July MMPA newsletter

Working to Preserve, Promote and Advance Muskie and Pike Education and Research in Minnesota.

July 1, 2015 Eighty Seventh Edition

From Aaron Meyer, MMPA Co-chair

Hi everyone,

July is approaching, the weather has been good, and muskie season is well under way. I hope you’ve all had a chance to get out and enjoy it.

A few MMPA reps and I recently attended a special meeting called by the DNR’s Esox Work Group. The meeting was called to supplement our regular workshops and continue our discussion on the future of pike management in MN. We are trying to find a solution to our pike problems that will be effective while still being acceptable to both anglers and spearers. As I’ve written about in past newsletters, the plan is to divide Minnesota into three distinct pike management zones. Currently, there are roughly 100 lakes with individual special pike regulations. The proposed changes would leave those special regulations in place- this zone strategy would replace the current dysfunctional one-size-fits-all statewide regulation. The zones will be managed with regulations designed to address the unique challenges specific to each part of the state. One zone will encompass roughly the southern 1/4th of the state. Another zone will be the Arrowhead region. The largest zone will be called the North-Central zone, encompassing much of central and northern Minnesota.

This North-Central zone is where the majority of the “problem pike populations” exist. These lakes are defined by high pike densities, high spawning rates, and low growth rates. These problems have been caused by decades of too much harvest on pike over 24 inches. Besides the obvious over-abundance of small pike and a lack of mid-to large pike, this has also resulted in depleted perch populations and reduced recruitment of stocked walleyes. Lakes within this zone will prove to be the most difficult to repair.

The current DNR proposal for the North-Central zone revolves around trying to change angler/spearer attitudes towards pike harvest. Pike need to be viewed as a fish that can and should be kept in high numbers at a small size, similar to panfish, rather than keeping a few larger fish for eating as is the current common practice. Keeping those bigger fish is the direct cause of all our problems.

The direction we’re headed is potentially a 10 fish pike limit under 22 inches, a protected slot from 22-26 inches, and one fish allowed over 26 or 28 inches. It’s very important to understand that these regulations are intended to help restore balance to our pike populations, and allow more pike to reach larger size, while still allowing pike to be a viable harvest fishery. These regs are not intended to turn our lakes into “trophy” pike fisheries. It’s also very important to understand that protecting medium size pike will do much more to create more balanced pike populations than regulations protecting those few large pike would.

The greatest challenge to all of this is finding a regulation that accomplishes these things without keeping spearers from being able to practice their sport. Without some cooperation and agreement from the Darkhouse Association these new regulations are unlikely to pass into law. We’ve been working hard to end the decades-old tension between muskie anglers and spearers while also trying to solve the pike management problems. The catch is that slot limits are difficult to operate under when you can’t measure a fish prior to spearing it. This latest Esox workshop revolved around trying to solve this problem. Essentially, we will have to choose some sort of exception that allows people to spear without fear of being criminalized for making a mistake in judging the size of a pike.

Several ideas were presented, and discussed in detail. My greatest concern was that these exceptions would allow too much harvest within the critical slot limit and render the new regs useless. The DNR assured me that their harvest models suggest that these options would still allow the slots to be effective. The reason this could still work is simply the fact that spearers make up such a small portion of the over-all angling public. It seems there are two options that have the most potential. These options revolve around the 22-26 inch protected slot limit and the 10 fish bag limit. It would then allow one of the following exceptions for spearing: 1.The first option was labeled “one and done”. This would allow a spearer to take one pike within the protected slot limit as part of their daily bag. However, if they harvested a fish within the protected slot they would be done for the day and would have to go home, regardless of how many more fish the bag limit allows. Essentially, this would “punish” someone for taking a slot fish by ending their day. This option would encourage spearers to learn to accurately judge fish and not harvest within the protected slot so that they could continue spearing that day.

2. The other option would allow one pike to be speared within the protected slot, and still allow for one fish above the slot size like the angling regulation would. This option allows a spearer to make a mistake and still continue to participate that day; however that person would have to make extra sure that any additional fish would be above or below the protected slot… bringing us back to the problem of judging fish size. This option allows the most leeway for spearers, allowing for the most active participation. It’s downside is that it doesn’t really punish or discourage harvest within the protected slot.

Having been closely involved in all of his for years now, it was surprising to me that a lead representative of the Darkhouse Association pointed out that this 2nd option portrays the image of giving spearers “special treatment” and that they feared this would be viewed negatively by the larger angling public. This is a very good point, and leads me to think that the first option is really the best fit for them. It seems to me that our efforts to find compromise and work together are beginning to be reciprocated. Personally, I feel the first option is the best fit to keep the new regulations effective.

This all raises another question: Is the angling public willing to accept regulations that are different for angling and spearing? For me personally, if it means passing new regulations that will begin to improve the balance in our pike fisheries, my answer is YES- ABSOLUTELY! In the end this entire issue can be summed up in one question that we all need to ask ourselves and our fellow anglers: Are you willing to harvest more small pike (under 22 inches) and fewer medium sized ones if it will help the overall health and balance of our fisheries- including helping increase recruitment of stocked walleyes? Think about it. Aaron Meyer

From Steve


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Summary of 2015 WCA Statute Changes

WCA Stakeholders,


First of all, thank you for your interest and participation in this last year’s efforts to explore and vet potential changes to the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA).  This interest carried over to this legislative session, which resulted in several modifications to WCA – most of which were discussed at various points in the stakeholder review process.  While the legislation as a whole may not be perfect or complete depending on your perspective, we believe it is a clear improvement that will result in a more efficient process and improved conservation outcomes.  A summary of the 2015 WCA statute changes, including a brief explanation of each, is now posted on the main Wetlands  page of the BWSR website at: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/wca/Summary_of_2015_WCA_Statute_Changes_6-23-15.pdf


Most of the changes will not have any significant effect until incorporated into the WCA Rules, but some will take effect August 1, 2015.  Key changes include:


·        Wetland Stakeholder Coordination – a requirement for BWSR to continue to work with stakeholders on policy issues and recommendations.

·        Mitigation Easement Fees and Stewardship Account – BWSR now has the authority to 1) charge a fee to recoup costs associated with establishing a mitigation easement, and 2) to assess a stewardship fee to cover the costs associated with its’ long term oversight and management.  The stewardship fee is to be deposited in a designated account that produces an annual revenue stream from investment returns.

·        High Priority Areas – BWSR is required to identify and designate high priority areas for wetland replacement, and must establish priorities and replacement ratios to encourage their use.

·        Siting Criteria – Separate criteria for public transportation projects was eliminated, and the order for replacement via banking was modified.

·        In-Lieu Fee Program – Clear authority was provided for BWSR to establish or approve an ILF program.

·        Wetland Banking Process – BWSR now has greater flexibility to modify the wetland banking process in rule to potentially include final approval by BWSR.

·        “Rapid Response Team” – BWSR will establish an expanded TEP process for the early scoping and review of potential mitigation sites.

·        Actions Eligible for Credit – New actions will be available for >80% areas, including actions related to the restoration and protection of streams and riparian buffers and others established in rule.

·        404 Assumption Study – BWSR and DNR are directed to study the feasibility of assuming the federal Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Program.

·        Report to Legislature – BWSR will report to the relevant legislative committees by March 15, 2016 regarding proposals for the implementation of new policies.


This is the third year of legislative changes since the 2009 WCA Rule (Chapter 8420) became effective.  Statutes changes occurred in 2011, 2012, and 2015 (summaries for each of these years can be found on the BWSR website).  The rules are in need of an update to address these statute changes and other issues.  As such, BWSR plans to initiate WCA rulemaking in 2015 – likely sooner rather than later.  We value the input you have provided in the past, and hope that you will take advantage of upcoming opportunities to provide your feedback and ideas for the WCA Rule update.


Feel free to forward this e-mail to others interested in WCA, and contact myself or Dave Weirens if you have any questions.  Thanks!


Les Lemm

Wetland Conservation Act Coordinator

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North

St. Paul, MN 55155

651-296-6057 (office)

651-341-4208 (cell)

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DNR reminds visitors to bring only approved firewood onto state lands

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to remind visitors that only approved firewood is allowed on lands administered by the DNR, such as state parks, state forests and wildlife management areas. Firewood restrictions are needed to help prevent the introduction or spread of damaging forest pests, including emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and oak wilt.

“In recent weeks, various state parks have been experiencing a surge of people bringing in unapproved firewood,” said Susan Olin, Lake Bemidji State Park assistant manager. “Firewood is approved by location, not by vendor. Firewood approved for use at one state park or forest is not necessarily approved for use at another state park or forest.”

Firewood that can be used on state administered lands must be offered for sale by the DNR at that location or:

  1. Be acquired from a DNR-approved firewood vendor who sells firewood harvested within 50 miles from where it will be burned, or from a DNR-approved firewood vendor who is certified by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). A vendor ticket, bundle label or sales receipt must accompany the firewood.
  2. Be kiln-dried, clean (unpainted and unstained) dimensional lumber that is free of any metal or foreign substance. Pallet boards are not considered approved firewood.

There is one exception: Those camping on state forest land outside of a designated campground may gather dead wood on the ground for campfire use on site.

“We want to encourage our visitors to help us protect our trees,” said Sue Burks, Forestry’s invasive species program coordinator. “Our state parks, forests, wildlife management areas and other DNR lands are vulnerable to invasion by nonnative forest pests.”

The DNR encourages visitors to burn all firewood purchased from a park before leaving or to return unopened bundles for a refund. If visitors are not able to burn all firewood purchased outside the park, they should leave any leftover firewood with the camp host or at the campsite for use by the next camper. It’s important that visitors not take firewood home because it could move forest pests to a new location.

The DNR also recommends that people avoid transporting wood from their home area to their lake cabin or other recreation sites around the state. The best firewood is local or MDA or USDA-APHIS certified firewood.

For more information, including a list of approved firewood vendors, visit www.mndnr.gov/firewood/index.html or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Just released!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just released the report on 2015 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June.

Click here to view waterfowl population data and get a species-by-species breakdown.

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Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Eunice in Becker County

Zebra mussel (bottom) attached to native clam found in Lake Eunice.

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lake Eunice in Becker County in northwestern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

On June 22, a citizen provided DNR aquatic invasive species (AIS) staff in Fergus Falls a photo of a zebra mussel attached to a freshwater clam that he had collected on the southeast side of Lake Eunice. Following the identification, DNR crews inspected more than 580 objects at six locations, including rocks, sticks, plants, docks and native clams.

Crews collected eight zebra mussels in four different locations on Lake Eunice. Two zebra mussels were found within 35 yards of the reported location. The zebra mussels ranged in size from one-quarter inch to one inch, indicating there are two different year classes present in the lake.

Lake Eunice will be designated as zebra mussel infested.

The marshy stream that connects Lake Maud upstream of Lake Eunice, and the Lake Eunice outlet stream are already designated waters in the Pelican River drainage. Multiple locations in Lake Maud were searched by DNR staff. No zebra mussels were found, so Lake Maud will not be designated as an infested lake.

The vast majority of Minnesota lakes are not infested by any aquatic invasive species, and less than one-quarter of one percent of Minnesota lakes are known to have zebra mussels. Likewise, most Minnesota anglers and boaters follow aquatic invasive species laws and do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species. Under law, boaters are required to clean weeds and debris from their boats, remove drain plugs and keep them out while traveling, and dispose of unused bait in the trash.

“We appreciate the reports we receive from citizens,” said Mark Ranweiler, DNR assistant invasive species specialist in Fergus Falls. “The DNR, its AIS partners and citizens of the state are working well together to deal with AIS issues.”

When a report is made to the DNR, the first step is to confirm that is an invasive species by obtaining the sample from the individual who discovered it. Once identified, DNR staff immediately survey shorelines and lake bottoms near the reported discovery sites in an attempt to confirm the infestation. Sometimes divers are used to search deeper waters.

Ranweiler offers these suggestions to those who may think they may have made a discovery:

  • Place specimen in a bag or other container to keep it intact.
  • Take a photo of the suspected invasive species.
  • Mark on a lake map or GPS the exact location where specimen was found.
  • Contact a local DNR office immediately to arrange transport to the office. DNR regulations allow transport of vegetation and animals to field offices for identification purposes.
  • Email a photo and the location of possible discovery to a local DNR office.

Unless it is a sample being transported directly to a DNR office for identification, Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any aquatic invasive species in the state.

Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel or spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that boaters either:

  • Spray boat with high-pressure water;
  • Rinse boat with hot water (120 degrees for 2 minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds); or
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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Funding for Minnesota state parks and trails is good news for July 4th visitors

A good year at the Capitol means visitors to Minnesota state parks and trails will enjoy the same high-quality services as they have come to expect in recent years. This is good news for the millions of people who visit each year and the local economies that depend on them.

“Our park and trail system provides Minnesotans the chance to enjoy the state’s beautiful natural landscapes,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. “State parks and trails also anchor local economies around Minnesota – providing recreational opportunities for residents and out-of-state tourists alike.”

More than 8 million people visit Minnesota state parks each year, and approximately 1 million of them stay overnight. The economic benefits to Greater Minnesota communities where state parks and trails are located can be significant. Visitors to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas spend more than $230 million annually on their trips, supporting thousands of tourism-related jobs and businesses across Minnesota.

“Our state parks are experiencing record attendance, with occupancy up 18 percent over last year,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It is clear that Minnesotans love their state parks.”

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is typically the busiest weekend of the year for Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Although most of the reservable campsites and camper cabins are already reserved for the weekend, 10 or more drive-in campsites were still available as of June 29 at Minneopa State Park in Mankato, Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, and others. Up to 30 percent of the sites at many parks are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To check availability, go to www.mndnr.gov/reservations, enter the preferred date of arrival and length of stay, and then click the new “search all parks” feature.

“There is a state park within 30 miles of nearly every Minnesotan,” Rivers said, “so even if you can’t get a campsite at your favorite park, come visit for the day and take part in one of our family-friendly naturalist programs or get out and bike one of our many beautiful state trails.”

As part of the 2016-17 funding package, the governor and Legislature agreed not to raise state park entrance fees, keeping them affordable at $25 for a year-round permit (valid at all 75 state parks and recreation areas) or $5 for a one-day pass, which can be redeemed and applied toward a year-round permit on the day of a visit.

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Blue-green algae: If in doubt, stay out

St. Paul, Minn.– Temperatures are going up, and in Minnesota, many of us are cooling down at our favorite lakes. However, high temperatures combined with rainfall can create the conditions for harmful blue-green algae. This type of algae can harm pets, livestock, and even people.

In late June a child was hospitalized after being exposed to blue-green algae while swimming in Alexandria’s Lake Henry. Earlier in June, multiple dogs were sickened, and two dogs died from exposure to toxic blue-green algae in Red Rock Lake, located in Douglas County. While both of these instances occurred in the Alexandria area, blue-green algae blooms can impact lake waters throughout Minnesota.

The key to solving algae problems is to improve overall water quality by reducing how much phosphorus gets into lakes from urban and agricultural runoff and wastewater treatment systems.

What’s the risk?

The unpleasant odor and appearance of a blue-green algal bloom typically keeps most people out of the water. However, people can become sick after they swim, boat, waterski, or bathe in water that has a toxic blue-green algal bloom. During these activities people are exposed to the toxins by swallowing, having skin contact with, or breathing in airborne droplets of water. If someone becomes sick, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, eye irritation, cough, sore throat, and headache.

Dogs are at particular risk as they wade in shoreline areas where algae may accumulate. Dogs exposed to blue-green algae can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, general weakness, liver failure, and seizures.

If you or your pets experience any of the above symptoms after visiting a lake, seek medical or veterinary assistance immediately.

Some safety tips for you

Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but there is no visual way to predict whether a blue-green algal bloom contains toxins and is harmful to humans or animals. Harmful blooms often look like pea soup, green paint, or floating mats of scum, and sometimes have a bad odor. Blue-green algae may not look dense, and it doesn’t always cover large areas of a lake. If algae is present in the water, toxic conditions can occur even without obvious signs of scum.

“If it looks and smells bad, don’t take a chance. We usually tell people, if in doubt, stay out,” said Pam Anderson, MPCA Water Quality Monitoring Supervisor. “If you’re not sure, it’s best for people and pets to stay out of the water.” Don’t swallow, swim, or wade in water with blue-green algae. If you come into contact with blue-green algae, or if it gets on your skin, thoroughly wash it off, paying special attention to the swimsuit area. If you think your dog swam in water where blue-green algae were present, rinse them off with fresh water immediately.



There are currently no short-term solutions to fix a blue-green algal bloom. Once a bloom occurs, the only option is to wait for the weather to change — significant rainfall, wind shifts, or cooler temperatures — to disrupt the algae’s growth. “With the intermittent periods of rain, followed by high temperatures, blue-green algal blooms will be common on many lakes throughout Minnesota for the remainder of this summer,” said Steve Heiskary, an MPCA Water Monitoring Research Scientist.

More information on blue-green algae, including information on reporting suspected human or animal cases, is available on the Minnesota Department of Health website http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hab/index.html.

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health are advising the public to stay out of algae-laden water following the hospitalization of a child and the death of a dog in Alexandria.

Certain species of blue-green algae contain potent toxins that can quickly become deadly to both people and animals. Keep pets and children away from waters with a pea soup or green paint appearance. Water may also have a foul odor. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, eye irritation, and seizures. If you or your pets experience these symptoms, seek medical or veterinary assistance immediately.

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DNR news releases, June 29, 2015

New law adds width to criteria for where ATVs can ride
Prairie chicken hunt lottery opens July 1
Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year
Sign up now for a hunter safety course
DNR accepting applications for 2015 Camp Ripley archery hunts
DNR Enforcement announces promotion
Question of the week: poisonous plants
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division outreach manager, 651-259-5578,
patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Mary Straka, OHV program consultant, Parks and Trails Division,
218-833-8713, mary.straka@state.mn.us.

New law adds width to criteria for where ATVs can ride


On July 1, the state of Minnesota will begin using the width of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to determine how ATVs are classified and where they can be ridden. This change will affect ATV owners, but they don’t need to take action until their current registration expires.

ATVs were defined in the past by weight and engine size. As a result of legislation passed in 2015, Minnesota law now defines an ATV as a motorized vehicle with:

  • Three to six low-pressure or non-pneumatic tires and;
  • A total dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less; and
  • A total width (measured from outside of tire rim to outside of tire rim) that is 65 inches or less.

An ATV with a total width of 50 inches or less is considered a Class 1 ATV. A Class 1 ATV is typically designed for a single operator who straddles the machine and uses handlebars to steer, but some Class 1 ATVs are designed by the manufacturer for off-road use with a seat belt, rollover protection and a steering wheel.

An ATV with a total width that is greater than 50 inches but not more than 65 inches wide is considered a Class 2 ATV. Class 2 ATVs typically have a steering wheel and are designed for the operator and passenger to be seated side by side.

ATV owners can continue to display an unexpired registration for their Class 1 or Class 2 ATV until it expires. New registrations and transfers will continue using the present registration system until the DNR upgrades are complete. The ATV registration system will not be programmed with the new definition of an ATV until 2016.

There is no difference in the cost of registering a Class 1 or Class 2 ATV (a three-year registration is $45 for both), but the classification affects where each type of ATV can ride.

“All ATV riders need to observe the signs designating Class 1 and Class 2 trails,” said Mary Straka, OHV program consultant for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “They also need to be aware of the laws about riding ATVs on roads and in ditches. Most ATV riders will not be affected by the new definitions, but others will enjoy expanded riding opportunities. For example, only Class 2 ATVs were previously allowed on road shoulders, but now Class 1 ATVs can ride on the shoulders of some public roads, too, if they have a seat belt, rollover protection and a steering wheel.”

For more information on registering and riding ATVs in Minnesota, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/index.html or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “06-29-15 ATV.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             June 29, 2015
Media contact: Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager, 651-259-5220,
steve.merchant@state.mn.us or Ron Kullmann, fish and wildlife consultant, 651-355-0147,

Prairie chicken hunt lottery opens July 1

Starting Wednesday, July 1, hunters can enter a lottery for one of 126 permits available for the 2015 Minnesota prairie chicken season.

Applications are available wherever Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The deadline is Friday, Aug. 14. For application procedures and a permit area map, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/prairiechicken.

“Prairie chickens rely on healthy prairies and grasslands, and having a prairie chicken hunt brings more awareness to this unique species and its habitat needs,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Prairie conservation and prairie chickens go hand in hand.”

The nine-day prairie chicken season begins on Saturday, Sept. 26, and is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $23. Apply at any DNR license agent; the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul; online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional fee is charged for Internet and phone orders.

The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.

Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species. Sharp-tailed grouse hunting is normally closed in this area of the state to protect prairie chickens that might be taken accidentally. Licensed prairie chicken hunters who want to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.

In 2014, an estimated 95 prairie chickens were harvested, with 54 percent of hunters taking at least one bird. Hunter success varies considerably from year-to-year, especially when poor weather prevents hunters from going out in the field.

“Prairie chickens need large tracts of native prairie and grasslands, but we’ve seen how difficult it can be to conserve prairie,” Merchant said. “So the DNR has partnered with groups including the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever and others in developing and applying the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan.”

The plan aims to protect Minnesota’s remaining native prairie, and restore and manage grasslands, which should benefit prairie chickens as a result.

For more information on the prairie chicken, search “prairie chicken” at the DNR’s rare species guide at www.mndnr.gov/rsg. For more information on the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, see www.mndnr.gov/prairieplan.




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  June 29, 2015
Media contact: Charlotte Roy, grouse project leader, 218-327-4132 or charlotte.roy@state.mn.us.

Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were unchanged this year compared to last year, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources.

This follows a significant increase of 34 percent from 2013 to 2014, said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse project leader. “While it can be tenuous to compare the results of only one year to the next, we suspect the cold, wet spring of 2014 may have hurt grouse production,” she said. “We also had comparatively little snow last year for roosting, which may have influenced overwinter survival.”

Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting.

Compared to last year’s survey, 2015 survey results for ruffed grouse showed no statistical change in all regions of the state. In the northeast survey region, which is the core of grouse range in Minnesota, counts were 1.3 drums per stop; in the northwest there were 1.0 drums per stop; in the central hardwoods, 0.7 drums per stop; and in the southeast, 0.4 drums per stop.

Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. This year observers recorded 1.1 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2013 and 2014 were 0.9 and 1.1, respectively. Counts vary from about 0.6 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 2.0 during years of high abundance.

Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer. For the past 66 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 12 organizations surveyed 126 routes across the state.

Sharp-tailed grouse counts remain steady

Statewide sharp-tailed grouse counts were similar in 2015 compared to 2014 on both the regional and statewide levels. Observers look for male sharptails displaying on traditional mating areas, called leks or dancing grounds. This year’s statewide average of 9.8 grouse counted per dancing ground was similar to the long-term average since 1980. The 2009 average of 13.6 was as high as during any year since 1980. During the last 25 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been as low as seven birds counted per dancing ground.

The DNR’s 2015 grouse survey report, which contains information on ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse, is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/grouse.


NOTE: A chart of annual ruffed grouse drumming counts is available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “06-29-15 drumming counts.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              June 29, 2015
Media contact: Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, education program coordinator, DNR Enforcement
Division, 800-366-8917, ext. 2504; jon.paurus@state.mn.us.

Sign up now for a hunter safety course

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that it is never too early to sign up for a hunter safety course. In general, anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, needs a firearms certificate to hunt game with a firearm in Minnesota.

“Many people fail to consider enrolling in a course until the weather turns cool in late September,” said Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR education program coordinator. “Unfortunately, most courses have either begun or are full by then, and the opportunity to hunt during the fall may be diminished.”

Classes are offered in a traditional classroom setting or online.

The firearms safety classroom course includes at least 12 hours of classroom instruction and a field day, which teaches the safe handling of firearms and hunter responsibility. The field day allows students to learn and demonstrate commonly accepted principles of safety in hunting and handling of firearms. It includes live fire on a rifle range.

The online course is not intended to replace traditional classroom instruction, but does give another option for students. It provides the same information as the classroom course for youth and adults interested in learning more about hunting.

“Today’s students are computer savvy, so online training is just part of the DNR’s evolving firearms safety education program,” Paurus said.

Once the online examination is passed, students attend a field day where they apply what they have learned in a series of hunting scenarios testing firearms safety, safe hunting skills and tree stand safety.

“It’s online training, but the course still heavily depends on the human interaction and guidance provided by dedicated, experienced volunteer instructors during the field day,” Paurus said.

Field days are limited and hunter safety classes fill-up fast. Find a class by visiting http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/firearms/index.html, or by calling 651-296-6157 or



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE_________________________     June 29, 2015
Media contact: Beau Liddell, area wildlife manager, Little Falls, 320-616-2468, ext. 222,

DNR accepting applications for 2015 Camp Ripley archery hunts

Hunters can apply starting Wednesday, July 1, for the 2015 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls. The application deadline is Friday, Aug. 14.

Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons: Oct. 15-16 (Thursday and Friday, code 668) or Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday, code 669). A total of 4,000 permits, with 2,000 per two-day hunt, will be made available. Successful applicants must buy a valid archery license before the beginning of shooting hours the day of their hunt to participate. The bag limit for this year’s hunt is one, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer. Additional rules and instructions for will be posted by July 1 on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deer hunting Web page at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

Hunters may choose from four options to apply for the Camp Ripley archery hunts:

  • Through any of 1,500 electronic licensing agents located throughout Minnesota.
  • By telephone at 888-665-4236.
  • Through the DNR’s online licensing site, www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses.
  • At the DNR license center, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $12 per applicant. Additional transaction and convenience fees may be applied depending on how the application is made.

To apply, resident hunters 21 and older must provide a valid state driver’s license or public safety identification number. Nonresident hunters must apply using a valid driver’s license number, public safety identification number, or MDNR number from a recent Minnesota hunting or fishing license. Preference will only be given if the same ID is used from previous Camp Ripley applications.

All applicants must be at least 10 years old prior to the hunt. In addition, anyone at least 12 years of age and born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course in order to purchase an archery license if successful in the lottery.

Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group of up to four people. Group members may only apply for the same two-day season. The first group applicant must specify “Create New Group” when asked, and will receive a group number. Subsequent group applicants must specify they want to “Join an Existing Group” and must use the same group number supplied to the first group applicant.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           June 29, 2015
Media contact: Rich Sprouse, information officer, DNR Enforcement Division, 800-366-8917,
ext. 2511, richard.sprouse@state.mn.us.

DNR Enforcement announces promotion

Capt. Todd Kanieski will take a new position within the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division as an operations manager and be promoted to the rank of major on July 1.

“Officer Kanieski is an organized and devoted professional,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “We look forward to his leadership in this new position.”

Kanieski is currently central region enforcement manager. His promotion is part of the Enforcement Division’s strategic plan aimed at refocusing staff resources to increase service to the public.

Under the new plan, Kanieski will be liaison to the divisions of Forestry, Lands and Minerals, Ecological and Water Resources, and manage Enforcement operations in the northeast and southwest regions. Maj. Greg Salo will be the liaison to the divisions of Fish and Wildlife as well as Parks and Trails, and manage Enforcement operations in the northwest and southeast regions.

Kanieski has over 21 years of progressive law enforcement experience, including 14 years with the DNR where he has served as a field conservation officer, a lieutenant/district supervisor, a captain/administrative manager, and a captain/regional manager. He has also served as a field training officer, background investigator, and firearms/use of force instructor.

Kanieski, with a strong background in hunting, fishing, and camping, was instrumental in revitalizing the DNR K-9 Unit. His specialized law enforcement training includes courses and certifications in leadership, officer training, investigations, employee development, tactical operations and K-9 management.

“I’m extremely honored and excited to serve in this new capacity, and I’m looking forward to the challenges of a new job,” said Kanieski.


NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources, then in folder named “06-29-15 promotion.”

Question of the week

Q: What common poisonous plants should I avoid while camping and hiking this summer?

A: Poison ivy is a fairly common plant that everyone should learn to recognize. You may have heard the phrase, “Leaves of three – let it be,” referring to poison ivy. The oils on its leaves can cause an itchy rash.

While poison ivy is native to Minnesota, there is a non-native invasive plant called wild parsnip that can cause painful burns. If you get the sap of wild parsnip on your skin, and your skin is then exposed to sunlight, this can cause a chemical burn. Wild parsnip has small yellow flowers that grow in flat-topped clusters. Keep an eye out for wild parsnip along roadsides, trails and stream banks.

You can take some simple steps to avoid exposure to hazardous plants while camping and hiking:

  • Learn to identify plants that are hazardous.
  • Don’t eat any wild plants or parts of plants.
  • Cover your skin to prevent contact with hazardous plants. Long pants and closed toed shoes are good protection.
  • Stay on trails to minimize contact with plants.

Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator

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