Around Cook County
The Cook County News-Herald wishes everyone a safe, happy,
and healthy New Year. We hope all your news is good news!
At the final meeting of the Cook County Commissioners for
2011, the board voted not to increase its salary or per diem. The
county board will be paid the same salary and per diem rates in 2012
as it was paid this year.
Other county board matters, such as who will serve on various
committees and the appointment of citizens to various boards will
handled at the first county board meeting of the year, on Tuesday,
January 3, 2011.
Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. Further information on the incarceration and death of Dan Schlienz, a house fire death in Grand Portage, possible early wolf hunting season and Lonnie Dupre on Mt. McKinley…all in this week’s news.
Grand Marais city councilors said Dec. 14 they would approve a 2012
spending plan that is $10,940 less than this year’s levy, and about
$26,000 lower than the preliminary levy set in September. A vote on
the proposed budget and levy is set for Dec. 28.
The revised budget was presented by City Administrator Mike Roth
during the state-mandated Truth in Taxation hearing. As usual, there
were no members of the public in attendance to ask questions or listen
to the whys and wherefores of the proposal.
Chief among the reasons cited by Roth for the reduction were the new
AFSCME contract with the city’s employees, and a change in the
employees’ insurance costs.
Mayor Larry “Bear” Carlson reported that a new two-year tentative
contract had been agreed to with the union the prior week, covering
the years 2012 and 2013. The proposed contract calls for a wage
increase of 1½ percent in each year, which is less than the 2 percent
increase that was penciled in the preliminary budget. Carlson, who is
a member of the negotiating team, described the meetings as “pretty
positive” among both parties. “I’m encouraged by the attitudes of
everybody there,” said the mayor. “I think everybody realizes we’re
all in this together.” Council voted unanimously to accept the terms
of the proposed contract, and a vote of union members is expected soon.
Addressing the medical insurance cost, Roth explained that he has been
budgeting 10 percent annual increases based on history, and actual
changes in recent years have ranged from 25 percent to a slight
reduction. Next year is one of the instances where there will be an
unexpected decrease of 7.5 percent, Roth said, which will have a
On January 27, the gray wolf will officially leave the endangered species list. As early as fall of 2012, there could be a new wolf hunting season in Minnesota.
According to Dan Stark, Department of Natural Resources Wolf Management Specialist, a wolf hunt was not in the state’s management plan this soon, but the 2011 Legislature changed all that.
“That specific language was passed by the legislature in 2000 when they passed a wolf management bill, and it stated at that time that the DNR would have the authority to develop a season five years after the delisting of the wolf, but would have to allow for an opportunity for the public to provide input on any proposals that the DNR would develop. The last legislative session, that five year waiting period was eliminated, so it basically now states the DNR can develop a wolf season once wolves are delisted, but still needs to allow a public input process.”
Stark said the DNR is already looking at proposal options for a wolf season.
“So right now we’re going through an internal staff process developing some season options. It’ll likely be something that’s discussed at the legislature this year. There’ll be an opportunity later in the year for the public to review our proposal.”
Minnesota did allow wolf hunting a number of years ago, but the population grew in spite of hunting.
“It was legal to hunt wolves, but it wasn’t a regulated season. So up until the early 1970’s wolves could be killed, primarily through trapping, was the method people used to catch wolves. Some of the information would indicate that from about 1950 to the early 1970’s that about 200 wolves were killed annually by trappers. During that time we have limited information on population estimate, but there was one estimate done in the mid-50’s that the population was somewhere between 300 and 600 wolves. Then by the early 1970’s we had bout 750 wolves. Even though they were being hunted at that time, the population did start to recover because bounties and aerial gunning had been eliminated and those were probably the two methods that really helped reduce wolf numbers.”
Stark said wolves are not easy to hunt and season would likely be classified as a furbearer hunt.
“In a lot of places they’re managed as furbearers and in some areas where they’re trying to reduce populations they have an extended hunting season. But wolves are really difficult to hunt. They occur at pretty low densities, so that in order to go out into an area that has a wolf pack and be able to figure out where that is over 40 or 100 square miles that they might cover is pretty tough. Then to be able to actually see one…it’s not going to be an easy thing for people to do, so it’s going to require some specialized knowledge of their behavior and biology and some experience doing it. Likely a season would center around them as a furbearer because that’s how we manage many similar species like bobcats and otter, things that do have a good pelt to be sold. I think about the average wolf pelt can be $100 to $300.”
If there is to be a wolf season in the fall, a public comment period would need to be held next summer.
A 29 year old Grand Portage man has died in a house fire in Grand Portage. The fire was reported to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 11:40 p.m., Dec. 28.
The structure at 7200 E. Hwy 61 is a total loss. The victim has not been identified pending notification of relatives. He died at the scene.
Responding to the fire were volunteer fire departments from Hovland, Grand Portage and Colvill as well as Cook County and Grand Portage ambulances, the Sheriff’s department and Hovland STOP Team.
The cause of the fire has not been determined and is under investigation by the Sheriff and state Fire Marshal.