NRC Bans Chocolate in Bear Bait

Minnesota Conservation Federation –

A little over a year ago, Michigan’s bear hunting organizations asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider banning chocolate in bear bait to reduce the risk of harming non-target wildlife. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in sufficient quantities. Organizations including the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association sponsored a resolution supporting a restriction on chocolate in bear bait through the Michigan United Conservation Clubs policy process. At the MUCC Annual Convention in June, MUCC’s member delegates approved the resolution, as well as another resolution asking MUCC to educate hunters about the dangers of chocolate in bear bait. On Thursday, the Natural Resources Commission approved a wildlife conservation order banning the use of chocolate in bear bait.

The ban was adopted as part of the bear regulation update, scheduled every three years. The NRC also adopted new quotas, including an overall 19% increase in Lower Peninsula unit quotas, both increases and decreases in Upper Peninsula unit quotas, raising the maximum number of dogs allowed for hunting or training from six to eight, and increasing the nonresident license cap from 2% to 5%. The DNR’s bear forum, consisting of multiple conservation groups including MUCC and those listed above, met during the year to discuss the changes before the DNR recommended and the NRC adopted them.

This past Saturday, Michigan United Conservation Clubs also held its final Conservation Policy Meeting before June’s Annual Convention in Owosso. The meeting was the last chance for clubs or members to introduce policy resolutions to be considered and voted upon at the Annual Convention. Any MUCC member or affiliate club can introduce a resolution, which if adopted, becomes the policy that MUCC’s professional staff advocates, such as restricting chocolate in bear bait.

Combined with the two earlier Conservation Policy Meetings in September and December, this year’s proposed resolutions will include:

  • Establish a sandhill crane hunting season
  • Designate mourning dove as a game species
  • Develop a short-term non-resident waterfowl license
  • Create a pheasant release program for hunter recruitment
  • Require hunters to wear a fall arrest system/full body harness when hunting from a treestand
  • Reintroduce cisco (lake herring) in Saginaw Bay
  • Establish a fisheries policy which includes angler input on research projects which would impact non-target species and angler access
  • Oppose the sale or transfer of state-owned public land over 80 acres or including riparian access unless designated as surplus land under a transparent and open public process
  • Oppose legislation which creates an unfunded mandate for the DNR resulting in a diversion of game and fish funds without a supplemental appropriation
  • Restrict importation of cervid carcasses from other states to deboned meat, clean skullcap, finished taxidermy, etc., and increase fines for violation
  • Reform captive cervid regulatory structure to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
  • Remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and allow purchase under same process as the National Instant Background Check System
  • Allow bear bait barrels on public land
  • Allow a crossbow to be carried afield simultaneously with a firearm during the December firearm deer seasons
  • Allow youth hunters on private land to hunt within 660 feet of a mentor hunter, provided there is uninterrupted electronic communication, the hunter is over 14 and has completed hunter safety and at least 20 hours of supervised hunting
  • Calls on the Michigan DNR to make it a priority to acquire severed minerals where the State owns the surface only to protect and control the commercial use of public land; particularly underground minerals in State Parks and lands purchased with PR and Game and Fish Funds
  • work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the Public Resource Depredation Order on cormorants; and/or with our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to come up with a law to reinstate cormorant control

These are only proposed resolutions at this point; they will not become MUCC policy unless approved at the Annual Convention by a 2/3 majority of voting delegates representing affiliate clubs and members if the resolution would change a law or regulation, or a simple majority if it wouldn’t.

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Free Webinar – How to Prevent AIS Spread During Fishing Tournaments – Wed., April 12

Almost weekly I receive emails from lake folks concerned about the risk of AIS spread during fishing tournaments. With tournaments permitted in infested lakes one week, and uninfested lakes the next, their concern is not unfounded. Also, public accesses tend to be heavily infested and so more likely to contaminate exiting watercraft. Starry stonewort raises concerns even higher.

While fishing boats tend to be lower risk than other types of water craft such as wake board boats, and anglers tend to be well informed about AIS issues in general, the sheer numbers and movement of watercraft give legitimate cause for concern.

So far neither DNR permitting rules or the MN Legislature has taken action to regulate fishing tournaments in an effort to reduce use of infested lakes, or to schedule tournaments in such a way as to minimize risk of spread.

Local action, however, has made progress. Shortly after the County AIS Prevention Aid was passed, the Cass County AIS Task Force took a look at the fishing tournament issue. Rima Smith Keprios, the Cass County AIS Coordinator called Eric Bakke, tournament director of Minnesota’s largest fishing event, the Frank J. Schneider Memorial Muskie Tournament, put on by the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies Inc. 

This tournament is Muskie Inc.’s oldest tournament, 40 years old, and includes over 500 fishermen on 20 lakes in Minnesota. It is large and complex – the perfect situation to try a pilot project. The first year there were a few bumps. Tournament organizer Eric Bakke and Rima Smith Keprios received a lot of phone calls. Rima had to go the extra mile to do late night inspections and provide tournament AIS forms to participants who forgot to bring theirs.

But last year the issues were ironed out and things ran smoothly. This year they are ready to share their program with you. You can now avoid their mistakes and lower the risk of AIS spread during a fishing tournament.

On Wednesday, April 12th, at 3:00 p.m., MLR will host a free Webinar by Rima and Eric that will lay out the program they have developed. Open water is just around the corner, so now is the time to begin to lay the groundwork to close this vector of spread.

Please forward this email to all the officers and leaders in your organization using the “Forward to a Friend” button at the top of this email.

If you have already registered – thank you. Space is limited to 200, so register now by clicking the green “Register Now” button.Image removed by sender.

Our mission is the same as yours – to protect your lake legacy.

As always, please stay in touch. Direct communication with our members is critical to MLR effectiveness,

 

Jeff Forester
Executive Director
Minnesota Lakes & Rivers Advocates (MLR)
952-854-1317
jeff@mnlakesandrivers.org

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Ice fishing shelter removal dates approaching for northern Minnesota lakes

Ice anglers in northern Minnesota are reminded ice shelter removal dates are approaching for lakes located north of Highway 200 and U.S. Highway 2, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Because of rapidly deteriorating ice conditions, anglers may need to remove their shelters early and not wait for the deadline.

Dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters must be off the ice of inland lakes no later than midnight on Monday, March 20. For Minnesota–Canada border waters, the deadline for removal is March 31. Anglers are advised to remove shelters earlier if ice conditions warrant.

Enforcement action will be taken if shelters are left after the deadline. Anglers who don’t remove their shelter can be prosecuted. Conservation officers may remove the structure and confiscate or dispose of it. It is also unlawful to store or leave a shelter at a public access.

“Ice conditions are changing rapidly during this early spring thaw and anglers should not wait until the removal deadline if conditions warrant early removal,” said Capt. Tom Provost, DNR Enforcement Division. “Ice shelters and their contents left on a lake too long can become irretrievable and can end up as unwanted trash in our lakes.”

Anglers should also remove any refuse or litter from the lake. Wood blocks used to support a shelter or any type of anchoring device need to be removed.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended.

It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state. Anglers should check with local refuse providers or landfills for disposal of unwanted items.

Find more information at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/shelter.html.

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