- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Minn. DNR: Fewer wolves shot for predator control

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota wildlife managers say fewer wolves are being shot or trapped for predator control.

Department of Natural Resources wolf specialist Dan Stark told a legislative hearing Tuesday the number of wolves killed because they were preying on livestock fell from 295 in 2012 to 127 last year.

Stark attributed the decline to the mild winter of 2011-12. He says wolf depredation on livestock tends to increase during mild winters that make it harder for wolves to hunt deer.

The hearing room was packed with opponents who want the state to suspend wolf hunting and trapping, which resumed in 2012. Opponents questioned the accuracy of the state’s estimate of the wolf population of 2,211 as of last winter.

Minnesota hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves in 2012 and 237 last year.


Dayton drops out of NFL trip to focus on propane

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton will not be part of the Minnesota group traveling to New Jersey this weekend to lobby NFL officials for a Minnesota Super Bowl in 2018.

Dayton’s office said Tuesday the governor is staying in Minnesota to deal with a propane shortage. Dayton plans to convene an emergency meeting of the state’s Executive Council, which he will ask to extend a five-day emergency order that he implemented Monday.

Dayton had planned to join business and community leaders pitching Minneapolis as a 2018 Super Bowl site to NFL officials gathered for the Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J. Dayton’s spokesman says the rest of the group is still going.

Dayton’s order authorizes a number of steps by Minnesota’s Public Safety Department and Adjutant General to respond to propane shortages.


Minn. agencies respond to propane shortage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota agencies are getting ready to respond should any households run out of fuel as propane supplies are stretched during this persistent cold weather.

The state Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division says there are currently no requests for state assistance. But officials held a conference call Tuesday with emergency managers from all 87 counties to make sure authorities are ready.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared a State of Peacetime Emergency on Monday, after propane prices have drastically increased.

Meanwhile, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says crisis payments for those who qualify for assistance are increasing from $500 to $1,000.

The Salvation Army has also added $100,000 into its heating assistance program to help those in need. The Salvation Army says requests for aide have increased, threatening to drain its reserves.


Amid legal tussle, Minn. lawmakers mull voter tool

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - With Minnesota’s new online voter registration system in legal limbo, state lawmakers on Tuesday started mapping out a backup plan.

The House Elections Committee opened debate on how to structure a virtual portal to allow remote registration and to submit online applications for absentee ballots. The bill would effectively ratify and also expand on a system set up by Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Ritchie is being sued for going forward without legislative consent. A Ramsey County judge’s ruling could be months away, with the latest legal submissions in the case due Wednesday.

Deputy Secretary of State Beth Fraser testified that the system has been running while the lawsuit proceeds. So far, it has been used by more than 2,500 people, mostly to update existing registrations after a move or a name change.

Rep. Steve Simon, a Hopkins Democrat, said it would be foolish for the state to back away from a Web-based registration option “in an era when we all transact so much online.” His bill would grandfather people who signed up through Ritchie’s portal.



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