A severe livestock forage shortage has prompted state wildlife managers to identify 922 acres on 43 wildlife management areas (WMA) in 22 Minnesota counties where emergency haying will benefit wildlife, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
“Haying opportunities on state wildlife management areas will only occur where habitat enhancement plans already are in place to disturb grasslands through burning, mowing or grazing,” said Bob Welsh, DNR wildlife habitat program manager. Because of a forage shortage due to winter kill of alfalfa and the late spring, Gov. Mark Dayton in June sent a letter to U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking that all federal conservation lands in Minnesota be considered as potential sources of emergency forage. He also asked state officials to identify similar grazing and haying opportunities on state conservation lands where consistent with the purpose of those lands.
The conservation grazing opportunities are located throughout Minnesota where haying could be allowed and would accomplish habitat conservation management objectives. Identified sites include areas in need of prescribed fire where burns were not accomplished; areas where haying or mowing can be done sooner than originally planned; and areas where haying can replace or enhance other planned grassland disturbances such as mowing or grazing.
Only Minnesota livestock producers who need forage for their own livestock are eligible to cut hay on WMAs. Counties with potential sites include Blue Earth, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Kittson, Le Sueur, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Mille Lacs, Nicollet, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Roseau, Sibley, Wabasha, Wilkin and Winona.
Availability of haying opportunities was delayed to August to get beyond the peak wildlife nesting season. Specific conditions will vary depending on conservation needs of a site but, generally, sites will not be hayed after Sept. 13; areas hayed will not contain tree plantings, food plots, water control structures, wetland basins or stream banks; and cutting should begin in the center of the area to be hayed so animals have an escape route.
Livestock producers have until Friday, Aug. 9, to contact area wildlife managers about emergency haying opportunities. Contact information for area wildlife managers by county is available at: