By Josh Moniz
---- — MADELIA – Pheasant and waterfowl hunters will feel the pain of the federal government shutdown this weekend due to federal hunting land being closed. Similarly, the 2013 Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener around Madelia will lose around 13 percent of its planned hunting areas, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials.
Due to the U.S. Congress failing to pass a new budget or continuing resolution, the portion of the federal government deemed non-essential have been closed and non-essential federal workers have been furloughed until the situation is resolved. As a result, federal parks, National Wildlife Refuges and waterfowl production areas have been closed to the public for the duration of the shutdown.
Pheasant and waterfowl hunters will feel the biggest impact due to federal hunting ground typically being prime hunting area. The unfortunate timing of the closures occurs just as pheasant season, duck season and geese season starts on Saturday.
Minnesota will have 481,000 acres in national wildlife refuge and wetland management district closed to the public due to the shutdown's impact on the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
Similarly, Madelia is hosting the 2013 Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener on Friday and Saturday in the 20-miles around the city. The event planned to utilize 8,600 acres of public hunting land for the event. According to the DNR, approximately 1,100 acres, or roughly 13 percent, of the land will be unavailable until the shutdown ends.
DNR Southern Regional information officer Scott Roemhildt said the loss of federal land is unfortunate, but the governor's hunt should not be significantly impacted. He said there should be enough public land left to accommodate the roughly 80 to 100 hunters expected for the event. He said the DNR will be informing hunters it is illegal to hunt the federal lands during the shutdown and the DNR will not place any hunters in federal areas during the event.
Gov. Mark Dayton will be attending two-days of events around the governor's hunt, but he will not be hunting.
The closure of federal lands will also inconvenience other outdoor enthusiasts that cannot use the land, such as photographers and bird watchers.