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Minnesota DNR battles specter of spruce top theft

Plus: organic milk producers optimistic about Biden administration; Leech Lake Band to get 11,000 acres of land back from federal government; Wisconsin authorizing 2021 wolf hunt; and more.

spruce trees
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

The terrible cost of your festive seasonal display. MPR’s Dan Kraker reports: “A few weeks ago, Shane Zavodnik was hopping through a snowy bog, struggling to keep his boots dry, when he spotted the telltale signs of an unusual crime. … Every few feet, the tops of young spruce trees had been lobbed off. … Zavodnik, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, has been investigating reports of theft in his district on the Iron Range all season. … ‘We’ve been getting spruce top theft complaints since the middle of September, and it’s just consistent and constant,’ he said.”

Planning to really milk it. The Star Tribune’s Kristen Leigh Painter reports:Organic Valley, a leading voice in the nation’s organic dairy industry, sees an opportunity to regain political ground that it says was lost over the past four years. … A flurry of interest groups are now jockeying to be heard by President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and are seeking clarity on what new congressional leadership could mean for them. … Agriculture is a diverse industry filled with varying interests, but Bob Kirchoff, chief executive of La Farge, Wis.-based Organic Valley, is cautiously optimistic.”

Land return. The Brainerd Dispatch’s Hannah Olson reports:More than 11,000 acres of land wrongly transferred to the Chippewa National Forest in the 1940s and 1950s will soon be returned to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. … On Thursday, Dec. 3, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Leech Lake Reservation Restoration Act, a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and state Rep. Betty McCollum. The bill previously passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in June 2019, and will now go to the White House for the president’s signature. … This land restoration is the culmination of years of effort and will honor tribal sovereignty, allowing the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to invest in future generations and build more housing to accommodate their community, a release said.”

Of course Wisconsin. The Duluth News Tribune’s John Myers reports: “The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday jumped to be the first state to set a wolf hunting season after the federal government in late October moved to remove the big canines from Endangered Species Act protections. … The DNR said it would begin a wolf hunting season Nov. 6, 2021, but didn’t offer details or specific rules as yet.”

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