Minnesota is known today as a model of smart, progressive and pragmatic conservation policies. What most Minnesotans are not aware of is the large part in producing our current game-management laws and conservation movements that the practice of market hunting in the late 1800s and early 1900s had in bringing this on. This reckless process of commercially killing and selling animals, particularly ducks, completely changed the way we approach Minnesota's natural resources today--fortunately for the better.
Three lakes in particular--Heron Lake, known as the "Chesapeake of the West," Swan Lake in southern Minnesota, and Lake Christina to the north--once epitomized the wholesale slaughter of our natural resources. At one time, as many as 700,000 canvasback migrated through Heron Lake. Unfortunately, through its practices of baiting, punt guns, and indiscriminate harvesting, market hunting decimated this duck population in the name of fat profits from Twin Cities, Chicago, and the East Coast markets.
This topic would give Historical Society visitors some insight into a fascinating but lesser-known chapter in our state's history. It is one of Minnesota's and the nation's proudest examples of recognizing destructive practices and having the courage and foresight to overcome them.
~Doug Lodermeier, Minneapolis, MN