.

FI

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I don't know if removing the trees is degrading to pheasants and deer as you make it out to be.

Bordering the northwest corner of my property is an 80 acre WPA with no trees to speak of. About a mile to southeast of my place is about a 900 acre WMA running further east and south. This WMA is primarily grassland, cattails, and two old farmstead groves. Very few trees except for those old 2-acre groves. Between them is all farmland under plow.

One thing that I've learned about the area is that the area that sees the highest hunter pressure during the pheasant season isn't the WMA. It is that 80 acre WPA that borders my place. What's really nice about it is that the pheasants seek refuge on my place so it enhances my opportunities. smile

The only trees in the area that are not farm building sites are located about 8 miles to the northeast. We have resident pheasant and deer populations using the cattails and brush cover on the WPA and on my property all winter long.

In your defense I must also admit that we have never had a stand of trees in these areas for as long as I've been here so I can't say what it would be like if we did.

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Just wait!!! Things will get better, you just have to work/wait for it. In 3-5-10 years when things get a little brushy hunting will be great and all your problems and being upset will seem like a waste of time and energy.

Any drastic change in habitat will mess you up for a while, but it usualy works out in the end.

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Blackjack,

can you find any research to support your rant?

B Amish, if you reread my post I'm looking for someone - anyone - to show me some research from a reputable source that avian predators are a serious threat to pheasants and ducks. I've never seen any published research on it but thats what they use to justify their habitat destruction.

I understand that these WPA's were bought for ducks but in this day and age when hunters are looking for hunting spots, the public areas that we do have should be managed with all wildlife in mind. Take a drive on the opening of deer hunting or muzzleloading. I did exactly that a couple years ago over in Swift county. A couple big WMA's with trees on them were packed with hunters, a vehicle at every approach. On the way home I drove by a couple of the WPA's that the F&WS had made into grassy wastelands and there was hardly a vehicle. What does that tell you?

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Quote:
understand that these WPA's were bought for ducks but in this day and age when hunters are looking for hunting spots, the public areas that we do have should be managed with all wildlife in mind.

Ever walk through a parcel that was purchased by PF? They are managed for pheasants. If other wildlife happens to use it, that's just a side benefit but their primary goal is pheasant habitat.

I'm thinking that food plots designed by MDHA are also geared toward deer needs and not other critters. Again, many creatures share interest and taste and so others will follow but that is not the goal of MDHA.

WMA on the other hand are geared toward all wildlife and not specifically targeting any one game animal. In fact, I'm guessing that some may even be more interesting to non-game animals than game animals.

Sounds to me like your main beef is that what you're seeing doesn't appeal to the creatures you would rather keep around. That's normal human behavior.

Bob

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If you live and hunt where the wind and snow blows like it does here trees are VERY important to pheasant survival. All those cattails are great and all, but they turn into a big pheasant tomb without trees to protect them during winter snow storms. I think there needs to be some balance in their approach - manage the WPA for waterfowl, but not at such a heavy expense to other wildlife - not to mention the scenic beauty of the area.

The Fish and Wildlife guy also said they are going to do this if they get the money from the sales tax increase - I can't believe this is the best way they could come up with of spending this money - I sure hope they don't get the funds.

FI

FI

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They've been doing this for years.

It's happening on Federal WPA's. WATERFOWL PRODUCTION AREAS purchased with Federal Waterfowl stamp money.

From what I've seen, and that's alot of WPA's in western MN, it's not like they're clear cutting full forests. Most of it is odd ball trees, many of them dead, that are scattered around sloughs or overlooking sloughs.

Go out to Bigstone county and drive around. Much of the work I've seen has been done out there. There are still Pheasants, and deer. It hasn't killed them all off yet.

I don't think it's the end of the world guys.

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