I'm no vexillologist, but in my opinion, the six Minnesota flag finalists are underwhelming ("Flag fans cry fowl over lack of loon," Nov. 23). While I have no problem with the North Star being a common theme or one element of our new flag, must it be the only (or main) symbol we can entertain going forward?
Viewing all of the entries online was a treat. Some, like the mosquito theme, were apt but obviously tongue-in-cheek at the same time. Others, such as the "bayg" specimen, I didn't even understand until I did a web search and heard something about it on the local news.
Are we really trying to keep folks in southern Minnesota happy by eschewing anything that "only" represents northern Minnesota, such as loons, pines or lady slippers? And does limiting the color palette to blue, green, yellow and white best serve this project? Some of these finalists resemble an amusement park banner more than a state flag.
Would it be a sin to take a page out of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's "Name a Snowplow" contest and allow a bit of frivolity to make it into the final flag design? As it stands, the only finalist that stands out to me at all is the one with the blue "river" (?) that turns white as it flows upward, next to a simple, small, yellow star. If that's a nod to the Mississippi and maybe the aurora borealis, that shows our state in more than one dimension — and that's something to strive for.
Laurie Eckblad Anderson, Minneapolis
Anita Gaul, a member of the Minnesota State Emblems Redesign Commission from southwest Minnesota, stated, "While loons may be beautiful, and lady slippers might be beautiful and pines might be beautiful, they don't represent us down here."
Contrary to Gaul's statement, in 1902 the lady slipper became the official state flower, in 1953 the Norway pine became the state's official tree, and in 1961 the Legislature named the loon as our official state bird.
So it does not matter whether you live in Walker or Worthington, these are our official, and unquestionably beautiful, symbols that represent all of Minnesota that have every right to appear on our state flag and/or seal.
Joel Brand, Richfield
I fear the new Minnesota state flag will merely represent the principles of graphic design, replacing the profound idea of coexistence represented in the current flag. At least there is still hope they won't make the North Star look like a marquee bulb. But I don't suppose subtlety is really a goal of graphic design.
Paul Piculell, Janesville
I am surprised that one of the finalists in the Minnesota state flag redesign is the North Star/snowflake design.
Doesn't anyone on the committee choosing these six finalists realize that the snowflake is a six-pointed crystal? Do we really want an "incorrect" design to replace our current disputed flag?
Mary H. Hannah, Spring Lake Park
Recently I scanned two dozen pages of flag submissions that were posted online, trying hard to not barf. Two that I thought a professional designer might create something marginally pretty from aren't among the final six, none of which even has the word "Minnesota" on it. None mentions the date Minnesota was admitted to the Union. None suggests our geography or location, except maybe the one that looks like a drunkard's stylized version of the aurora borealis and the Mississippi River, or maybe it's the air currents left after I swat a mosquito? Those color combinations on every one of the finalists are hideous.
No, these flag candidates do not say "Minnesota," nor are they a design I'd be proud to have representing my state.
Pete Holste, North Oaks
I am truly excited about the state's efforts to come up with a new state flag and emblem.
Unfortunately, the designs offered in the Star Tribune on Nov. 22 seem less than thrilling to me and overly simplistic. Of greater concern to me is I don't see how any of the designs honor the Indigenous/Native American peoples of our state who are truly a huge part of our heritage and remain a large part of our state and cultural richness. I implore the committee to not simply not offend our Indigenous peoples but to find a way to honor them in our new flag and emblem. They honored and respected our land way before explorers and settlers came.
Bruce Hermansen, Apple Valley
Not to blame for deer numbers
Dennis Anderson's recent column falsely blaming wolves for some hunters' disappointing deer season in northeastern Minnesota was rife with misinformation that shows a profound misunderstanding of biology ("Action needed as wolves decimate deer," Nov. 19). Worse, it threatens to create misguided animosity for one of our state's most magnificent and ecologically important creatures.
The only thing Anderson gets right in his screed against wolves is that the last two winters have been long and cold, reducing deer numbers in the short term.
But wolf numbers in Minnesota have been stable for the last several years, not increasing as Anderson's column wrongly implies. Moreover, wolves strengthen deer populations by targeting the sick and old. The wolf population won't grow if they don't have enough food to eat.
Anderson's solution to kill wolves and artificially inflate deer numbers by targeting bucks is both barbaric and ecologically dangerous. Proliferation of deer in moose range has been deadly for moose, in part because deer spread brainworm. The disease is responsible for 25 to 30% of Minnesota moose deaths, and wolves help control the spread.
As a scientist and frequent traveler to the Ely area, I treasure my rare sightings of wolves and moose that inhabit the region's vast forests. This special place is under tremendous threat from climate change and industrial extraction, and hunters killing a few less deer should be the least of our worries.
Collette L. Adkins, Minneapolis
I am disappointed in the decision of the Star Tribune to publish an article that cites anecdotes and personal opinions but lacks science ("Action needed as wolves decimate deer"). Wolves are scapegoated as causing a decline in the deer population, but the primary factors on the population are land conversion, habitat changes, winter severity and human hunting. Notably, the deer population increased in 2022 in most permit areas. Further, the wolf population estimates from the last nine years show a wolf population that slightly fluctuates. The wolf population is not out of control.
Wolves are native to the Great Lakes and have a long history of a successful predator-prey relationship with deer in the region. Unlike in the rest of the Lower 48, wolves in Minnesota never disappeared. Many Minnesotans are proud of this wolf heritage. In a 2019 study, the vast majority of surveyed Minnesotans expressed positive attitudes toward wolves and said they would like to see the same number or more wolves in Minnesota. Wolves are also culturally significant to tribes in the Great Lakes.
In short, this article irresponsibly targeted an ecologically important species based on a few personal observations and opinions. Wildlife management should be based on science, and the science is clear that wolves keep our forests and deer herds healthy.
Steven Pope, St. Paul