Pheasant harvest dropped 43 percent last year

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Fewer hunters and unfavorable weather conditions lead to a 43 percent drop in the 2011 pheasant harvest.

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources say the pheasant harvest dropped 43 percent from 2010 to 2011. An estimated 77,000 hunters — down 13 percent from 2010 — took an estimated 204,000 pheasants last fall, reports Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune. The decrease was expected after two moderately severe winters and last year’s cold, wet spring. In other bird-shooting news: Hunters took about 401,000 ruffed grouse in 2011, down from the 10-year peak of 465,000 in 2010; An early opening date contributed to the 14 percent increase in duck hunters and the year’s harvest increasing 18 percent.

While Catholic dioceses in Minnesota have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of pulpit time promoting the constitutional ban on gay marriage, one priest in Floodwood, 45 miles west of Duluth, has taken a stand against the amendment, writes Brandon Stahl of the Duluth News Tribune. “In March, the Rev. Peter Lambert of St. Louis Catholic Church donated $1,000 to Minnesotans United for Families, the primary group that’s fighting against the amendment, records show. A search of campaign finance records found no other Minnesota priest in a recognized diocese who has contributed to Minnesotans United, or any other group battling the amendment. … Several of Lambert’s parishioners … said they weren’t aware of the priest’s contribution. When told, they said they weren’t concerned about it. ‘I support him doing whatever his conscience says,’ said Char Kerelko, who has been a member of the St. Louis Catholic Church for about 30 years. ‘He’s a priest, but he’s also a private citizen.’ Kerelko said she was also opposed to the amendment.”

Minnesota has seen more than 2,700 cases this year of pertussis, or whooping cough. This time last year, there were 500 cases of the illness reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. Cynthia Kenyon, a Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist, tells the St. Cloud Daily Times“[R]ight now, we are having an epidemic, and we have localized outbreaks throughout the state.” As of last week, there were 39 cases of whooping cough in Stearns County, six in Benton County and 65 cases in Sherburne County, according to the MDH. Persons can spread it to others in the first three weeks of coughing if not treated with antibiotics; after a person with pertussis has taken antibiotics for five days, he can no longer spread it, according to the health department. There are no known deaths from it this year.

District 21 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, a fiscal conservative and budget hawk, expressed his frustration last week about funding cuts that will hit nonprofits in his district. In a story by Per Peterson in the Marshall Independentafter receiving fewer dollars from the GOP-led Legislature, the  Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs will see a 45 percent cut in funding for FY13 and has to let go one of its four employees; New Horizons Crisis Center will see a 25 percent decrease in its workforce, a lesser presence at Southwest Minnesota State University and a total loss of $83,000 in state funding. The funds came from grants by the Minnesota Office of Justice Program. After lawmakers wrestled with a budget deficit, OJP ended up with about $1.5 million less in fiscal year 2013 than in FY12 for grants to provide services for victims of sexual assault, general crime, domestic violence and child abuse. Dahms says metro organizations were funded better than rural ones; OJP denies that claim.

Last week, employees at Lueken’s Village Foods in Bemidji were told that longtime owner Joe Lueken was selling the company — to them. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that on Jan. 1, Lueken’s will begin the process of becoming an employee-owned business. “It’s not just a job anymore, they’re part of it,” Lueken said of the roughly 200 employees at Lueken’s, which was honored in June as a 2012 Star Tribune Top Workplace. “And any success that they reap, they’ll benefit from it; and not only them but their families.” Lueken, 70, is transitioning into semi-retirement – though he admits he can’t stop all at once. The store’s sale to his employees, which will start gradually at the beginning of the year until it’s 100 percent employee-owned in about five years, is consistent with his values, said his son Jeff. Lueken’s sons live on the coasts so a sale to them wasn’t feasible, but the thought of selling it to an outside group wasn’t appealing either. By selling to the employees, jobs will stay here and employees will have the opportunity to grow their wealth, said his son, Jeff Luekens. “The larger benefactor is the community,” he said.

The University of Minnesota Crookston has set an enrollment record with 1,773 undergraduates, well above the previous record of 1,600 set last fall, reports the Fargo Forum. The numbers include about 700 online-only students. Residence halls are at maximum capacity, and more than 30 students were being housed at the nearby America’s Best Value Inn. A new residence hall is now being built and is scheduled to open next January in time for the spring semester.

2012 was the warmest June-August period on record in Duluth, writes Andrew Krueger of the Duluth News Tribune. The average temperature for June, July and August was 67.4 degrees. That’s four degrees above normal, and 0.4 degrees above the previous warmest meteorological summer on record, in 2006. July 2012 saw 25 days with high temperatures of 80 degrees or greater, the most for any month on record in Duluth. June’s flooding rains were followed by a dry period. Duluth received 14.54 inches of rain, 2.76 inches above normal. But 10.03 inches of that total fell in June; precipitation in July and August was below normal.

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