MN DNR

Michael Sieve wins DNR pheasant
habitat stamp contest

Rushford artist Michael Sieve won the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp contest. The painting was selected by judges from among 15 submissions for the annual contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Sieve is a first-time winner of the pheasant stamp contest and his painting will be featured on the 2018 pheasant habitat stamp.

The pheasant stamp validation for hunting is $7.50 and is required for pheasant hunters ages 18 to 64. For an extra 75 cents, purchasers can receive the validation as well as the pictorial stamp in the mail. It also is sold as a collectible. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to pheasant habitat management and protection.

Seven entries advanced as finalists and were selected Sept. 21 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. Other finalists were Thomas Miller, second place; and Edward DuRose, third place.

The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work. The 2018 pheasant stamp will be available for sale in March.

Wolf population increases with rise in deer density

Results from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ 2016-1017 wolf population survey suggest Minnesota’s wolf population has increased 25 percent since the 2015-2016 survey.

After remaining stable during the past four years, the survey estimates that within Minnesota’s wolf range there were approximately 500 wolf packs and 2,856 wolves. The survey’s margin of error is about plus or minus 500 wolves. The 2015-2016 survey estimated the number of packs at 439 and the wolf population at 2,278.

Minnesota’s wolf population remains well above the state’s minimum goal of at least 1,600 wolves and also above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400. The DNR has consistently managed wolf populations at levels that exceed both state and federal minimums.

Survey results suggest packs were slightly larger (4.8 vs. 4.4) and used smaller territories (54 square miles vs. 62 square miles) than the previous winter. Although neither individually represented a significant change from recent years, collectively they explain the increase in the population estimate and are consistent with a continuing increase in deer numbers observed in many parts of wolf range. From spring 2015 to spring 2016, deer density within the wolf range is estimated to have increased 22 percent.

“From approximately 2005 to 2014, a decline in prey appears to have translated into larger wolf pack territories, fewer or smaller packs and a reduced wolf population, said John Erb, the DNR’s wolf research scientist. “Now, the reverse appears to be happening.”

Although other factors such as pack competition, disease and human-caused mortality can influence wolf population dynamics, prey density typically determines the carrying capacity for wolves.

“Changes in estimated wolf abundance generally have tracked those of deer over the past 5 years,” Erb said.

The wolf population survey is conducted in mid-winter near the low point of the annual population cycle. A winter survey makes counting pack size from a plane more accurate because the forest canopy is reduced and snow makes it easier to spot darker shapes on the ground.

Pack counts during winter are assumed to represent minimum estimates given the challenges with detecting all members of a pack together at the same time. A winter count also excludes the population spike that occurs each spring when the number of wolves typically doubles immediately following the birth of pups, many of which do not survive to the following winter.

The DNR’s goal for wolf management, as outlined in the state’s wolf management plan, is to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Minnesota while addressing wolf-human conflicts. Minnesota currently has no direct management responsibility for wolves now because a federal district court ruling in December 2014 returned Minnesota’s wolves to the federal list of threatened species. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages all animals on that list.

Visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/wolves to find the full population survey report, reported wolf mortalities and an overview of wolves in Minnesota.

Shakopee artist wins duck stamp contest

A painting of a white-winged scoter by Shakopee artist Mark Thone will be featured on the 2018 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp, after he won the annual stamp contest sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources.

This was Thone’s first time winning the duck stamp contest.

The winning painting was selected by judges from among 16 entries. Four entries advanced as finalists that were selected during the Sept. 7 contest. The other finalists were Michael Sieve, second place; John Barnard, third place; and Stephen Hamrick, fourth place. The duck stamp contest began in 1977.

The waterfowl stamp validation for hunting is $7.50 and for an extra 75 cents purchasers can receive the pictorial stamp. It also is sold as a collectible. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to waterfowl management and habitat work. Stamp sales generate about $700,000 per year for waterfowl habitat enhancement projects on state wildlife management areas and shallow lakes.

The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work. Each year the entries are limited to a predetermined species that breeds or migrates through Minnesota. The eligible species for the 2019 stamp design will be the gadwall. For more on the stamp contests, visit mndnr.gov/stamps.

Hunting season

First, with hunting season coming up I also want to make people aware of changes we’ve made to the interactive deer permit area map. These changes include an overview by the local wildlife manager in the detail report link discussing the deer permit area, local deer populations and the anticipated impact of the 2017 management designation. These detailed reports also contain information on public lands and past harvest statistics, making them a great tool for people who want to scout a new area to hunt!

Also, I want to remind hunters that the whole carcass importation ban remains in effect. I sincerely appreciate the extra effort and cooperation of hunters with this change. As a reminder the ban requires hunters to bring back only quarters or meat that is deboned with no part of the spinal column or head attached, clean hides, skull caps and/or teeth or finished taxidermy products. If you want to know how to prepare an animal you would like to have mounted please watch this video to learn more about why we made this change and how to properly cape a deer: http://bit.ly/capeyourdeer. If you wish to have a European mount done on your animal you will need to arrange for that as part of your trip planning as only a clean head can be brought back into Minnesota.

In addition, people should be aware of mandatory chronic wasting disease surveillance in southeast, central and north central Minnesota, and the CWD management zone during 2017.  Sample submission will be mandatory in all seasons in the CWD management zone and during the first two days of the firearm season in the other areas. We’ll provide more detailed information on the location of these sampling stations soon, but be aware you will still need to register your deer online, by phone or in-person but submission of tissue samples is mandatory.

Finally, be aware that hunter safety courses are available.  These fill up quickly, particularly in the metro area so encourage the next generation to take advantage of these opportunities.

Deer management plan

Progress also continues on development of the state’s first-ever deer management plan. In February, more than 500 people combined attended the 13 public input meetings conducted throughout Minnesota. An additional 1,400 comments were submitted through an online questionnaire, email and mail. View the response to this input. The public Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee has continued to meet monthly to provide input and feedback to the DNR as the plan is developed. Meeting agendas and notes are available to others interested in this important work.

— Adam Murkowski, DNR Big Game Program leader

Single zebra mussel confirmed in Lake Harriet

Extensive multi-agency search showed no other zebra mussels

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that a single zebra mussel was removed from Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) staff reported one adult zebra mussel on a boat cover recovered from the bottom of the lake.

No additional zebra mussels were found during 67 hours of diving, snorkeling and wading searches involving the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, MPRB, two MPRB contractors and the DNR. Lake Harriet will be added to the Infested Waters List for zebra mussels, with the provision that it may be removed from the list if future surveys continue to show no zebra mussels in the lake.

“We’re grateful that no zebra mussels were found during the extensive dive, snorkel and wading search of Lake Harriet,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Strong partnerships and interagency cooperation are key, and we thank the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District for their ongoing efforts.

“While we regret that Lake Harriet will be added to the Infested Waters List because one zebra mussel was confirmed, we’re hopeful that the lake may be removed from the list if future searches continue to show no zebra mussels in the lake,” Wolf said.

DNR invasive species specialist Keegan Lund said Lake Harriet will be carefully monitored the rest of this season and next year, but no treatment is necessary at this time. Lund said individual zebra mussels sometimes die after they are brought into a new lake, before they become established.

“There is a common misperception that zebra mussels are everywhere and that their spread is inevitable. The reality is, of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes, fewer than 250, about 1.8 percent, are listed as infested with zebra mussels. More Minnesotans than ever before are following our state’s invasive species laws,” Lund said. “People spread zebra mussels, and people can prevent their spread.”

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

CWD tests mandatory for deer harvested in central, north-central and southeast

Captive deer infected with CWD in Crow Wing, Meeker counties trigger DNR disease response

Precautionary testing during the first two days of firearms deer season will determine whether chronic wasting disease may have spread from captive deer to wild deer in central and north-central Minnesota.

“Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Mandatory testing of wild deer that hunters harvest is a proactive and preventative measure to protect Minnesota’s wild deer herd.”

All hunters in affected deer permit areas will be required to have their harvested deer tested on Saturday, Nov. 4, or Sunday, Nov. 5. After field dressing their deer, hunters must take them to a sampling station. DNR staff will remove lymph nodes, which will be submitted for laboratory testing.

Hunters must register their deer by phone, internet or in person. Harvest registration will not be available at CWD sampling stations.

Central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 218, 219, 229, 277, 283 and 285.

North-central Minnesota deer permit areas with mandatory testing are 155, 171, 172, 242, 246, 247, 248 and 249.

Deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota’s permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349 also are subject to mandatory testing on Nov. 4-5 because of their proximity to CWD-infected wild deer in permit area 603.

Testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield in Crow Wing County and Litchfield in Meeker County. Test results will determine whether CWD may have been passed from these captive deer to wild deer.

For sampling to accurately detect whether CWD exists in wild deer, the DNR wants to collect 3,600 samples in the north-central area, 1,800 in the central area and 1,800 in the southeast.

Proactive surveillance and precautionary testing for disease is a proven strategy that allows DNR to manage CWD by finding it early and reacting quickly and aggressively to control it. These actions, which were taken in 2005 to successfully combat bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota deer and in 2010 to eliminate a CWD infection in wild deer near Pine Island, provide the best opportunity to eliminate disease spread.

“Without precautionary testing, early detection would not be possible,” Cornicelli said. “Without early detection, there’s nothing to stop CWD from becoming established at a relatively high prevalence and across a large geographic area. At that point, there is no known way to control it.”

Additional details on mandatory testing will be released throughout the fall as firearms deer season approaches. Complete information about mandatory CWD testing this fall, sampling station locations and a related precautionary feeding ban are available now on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

DNR’s State Fair fish pond stocked Wednesday

WHO:        Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife staff.

WHAT:       Outdoor fish pond and indoor fish tanks at the DNR’s State Fair exhibit will
be stocked. Approximately three dozen different species of fish ranging
from sunfish to sturgeon will be added to the exhibits.

WHEN:     Wednesday, Aug. 23. Best photo and video opportunities will be from 9:30
a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:   South side of DNR building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1740
Carnes Ave.

BACKGROUND:

The DNR’s live fish exhibit is one of the State Fair’s most popular attractions.

Started in 1905, the State Fair’s first live fish exhibit used aquariums purchased from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This year’s exhibit is expected to display about three dozen species of fish.

One of the most popular fish with fairgoers has been the paddlefish. Characterized by their long, paddle-like bill, paddlefish are found in the lower Mississippi River below Minneapolis. Paddlefish grow to be quite large, with fish up to 200 pounds being recorded.

Paddlefish are like sharks in that the skeleton (including the snout) is made entirely of cartilage rather than bone. Paddlefish are filter feeders without mechanical gills. They swim constantly to pass water over their rigid gill membranes, extracting oxygen and filtering out plankton that make up their diet. The paddlefish is a state-threatened species.

The largest fish in the exhibit is the lake sturgeon, which exceeds 50 inches. A State Fair veteran, this specimen was the gift of an angler who harvested it legally from the St. Croix River several years ago. Lake sturgeon in Minnesota are found in the Mississippi, St. Croix and Rainy river systems. The largest sturgeon reported in Minnesota was a 215-pound fish found dead along the shore of Lake of the Woods in the early part of the 20th century.

Fairgoers can learn all about the different fish that call Minnesota home during the DNR’s fish pond talks. They are free and take place at quarter to the hour between 9:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

Hunters should note errors in printed
hunting regulations handbook and map

Hunters should be aware of several errors in printed copies of the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and in the fold-out deer season map that accompanies the regulations booklet.

In the fold-out map, correct information is as follows:

  • In central and northwestern Minnesota, deer permit areas (DPA) have 500 permits to harvest antlerless deer for DPA 197; 300 for DPA 262; 150 for DPA 269; 25 for DPA 270; 350 for DPA 271; 200 for DPA 272; and 100 for DPA 297.
  • In 300 series permit areas, DPA 344 is designated as Hunters Choice; DPAs 341, 342, 343 and 347 are Managed; and DPA 346 is Intensive.
  • The list of affected permit areas related to the section titled “Deer Permit Area Boundary Changes Along the Moose Range” should include DPAs 178 and 181.
  • Permit area 340 under the Hunters Choice deer area heading doesn’t exist and should be deleted.

In the printed booklet, correct information is as follows:

  • The special youth deer hunt schedule on page 36 should include information on a hunt at Blue Mounds State Park. Mention of the hunt on page 87 should be deleted. The hunt is being held Nov. 18 and 19. There are 10 permits available.
  • The closing date for a proposed late season deer hunt on page 62 is Jan. 14.
  • The list of permit areas for which the landowner licenses is valid on page 67 should include DPA 218.
  • The bag limit is three for the special archery deer hunt in the city of New Ulm on page 93.
  • The special firearms deer hunts list that begins on page 85 should include a special hunt at Zumbro Falls Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) in Wabasha County from Nov. 18-26. It is hunt number 923.  
  • Dates for the special firearms deer hunt at Vermillion Highlands Research, Recreation and WMA on page 86 should be Nov. 4-17.
  • Firearms deer licenses for the A and B season are valid for the Carver Park Reserve special hunt on page 87.
  • The Itasca State Park special hunt on page 85 has a bag limit of 3.

“We apologize for these errors and will take steps to ensure that we can avoid these errors in the future,” said Paul Telander, DNR Wildlife Section chief. “We’re working with license vendors and stakeholder organizations to ease any confusion by directing hunters to correct information posted online and encouraging hunters with questions to call the DNR information center at 888-646-6367.”

Correct information for all of these errors is available at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting in the online versions of the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and fold-out deer map.

Firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer in a permit area designated as lottery this hunting season are reminded they must purchase their license by Thursday, Sept. 7. Hunters who purchase their license before this date are automatically entered into the lottery for the deer permit area or special hunt area they declare.

Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR’s deer permit area mapping tool, can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR tagging invasive carp for first time

Legislature gave DNR authority to use new research tool

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has captured a bighead carp and, for the first time in the state, tagged it to learn more about invasive carp.

After a period of acoustic telemetry tracking to learn more about its range and other behaviors, the tagged invasive carp will be removed from the water and euthanized. The data will increase the DNR’s ability to capture invasive carp when they enter Minnesota waters.

“This new tool is another proactive step Minnesota is taking to prevent the spread of invasive species,” DNR invasive fish coordinator Nick Frohnauer said. “The more we can learn about these species, the more effectively we can continue to minimize their potential impact, with the help of Minnesotans who use rivers for business or recreation.”

Friday, the DNR captured a 37-pound, 43-inch bighead carp in the St. Croix River, surgically implanted a thin, 4-inch long tracking tag and returned the fish to the river. Daily tracking by boat has shown the fish’s precise range, feeding areas and other details about the types of conditions these species prefer.

The DNR won’t know some things about this fish, such as whether it’s an egg-bearing female, until after they recapture, euthanize and examine it.

The Minnesota Legislature granted the agency the authority to use tagging as a research tool. Legislative approval was needed because the agency is putting an invasive species back into the water for a period of weeks.

“It’s important and legally required, as always, that anyone who catches a bighead, grass or silver carp in Minnesota contact the DNR immediately,” Frohnauer said. “Invasive carp are rare in Minnesota, with typically just a few individual fish reported in the state each year. We can keep it that way with the public’s help, more research and continued vigilance.”

The DNR is permitted to track up to two invasive carp in the St. Croix or Mississippi River at any given time. Anyone who catches a bighead, grass or silver carp must report it to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.

The DNR has been preparing for the opportunity to tag and track invasive carp. Last summer, DNR fisheries biologists John Waters and Joel Stiras successfully tested the technique on a bigmouth buffalo, a native river fish similar in habits to invasive carp. They netted the fish in Pool 2 of the Mississippi near Inver Grove Heights and implanted it with an acoustic transmitter. After releasing the fish, they tracked it for several days and re-captured it in a backwater area near Cottage Grove.

The DNR is working with other state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses to prevent the spread of invasive carp. Efforts include ongoing monitoring, evaluation of deterrents at Mississippi River locks and dams, and sharing of research and information. This tagging project would not be possible without an extensive Mississippi River telemetry receiver network put in place by the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since the 1970s, when they escaped into the Mississippi River from southern fish farms, where they were used to control algae. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters, individual bighead and silver carp have been caught in the Mississippi, St. Croix and Minnesota rivers.

More information about invasive carp is available at www.mndnr.gov/invasivecarp.

Pine trees likely to survive July hail damage

Pine trees damaged by mid-July hail storms in portions of northern Washington County should be left alone until next year unless more than half of their needles have turned brown, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Following heavy winds and hail on July 12, many red pines in a 14-mile swath from the Hugo-area to Scandia and Marine on Saint Croix have been showing signs of Diplodia, a fungal disease that commonly affects red pines after hail, causing their needles to turn red. Most trees will survive if there is adequate precipitation.

“Dipodia doesn’t usually kill mature red pine so they should be left to recover,” said Jeff Wilder, DNR forester. “However, trees with more than 50 percent crown death have a hard time recovering and may die.”

Landowners may wish to remove severely injured trees later this fall or winter. Otherwise, they should wait until next year to see how well the trees recover. Red pine branches and logs greater than 4 inches in diameter that are cut down in the spring and summer should be chipped within six weeks of cutting to remove bark beetles habitat. Bark beetles thrive in the freshly-cut wood and prefer to attack stressed trees. These beetle populations increase when wood is left behind and can then spread to surrounding trees.

Most other tree species in the hail storm area have minor damage and no serious problems are expected.

Visit the DNR’s Pine Bark Beetle webpage at go.usa.gov/xRnuB for information on pine bark beetles. Visit the DNR’s Diploda-Related Problems of Pine webpage at go.usa.gov/xRUf8 for information on Diplodia.

Applications open for $8.6 million in Legacy grants

Groups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land can apply for Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grants that help pay for work on Minnesota prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife.

Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications for traditional and metro grant cycles until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at mndnr.gov/cpl.

Projects must be on public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements. Applicants may request up to $400,000 with a total project cost not exceeding $575,000. Projects also must have a 10 percent match from a source outside a state agency.

In its first eight years of funding, over $44 million has been granted through the CPL program for habitat projects throughout Minnesota. Funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

Three types of CPL grants
For fiscal year 2018, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended allocating $4.5 million for the traditional grant cycle, $2.6 million for the metro grant cycle (for projects located in the seven-county metro area or within the city limits of Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester) and $1.5 million for the Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) grant cycle. The ECP cycle is open continuously through May 11, 2018, or until funds run out, with the first funding round due Sept. 25.

More information about the three grant types can be found at mndnr.gov/cpl. Potential applicants are encouraged to review the request for proposal and the “how to apply” tab on the website, which guides users through the application process.

Questions can be directed to: Jessica Lee, CPL grant program coordinator for the DNR, jessica.lee@state.mn.us or 651-259-5233.

Collaboration creates new wildlife management area in Dakota County

A portion of one of the last and largest wooded areas in Dakota County has been permanently protected as a state wildlife management area through the collaborative efforts of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Dakota County and the nonprofit conservation group Friends of the Mississippi River.

The new Hampton Woods Wildlife Management Area consists of 191 acres of oak forest that will be managed by the DNR for wildlife habitat and public hunting. Located about four miles east of Farmington off state Hwy. 50, it’s the only forest for miles around in a largely agricultural landscape. The area is home to a number of rare species such as the red-shouldered hawk, as well as more common game species including deer, turkeys and squirrels. Each spring, the forest floor blossoms with wildflowers.

First identified by the DNR as an ecologically significant area worthy of protection in the mid-1990s, Hampton Woods also was ranked highly in Dakota County’s 2002 Farmland and Natural Areas Protection Plan. A few years ago, Friends of the Mississippi River helped several landowners contact the county to discuss the potential sale of their land. After purchasing 24 acres from Joan Uselmann and Mary and Glen Bakalars, and 167 acres from the estate of Rose Kuntz, Dakota County recently transferred ownership to the DNR.

“This is a beautiful area of Dakota County that will now be preserved and publicly accessible for future generations,” said Dakota County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Slavik, who represents the district where the new WMA is located. “Many people and organizations made this possible, and we are very thankful for their many contributions and collaboration.”

DNR regional wildlife manager Cynthia Osmundson praised the partnership that protected the area. “This new WMA is especially important because it not only protects an important and relatively rare forest area, it also provides close-to-home public hunting opportunities in the metro region,” she said. “Transactions like this can be complex and drawn out, and we’re very fortunate to have good partners like Dakota County and Friends of the Mississippi River.”

The acquisition was paid for with $540,800 from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature, and $197,700 in Dakota County funds. The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created in 2008 when Minnesota voters passed a constitutional amendment dedicating a portion of sales taxes to restore, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.

Friends of the Mississippi River also has received a $133,000 grant from the Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, to conduct management activities in the WMA, such as removal of non-native invasive species like buckthorn.

Friends of the Mississippi River previously developed a natural resource management plan for the site with financial assistance from the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, Southern Dakota County Sportsmen’s Club, Wild Turkey Federation, Hastings Environmental Protectors, Winter Wheat Foundation, and Pheasants Forever – Dakota Ringnecks Chapter.DNR announces a new round of shooting range grants

A new round of grant funding to develop and improve shooting ranges throughout the state is available for 2017, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

There is $1.2 million in grant funds available, with grants requiring a match from the applicant organization.  The application deadline is Sept. 1.

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature authorized $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs to either develop or improve trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities. In 2016, the DNR provided grants totaling $675,000 to 20 organizations.

“We are combining trap grant opportunities along with skeet, rifle, pistol, and five stand projects,” said Chuck Niska, DNR shooting range program coordinator. “We will also be able to gauge the interest in firearms range improvements and development, picking up where left off in 2016. In the past, we had a separate grant program for trap ranges, and all other types of shooting sports.”

Since 2014, the DNR has provided over 120 firearms range matching grants to over 100 shooting sports organizations.

There are two levels of grant funding available: those at or below $25,000, and those above $25,000. Each has a separate request for proposal (RFP) form, and these can be found on the DNR website.

Whitewater State Park seeks stories as it prepares for 100th anniversary

Whitewater State Park, nestled in the rugged bluffland of southeastern Minnesota and known for its trout fishing and noticeable lack of mosquitoes, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.

In preparation for this milestone, park naturalists have embarked on a Whitewater State Park Oral History Project, which aims to gather stories and memories about the park from visitors, former staff, volunteers and others who have a connection to this special place. Stories will be used to develop podcasts, YouTube documentaries and interpretive materials, including an updated version of the 1917 book, “The Paradise of Minnesota: the Proposed Whitewater State Park,” by L.A. Warming of St. Charles.

The project kicked off Memorial Day weekend, and staff hope to have enough stories by mid-September to begin working with a professional documentary producer on a video. “We’re hoping that by January we can have a few finished products,” said interpretive naturalist Sara Holger.  “Any story anybody wants to share, we want to hear it!”

Over the Fourth of July weekend, naturalist staff talked with campers and picnickers about their park memories. Many families shared stories about using the park for decades. Iowa resident Jesse Rorabaugh, for example, talked about coming to park over the Fourth of July every year since he was in high school.

“We always come with a big group of families who used to be our neighbors when we lived in Mankato when I was a kid,” he said. When asked about his favorite memories, Rorabaugh described participating in washer-board tournaments. “It’s a game that one of the dads in our camping group invented. You have a plywood board set up like you would for a bean bag toss but you throw washers instead.” The tournaments can last hours. The winner gets crowned with a special hat and gets photo taken wearing the hat. This has been the tradition for years.

Holger said stories don’t have to be specifically about the park, they can be about experiences and life in the broader Whitewater Valley. For example, the Graves family from Elba, interviewed at the park in June, shared memories of the 2007 flood that forced them to flee their home in Elba and wade through flood waters with their 2-year-old daughter before being rescued by local firefighters and taken to a Red Cross emergency shelter in Altura.

“Every story gives us a better sense of the valley and the experiences people have been sharing here over the past 100 years,” Holger said. She stressed that people do not have to come to the park to be interviewed. “You can have a family member interview you in the comfort of your home using a list of questions developed by park staff.” Audio recording apps for smart phones can work well for capturing stories and audio file can be emailed to the park.Want to add Whitewater State Park memories to the tapestry of stories that will help commemorate the park’s 100th anniversary? Follow the instructions posted on the park’s webpage at mndnr.gov or contact interpretive naturalist Sara Holger at 507-932-3007, ext. 226, or by email at sara.holger@state.mn.us

Plans underway for 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Marshall

Marshall hosts for second time

Planning is underway for the seventh annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener on Oct. 13 and 14. The 2017 event will be held in Marshall, which last hosted the event in 2012.

“We’re very excited to once again host the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener,” said Cal Brink, executive director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce. “We thought it was a great event when we hosted it in 2012, and with even more amenities now, we expect an even better event in 2017.”

Those additional amenities in Marshall include several restaurants as well as Red Baron Arena, which will be included in the festivities.

Marshall was selected through an application process that considered hunting land in the area, event facilities and community support.  The surrounding Lyon County boasts more than three dozen Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), and has a rich hunting and outdoors heritage.

The event will include a public dedication of the James Meger Wildlife Management Area and a community celebration dinner, in addition to pheasant hunting.  Information and updates will be available at www.exploreminnesota.com/MNGPHO.

The Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener was initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011. Montevideo was the first host community and hosted again in 2016. Marshall last hosted the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2012. In addition to Marshall and Montevideo, previous host communities have been Madelia (2013), Worthington (2014) and Mankato (2015).  The event highlights the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting local partners in planning the event.

Marshall has a population of 13,680 and is located 150 miles southwest of the Twin Cities at the junctions of U.S. Highway 59, Minnesota State Highway 19, State Highway 23, and State Highway 68.

DNR to modernize its electronic system
for hunting and fishing licenses

Hunters, anglers and everyone who has a role in selling licenses for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources can anticipate a new electronic license system that will enhance customer service starting in the spring of 2020.

“Over the next two years, we will be modernizing the electronic license system to create a better and more efficient experience for customers – changes that will save the agency as much as $1.5 million,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Customers will find it easier to purchase licenses and tags online and record their harvests from a mobile device or computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

The DNR sells licenses through a vendor that administers the electronic license system that allows customers to buy licenses in-person at nearly 1,500 locations around Minnesota, online and by telephone. The contract with the current vendor expires in 2020.

The first step in modernizing the license system happened in late May when the DNR issued a request for proposals for contractors to bid on a project to develop a new system.

“The new system won’t go into effect for more than two years but we have to begin work now to allow enough time to choose a vendor, design and implement the system, and communicate with customers and license sales agents,” Michaels said. “Across the spectrum of retail, customers are demanding the convenience of modern technology as part of their purchasing experiences, whether it is movie theaters, airlines, or retail stores.”

The DNR sells about 1.5 million fishing licenses and 580,000 hunting and trapping licenses.

Use of the current system continues through March of 2020, and the DNR plans to provide regular updates through the development of the new system.

Buy fishing and hunting licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

Buffer Law & Shoreland Ordinances

Both the riparian buffer law (Minnesota Statutes, § 103F.48) and the shoreland rules (Minnesota Rules, part 6120.3300, subp. 7) address buffers on public waters. Both laws regulate buffer widths and conservation plans/alternative practices through somewhat different language.  In order to eliminate potential confusion over these two sets of regulations and to be consistent with the buffer law, a number of counties have amended or are considering amending the agricultural provisions in their shoreland ordinances. Here are some important considerations for counties who may be considering amending their shoreland ordinances.

For counties taking on buffer law enforcement authority

Counties electing buffer law jurisdiction should keep ordinance provisions related to the buffer law and shoreland act separate and distinct to minimize administrative confusion and to expedite review and approval time. Although related, the buffer law and shoreland act are two separate statutes with different purposes and state agency regulatory authorities. BWSR has developed model buffer ordinance language and it will be posted on their website soon. BWSR will be reviewing county ordinances that enforce the buffer law, and the DNR will continue to review and approve amendments to shoreland ordinances.

For counties that chose to enforce the 50 foot average/30 foot minimum buffer standard in the buffer law instead of the 50 foot minimum in the shoreland rules, amending the shoreland ordinance for consistency with the buffer law and related county buffer ordinance is recommended to alleviate confusion over which standard applies. The DNR finds such an amendment to be substantially compliant with the statewide shoreland rules. The DNR has developed a guidance document with model language and procedures for updating the buffer-related provisions in a local shoreland ordinance. This guidance document will be available on the DNR website soon. In the meantime, contact your DNR Area Hydrologist for more information.

For counties not taking on buffer law enforcement authority

Counties not electing buffer law jurisdiction are still responsible for enforcing their shoreland ordinance, including the agricultural buffer requirement. These counties do not need to adopt a buffer ordinance and do not need to amend their shoreland ordinance. To alleviate potential confusion over varying standards in different laws, however, counties may want to amend their shoreland ordinance for consistency. In these cases, counties should work with their Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the entity taking on enforcement (watershed district and/or BWSR) to clarify which width will be enforced. The county may consider amending the 50 foot minimum agricultural buffer requirement in its shoreland ordinance to be consistent with the 50 foot average/30 foot minimum standard in the buffer law using the DNR’s model ordinance language referred to above.

All shoreland ordinances and amendments thereto must be reviewed and approved by the DNR. The DNR will work with counties to quickly review and approve changes to their shoreland ordinance if the changes are consistent with the DNR’s model language. The DNR generally will not approve amendments that cross-reference and/or mix and match buffer law and shoreland ordinance requirements. These types of amendments can create confusion and potentially weaken shoreland ordinances over time given the long-term uncertainty of the buffer law.

Communities can check the BWSR website for more information, and contact their DNR area hydrologist with any questions regarding shoreland ordinance amendments. Counties considering amendments should contact their area hydrologist as early in the amendment process as possible.

Modest recreation fee increases go into effect July 1

Cost for hunting and fishing licenses won’t increase until 2018

The Department of Natural Resources reminds state park visitors, snowmobilers and ATV riders that modest fee increases will go into effect on July 1.

However, the cost of fishing and hunting licenses, including deer licenses, won’t increase until 2018.

“I want to thank the many Minnesotans and state lawmakers who supported these modest increases in parks, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, hunting and fishing fees during the recent legislative session,” said Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “These fees will help maintain quality outdoor experiences for now and for future generations. We are fortunate to live in a state that offers such great outdoor opportunities and passionate citizenry that supports those resources.”

One-day state park vehicle permits will increase $2 to $7 and year-round vehicle permits will increase $10 to $35. These fees have not changed in more than a decade, and the increases were needed to continue to provide quality facilities and services at these important places at a level that maintains their nation-leading status.

Also effective July 1, the fee to register all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles will increase and a $15 license will be required for ice shelters that do not collapse, fold or disassemble.

“ATV and snowmobile clubs throughout the state provide a large and well-maintained system of trails throughout Minnesota,” Landwehr said.  “These trails are supported in large part by the user fees that contribute to the state’s grant-in-aid trail systems.  High-quality trails give snowmobilers and other motorized recreation enthusiasts a reason to travel, which bolsters tourism and strengthens local economies in Minnesota.”

For a list of all the Parks and Trails fees that are changing, visit www.mndnr.gov/parks_trails/feedetails.html.

Effective with the 2018 license year, the cost for some fishing and hunting licenses will rise. The cost of a resident fishing license will increase $3, from $22 to $25, and a resident deer license will increase $4, from $30 to $34. A complete list of license fee increases is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork.

These increases won’t build fish and wildlife programs but do ensure that fish stocking will not be reduced; deer management and research will continue at current levels; and nuisance wildlife and wildlife damage complaints will be answered in a timely manner.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

DNR invites input on plan for Iron Range
Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will host an open house Tuesday, June 20, to provide information about possible changes to the master plan for the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert. Drop in anytime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to ask questions and submit comments at the recreation area’s training center, 7196 Pettit Road, Gilbert.

The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area was designated in 1996 as Minnesota’s first recreation area catering primarily to off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts. Originally a 1,200-acre site, it expanded to over 3,700 acres in 1999. It includes 36 miles of trails for all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-highway vehicles.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is in the process of rerouting US Highway 53 near the state recreation area to accommodate mining. This reroute gives the DNR the opportunity to provide additional access to the Virginia expansion site. Because this is different than what is currently in the master plan, the DNR must amend the plan. The DNR has also identified several other areas within the master plan that it would like to amend. Information about the proposed changes is available:

  • Online.
  • At the Gilbert City Hall, 16 South Broadway, Gilbert.
  • At the Iron Range OHV State Recreation Area office, 7196 Pettit Road, Gilbert.
  • By contacting Allan Larsen, Iron Range OHV recreation area site manager, allan.larsen@state.mn.us or 218-735-3833.

Anyone unable to attend the open house can submit written comments by email to joe.unger@state.mn.us or by mail to Joe Unger, DNR Parks and Trails at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4039. The DNR will accept written comments through Wednesday, July 5.

For more information, including trail maps and virtual tours, visit the Iron Range OHV State Recreation Area webpage

DNR sees boatload of state record fish applications

Large fish caught highlight the variety and quality of angling in Minnesota

Interest has ramped up this spring in the state record fish program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, with five applications for four species including everything from shortnose gar, lake sturgeon, golden redhorse and the quillback carpsucker.

“This is by far the wildest, craziest spring we’ve ever had. We’ve never had so many record submissions and so much interest in such a short span of time,” said Mike Kurre, state record fish program coordinator. “They’re are all impressive catches and show interest in the program is growing and that there are some huge fish out there in Minnesota.”

There are two kinds of Minnesota state records: One for catching and keeping the biggest fish in each species based on certified weight; and the other for the length of a caught and released muskellunge, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish.

A bump-up in applications for record fish shows interest in the state record fish program, but a bump in records tells little about an angler’s overall chances of catching a large fish.

Someone’s chances of catching a lunker depend on a variety of factors including the species and location. Anglers fishing for lake sturgeon, for example, now have better chances of catching large ones because of the recovery and restrictive harvest regulations have led to their numbers increasing.

On the level of individual fish, catch-and-release fishing often means large fish returned to the water can keep growing.

“Anglers are in some cases benefiting from good fisheries management decisions and environmental cleanup of past decades, especially when it comes to long-lived fish like sturgeon,” Kurre said. “In some cases, specific state record holders probably wouldn’t have the record without other anglers releasing that fish in the past.”

Anglers also might be taking more of an interest in identifying and trying to catch obscure species – like golden redhorse or shortnose gar – and boosting their personal life-lists for species caught. Such was the goal in the case of one recent record.

“The newest record for the shortnose gar involved a cool story of a father and son who set out to fill out their life species list and were targeting some of the more obscure fish,” Kurre said. “They succeeded and not only are they up to 45 out of the recognized 62 state record fish on their list, they have a new state record with a shortnose gar.”

So far the record count this year stands at four: a 5-pound 4-ounce shortnose gar caught by Cayden Hutmacher; two caught and released lake sturgeon that were 70 inches long caught by Tim Deiman and Mark Minnick; and a 4-pound 7-ounce golden redhorse caught by Mathew Williams.

Social media even fueled some recent speculation that there would be two other candidates for flathead catfish records after photos surfaced of anglers who caught, photographed and released large catfish on the Minnesota River the same day on May 15, about 100 miles apart from each other. The fish may have ended up tied with the current 49-inch length record; however, one of the anglers didn’t have a witness and the DNR hasn’t received a record application for the other.

The largest catch-and-release record submitted for consideration this year came from the Minnesota-Canada border waters, a submission that stated it as a 72-inch lake sturgeon. Unfortunately, there was no photo of that fish on the ruler so it could not be certified as a record. There was also an application for a quillback carpsucker that turned out to be a bigmouth buffalo.

“Some of the potential records submitted for the catch-and-release category haven’t had a photo of the complete fish on a ruler,” Kurre said. “It’s understandable, since outside a cadre of top-level anglers, few go out fishing expecting to catch one of these huge fish. Or, in the other cases, solo anglers would have just needed to take someone else fishing with them.”

Kurre recommends anglers become familiar with the record-fish guidelines and be ready to take the required photos and go through the correct procedures for submitting the record – especially when equipped with the fishing tackle and on waters where they might catch record fish.

The DNR will in coming weeks announce new state records in news releases and online. Find current records and guidelines for each type of state record at mndnr.gov/recordfish.

Mille Lacs advisory committee meets June 5

The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 5, at the Garrison Town Hall, 27069 Central St. in Garrison. DNR staff will provide updates on the fishery, including upcoming research projects and preliminary findings from last year’s experimental stocking. The committee will also be discussing its future activities. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions.

The advisory committee of citizens has been active since October 2015. For more information about the committee and DNR’s management of Mille Lacs Lake, visit the Mille Lacs Lake management page.

Modest license fee increase needed to sustain Minnesota’s great fishing

Minnesotans will celebrate great fishing when the season officially kicks off on Saturday, May 13.

Just how great is fishing in the land of 10,000 lakes? Minnesota ranks second in the nation in the number of resident anglers — 1.4 million Minnesotans cast a line each year. Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination for out-of-state visitors.

Whether you’re chasing walleye in Lake of the Woods, casting for trout in southeastern Minnesota’s clear, cold streams or in search of monstrous sturgeon and muskellunge, you’ll find many opportunities among Minnesota’s 5,500 fishable lakes and 18,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers.

But the fantastic fishing that creates $4.2 billion in economic activity and 35,000 private sector jobs doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s the careful fisheries management work of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that creates a myriad of opportunities for anglers each year.

Fisheries staff in 29 offices across Minnesota perform lake surveys and population assessments on a regular basis. The data collected allow informed decisions to be made about regulations that can sustain and enhance a fish population, fish stocking, water quality and habitat conditions.

Stocking of walleye, muskellunge and trout occur throughout Minnesota. Stocking can provide opportunities to catch a particular species of fish that anglers might otherwise not have. Provided habitat and forage conditions are appropriate, stocking also can introduce new species that enhance and improve fishing.

Sometimes, fisheries management can correct the past. Here in Minnesota, sturgeon have been reintroduced into the rivers where they once lived. Lake trout are fully recovered in Lake Superior. Habitat improvements that enhance spawning and conservative regulations are rehabilitating these and other species in our state’s most iconic lake.

Throughout Minnesota’s 87 counties, DNR fisheries staff use their knowledge and expertise to benefit area aquatic resources and fish. Whether it’s setting and checking nets to count fish and record the data, stocking fish, surveying habitat or working with community, educational and outdoor groups, all the work combines to make fishing in Minnesota a truly world class experience.

Fishing license dollars pay for the majority of this work. But – like any business – operating costs rise over time. While prices for products and services aren’t fixed; fishing license fees have been the same since 2013. That’s why DNR is asking for a $3 increase for an individual fishing license.

“Anglers will see a noticeable difference in their fishing experience this season without a license fee increase,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Lake and stream surveys and assessments that give us the information we need to make the best management decisions will be significantly curtailed. Fewer fish will be stocked in more than 200 lakes. And there will be much less time to monitor habitat quality and needs, land use and other factors that have major impacts to Minnesota fisheries.”

The modest fee increase isn’t being sought to create new staff positions or build programs. What drives the fee increase are the decline in buying power due to increasing costs for pickup trucks, boats, trailers, motors and other equipment.

The DNR’s fisheries section has a long tradition of belt-tightening and the proposed fee increase won’t change that. Staffing levels are down about 13 percent from 10 years ago and, overall, fisheries area offices have fewer employees. Office operating budgets are leaner, too.

“For about the cost of a scoop of minnows and not much more than what a gallon of gas costs, anglers can support the necessary and important work that 29 area fisheries offices do across Minnesota,” Landwehr said. “That modest $3 increase will allow DNR to sustain and improve fishing quality and opportunity and meet the expectations of outdoor-loving Minnesotans.”

Learn more at Support the Outdoors.

Apply to hunt elk in Minnesota

Northwest elk research continues

Hunters have through Friday, June 16, to apply for one of 13 elk licenses offered this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We have native elk herds and managing them involves balancing the benefit they provide to all Minnesotans with the damage these large animals do to fences and crops,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. “Our elk management plan provides background and guidance on our elk management and research.”

Licenses will be available for two concurrent elk seasons in Kittson County’s central (zone 20) and northeast (zone 30) zones. The Grygla area elk zone will not be open to hunting in 2017 because that area’s elk population is below the population goal level outlined in the elk management plan.

The first 2017 elk season runs from Saturday, Sept. 9, to Sunday, Sept. 17, in both open elk hunt zones. Three bulls-only licenses and one antlerless-only elk license will be available in the Kittson County central zone (zone 20) and two bulls-only licenses will be available in the Kittson County northeast zone (zone 30).

The second 2017 elk season runs from Saturday, Oct. 7, to Sunday, Oct. 15. Three bulls-only licenses and one antlerless-only elk license will be available in the Kittson County central zone (zone 20) and three bulls-only licenses will be available in the Kittson County northeast zone (zone 30) for the second season.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul, mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by telephone at 888-665-4236.  There is a nonrefundable application fee of $4 per hunter. The license fee is $287.  Hunters will have to select a zone and season when applying. Hunting information including maps of the elk hunting zones is at mndnr.gov/hunting/elk.

In addition to managing elk populations through hunting, the DNR continues to track 19 adult cow elk that were outfitted with GPS tracking collars in early 2016 for a research project that will enhance knowledge of elk and help inform elk management in the future. Applicants should be mindful that if successful in the antlerless lottery, they will be asked to not shoot radio-collared cows because the study is ongoing.

More information on Minnesota’s current elk herd and ongoing studies exploring the feasibility of reintroducing elk to northeastern Minnesota in the future can be found at www.mndnr.gov/elk and elk.umn.edu.

Mississippi River holds great
angling for fishing opener

When Gov. Mark Dayton heads out in the early hours of May 13 in hopes of hooking into a big fish, he’ll be doing something only a few governors have done before: Marking the opening day of Minnesota’s angling season by fishing on a river.

While the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener has taken place on the Mississippi three times before, it’s been on the lower, broader, deeper parts of the river between Red Wing and Winona, stretches that resemble lakes because of the dams and locks that impound the river to facilitate barge traffic. Dayton will see a much different Mississippi in the greater St. Cloud area, a shallower, more lazy river that calls for different angling techniques than those used on lakes and big rivers.

“Rivers are dynamic and always changing, with different flows and stages,” said Eric Altena, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries manager for the area. “That can affect your fishing a lot.”

The portion of the river that’s the focus for the Governor’s Fishing Opener this year is about 200 to 400 yards wide, and averages less than 3 feet in depth, with several deeper pools. Altena describes three different sections of the Mississippi around St. Cloud, separated by dams where early American explorer Zebulon Pike would have encountered water falls when he first visited the area in 1805.

The river below the St. Cloud dam includes the Beaver Islands, a cluster of 20 or 30 islands on the south end of St. Cloud so named by Pike for “the immense signs of those animals, for they have dams on every island.” The St. Cloud pool is a 6-mile stretch between the St. Cloud and Sartell dams that includes about a 264-acre reservoir within St. Cloud, as well as several miles of shallower, more natural river running through Sauk Rapids. Between the dams at Sartell and Royalton, the river flows unimpeded for 26 miles.

Nearly three dozen species of fish can be found in this portion of the Mississippi River, including smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish and the occasional muskellunge. The river’s diverse and robust fishery relies wholly on natural reproduction (i.e. no stocking) and is largely the product of a healthy watershed. It receives relatively low angling pressure and catch rates can be high, in excess of five fish per hour for smallmouth bass.

Below St. Cloud, the river is recognized as a world-class smallmouth bass fishery that’s maintained by a special regulation with a 12-inch to 20-inch protected slot and a three-fish daily bag limit. Anglers fishing the opener on any stretch of the river around St. Cloud are likely to run into some bass action, Altena said. The season is catch and release for bass until May 27.

While electronics such as depth finders can be handy on large lakes, a pair of eyeballs may be just as useful on a shallow river. Altena recommends looking for eddies and riffles, places of transition in the flow, where the current changes or slows. If it’s rained recently, look for stormwater inlets or tributary streams – fish congregate there and wait for the current to deliver food. For an all-around general purpose set-up, Altena likes a nightcrawler or two on a short Lindy rig with about a one-foot leader and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. High flow conditions are more favorable for walleye reproduction and recruitment, while low flow will generally yield more bass and catfish spawning success.

“If you don’t get a hit within 15 minutes, something’s wrong, and you should probably move,” he said.

The St. Cloud area of the Mississippi River also presents great opportunities for shore fishing, with many parks and public lands along the river for access. Downstream of the St. Cloud dam are Riverside Park, Beaver Islands Trail Park and River Bluffs Regional Park. Above the dam there’s Wilson Park and a number of others all along the river up to Sauk Rapids and to Sartell.

“There are plenty of opportunities to jump around from spot to spot to find the best one and the best presentation,” Altena said. “A lot has to do with timing. A spot may be productive or not at different times of day.”

As far as fish consumption goes, the river is similar to any other lake in the area, Altena said. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to let the bigger ones go and keep the fish under 16 inches for eating.

Visit Fish Minnesota for more information about fishing.

DNR video and interviews available for fishing opener coverage

To assist with your coverage of this weekend’s fishing opener, the Department of Natural Resources has fishing b-roll and sound bites from DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira (Per-rare-ah) and Conservation Officer Leah Weyandt (Why-ant) available for your on-air use.

Sound bites from Pereira are on the following topics:

  • Excitement about this year’s opener             
  • Economics of fishing in Minnesota                
  • What is DNR doing to grow the sport?
  • Minnesota fishing license sales
  • Northwestern Minnesota fishing outlook
  • Northeastern Minnesota fishing outlook
  • Southwestern Minnesota fishing outlook
  • Southeastern Minnesota fishing outlook
  • Mille Lacs fishing outlook
  • Metro fishing outlook

Sound bites from Weyandt are on following topics:

  • Safety reminders
  •  Life jackets
  • Common violations
  • Boating and alcohol

The b-roll and sound bites are available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “05-08-17 Fishing opener resources.”

How to keep kids hooked on fishing? Catch some big fish

Take a kid fishing and they may find that catching a real, live fish can be an exciting contrast to the programmed reality of scrolling through social media – at least, for a while.

But how do kids stay hooked on fishing once they reach the panfish plateau?

“There are a few ways kids can get to the next level and have fun catching a variety of species,” said Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “As fun as it is to catch lots of panfish, there’s more to fishing than the fishing pier.”

First, consider trying to catch other species. Bass put up a good fight and the angling tactics to catch them are not that different than panfish. The catch-and-release season for bass in most of the state begins on the Saturday, May 13, fishing opener. Bass harvest season begins Saturday, May 27 (in the northeast, you can keep bass starting at the opener).

Taking beginner anglers in a boat can be another step up from the pier. Many fish roam the tops and edges of the plants, so Ledermann recommends drifting and trolling along the weeds with a small “beetle spin.” Trolling a mini spinnerbait with a blade on one end of a wire frame and a small jig head (1/16th ounce) and plastic tube jig or grub on the other end is ideal for new anglers.

“All they need to do is cast it back or let out several feet of line and hold on. Let the boat or wind do the work and set the hook when they get a bite, and reel them in. This technique is especially effective on crappies, but all kinds of fish from bluegills to bass to northern pike can be caught this way and there’s no messing with live bait,” Ledermann said.

Ledermann also recommends spinnerbaits – what he calls “the magic lure.”

“When kids get better at casting and old enough to handle larger equipment, 1/4- or 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits are a great all around bait,” Ledermann said. “They are less likely to hook plants, rocks, trees or fellow anglers. And especially early in the year when fish are shallow, they are a great bait for northerns and bass.”

Another exciting way to fish is casting topwater lures like artificial frogs in the lily pads. For kids that are not as skilled or old enough to cast these bigger rigs, Ledermann does the casting to likely spots for bass and lets the kids have the fun working the bait back, setting the hook and reeling them in.

“With topwater fishing, you need to bulk up with heavy duty rods, reels and line (20 pounds) so you can horse fish out of the plants, but catching that first big bass out of the slop is a memory that will last forever,” Ledermann said.

Of course, for young anglers who’ve never fished before, start with the basics. Find lakes with panfish, a fishing pier, bathrooms and a playground. Keep it simple and focus on the kids as they catch fish with light line, a small hook, sinker and worms. Find fishing locations at mndnr.gov/FiN.

Visit mndnr.gov/FishMN to find fishing regulations and data on more than 4,500 lakes and rivers in Minnesota.

New zebra mussel-sniffing K9s take aim at aquatic invasive species

With the fishing opener fast approaching, two new K9 dogs, trained to quickly locate zebra mussels on boats and trailers, will be helping the Department of Natural Resources prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The K9s help by quickly sniffing out any zebra mussels attached to boats or equipment. Newly certified K9s Shelby and Storm join veterans Brady and Reggie on the force for 2017.

“The invasive species program is excited to have two more K9 officers ready to detect zebra mussels on water-related equipment in the field and to educate people about aquatic invasive species and what each of us can do to stop the spread,” said Heidi Wolf, invasive species unit supervisor.

More DNR-trained watercraft inspectors, more decontamination units, expanded training efforts and greater public engagement all help prevent the spread of zebra mussels, starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species.

“We need anglers, and everyone who enjoys Minnesota’s waters, to follow three simple steps: Clean, Drain, Dispose,” said Jackie Glaser, DNR enforcement operations manager.  “It’s not only the best way to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, but it’s also the law in Minnesota. Clean aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species from watercraft; Drain lake or river water and keep drain plugs out during transport; and Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.”

In addition to these required steps, especially after leaving infested waters, the DNR recommends that anglers:

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

Less than 2 percent of Minnesota lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS

DNR adds 2 zebra mussel-sniffing K9s to help with aquatic invasive species prevention

WHAT:

DNR K9s trained to detect zebra mussels will demonstrate their skills, in advance of next weekend’s start of the open water fishing season.

A DNR conservation officer and an invasive species specialist will talk about progress being made in Minnesota and what people need to do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Two newly certified K9s will bring the number of DNR zebra mussel K9s to four.

WHO:

K9 and DNR enforcement officers and invasive species specialists.

WHEN:

Thursday, May 4.

WHERE:

Metro media: Sand Point Beach Public Access, 14377 Crest Ave. NE, Prior Lake,
11 a.m.-noon.

Southern media: Madison Lake Northwest Public Access, 1001 Park Road, Madison Lake, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Northern media: Pike Lake Public Access, 5798 Town Hall Road, Duluth, 11 a.m.-noon.

Catch a lake sturgeon sporting a tag? Report it

Six feet – that’s the length of the longest lake sturgeon tagged by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and there’s a chance a Rainy River angler could catch that 6-foot fish or others out of the 8,959 sturgeon tagged to date as part of a long-term study.

“Spring sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River has been excellent this year,” said Phil Talmage, DNR Baudette area fisheries supervisor. “As if catching a lunker sturgeon isn’t enough, catching a tagged fish and reporting it gives anglers and the DNR an added bonus. Cooperation from anglers is an essential part of this long-term tagging and recapture study.”

Anglers who report the tag number on a sturgeon receive an email back from the Baudette office thanking them, along with maps and information collected on their tagged fish and its history since tagged. The information tells a story of the sturgeon’s travels from when it was captured until it was caught and reported.

Of the 8,959 lake sturgeon tagged so far, 5,484 were longer than 45 inches at the time they were tagged. The longest sturgeon tagged was 72 inches –  6 feet – but weight was not recorded for this fish when it was captured on the Rapid River, near Clementson, in 2014.

The heaviest sturgeon tagged and weighed was 89.1 pounds, but only 63.5 inches long. This fish came from the Littlefork River in 2000. The largest sturgeon sampled was caught off of Pine Island in September of 2007. This fish was 73 inches long and estimated to weigh 120 pounds. Unfortunately, the DNR was not set up to tag this fish, so it was released without a tag.

“Our tagging program is part of an effort to monitor sturgeon as the population recovers,” Talmage said. “Besides understanding sturgeon movement and reproduction cycles, the tagging effort also allows us to make population estimates.”

Population estimates of the number of sturgeon longer than 40 inches in the Lake of the Woods-Rainy River system were made in 1990, 2004 and again in 2014. The sturgeon population grew from about 16,000 in 1990, to about 60,000 in 2004 and about 92,000 in 2014.

The Lake of the Woods-Rainy River system is one of the few areas in the country that has a sturgeon population that is healthy enough to support a fishery.

“In Minnesota we are fortunate that sturgeon are beginning to recover in most watersheds throughout the state,” Talmage said. “This has been accomplished though improving water and habitat quality, stocking to reintroduce the species and improving fish passage through dam removal and modifications.”

Intense commercial exploitation during the late 1800s and early 1900s decimated the once abundant sturgeon population in Lake of the Woods and Rainy River. After the decline of the commercial fishery, the sturgeon population was unable to rebound due to water pollution and degraded habitat in the Rainy River, the primary spawning area and nursery habitat for young sturgeon. But because sturgeon are extremely long-lived, enough individuals managed to survive and reproduction was sufficient to maintain a small population.

With the passage of clean water legislation in the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially the Clean Water Act in 1972, the sturgeon population started to recover as water quality and habitat conditions improved. Now reproduction is successful in most years.

In Minnesota, lake sturgeon are listed as a Species of Special Concern. What happened to sturgeon in the Lake of the Woods-Rainy River system also happened to many populations throughout the continent. In addition to water-quality and habitat degradation, the constructions of dams impacted populations throughout the world.

In the Minnesota waters of Lake of the Woods and Rainy River, anglers can catch-and-release sturgeon Oct. 1 through May 15 and July 1 through Sept. 30. Anglers who purchase a $5 sturgeon harvest tag can harvest one fish 45-50 inches inclusive, or over 75 inches in length, per calendar year: April 24 through May 7 or July 1 through Sept. 30. The sturgeon season is closed May 16 through June 30.

To report a tagged fish visit mndnr.gov/taggedfish or to report it directly to the Baudette office, find contact information and other management information at mndnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/baudette.

For statewide sturgeon fishing regulations, visit mndnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing.

Walleye stamps support better
fishing across Minnesota

Anglers can support walleye stocking by purchasing $5 walleye stamps that help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provide more places to fish for walleye.

“You can buy a walleye stamp any time of the year, even if you already have a fishing license,” said Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant. “All the funds from walleye stamps go toward the cost of purchasing walleye from private fish farms for stocking into lakes.”

The overall walleye stocking effort ramps up each year in April when fisheries staff collect walleye eggs, fertilize them and transport the eggs to fish hatcheries around Minnesota. The eggs spend two to three weeks incubating before hatching into fry that are soon released – two thirds into lakes and one third into rearing ponds. The fish in rearing ponds grow into 4- to 6-inch fingerlings that are stocked into lakes in the fall.

In addition to raising and stocking walleye, the DNR also buys walleye fingerlings from private producers to be stocked into lakes, and walleye stamp sales help pay for these fish. Since 2009, funds from the walleye stamp have purchased over 40,000 pounds of walleye fingerlings that have been stocked in the fall, all over the state. Walleye are stocked in lakes that don’t have naturally reproducing walleye populations.

“Just about anywhere you go in Minnesota, there’s a lake fairly close by where you can fish for walleye,” Vanderbosch said. “To decide what lakes and how many fish to stock, we look at available habitat, prey and past stocking success, and make individual lake management plans that guide stocking decisions.”

Anglers catch the lion’s share of walleye from waters where the fish reproduce naturally – about 260 larger walleye lakes and in large rivers. Because of stocking, walleye can be found in an additional 1,300 Minnesota lakes spread throughout the state.

More information about habitat stamps can be found at mndnr.gov/stamps.

DNR invites public input on proposed motor vehicle use in new state forest

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites citizens to learn about proposed recreation opportunities in Centennial State Forest, a 3,394-acre state forest in Cass County donated to the DNR in 2013.

The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 26, in the Walker Community Center Rotary Room, 105 Tower Ave., Walker. Following a presentation at 6 p.m., there will be time for questions and answers, map review and comments.

Minnesota state forests are classified into three groupings for off-highway vehicle (OHV) and motor vehicle use:

  • In “managed” forests you may ride on all state forest roads, signed trails and non-designated routes that are not posted closed.
  • In “limited” forests you may ride on all forest roads and trailed signed for specific motor vehicle use.
  • “Closed” forests are open only to highway-licensed vehicles on forest roads.

As part of the overall planning process, the DNR is proposing to classify Centennial State Forest as “limited.” The DNR is also proposing to designate approximately 11 miles of forest roads, to allow OHV and motor vehicle use on those roads.

Comments received at the meeting will be used to develop a final recommendation that will be submitted to the DNR commissioner for approval.

Written comments may be submitted by fax to 651-297-1157, by email to foresttrailplanning.dnr@state.mn.us, or by mail to Joe Unger, Parks and Trails Division, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN  55155-4039. The DNR will accept written comments through Wednesday, July 26.

For more information call:

  • Tim Williamson, OHV acquisition and development specialist, Parks and Trails Division, 218-308-2369.
  • Joel Lemberg, Backus Area forest supervisor, Forestry Division, 218-947-3232, ext. 223.

For more information, visit the Centennial State Forest webpage.

 

DNR seeks input on proposed changes to sharp-tailed grouse hunting

Sharp-tailed grouse hunting in the east-central part of the state would begin about a month later under a proposal from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We would limit early-season fall hunting in an area already open to sharp-tailed grouse hunting where habitat changes have significantly reduced their numbers,” said Dave Olfelt, DNR northeast region manager. “The change aims to boost survival of young-of-the-year birds and adult hens with broods, which could provide a benefit to the overall population.”

Fall sharp-tailed grouse hunting is allowed in the northern third of the state. If approved for 2017, the sharp-tailed grouse season in a part of east-central Minnesota and east of a line from Floodwood to the northern border would be open Saturday, Oct. 14, through Thursday, Nov. 30. In the rest of the open hunting zone, the season would run from Saturday, Sept. 16, through Nov. 30.

People who want to provide input on the proposal can attend meetings in early May and give input through Thursday, June 1, online at mndnr.gov/sharptailedgrouse or via mail.

Public meetings with staff who can provide additional information are planned for:

  • 6-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
  • 7-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 9, Cloquet High School, 1000 18th St., Cloquet.

To get a written copy of the input survey, contact the DNR Information Center by telephone at 888-646-6367 or email jason.abraham@state.mn.us. Written comments may be emailed, or mailed to Sharp-Tailed Grouse Comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4007.

Sharp-tailed grouse are somewhat larger than ruffed grouse and live in open grassy or brushy areas. The once-thriving population has declined sharply in the last 50 years due to loss of suitable habitat.

During spring mating, the males try to attract females by making coos and clucks, stomping their feet and clicking their tail feathers in a courtship dance at specific locations called leks.

The DNR maintains blinds that are available to the public in areas where the public can watch sharp-tailed grouse courtship. More information on sharp-tailed grouse viewing blinds is available at www.mndnr.gov/birds/sharptailedgrouse.html.

Buy a license and share the passion for fishing
Fishing makes memories and license dollars fund work to maintain healthy fish populations
 
As a kid, Chakong Thao caught his first fish in an east metro area lake that continues to be a great place to start fishing, with 4 miles of fishable shoreline, a pier, easy access by car, bus or bicycle, and perhaps most importantly, lots of fish.

“I remember catching my first fish ever, which was a sunfish over at Lake Phalen,” said Thao, who lives in St. Paul. “I remember the thrill of just pulling that fish out of the water.”

As an adult, Thao needs a fishing license, and dollars from purchase of that license help pay for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to manage, maintain and improve healthy fish populations and habitats in lakes like Phalen.

“People might not realize it, but by buying a license they are helping to share the passion for fishing with future generations,” said Jenifer Wical, the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife marketing coordinator. “Fishing license sales fund our ongoing fisheries work. Buying a license is simple, and we offer several different types of fishing licenses to fit your need.”

There are adult individual angling licenses and licenses for married couples. Anglers can buy licenses for 24-hour, 72-hour and three-year time periods. Lifetime licenses can keep someone fishing long into the future, and come at great prices, especially for children 3 and under and those ages 51 and older. Lifetime licenses can also be given as gifts.

Youth ages 16 and 17 can buy an annual license for $5. Minnesotans 15 and under are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations. All nonresidents need a license, except those age 15 and younger do not need one if a parent or guardian is licensed.

Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

For those who hunt and fish, a sports license includes angling and small game, and a super sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader).

To learn more about how the DNR spends hunting and fishing license dollars locally, visit mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork and select an area near you.

New Upper Red Lake walleye
regulations announced

Anglers fishing Upper Red Lake in northwestern Minnesota this spring will be able to keep four walleye of which only one may be longer than 17 inches, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

These new regulations, effective on the walleye fishing opener Saturday, May 13, allow one more fish in the daily bag than the regulations that were in place in the winter.

“Harvest under the three fish bag limit resulted in approximately 109,000 pounds for the winter season,” said Gary Barnard, area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji for the DNR. “There is still room within the target harvest range to allow an additional fish this spring.”

Red Lake’s walleye harvest is managed under a joint harvest plan, revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.

“The new harvest plan recommends a more aggressive approach when walleye spawning stock is in surplus, as it currently is,” Barnard said. “The extra fish allowed by the daily bag limit will increase open water harvest some, and allowing one fish over 17 inches meets our harvest plan objectives by spreading harvest over a wide range of sizes and removing some of the surplus spawning stock.”

More information on Red Lake fishing regulations are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

Be aware of bears this spring; DNR lists tips for avoiding conflicts

Anyone living near bear habitat is reminded to be aware of bears this spring and check their property for food sources that could attract bears.

“Leaving food out in yards that can be eaten by bears can lead to property damage and presents dangers to bears,” said Eric Nelson, wildlife animal damage program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Pet food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage can attract bears.”

As bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce.

Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota. They usually are shy and flee when encountered. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.

The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.

The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts.

Around the yard

  • Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
  • Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
  • Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
  • Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up spilled seeds. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.
  • Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
  • Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
  • Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.
  • Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.
  • Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
  • Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
  • Elevate bee hives on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
  • Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

Garbage

  • Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
  • Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
  • Properly rinse all recyclable containers with hot water to remove all remaining product.
  • Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside.
  • Store garbage that can become smelly, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site or picked up by refuse collector.
  • Take especially smelly or rotting garbage as soon as possible to your local refuse facility so it can be buried.

People should always be cautious around bears. If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife/bears.

DNR designates Straight River
Groundwater Management Area


The Department of Natural Resources designated the state’s third groundwater management area this week. The Straight River Groundwater Management Area in northwestern Minnesota includes parts of southern Clearwater, northeast Becker, southwest Hubbard and northwest Wadena counties. Cities within the boundary include Park Rapids, Osage and Ponsford.

In addition to the designation, the DNR approved a management plan for it. The plan lays out five objectives with specific actions the DNR will take to ensure that use of groundwater remains sustainable within the area. The plan was developed over several years with the help of an internal DNR project team, an advisory team of external stakeholders, and additional public review and discussion.

“With more than 10,000 lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and many thousands of acres of wetlands, it might be natural to think that our water is essentially unlimited,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But in some parts of the state, the unseen, underground aquifers that make up our groundwater resources are under pressure to meet growing needs for domestic water supplies, irrigation, industrial and other uses. These groundwater resources also are interconnected with lakes, streams and wetlands that we value for commerce, recreation, and water supplies. Those surface waters also provide the habitat needed by many animals and plants. If we are not careful in how we use water, both economic development and ecosystems could be put at risk.”

The plan provides a framework within which the DNR will work with major water users, including municipalities and agricultural irrigators, to use groundwater sustainably. This cooperative effort will promote conservation, protect surface waters and water quality, improve the groundwater appropriations permitting process, and help resolve any conflicts that might arise among users.

This is one of three groundwater management areas being established around Minnesota. The other two are in the north and east metropolitan area and in the Bonanza Valley near Paynesville in west-central Minnesota.

More information, including plans and maps for the Straight River Groundwater Management Area, can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/gwmp/area-sr.html

Catch-and-release summer walleye season announced for Mille Lacs Lake

21-day walleye closure in July expected to help extend fishing season through Labor Day
Catch-and-release only regulations needed to rebuild Mille Lacs Lake’s walleye population will again be in effect when anglers hit the water on Saturday, May 13. The 2017 walleye season on Mille Lacs is scheduled to run through Monday, Sept. 4.

“Our goal is to have the longest fishing season possible while ensuring the conservation of the lake’s future walleye spawning stock,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We understand catch and release is a difficult option for anglers who enjoy a fish meal, but we are using everything in our management toolbox to ensure a heathy and plentiful walleye population for future fishing seasons.”

In addition to the catch-and-release regulation, and to help keep the walleye season open on Mille Lacs through Labor Day, the lake will have a 21-day walleye fishing closure from Friday, July 7 to July 27. During that 21-day period, anglers can fish for all other species in Mille Lacs Lake including bass, muskies and northerns but only with artificial bait and lures.

An exception exists for anglers targeting northern pike and muskellunge only, and who don’t possess walleye gear. Those anglers may possess and use live sucker minnows longer than 8 inches when fishing.

The decision to have a 21-day closure period during the walleye season was made after a successful winter season on Mille Lacs drove walleye harvest higher than expected.

“Ice anglers fished more on Mille Lacs in 2017 and caught more and larger walleye than expected,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief.  “As a result, ice fishing this winter accounted for about one-third of the total amount of walleye state anglers can harvest from Mille Lacs in 2017.”

Regulation decisions also were aided by several meetings and consultations with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee. Topics discussed between DNR staff and committee members included catch-and-release only restrictions, season dates, live bait restrictions, and the reason and timing of a temporary summer closure.

“The plan is for this closure to coincide with the hottest part of the summer when released fish are vulnerable to stress,” Pereira explained. “Warm water combined with July’s higher fishing pressure means that more fish die – even those that are caught and returned to the water.”

The tendency for caught fish to die after being released is called hooking mortality, which increases as water temperatures warm. During the last two weeks of July 2016 alone, hooking mortality accounted for more than half of the state’s walleye harvest allocation for the entire open water season.

“These measures will extend the Mille Lacs walleye season as long as possible this summer and protect the younger walleye the lake needs to rebuild its population,” Pereira said.

The state’s 2017 walleye allocation is 44,800 pounds. However, during discussions, state and Ojibwe tribal leadership established that the 2017 walleye season will remain open through 12:01 a.m., Sept. 5, provided the state harvest doesn’t exceed a conservation cap of 55,800.

Additionally, state and tribal leadership agreed to return to an overage system, through which each party will be required to deduct any harvest above its allocation from a future year’s allocation.

“Our next milestone for success is to observe another abundant year class of walleye,” Pereira said. “We need more than one year when a lot of walleye hatch. What we need to see is large numbers of walleyes surviving beyond the first year to add more spawning fish to the population. We’ve not seen that yet.”

Pereira said the DNR is committed to maintaining the Mille Lacs area as a premier fishing destination. He said the agency is conducting a comprehensive review of its data-collecting methods in order to ensure the most accurate information possible is being used. For example, Michigan State University fisheries experts are now reviewing the agency’s creel survey methods.

Mille Lacs continues to make headlines for its nationally recognized smallmouth bass and muskie fisheries. For example, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship is returning to Mille Lacs this fall for the second consecutive year. Last year, some of the nation’s top competitive anglers referred to the lake as a “world-class smallmouth bass factory.”

In addition to fishing,  Mille Lacs offers numerous recreational activities including: boating, waterskiing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and public beaches.

“Mille Lacs is a premier tourism destination with diverse fishing and a whole lot more,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism arm. “The area additionally offers lots of ways outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the area’s natural beauty on hiking, biking and ATV trails, watching wildlife, golfing or visiting a Minnesota state park.”

In June 2016, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a supplemental budget bill which included $3.6 million for local grants and loans in Mille Lacs County and $300,000 for the Mille Lacs Tourism Council to bolster area tourism marketing efforts.

More information about Mille Lacs, ongoing DNR management and research, and area recreation opportunities is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

Eaglets hatch on live DNR EagleCam

Arrival marks 40 years of Nongame Wildlife Program

The eagles have landed, or hatched, and just in time for the 40th anniversary of the state’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The EagleCam is one of the ways the program helps wildlife conservation and species recovery efforts in Minnesota.

This year, three eaglets are being viewed around the world as they’re raised by a banded female that returns to the same nest annually. The three eaglets are the next generation to be raised by a banded female that has been viewed around the world as she annually returns to the same nest to mate, lay eggs and fledge her young. Mother eagle was banded at the Raptor Center, where she was rehabilitated from a previous injury.

Forty years of effective conservation

Forty years ago, there were few bald eagles left in the U.S. The Nongame Wildlife Program was instrumental in helping with recovery efforts by the donating 55 chicks to other states. Today, there are more than 10,000 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with Minnesota home to the largest population.

The Nongame Wildlife Program is celebrating this achievement alongside many other success stories throughout its 40-year history. Most notable are the recovery of the trumpeter swan, osprey, peregrine falcon, eastern bluebird and Minnesota’s state bird, the loon.

These species are thriving again because of donations, bequests and, especially, contributions through the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. These donations also help lesser-known but important nongame species including the timber rattlesnake, northern goshawk, Blanding’s turtle, eastern hognose snake, common tern and many others. Without taxpayer support, the EagleCam would not exist.

The Nongame Wildlife Program is funded entirely through donations. When the checkoff was first instituted in 1980, 138,609 individuals donated through their tax forms. By 2015, the number of individual donations had decreased to 48,940, yet nongame wildlife species continue to experience habitat loss and increased management needs.

Looking for a sound investment this tax season?

The checkoff offers Minnesotans a unique opportunity to invest some or all of their tax refunds to ensure that young and old can enjoy future dividends by being able to watch a frog, turtle or snake, hear a loon and see a bald eagle chick hatch.

Every donation is doubly important to the nongame program because of the compounding effect of matches. Every dollar donated to the nongame fund is matched by revenues from Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat license plates.

Contributions are further multiplied by matching federal grants, other outside funding sources, and funding recommendations from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. This means that every dollar donated is worth much more toward nongame species conservation, research and habitat protection efforts as well as public enjoyment. Nongame “investment strategies” over the past 40 years include a portfolio of projects:

Nongame “investment strategies” over the past 40 years include a portfolio of projects:

  • Research on the effects of the BP oil spill on common loons and white pelicans.
  • Surveys of summer habitat use by the northern long-eared bat, a federally threatened species, to determine the types of forest used by breeding females.
  • Partnerships with local and state conservation groups to promote wildlife tourism and viewing opportunities, including the Pine-to-Prairie International Birding Trail and the annual Detroit Lakes Birding Festival.
  • Research, management and recovery efforts that help pollinators, frogs, toads and native mussels, among others.
  • The “Get the Lead Out” campaign, which promotes a voluntary change from lead to non-lead tackle and ammunition to prevent lead poisoning in birds, mammals and fish, including the bald eagle and common loon.

Minnesotans can participate in ensuring the future of bald eagles and all nongame species by making an investment in the Nongame Wildlife Program. Consider it a 40th birthday gift to all the wild critters that benefit from this program.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/nongame.

DNR reports first discovery of
invasive silver carp in St. Croix River

Bighead carp also found during proactive monitoring


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the first capture of a silver carp on the St. Croix River. The invasive carp was caught by a commercial angler near Prescott, Wis., during proactive monitoring in partnership with the DNR.

“This news is disappointing but not unexpected,” said DNR invasive fish coordinator Nick Frohnauer. “The silver carp was captured within viewing distance of the St. Croix’s confluence with the Mississippi River. In 2014, two silver carp were found in the Mississippi only a short distance upstream from where the St. Croix and Mississippi meet.”

The silver carp caught on the St. Croix was 33 inches long and weighed 13 pounds.

One bighead carp was also caught by the commercial angler, who was working in conjunction with a DNR fisheries biologist. Bighead carp have previously been caught at this same location and further upstream on the St. Croix.

Frohnauer noted that while the DNR is concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in the St. Croix River, the individual fish that have been captured do not indicate reproduction or an established population of either bighead or silver carp in the St. Croix.

“The location where the carp were captured is a well-known over-wintering area for several species of fish,” Frohnauer said. “At this time, it is hard to predict if these individuals would have moved further upstream the St. Croix River, or back into the Mississippi River when water temperatures warm up in the spring.”

Immediate follow-up sampling was not possible on the St. Croix, as colder weather led to the river icing up. Once the ice clears, DNR staff will work with commercial anglers to survey for additional invasive carp near Prescott.

Additionally, the DNR will sample at the King Power Plant near Bayport, Minn., where bighead carp have been caught in the past. A commercial angler netting under the ice near the Bayport marina early in 2017 did not catch any invasive carp.

The DNR Invasive Species Program has built partnerships with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses collaborating to prevent the spread of invasive carp:

  • The DNR is an active partner in the Upper Mississippi River invasive carp workgroup, which is working to limit the impact of invasive carp. The group includes representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and several federal agencies.
  • In partnership with the DNR, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota is testing carp deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams. They have installed acoustic speakers at Lock 8 and modeled flows through the gates at dams 2 and 8.
  • DNR fisheries leads a comprehensive sampling program to monitor population expansion, population changes, and impacts of management actions. As part of this partnership with the commercial fishing community, a DNR field biologist was on site when the commercial angler captured the silver carp and bighead carp on the St. Croix.

The deterrent testing and sampling programs have been funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund with proceeds from the state lottery.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. While no breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters, individual fish have been caught in the Mississippi near the Twin Cities, the St. Croix River and the Minnesota River.

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.

To learn more, visit mndnr.gov/invasivecarp, and attend the upcoming invasive carp stakeholder forum Wednesday, March 29, at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge visitor center in Bloomington from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For additional information about the forum, contact Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator, 651-259-5670, nick.frohnauer@state.mn.us.

First eaglet arrives on DNR’s EagleCam

The bald eagles featured on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ EagleCam have their first chick of 2017. The egg hatched today and the second egg has a pip (scientific term for the hole the chick makes with its egg tooth on the end of its beak) that is getting larger. There might be three chicks by the weekend!

Biologists were concerned that the first egg might not hatch, as it was left in the cold for quite some time immediately after hatching. The pair has proven they have this incubation thing under control.

The EagleCam is a project of the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program. To learn more, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/index.html

To watch the live video stream, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html

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.

Support the outdoors: Minnesota state parks
and trails need a boost from users, taxpayers

By Tom Landwehr, commissioner, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources is asking for modest fee and general fund increases for Minnesota’s state parks and trails system during the 2017 legislative session, and I want you to know why it’s important to make an investment in these special places.

For more than 125 years, Minnesota’s state parks, trails and public water accesses have served as an outstanding asset to Minnesotans and visitors to our state, providing recreational access; activities and programs; support to local economies; and the ability to simply take a break from everyday life during all four seasons.

They are also core pillars of the state’s $13.6 billion tourism industry, playing host to some 10.3 million park visitors and 1.8 million summer trail users. Local spending in Greater Minnesota communities from park visitors is approximately $25.50 per person, per day, totaling $246 million each year.

In our 75 parks and along thousands of miles of trails, Minnesotans can experience the peace and well-being associated with fresh air, exercise, and the sights and sounds of our natural resources. In my humble opinion, a day on the lake—canoeing, recreational boating, or fishing—is nature’s best form of stress management.

But even natural beauty requires maintenance. Without careful management and upkeep, the woods, prairies and waterways would fill with invasive species, while time and the elements would reclaim the buildings, trails, boat access ramps, and roads in our parks.

Maintaining state parks and trails is a huge job for the DNR, with 75 state parks and recreation areas; 60 state multi-purpose and water trails; thousands of miles of user-supported snowmobile and off-highway vehicle trails; and more than 2,000 boat ramps and fishing piers. Managing these assets is like running 75 small cities and thousands of miles of narrow roadways.

Throughout our long and proud history, these facilities and services have been funded through a combination of tax dollars and modest user fees. A core value of Minnesota’s system has been to provide open or low-cost access to these recreational resources so ALL people could enjoy them.

While the popularity of the state parks has been increasing annually – for example, demand for single-day vehicle entrance permits has increased 34 percent since 2012 – the majority of user fees have remained stagnant for more than a decade. To help bridge the funding gap, we have had to shorten camping seasons, decrease office hours, and reduce the frequency of trail maintenance and grooming.

These stop-gaps need a sustainable fix, especially at a time when visitor numbers and expectations are rising. Warmer weather prompts more – not fewer – visits to state parks, trails and boat accesses. Customers want DNR to extend seasons, not shorten them. At current funding levels, we simply do not have the resources to meet that demand.

What we can do is this: seek a permanent general fund (tax dollars) adjustment to replace the previous one-time fixes to the Parks and Trails budget and ask users to pay a little more in fees. About 85 percent of DNR funding comes from user fees, sales of licenses and permits, and dedicated funds from the Legacy Amendment and the State Lottery.

If the governor’s proposals to increase outdoor recreation user fees and general fund support aren’t approved by the Legislature, Minnesotans and out-of-state visitors will see further reductions in the amenities and services the state parks and trails system can provide.

In practical terms, this means state park campgrounds open for significantly fewer days; diminished outdoor recreation grant funding for local governments; substantial cuts to trail grooming and repairs; and noticeably longer wait-times for dock maintenance and water level adjustments at boating access sites.

Here is our proposal:

  • A year’s worth of family fun in our state parks would increase by about the cost of a bag of cooler ice ($5/annually; $1/daily).
  • Registration fee increases for ATVs ($5/year), snowmobiles ($10/year), and boats ($1-15/year depending on watercraft size) would increase by less than the cost of a few gallons of gas.
  • The cross-country ski pass would increase less than the cost of a block of ski wax ($5/annually; $2/daily).

Even with these increases, Minnesota’s state parks and trails will continue to be a great value. Compared to the price of taking a family of four to a movie ($35 or more, not including popcorn) or an amusement park ($100 plus), our state parks and trails will remain an accessible option for family fun all across the state.

Minnesota has a strong tradition of publicly supporting outdoor recreation. I hope you will share your support for the outdoors—and these modest fee increases—with your family, friends and those who represent you in the state Legislature.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/supportoutdoors.

Bald eagles migrating back to Minnesota

Spring migration 1-2 weeks ahead of historical dates

Bald eagles are migrating back to Minnesota and may be seen in large numbers across parts of the state over the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The spring eagle migration usually coincides with ice-out.  A warm February melted much of the snow cover, and ice is breaking up along the rivers, said DNR regional Nongame Wildlife specialist Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer. “Because of that, this year’s migration appears to be a couple weeks earlier, so folks in southern Minnesota will be seeing eagles soon, even with the last remnants of winter,” she said. “We’re already seeing small groups of eagles along the Minnesota River.”

Only two states, Florida and Alaska, have greater nesting populations of bald eagles than Minnesota. In 2005, researchers estimated there are more than 1,300 active nests in Minnesota.

Fall migration typically occurs as lakes and rivers freeze over, since most eagles prefer a diet of fish. Bald eagle wintering grounds ideally contain open water, ample food, limited human disturbance and protected roosting sites. As their population increases, however, some eagles have become tolerant of some disturbance, particularly traffic, choosing to nest near busy highways or in very urban habitats. To supplement their diets in winter, eagles also prey on mammals and other birds, and will often be seen on roadsides eating carrion.

Not all bald eagles migrate southward in the fall, Gelvin-Innvaer said. In many areas in Minnesota, it’s common for some eagle pairs to stay the winter, especially during milder winters and wherever there is open water.

“This year’s winter was a bit milder,” she said. “There were fewer subzero nights and not as much snow on the ground as some other years. That should have made for an easier winter for them to find food.”

Bald eagles that stay local may begin courting and nesting as early as December or January. Other bald eagles return to their breeding territories as soon as a food source is available.

“Eagles tend to vary their migration routes, so it’s hard to say exactly where the eagles are right now,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. In Minnesota, the biggest migrations tend to be along the Minnesota River corridor, the north shore of Lake Superior and around Lake Pepin in southeastern Minnesota.

Adult bald eagles are easily identified by a white head and tail contrasting with a dark brown body. Bald eagles attain full adult plumage in their fourth or fifth year. In flight, bald eagles are sometimes confused with turkey vultures. Bald eagles can be distinguished by their tendency to soar on flat, board-like wings, while turkey vultures fly with their wings in a V-shape.

The bald eagle’s recovery is a success story and an example of how they and many other wildlife species benefit directly from donations made to the Nongame Wildlife checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. For the past forty years, checkoff dollars have been used to fund research, surveys and education for more than 900 nongame wildlife species. When the checkoff began, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and trumpeter swans were almost gone from our landscape. Today, they are all thriving in Minnesota. Each dollar donated is matched by funds from the Reinvest In Minnesota Account. Donations are accepted year-round.

More information is available here: www.dnr.state.mn.us/nongame/donate/index.html.

The DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program is now streaming live video of a nesting pair of bald eagles on its website at www.mndnr.gov/eaglecam.

For additional information on bald eagles and where to view them, go to www.mndnr.gov/birds/eagles/winter_wabasha.html.

Roemhildt named Pheasants Forever Wildlife Professional of the Year

Scott Roemhildt, grassland programs coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, has been named Pheasants Forever’s 2017 Wildlife Professional of the Year.“This is humbling for me,” Roemhildt said. “Pheasants Forever does so much for wildlife and habitat. I’ve always respected the mission of PF and their ability to get good conservation work done. It’s an incredible honor to be recognized for doing the work I love.”The award, presented at a program during National Pheasant Fest in Minneapolis, honors agency wildlife or habitat professionals who have worked hand-in-hand with Pheasants Forever for the benefit of pheasant and other wildlife populations.“Scott Roemhildt has worn many conservation hats over the years while tirelessly working for the pheasants of Minnesota,” said Eran Sandquist, Minnesota state coordinator for Pheasants Forever. “His commitment to wildlife, soil and water can be seen on the ground in habitat areas as you drive through southern Minnesota, where he has worked his entire career. His unique ability to bring folks together to achieve collective mission has served the people and projects of Minnesota well.”In his position, Roemhildt heads up the state’s Walk-In Access program, which pays landowners to allow public hunting on their private land. Since its inception in 2011, the program has grown to include more than 23,000 acres across 46 counties in the state. He also oversees the Roadsides for Wildlife program, is the DNR liaison with the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener and assists with grassland communications for the DNR.Pheasants Forever is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Together with Quail Forever, the organization has more than 149,000 members and 720 chapters across the United States and Canada. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has spent $708 million on 517,000 habitat projects benefitting 15.8 million acres.###Note: A photo of Roemhildt is available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us. Click on “news release resources” and then “03-02-17 Roemhildt.”

New at Minnesota state parks and trails in 2017: Paddle a new state water trail, see the new bison, camp at two new campgrounds and more

New offerings come after record number of visitors utilize state’s parks and trails system in 2016; DNR seeks moderate fee increases to support increased demand for parks and trails maintenance and services.

A variety of new experiences await visitors to Minnesota state parks and trails in 2017. For example, you can:

  • Explore two new campgrounds opening this summer at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine and Whitewater state parks.
  • Paddle a new state water trail through southern Minnesota—the 20-mile Shell Rock River State Water Trail—which begins at Fountain Lake in Freeborn County and passes through Myre-Big Island State Park en route to the Iowa border. (Fun fact: 12 of Minnesota’s 35 state water trails will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2017.)
  • Discover the Mill Towns State Trail. The DNR has acquired 6 miles of unused rail trail and completed two critical trail connections for the Mill Towns State Trail: a bridge across the Cannon River to Lake Byllesby Regional Park and a Highway 52 underpass. 
  • See bison. A yearling bull has joined the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd at Minneopa State Park. He and other bison can often be seen on a two-mile drive through the park’s new bison range.
  • Learn how to make your own maple syrup.  Visitors will be able to learn how to make maple syrup in the new sugar shack at Maplewood State Park.

Other highlights include:

  • Safer and easier boat access at St. Croix Boom Site and the public water accesses along the Minnesota and Otter Tail rivers.
  • Safer snowmobiling and ATVing on Blue Ox Trail. The extensive rehab of a snowmobile bridge over the Big Fork River on the Blue Ox Trail connects the 74 miles of trail. This trail is ideal for viewing wildlife; watch for beavers, eagles, moose, wolves and bobcats.

Many of these projects and experiences are possible because of Legacy funding. Legacy funding is also helping the DNR to connect more people to the outdoors. Minnesota state parks, for example, are seeing record attendance.

“Visits to Minnesota state parks topped 10 million in 2016 for the first time in the system’s 125-year history,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “We are grateful to everyone who supported the Legacy Amendment in 2008, because Legacy funding has helped us expand outreach and provide more of the amenities that today’s visitors expect, but Legacy funding can’t be used for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of our system.”

Operations and maintenance costs are paid for out of the DNR’s general fund allocation and user fees that support dedicated accounts, Rivers explained, which have not kept up with rising demands on the state’s parks and trails. To cut costs, the DNR has, among other things, shortened camping seasons at several state parks, reduced winter services such as ski trail grooming, and postponed some needed repairs to facilities. For example, the bathroom building at Jay Cooke State Park’s Oldenberg Point is no longer available to the public due to needed maintenance.

“More and more Minnesotans and visitors to our state are discovering the beauty and variety of our state’s parks and trails system. This is excellent news, but it does create challenges to meeting the increased maintenance demands on our system.  The time has come for Minnesota to make some critical investments to support the outdoor recreation system we value so highly,” Rivers said.

Earlier this year, Gov. Mark Dayton recommended an increase in the DNR’s General Fund allocation along with modest but much-needed fee increases to ensure that Minnesota’s state parks, its lakes, its water trails and its extensive multi-use trails—for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ATV riding, biking and hiking—remain well-maintained attractions.

Proposed fee increases include:

  • State park vehicle permit increases of $1/daily and $5/annually;
  • Registration fee increases for ATVs ($5/year), snowmobiles ($10/year) and boats ($1-$15/year, depending on size of craft); and
  • Cross-country ski pass increases of $2/daily and $5/annually.

“The governor’s budget proposal would help maintain the vitality of Minnesota state parks and trails and bolster local economies,” Rivers said.

The economic impact to Minnesota’s local communities is significant. Trip-related spending by state park visitors alone totals nearly $250 million annually, supporting thousands of local jobs across Minnesota. That total is much higher when you figure in trip-related spending by the visitors who use the state’s 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails, its 1,500-plus public water accesses on Minnesota lakes and rivers, its 600-plus miles of paved bike trails, its 49 state forest campgrounds and other public lands.

“Minnesota has a tradition of publicly supporting outdoor recreation through a combination of general fund and user fees,” Rivers said. “Most of these fees have not been raised in more than a decade, and they all go toward supporting one of the best parks and trails systems in the country. We think the high-quality outdoor recreation experiences we provide are worth paying for, and we hope Minnesotans who agree will make their voices heard.”

Voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the sales tax revenue and may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

For more information about the Parks and Trails budget and proposed fee increases, visit the DNR website or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

DNR to highlight local projects at Woodbury open house

 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house at the Woodbury Cabela’s store, 8400 Hudson Road, to highlight how hunting and angling license fees are being put to work locally. The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 27, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Attendees will have opportunity to hear about local DNR projects and meet area fisheries and wildlife staff. Light snacks and refreshments will be available.

DNR staff also will provide information on a proposal included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget to raise the costs of certain hunting and angling licenses next year by a few dollars to maintain the state’s Game and Fish Fund, which pays for most fisheries and wildlife management activities. License fees were last raised in 2013, and the revenue generated from them is not keeping up with rising costs. Without an increase, some key fish and wildlife work may have to be cut.

 

More information on the governor’s proposal to address the declining balance in the Game and Fish Fund can be found at www.mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork.

2016 fish, game and trapping licenses expire Feb. 28

Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2016 expire Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Licenses for 2017 are now available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2017 fishing licenses become effective Wednesday, March 1.

New licenses are required for 2016 hunting and fishing seasons that continue past Feb. 28.

Customers who purchase online via a smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.

License fee dollars support the ongoing work of DNR fish, wildlife and enforcement staff to conserve, enhance and protect our waters, fields and forests. Minnesota State Lottery and Legacy Amendment dollars are not available for the regular costs of doing that work. Learn how the DNR spends license dollars at mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork.

Owners of resorts, campgrounds and rental businesses required to take aquatic invasive species training

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering aquatic invasive species training to owners of lake service provider businesses, so they can legally work in lakes and rivers throughout the state.

Lake service provider businesses include resorts, outfitters and campgrounds that rent or lease boats and other water-related equipment. Business owners must attend training, apply for a permit and pay a $50 application fee every three years to comply with Minnesota law.

When the law and permit began in 2012, it applied only to some resorts and outfitters, along with businesses such as marinas, dock haulers, lawn irrigators and others who install or remove equipment from state waters for hire, said April Rust, DNR aquatic invasive species training coordinator.

The law was updated in 2013 to include any businesses that rent any type of boats or other water-related equipment.

“That means resorts and campgrounds that offer equipment to their guests like pontoons, fishing boats or kayaks and canoes as a part of their stay, need training on AIS and this permit,” she said.

Eleven AIS training sessions are planned around the state starting this month, and a new online training will be available in March. Training is offered in winter to give businesses time to attend training and get a permit before ice-out. Registration deadlines for in-person training are one week prior to each training. A listing all 2017 training sessions is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/lsp/calendar.

Overall, Minnesotans are doing a good job of helping to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Less than 5 percent of Minnesota lakes are on the infested waters list.

To register for training or for more information, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/lsp.

Greetings from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,

This is the newsletter where DNR shares highlights from our interaction with Minnesota’s Legislature. Thanks for reading!

Budget

DNR leadership completed presentations of the Governor’s budget package for DNR in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee this week.

Our press release and budget in brief documents provide detail about our initiatives and how they benefit all Minnesotans.

Bonding

There is no significant activity on bonding to report this week.

This week in Review (February 13th- 17th)

Recorded audio, and sometimes video, is available for many of these hearings. If you’re interested, please visit the House Audio and Video Archives page or the 2016 Committee meetings on the Senate Media Services page.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, DNR leadership presented the Governor’s budget package for DNR in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. These presentations are now complete for all DNR Divisions.

On Tuesday the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee, heard a bill of interest to the DNR related to ATV trail system funds. This bill was passed out of committee.

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee with heard a separate bill of interest to the DNR related to Snowmobile and ATV funds. This bill passed out of committee.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Transportation Committee heard a bill of interest to the DNR regarding wetland replacement, which was passed out of committee. The bill was passed out of committee.

Next week (February 20th-24th)

You can view the schedule for the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee here.  The Senate Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee’s schedule can be found here. Likewise, you can view the schedule for the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee here. While we track bills through many other committees, these are the ones with primary responsibility for environment and natural resources topics.

On Monday, the House Legacy Finance Committee has a full agenda including a DNR Overview of the Parks and Trails Fund.

On Monday evening the DNR will provide information on buffer mapping to a Joint Meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance; and Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Finance.  MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will also present on alternative practices.  The Committee Chairs have indicated no official action will be taken.

On Tuesday the House Agriculture Policy Committee will hear a bill of interest to the DNR regarding roadside mowing.

We anticipate additional hearings will be scheduled for next week after you receive this message – you can go online to find an up-to-date list of posted meetings (or news about changes to previously scheduled meetings) for the House and Senate.

Contact us

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact the DNR’s legislative team: Bob Meier, Annalee Garletz, or me.

Sincerely,

Amber Ellering

2017 Legislative Coordinator

Amber.Ellering@state.mn.us

Greetings from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,

This is the newsletter where DNR shares highlights from our interaction with Minnesota’s Legislature. Thanks for reading!

Budget

DNR continues to inform and educate our partners about the Governor’s proposed budget for DNR. This budget includes modest fee increases and GF support for DNR to maintain or improve services to all Minnesotans. Please see our press release and budget in brief documents for more information and reach out to us with specific questions.

Bonding

On Monday, HF892, containing the Governor’s bonding proposal, was introduced and referred to the House Capital Investment Committee. The companion, SF640, was likewise introduced and referred to the Senate Capital Investment Committee.

On Tuesday in the House Capital Investment Committee, Commissioner Myron Frans of Minnesota Management and Budget provided an overview of the Governor’s bonding proposal.

This week in Review (February 6th- 10th)

Recorded audio, and sometimes video, is available for many of these hearings. If you’re interested, please visit the House Audio and Video Archives page or the 2016 Committee meetings on the Senate Media Services page.

On Monday, SF723 (the Governor’s Budget bill for Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations) was introduced in the Senate and referred to Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.  The chief author is Senator Ingebrigtsen and co-author Senator Tomassoni.

Also on Monday, the House Veterans Affairs Division heard a bill of interest to the DNR.

On Tuesday, the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill of interest to the DNR.  Also on Tuesday the House Capital Investment Committee will heard MMB’s overview of the Governor’s Bonding Proposal.

On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Mining, Forestry & Tourism met to hear an overview presentation about the state of the iron ore industry in Minnesota.

Later on Wednesday the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance received an overview of the 2015-2017 Federal Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Program Feasibility Study from the Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) and DNR.

On Thursday, the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill of interest to the DNR, and DNR began presenting the governor’s recommended FY18-19 Biennial Budget items.  This presentation will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

Next week (February 13th- 17th)

On Tuesday and Wednesday, DNR leadership will present the Governor’s budget package for DNR in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. DNR Division Directors will have the opportunity to present what Minnesotans get from this budget. By Thursday, the Committee is scheduled to receive the presentation on the Governor’s budget for Board of Soil and Water Resources.

The Senate Tax Committee will hear a bill of interest to the DNR on Tuesday.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee with hear bills of interest to the DNR related to recreation.

We anticipate additional hearings will be scheduled for next week after you receive this message – you can go online to find an up-to-date list of posted meetings (or news about changes to previously scheduled meetings) for the House and Senate.

Extra

As part of Governor Mark Dayton’s Year of Water Action, he announced Thursday a poster contest for youth on the subject of clean water. The Governor’s website states, “This contest raises awareness about water conservation and protection. Our goal is to educate and inspire youth to take the lead and ensure clean water for generations of Minnesotans to come.” More information can be found here.

Contact us

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact the DNR’s legislative team: Bob Meier, Annalee Garletz, or me.

Sincerely,

Amber Ellering

2017 Legislative Coordinator

Amber.Ellering@state.mn.us

Minnesota welcomes back bass tournament that wowed the pros    

Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship to Return to Mille Lacs Lake Sept. 14-17, 2017

The 2016 tournament put Mille Lacs Lake in the spotlight: fishing pro after pro raving about hauling in multiple four-pound-plus smallmouth bass, a rainbow extending down to the water and the crowds turning out in force to see Minnesota’s own Seth Feider win the 2016 championship.

The return to Mille Lacs of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship means that once again, the public can attend and watch some of the best bass anglers fish a lake Minnesotans have long prized as a multi-species fishing destination and one Bassmaster calls a “world-class smallmouth bass factory.” This is the first time the tournament will happen in the same location two years in a row.

“Lake Mille Lacs is a premiere fishing destination for anglers from across the United States,” said Lt. Gov Tina Smith. “We are excited to have America’s greatest anglers return to Mille Lacs next year for the Toyota Bassmaster tournament, and show off the fishing found only in Minnesota.”

The event takes place Thursday, Sept. 14, to Sunday, Sept. 17, with competition on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Saturday, spectators can attend an outdoor fan-appreciation day at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, where the pros will be giving seminars, signing autographs and engaging with fans on a personal level, according to Bassmaster.

At the tournament, weigh-ins on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and the Saturday fan-appreciation day, are free for the public to attend and take place in the parking lot of Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

“The energy of this tournament is fantastic, and we’re often in awe of the fishing ability of some of these pros to haul in so many huge, trophy bass,” said Don Pereira, fisheries chief with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “But then, we’ve long known this was a quality smallmouth bass fishery and it wouldn’t surprise me to see more anglers out this summer trying to catch some of the same fish the pros will be after.”

The catch-and-release tournaments follow changes in fishing regulations that the DNR made in 2015 to attract larger bass tournaments to the lake.

“The pros raved about how many huge fish they caught here, with overall weights unprecedented in past Bassmaster tournaments,” said Brad Parsons, DNR central region fisheries manager. “This spotlight on Mille Lacs strengthens the community and celebrates our state’s great fishing tradition.”

Mille Lacs Lake is one of the premiere bass fishing lakes in the country, with a smallmouth bass fishery that attracts anglers from all around the United States in search of a lunker ready and willing to put up a fight. The lake also offers abundant largemouth bass, trophy sized walleye, northern pike and muskellunge.

“Fishing has long been a main reason Mille Lacs is such a draw for tourists and out-of-state anglers,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. “The area additionally offers lots of ways people can enjoy the area’s natural beauty on hiking, biking and ATV trails, watching wildlife, golfing or visiting a Minnesota State Park.”

Bassmaster also announced it would schedule a Classic Bracket tournament in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on Pokegama Lake, from Sunday, Sept. 19, to Wednesday, Sept. 22. More information on that event is available at www.bassmaster.com/news.

Hunting and fishing in Minnesota support 48,000 private sector jobs, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More information about Mille Lacs Lake is available at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

 

 

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #95                                                                                   Dec. 15. 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
New Minnesota DNR logos available
First breeding bull introduced to Minneopa bison herd
DNR reminder: Avoid early ice

DNR MEDIA ADVISORY
Media contact: Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director, 651-259-5023, chris.niskanen@state.mn.us.

 

New Minnesota DNR logos available

The Department of Natural Resources has launched a new agency logo as part of the State of Minnesota brand campaign. The department is one of nine agencies currently rolling out this new look; the remaining state agencies will do so throughout 2017.

Logo image files are attached to this email for use by your media outlet. Additional files are also available for download via our FTP server, in the “New DNR Logo” folder.

Please replace any previous DNR logo graphics your organization may have on file with these new versions. If you have any trouble downloading or using the new logo, please contact the DNR’s media unit at 651-259-5342.

Additional information about the DNR’s new logo and State of Minnesota brand can be found at mndnr.gov/branding.

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DNR NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Alex Watson, DNR regional naturalist, 507-359-6062, alexander.watson@state.mn.us, Amy Barrett, DNR Parks and Trails information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us, Josh Le, Minnesota Zoo communications and media relations manager, 952-431-9534, josh.le@state.mn.us.

First breeding bull introduced to Minneopa bison herd

The first breeding bull has arrived at Minneopa State Park near Mankato, bringing to 15 the number of bison at the park, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The yearling bull comes from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and spent a month quarantined at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.

“This is a milestone,” said DNR regional naturalist Alex Watson. “Nearly 130 years after the last wild and free bison disappeared from Minnesota and narrowly escaped extinction, this bull symbolizes the success of past conservation, and the need to always look forward.”

Eleven bison were reintroduced to Minneopa in the fall of 2015. The herd expanded to 14 with the birth of three calves in 2016. It’s hoped the newly-acquired bull will successfully breed bison cows within the existing herd, strengthening the herd’s genetic similarities with its free-ranging ancestors from two centuries ago.

That point is important, said Tony Fisher with the Minnesota Zoo.  “We need to occasionally bring animals from outside the herd to ensure the herd’s genetics maintain a healthy amount of diversity.”

The bison are part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, managed through a formal agreement between the DNR and Minnesota Zoo. The partners are working together to preserve American plains bison and plan to grow the herd at several locations including Blue Mounds State Park, Minneopa State Park and the Minnesota Zoo. The goal is a 500-animal herd at multiple locations. Genetic testing of the herd from 2011-2014 found them largely free of any genetic material that would have come from cross-breeding with cattle. Less than 1 percent of all American plains bison tested so far have been found free of cattle genes.

“The herd is not yet large enough to sustain reproduction on its own, so this new addition is very valuable,” Fisher said.

Watson offered some tips for viewing the bison. “The new bull may be only a year and half old, but he is already the same size as the adult cows, which might make him hard to identify. He has a noticeably longer beard and thicker horns that point outward. Female bison usually have horns that curve in. The new bull also has a temporary ear tag required for transportation from North Dakota that will eventually be removed. For now, this makes him easy to spot if you see the tag.”

Bison viewing tips:

 

  • The bison drive begins near the campground off state Highway 68. A vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) is required to enter the park.
  • Bison may be difficult to spot at times. Visitors should drive slowly and keep a watchful eye as they go through the range.
  • Remain inside vehicle while driving through the bison range.
  • Bison should be given clearance of at least 75 feet from people and vehicles at all times.
  • Dogs can make bison nervous, so pets must be kept on a leash while in the park and hiking around the bison range.
  • Bison get nervous around loud noises or lots of activity, so keep voices down and movements to a minimum to help keep the bison within easy viewing.
  • Hiking is not allowed inside the range, but there are hiking trails all the way around the outside of the range that can provide some fantastic views of the bison.

Minneopa State Park is located off U.S. Highway 169 and state Highway 68, 5 miles west of Mankato.  The bison range road is open Thursday through Tuesday each week from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information, including a virtual tour, visit www.mndnr.gov/minneopa. For more information on the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, visit www.mnzoo.org/conservation/minnesota/bison-conservation-minnesota/ or www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/minneopa/bison.html.

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Broadcast copy: (:40)
Minneopa State Park in Mankato is now home to a breeding bison bull from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The bull is part of the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd, a joint project between the D-N-R and Minnesota Zoo. The D-N-R and zoo officials believe the bull is genetically similar to its ancestors that roamed the Great Plains centuries ago.

The new breeding bull’s arrival should strengthen the herd’s genetics, which are believed to be free of cattle genes, unlike most herds. Park visitors can see the yearling bull and the rest of the herd Thursday through Tuesday each week. More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/Minneopa.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Photos and video available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “12-15-16 bison bull.” Photo caption: This yearling bull gets to know his new surroundings at Minneopa State Park. The bull came from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and is the first breeding animal in the Minneopa State Park herd.  



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Lisa Dugan, boat and water safety outreach coordinator, 651-259-5354
lisa.dugan@state.mn.us ; Capt. Cory Palmer, conservation officer, 507-359-6040,
cory.palmer@state.mn.us.

DNR reminder: Avoid early ice

With ice forming on Minnesota lakes, outdoor enthusiasts may be tempted to get out before ice is thick enough to support foot traffic. The Department of Natural Resources conservation officers have a message – stay off the ice until at least 4 inches of new, clear ice is present.

“Each year we see people going out on the ice before giving it enough time for a solid freeze.  People unexpectedly fall through and sadly lives have been lost because it was just too soon to be out on the ice,” said regional enforcement manager Capt. Cory Palmer.  “While no ice is 100 percent safe, we recommend following the DNR ice thickness guidelines before heading out.”

“On average, 3 to 4 people have died each winter season on Minnesota water over the past decade,” cautions Lisa Dugan, DNR boat and water safety outreach coordinator.  “Most of those deaths occurred with someone operating a snowmobile or ATV on the ice.

The DNR offers the following guidelines for new clear ice:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5 inches for snowmobile or ATV.
  • 8-12 inches for car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for medium truck.

Ice thickness may vary greatly across a single body of water, making it important to check the ice conditions before heading out.

“In addition to checking conditions and being prepared with an ice safety kit, the most important piece of equipment to have on the ice is a life jacket,” Dugan said. “By wearing, not just carrying, a life jacket the odds of surviving a fall into extremely cold water increase and could save your life.”

Once out on the ice, a safety kit is a good idea, should the ice give way. An ice safety kit should include:

  • Rope
  • Ice picks
  • Ice chisel
  • Tape measure

Last, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

The DNR ice thickness guidelines and more resources are available at: mndnr.gov/icesafety.

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Broadcast version:  Many lakes across the state are forming ice – but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says those prized fish will still be there next week – and that giving the winter weather more time to create a safer amount of ice is worth the wait.

Ice-related deaths have averaged just under four per year in the last decade. Most of the deaths occur with someone operating a snowmobile or ATV.  The D-N-R emphasizes that no ice is 100 percent safe, but department guidelines suggest a minimum four inches of ice for ice fishing, five inches for a snowmobile or ATV, and 12 to 15 inches for a medium-sized pickup truck.

Some safety tips are to wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice, seal your cell phone in a zip-locked bag, have ice picks in your pockets, and tell people where you’re going and when you expect to return.  More safety tips are available at the D-N-R website at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Sound bites available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “12-15-16 ice safety.”

Minnesota DNR NEWS #94

Dec. 12, 2016

Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us. All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Chronic wasting disease management zone, 5-county deer feeding ban announced
12 citizens appointed to Game and Fish Fund oversight committees
Waiting for ice to support you? You can support walleye fishing
Holiday wreaths from Minnesota state forests sold nationwide
Warm up to winter at Minnesota state parks and trails
DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes
Question of the week: Catfish in winter

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager, 651-259-5202, lou.cornicelli@state.mn.us.

Chronic wasting disease management zone,
5-county deer feeding ban announced

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will focus actions to slow and hopefully eliminate the spread of chronic wasting disease in southeastern Minnesota within about a 10-mile radius of Preston and include a deer feeding ban in the five adjoining area counties.

“This 370 square mile disease management zone is the area of greatest concern,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Landowners and hunters will help us conduct our primary control and sampling efforts here so we can act quickly, aggressively and cooperatively to limit and hopefully stop any spread of CWD.”

The zone is bordered roughly on the northwest by Chatfield, on the northeast by Arendahl, on the southeast by Canton and on the southwest by Bristol.

One of the actions planned in the disease management zone will be a special late-season deer hunt from Saturday, Dec. 31, through Sunday, Jan 15. Additional details regarding the special hunting season will be released at a later date.

Later this month, a deer feeding ban goes into effect for residents of Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted and Winona counties. Those counties adjoin the area west of Lanesboro where two CWD-infected deer recently were discovered. The feeding ban encompasses a wider area because the potential extent of the infection is not known and one of the most probable mechanisms for CWD spread among deer is over a food source that concentrates animals and allows close contact.

“One simple step that anyone can do to help prevent the spread of disease is to stop feeding deer,” Cornicelli said.

Details of how landowners and hunters can help the DNR proceed with disease management actions will be discussed with the public at a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, in Preston. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fillmore Central School Auditorium, 702 Chatfield St.

Items that will be discussed include the disease management zone and activities governed within it; the deer feeding ban; the special late-season hunt; landowner shooting permits; and temporary suspension of antler point restriction regulations. DNR staff will answer additional questions as will representatives from other state agencies and deer hunting groups.

DNR still needs hunters’ assistance to continue testing deer harvested in permit areas 347 and 348. Hunters should follow the instructions to complete a simple form and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in drop boxes located in Chatfield, Harmony, Lanesboro, Preston and Wykoff.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to the recent discovery near Lanesboro, the only other wild deer with the disease found in Minnesota was harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

For more information, including a map of the disease management zone, feeding ban area, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.
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NOTE: Maps of the disease management zone are available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named news release resources,” then in folder named “12-12-16 CWD zone.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director, 651-259-5023, chris.niskanen@state.mn.us; or Sarah Strommen, DNR assistant commissioner, 651-259-5021, sarah.strommen@state.mn.us.

12 citizens appointed to Game and Fish Fund oversight committees

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has appointed 12 Minnesotans to three-year terms on citizen oversight committees that monitor the agency’s fish and wildlife spending.

The appointees are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, prepare reports on their findings.

Appointed to the Wildlife Oversight Committee are David Engels, Menahga; Burl Haar, Afton; Paul Hoppe, Ogilvie; Andrew Mauch, Wyoming; Bert Pexsa, Miltona; Mark Weber, Eden Prairie; and John Wells, St. Paul.

Appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee are James Arndt, Duluth; Kirk Duholm, Eagan; Charles Haslerud, Duluth; Becca Nash, Minneapolis; and Dave Thompson, Battle Lake. Also, the commissioner extended one-year appointments to Jeff Johnson of New London and Marj Hart of St. Michael so that they provide an additional year of their experience to this committee.

The new appointees join other members whose terms will expire in December 2017. The committees will resume work after the mid-December publication of the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund report for fiscal year 2016.

“We look forward to working with these citizens,” said Dave Schad, DNR deputy commissioner. “Through these appointments we’re continuing our commitment to share detailed budget information, bring new participants into the oversight process and ensure revenue generated by hunting and fishing license sales is used appropriately.”

The fisheries and the wildlife oversight committees each continue a citizen oversight function first created in 1994. More than 35 people applied for oversight committee positions this time. Factors in choosing the new appointees included geographic distribution, demographic diversity and a mix of interests.

In the weeks ahead committee chairs and four members will be selected by each committee to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee chaired by another appointee, John Lenczewski. This budgetary committee will develop an overall report on expenditures for game and fish activities. Those recommendations will be delivered to the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing for further consideration.

Though not well known, Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state’s core natural resource management functions. About $110 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales, a sales tax on lottery tickets, and other sources of revenue, including a reimbursement based on a federal excise tax on certain hunting, fishing and boating equipment.

Past Game and Fish Fund reports and oversight reports are available at www.mndnr.gov/gamefishoversight.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant, 651-259-5178, neil.vanderbosch@state.mn.us.

Waiting for ice to support you? You can support walleye fishing

Ice thick enough for fishing may be on the wish lists of many anglers heading into the holiday season, but there is another present anglers can give themselves that makes fishing better all around the state – a walleye stamp.

“Walleye stamps can be purchased any time of the year, even if you already have a fishing license,” said Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We use the funds from stamp sales to support walleye stocking.”

A walleye stamp validation costs $5 and can be purchased wherever Minnesota fishing licenses are sold. For 75 cents more, the DNR will mail the stamp as a collector’s item. A walleye stamp is not required to fish for or keep walleye.

The DNR uses walleye stamp proceeds to buy walleye from private producers, which are stocked in lakes that don’t have naturally reproducing walleye populations. Stocking lets anglers catch walleye in a more geographically wide range of the state.

Because of stocking, walleye can be found in around 1,300 Minnesota lakes spread throughout the state. However, most walleye are caught in large rivers or about 260 large walleye lakes where they naturally reproduce.

More information on the walleye stamp is available at www.mndnr.gov/stamps under “Walleye Habitat Stamp.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Kristen Bergstrand, DNR utilization and marketing program coordinator, kristen.bergstrand@state.mn.us, 218-322-2511.

Holiday wreaths from Minnesota state forests sold nationwide
‘Tis the season for holiday wreaths, swags and garland. These beautiful and fragrant decorations most likely came from a Minnesota state forest. Balsam fir boughs and branches harvested from state forests are used to make wreaths that adorn homes across the nation, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Balsam fir grows in northeastern and north-central Minnesota and is commonly found in several types of forests. The flat, fragrant needles and durable branches are well-suited for making wreaths.

Each year, about 750,000 pounds of balsam boughs are harvested from state forests between late September and early December. This results in the production of 150,000 wreaths.

Minnesota is a national leader in the natural holiday decor industry. Estimated annual sales for Minnesota companies producing wreaths exceeds $23 million and continues to grow. These companies ship wreaths nationwide and across the globe.

“Balsam bough harvesting and the wreath industry provide thousands of Minnesotans with seasonal income,” said Kristen Bergstrand, DNR utilization and marketing program coordinator. “The balsam fir found in Minnesota’s forests provide the base material to support many of these jobs. Local nonprofits such as Boy Scouts, 4-H and schools sell wreaths and swags as fund raisers.”

Wreaths are made and sold by different businesses. Small family businesses collect boughs, and assemble and sell their own wreaths. Commercial businesses either contract with individuals or families to make wreaths from materials they collect or purchase the raw materials to assemble wreaths and swag in small factories.

While Minnesotans have made wreaths from local forests for decades, the industry of harvesting and wreath making began in Minnesota in the 1960s. The DNR promotes proper bough harvesting techniques to minimize harm to balsam firs and support future bough harvests.

To harvest balsam boughs from state forest lands, all harvesters must get and carry a permit from their local DNR forestry office. Visit the DNR balsam boughs harvesting webpage at  www.mndnr.gov/treecare/maintenance/balsamharvest.html for more information on harvesting balsam boughs.
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NOTE: Images available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “12-12-16 balsam boughs.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, DNR Parks and Trails Division, communications and outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, DNR Parks and Trails Division, information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

Warm up to winter at Minnesota state parks and trails

Winter officially begins on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Upcoming events at Minnesota state parks and trails provide many ways to get out and enjoy it.

Starting Dec. 31: Candlelight Events
Few views soothe the soul like candlelight flickering on snow. Dozens of candlelight events, some of which draw crowds of more than 1,000 people, will take place at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter. These events feature trails lit up at night with candles, lanterns and other luminaries. Depending on the location of the event and the amount of snow cover, people can hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski along the lighted trails, then enjoy roasting marshmallows or sipping cocoa around a crackling bonfire.

Fort Snelling State Park will host a New Year’s Eve candlelight walk from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31. For the complete schedule of the many candlelight events across Minnesota, visit www.mndnr.gov/candlelight.

Jan. 1: First Day Hikes
Minnesota state parks and trails joins other states in a nationwide effort to get thousands of children and adults outside hiking on Sunday, Jan. 1. The effort, led by America’s State Parks, will include guided hikes in all 50 states.

In Minnesota, guided First Day Hikes will take place at:

  • Frontenac State Park (Red Wing), 1-2:30 p.m.
  • Itasca State Park (Park Rapids), 1-3:30 p.m.
  • Jay Cooke State Park (Carlton), 10:30 a.m.-noon and 1-2:30 p.m.
  • Lake Bemidji State Park (Bemidji), 10 a.m.-noon.
  • Lake Carlos State Park (Alexandria), 1-3 p.m.
  • Minneopa State Park (Mankato), 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Tettegouche State Park (Silver Bay), 1-4 p.m.
  • Whitewater State Park (Altura), 1-2 p.m.

“Walking is a great way to warm up to winter,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “If you can’t attend one of our guided hikes, round up your friends and family for your own First Day Hike. Start 2017 with a commitment to yourself; you’ll burn calories, reduce stress and have fun.”

More information
For additional ideas on what to do at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter, pick up a copy of the new winter Programs and Events brochure at the nearest state park or request one from the DNR Information Center (info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367).

Online resources include a:

Most winter programs—including the First Day hikes and candlelight events—are free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit). Those who don’t already have a vehicle permit (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/permit.html) can purchase one at the park.

To save time, vehicle permits can be purchased in advance. Visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations, log in (or create an account), click on “entry permit,” select a duration of “one-day” ($5) or “year-round” ($25), and continue as directed. The emailed permit can be printed and displayed in vehicles during a visit.

Skiers age 16 and older need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass to use groomed ski trails. The ski pass ($6/one-day pass, $20/single-season pass, and $55/three-season pass) allows access to hundreds of miles of trails in state parks, state forests, city parks and other public lands throughout Minnesota (visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/skiing/skipass/list.html for a complete list and map).

Note that events may be changed or canceled due to weather. For more information, check the visitor alert on the park’s Web page at www.mndnr.gov, email info.dnr@state.mn.us or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

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NOTE: Images available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “12-12-16 winter events.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist, 651-259-5087, marilyn.danks@state.mn.us.

DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems.

”Open water areas created by aeration systems can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions,” said Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist. “Leaks may develop in air lines, creating other areas of weak ice or open water.”

Aeration systems are generally operated from the time lakes freeze until ice break-up in the spring. They help prevent winterkill of fish, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.

Two types of signs are used to post aerated lakes: “Thin Ice” and “Warning” signs. The person who applies for the permit (permittee) is to maintain “Warning” signs at all commonly used access points to the lake. This sign warns people approaching the lake that an aeration system is in operation and to use extreme caution.

The permittee must also put up “Thin Ice” signs to mark the open water area’s perimeter. Some cities and towns may have ordinances that prohibit entering into the thin ice area or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation, or both. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.

Permittees and DNR staff inspect aeration systems for safety and compliance with regulations.

For more information, call a regional fisheries office or the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

The following is a list of the about 295 lakes that will likely have aeration systems in operation this winter.

When there are lakes in the county with the same name as the aerated lake, the nearest town is shown in brackets. Names in parentheses are alternate lake names. Those names followed by an asterisk are newly aerated lakes.

REGION 1 (NORTHWEST)
COUNTY: LAKE
BECKER: Big Cormorant, Bijou, Ellison, Eunice, Island, Little Cormorant, Melissa, Round, Sallie, Upper Cormorant, Wolf.
BELTRAMI: Ewert’s Pond.
CLAY: Blue Eagle, Lake Fifteen.
CLEARWATER: Pine.
DOUGLAS: Aldrich.
HUBBARD: Petite, Wolf.
OTTER TAIL: Adley, Big McDonald, Big Pine, Buchanan, Devils, East Silent, Fish (Parkers Prairie), Fish (Pelican Rapids), Jewett, Lida, Little McDonald, Little Pine, Lizzie, Marion, Paul, Pelican, Perch, Pickerel, Rush, Tamarac, West McDonald.
POLK: Badger, Cable, Maple, Sarah.
POPE: Signalness.
STEVENS: Hattie, North and South Baker.
WADENA: Stocking.

REGION II (NORTHEAST)
AITKIN: Cedar (McGrath).
CASS: Eagle, George, Gull,* Leech (Kabekona Bay), Loon, Meadow.
CROW WING: Nisswa, Round.*
LAKE: Superior (Marinas).
ST. LOUIS: Colby.

REGION III (CENTRAL)
ANOKA: Bald Eagle, Centerville, Coon, Crooked, Golden, Ham, Martin, Moore (East), Peltier, Shack Eddy, Spring.
CARVER: Eagle, Oak, Rice Marsh, Susan.
CHISAGO: Moody.
CROW WING: Platte.
DAKOTA: Alimagnet, Bald, Black Dog, Blackhawk, Bur Oaks, Carlson, Cliff, East Thomas, Farquar, Fish, Gun Club, Hay, Heine, Holland, Isabelle, LeMay, Manor, Marion, McDonough, Pickerel, Rebecca [Hastings], Roger’s, Schwanz, Thomas (Eagan), Thompson.
GOODHUE: Pottery Pond [Red Wing], Frontenac Pond.
HENNEPIN: Arrowhead, Bass, Cedar Island, Crystal, Edward, Gleason, Hadley, Hyland, Indianhead, Mitchell, Mooney, Penn (Lower Penn), Powderhorn, Rebecca [Maple Plain], Red Rock, Rice, Round, Shady Oak, Snelling, Sweeney-Twin, Thomas, Wirth, Wolfe.
KANABEC: Knife, Mora.
MORRISON: Alexander, Crookneck, Fish Trap, Shamineau.
RAMSEY: Beaver, Bennett, Birch, Casey, Como, Gilfillan, Island, Loeb, Otter, Owasso, Pleasant, Silver (East Silver), Silver (Columbia Heights), Shoreview Community Center Pond, Vadnais, Willow.
SCOTT: Arctic,* Cedar (New Prague), Cleary, Crystal, Krenz (Sunset), Lakefront Park Pond, Legends, McColl, McMahon (Carls), Murphy, O’Dowd, Thole.
SHERBURNE: Ann [Becker], Fremont.
STEARNS: Black Oak, Carnelian, Marie (Maria) [Kimball].
TODD: Jacobs.
WASHINGTON: Battle Creek (Mud) [Woodbury], Big Marine,* Cloverdale, Colby, Goose, McDonald, Pine Tree, Sand, Shields, St. Croix River (Marina), Sunset,* White Bear.
WINONA: Winona.
WRIGHT: Augusta, Crawford, Dean, Foster, Little Waverly, Louisa.

REGION IV (SOUTH)
BIG STONE: Artichoke, East Toqua, Long Tom.
BLUE EARTH: Crystal, Ida, Loon [Lake Crystal], Lura, Mills.
BROWN: Clear, Hanska, Sleepy Eye.
COTTONWOOD: Bean, Bingham, Cottonwood, Double (North and South basins), Mountain [Mountain Lake].
FARIBAULT: Rice.
FREEBORN: Albert Lea, Fountain, Morin.
JACKSON: Clear [Jackson], Independence, Little Spirit, Loon [Jackson], Pearl, Round.
KANDIYOHI: East Solomon, Elizabeth, Foot, Long, Mud (Monongalia) [New London], Nest, Ringo [Spicer], Swenson [Pennock], Unnamed (Tadd), Unnamed (Upper), Wakanda, Willmar.
LESUEUR: Clear [Lexington], Gorman, Greenleaf, Mabel [Kilkenny], Scotch, Silver [Elysian].
LINCOLN: Benton, Dead Coon, Hendricks, Shaokatan, Stay (East Stay).
LYON: Clear, Cottonwood, East Goose, East Twin, Lady Slipper, Rock, School Grove, West Twin, Yankton.
MARTIN: Big Twin, Budd, Buffalo, Cedar, Clear, Fish [Trimont], George, Sisseton.
MCLEOD: Marion, Swan [Silver Lake], Winsted.
MEEKER: Star, Thompson.
MURRAY: Bloody, Buffalo [Currie], Corabelle, Current, First (South) Fulda, Fox, Lime, Louisa, Sarah, Second Fulda, Shetek, Wilson (North and South basins).
NOBLES: East Graham, Indian, Kinbrae, Okabena, Ocheda, West Graham.
PIPESTONE: Split Rock.
RICE: Circle, Cody.
SIBLEY: Silver [Henderson].
STEELE: Kohlmeier.
WASECA: Elysian, Loon [Waseca].
WATONWAN: Kansas, St. James.
YELLOW MEDICINE: Tyson, Wood.

Question of the week

Q:  Do Minnesota’s catfish go dormant in the winter?

A: During the winter months, the two large catfish species present in Minnesota behave differently. Channel catfish remain active and will congregate in loose schools in the rivers and lakes they inhabit.  Anglers can target these fish through the ice (if ice is thick enough), or even in open water in deeper, slow-moving areas of rivers. The Horseshoe Chain of Lakes near Cold Spring is a popular destination for anglers looking to target channel catfish through the ice.

Flathead catfish, on the other hand, migrate to wintering areas when the water temperatures dip down to 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. They congregate in deep holes in the rivers, out of the current, and essentially go dormant until the water warms in the spring. Many dozens of these large fish can stack up on top of one another in groups and are highly vulnerable to illegal snagging. A change in Minnesota fishing regulations has closed the angling season for flathead catfish from Dec. 1 to March 31 to protect these large, dormant fish from being overexploited.

Joel Stiras, DNR fisheries specialist

 

The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program (CPL) is now accepting applications for Round 2 of the Metro grant cycle. $1.1 million is available for habitat projects in the 7-county metro area or in cities with a population of 50,000 people or greater. This includes the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington, and the cities of Duluth, Rochester, and St. Cloud. Projects must be on public lands or waters or on lands permanently protected by a conservation easement.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Dec. 6, 2016
Media contact: Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager, 651-259-5202,
lou.cornicelli@state.mn.us.

Chronic wasting disease information meeting in Preston Dec. 15

Information about chronic wasting disease and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ management response to its discovery in two deer near Lanesboro will be the focus of a public meeting from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15, at the Fillmore Central School Auditorium, 702 Chatfield St., in Preston.

DNR staff will explain the disease and why a quick and aggressive response is the most effective way to limit its spread. They also will discuss response measures including establishment of a disease management zone, a special winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and the necessity to conduct an aerial deer population survey.

Representatives from other state agencies and deer hunting groups also will be available to answer questions.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to this discovery, the disease has only been found in Minnesota in one wild deer harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

For more information, including maps of chronic wasting disease surveillance areas, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #91                                                                                      Dec. 1, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
No additional deer test positive for CWD in southeastern Minnesota

DNR invites input on Taconite State Trail Master Plan

DNR invites public input on Fort Ridgely State Park draft plan amendment

DNR seeks input on master plan for Thief Lake WMA in northwestern Minnesota

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager, 651-259-5202,
lou.cornicelli@state.mn.us.

No additional deer test positive for CWD in southeastern Minnesota
DNR asks deer hunters to use head boxes in Lanesboro, Preston, Chatfield, Harmony

No additional deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease from samples collected this fall in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly one-third of all deer harvested during southeastern Minnesota’s first firearms deer season and the first three days of the second season were tested for CWD. Only two of the 2,866 deer tested returned positive results. Both were harvested about 1 mile apart west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348.

“This was an extensive surveillance effort,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “While we’re disappointed we found two positive deer, we remain optimistic the infection is localized and not widespread throughout the southeast.”

The DNR now is planning and implementing its CWD response plan, which will include a December public meeting announcing the response plan details and continued opportunities for hunters in permit areas 347 and 348 to have their harvested deer tested.

Hunters can get a simple form, complete it and place it – along with the head of a harvested deer – in boxes located at the:

  • Preston forestry office, 912 Houston St., Preston.
  • Lanesboro fisheries office, 23785 Grosbeak Road., Lanesboro.
  • Magnum Sports, 20 Main St. S., Chatfield.
  • Oak Meadow Meats, 50 9th St., Harmony.

Samples are submitted for testing weekly. Test results become available the following week. Hunters will only be notified if a deer tests positive for CWD.

Instructions on how to use the head boxes are at the boxes and available on the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

“The DNR is in the process of developing more specific CWD management actions,” Cornicelli said. “We will engage and fully inform the affected communities – particularly landowners – as we develop and implement quick and aggressive response actions that can limit the spread of the disease.”

CWD is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. Prior to this discovery, the disease was only found in a single other wild deer harvested near Pine Island in 2010.

The DNR discovered the two infected deer during this fall’s enhanced CWD surveillance program, which was initiated because the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD. Hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • If you do shoot a deer that acts abnormally or appears emaciated, report your harvest to your area DNR office.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Bone out the meat from the animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • If hunters have a deer or elk commercially processed, request that the animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from their animal.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, common questions and answers and hunter information, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, Parks and Trails Division public information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

DNR invites input on Taconite State Trail Master Plan  
 

Anyone with an interest in the future of the Taconite State Trail in northeastern Minnesota is invited to review an updated master plan for the trail and submit ideas by Friday, Jan. 6.

Staff from the Parks and Trails Division of the Department of Natural Resources will be available to answer questions about the planning process and receive comments at the following informal open house meetings:

  • Grand Rapids – Thursday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Itasca County Fairgrounds, Trailhead Building, 1336 Fairgrounds Road.
  • Ely – Monday, Dec. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Vermilion Community College, Classroom Building, Room CL 104, 1900 East Camp St.
  • Side Lake – Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the French Township Hall/Community Building, 7548 Highway 5.

The Taconite State Trail extends over 145 miles from Ely (in St. Louis County) to Grand Rapids (in Itasca County). It is a multiple-use, multiple-season trail, which has been used primarily for snowmobiling. Other proposed trail uses include hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and off-highway vehicle riding, where sustainable and practical.

“The Taconite State Trail provides amazing access to the beauty and variety of northeast Minnesota and brings many visitors to this area,” said Scott Kelling, northeast regional manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “This plan provides flexibility for deciding where various trail uses are allowed. It considers what uses are compatible and sustainable and weighs local needs and preferences. We look forward to receiving comments and feedback from the public as we refine this plan.”

The master plan was last approved in 1981. The new draft is available on the DNR website at
www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/trails/taconite.html.

Anyone unable to review and comment on the draft at the open house meetings can submit comments by phone or email to:

  • Diane Anderson, DNR principal planner (St. Paul), 651-259-5614, diane.k.anderson@state.mn.us.
  • Guy Lunz, DNR area supervisor (Grand Rapids), 218-328-8984, guy.lunz@state.mn.us.
  • Joe Majerus, DNR area supervisor (Tower), 218-300-7842, joseph.majerus@state.mn.us.DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Media contacts: Kathy Dummer, Parks and Trails Division Southern Regional Manager, 507-359-6060, kathy.dummer@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, Parks and Trails Division public information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

    DNR invites public input on Fort Ridgely State Park
    draft plan amendment

    Open house scheduled for Dec.15

    The Department of Natural Resources invites the public to review a draft management plan amendment for Fort Ridgely State Park, located near Fairfax in southern Minnesota.The amendment will guide future development, natural and cultural resource management, and interpretation at the park. The DNR is creating the amendment to prioritize new investments in the park after the golf course closed Sept. 6. The amendment includes recommendations such as:
  • Restoring the original plant communities on the golf course while exploring other recreational opportunities.
  • Nominating Fort Ridgely as a National Civil War Battlefield.
  • Upgrading shower and restroom facilities.
  • Accommodating additional winter recreational uses.
  • Improving trail conditions, connections, and accessibility.

To answer questions, the DNR is hosting an open house Thursday, Dec. 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the New Ulm Community Center, 600 N. German St., New Ulm. The open house will be a come and go format without a formal presentation. DNR staff will be available to answer questions about the plan amendment planning process and receive comments on the draft amendment.

The DNR worked with citizens, stakeholders, tribal communities, and government representatives throughout the planning process. The process included public input from a citizen advisory committee, stakeholder meetings, and an online public input questionnaire.

Comments will be accepted until Jan. 6.  Those unable to attend the open house can review the draft management plan amendment and submit comments online at:  www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/parks/fort_ridgely.html.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: John Williams, DNR northwest region manager, 218-308-2680, john.williams@state.mn.us.

DNR seeks input on master plan for
Thief Lake WMA in northwestern Minnesota

The public is invited to provide input on a master plan to guide management of the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in northwestern Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources is updating the plan that guides management of the WMA’s forests, brushlands, prairies and grasslands, wetlands and agricultural lands, which provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species. The plan was last updated in 1980.

Input to help guide the update can be given via an online questionnaire through Sunday, Dec. 18. A second opportunity for public input will be available next spring after a draft master plan is ready for review.

Thief Lake WMA, in Marshall County, is a 55,000-acre management area that spans the forest-prairie transition zone in northwestern Minnesota. At its core lies 7,100-acre Thief Lake, a large marsh that is an important production and staging area for waterfowl. The WMA is one of eight wildlife management areas currently classified as a major unit.

To participate in the questionnaire, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thieflake. For more information about Thief Lake WMA, visit www.mndnr.gov/wmas.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #90                                                                                     Nov. 28, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
DNR selects members for statewide deer advisory committee
As water temperature dips, DNR urges caution for boaters
Question of the week: snowmobile training
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader, 651-259-5198, adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

DNR selects members for statewide deer advisory committee

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has selected a 20-member advisory committee to provide the agency with feedback and advice on deer management as it develops a statewide deer plan.

“These committee members represent a broad range of interests,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. “We’ll use recommendations from the committee and broader public input as we set strategic direction and guiding principles for deer management.”

Over the next year, the Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee will review technical information and also public input that will be collected this winter through regional public meetings, online and through written comments. The committee will make recommendations to the DNR for the plan that will be in effect for 10 years.

“We value this open and public process to develop the plan,” Murkowski said. “Committee recommendations and input from the public will be vitally important.”

Committee members represent archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters as well as nonhunters; landowners; farmers; livestock producers; land managers; wildlife photographers; local government officials; community activists; natural resource scientists; public health officials; and members and employees of hunting, conservation and agricultural organizations.

Thirteen seats are being filled by invited representatives of organizations.

  • 1854 Treaty Authority, Andy Edwards.
  • Bluffland Whitetails Association, Michael Sieve.
  • Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners, Nathan Eide.
  • Minnesota Conservation Federation, Gary Botzek.
  • Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Craig Engwall and Denis Quarberg (two seats).
  • Minnesota Department of Health, Jenna Bjork.
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau, Kevin Paap.
  • Minnesota Farmers Union, Rod Sommerfield.
  • Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership, Dennis Thompson.
  • Quality Deer Management Association, Pat Morstad.
  • The Nature Conservancy, Meredith Cornett.
  • Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons, Diane Smith.

Additionally, seven “at-large” committee members were selected from an open call for applications this fall. More than 200 people applied to participate on the committee. Applicants were selected based on criteria including their knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer, familiarity with different areas of the state, and their interest and experience working collaboratively with a diverse group of individuals.

  • Ted Brenny, Mazeppa.
  • James Buchwitz, Strathcona.
  • Daniel Butler, Cohasset.
  • Kevin Goedtke, Fulda.
  • Yeng Moua, Brooklyn Park.
  • Bernard Overby, Kenyon.
  • Rebecca Strand, Shafer.

The plan is expected to be finished by the spring of 2018. More information about the planning process and the committee is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan.

The DNR strives to maintain a healthy wild deer population that offers recreational and economic opportunities, while addressing conflicts between deer, people and other natural resources. Habitat management, hunting, research and monitoring are several primary tools used to manage the Minnesota deer population. More information on deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Lisa Dugan, boat & water safety outreach coordinator, 651-259-5354,
lisa.dugan@state.mn.us.

As water temperature dips, DNR urges caution for boaters
30 percent of boating deaths happen on cold water

As the days grow shorter and the water temperatures dip, the Department of Natural Resources urges hunters, anglers, paddlers and all boaters to use extreme caution, especially when venturing out in small boats.

People on small boats, such as canoes, kayaks, and fishing boats, should take extra precautions to prevent being suddenly thrown overboard, swamped or stranded in rough, cold waters.

“Cold water robs body heat 25 times faster than air of the same temperature,” said Lt. Col. Greg Salo of the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “Should you find yourself in the water, righting your canoe or small boat and climbing back aboard is extremely difficult in muscle-cramping cold water. It’s best to not boat alone and to always wear a life jacket.”

Recent incidents have involved late season boaters ending up in the water after reaching over the side of the boat or small boats capsizing in rough conditions. Even with above average air temperatures it’s important to keep in mind that the water is cold. Hypothermia and cold water shock can set in within minutes. Wearing a life jacket, at all times, while boating will increase chances of survival in cold water.

“In Minnesota, more than 30 percent of all boating fatalities happen in cold water with the victim not wearing a life jacket,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR boat and water safety outreach coordinator.  “Wearing a foam-insulated life jacket or float coat can help retain your body’s core temperature and delay the onset on hypothermia. Those wearing, not just carrying, a life jacket when exposed to cold water have the life-saving advantage of being able to keep their head above water, stay calm, and call for help before hypothermia sets in.”

Know the risks of cold water boating and take the right precautions when boating in cold water.

  • At the very least, all boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each passenger. Wear it, don’t just carry it.
  • Don’t boat alone; boating safety increases with numbers.
  • Keep an eye on the sky, head to shore if wind gusts start to pick up.
  • If the boat capsizes or swamps, stay with the boat and try to re-board. Do not attempt to swim to shore.
  • No matter the season, when on the water, life jackets should be worn. For more tips on staying safe in cold water visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/cold-water.html.

    Question of the week
    Q:  With snow finally in the air, folks are getting ready to ride their snowmobiles. What training is required to legally operate a snowmobile?A:  Minnesota law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976 to take a safety training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters. For those 11 years old and older, there are two options. A classroom course consisting of multiple sessions followed by a hands-on riding course, or an online course that then requires a hands-on ride/review day. For those 16 years old and older, there is an independent study online course where students can complete their certification training at home.Once they have successfully completed their courses, students are given instructions on how to receive a certificate from the DNR. Both of these courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents in Minnesota, and how to avoid them. Volunteers teach classes across the state. Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/safety/vehicle/snowmobile.

    Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement Division education programs coordinator

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Nov. 22, 2016
Media contact: Dr. Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager, 651-259-5202,
lou.cornicelli@state.mn.us.

Tests confirm 2 CWD-positive deer near Lanesboro
DNR initiates disease response plan; offers hunters information on field dressing

Test results show two deer harvested by hunters in southeastern Minnesota were infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

One deer has been confirmed as CWD-positive. Confirmation of the second is expected later this week. The deer, both male, were killed near Lanesboro in Fillmore County during the first firearms deer season.

The two deer were harvested approximately 1 mile apart. These are the only deer to test positive from 2,493 samples collected Nov. 5-13. Results are still pending from 373 additional test samples collected during the opening three days of the second firearms season, Nov. 19-21.

CWD is a fatal brain disease to deer, elk and moose but is not known to affect human health. While it is found in deer in states bordering southeastern Minnesota, it was only found in a single other wild deer in Minnesota in 2010.

The DNR discovered the disease when sampling hunter-killed deer this fall in southeastern Minnesota as part of its CWD surveillance program. Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said hunter and landowner cooperation on disease surveillance is the key to keeping the state’s deer herd healthy.

“We were proactively looking for the disease, a proven strategy that allows us to manage CWD by finding it early, reacting quickly and aggressively to control it and hopefully eliminating its spread,” he said.

It is unknown how the two CWD-positive deer, which were harvested 4 miles west of Lanesboro in deer permit area 348, contracted the disease, Cornicelli said.

“We want to thank hunters who have brought their deer to our check stations for sampling,” he said. “While finding CWD-positive deer is disappointing, we plan to work with hunters, landowners and other organizations to protect the state’s deer herd and provide hunters the opportunity to pass on their deer hunting traditions.”

These are the first wild deer found to have CWD since a deer harvested in fall 2010 near Pine Island tested positive. It was found during a successful disease control effort prompted by the detection in 2009 of CWD on a domestic elk farm. The DNR, landowners and hunters worked together to sample more than 4,000 deer in the Pine Island area from 2011 to 2013, and no additional infected deer were found.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans who come in contact with infected animals or eat infected meat. Still, the CDC advises against eating meat from animals known to have CWD.

With the muzzleloader deer season stretching into mid-December and archery season open through Saturday, Dec. 31, hunters should take these recommended precautions when harvesting deer:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing your deer.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal.

The DNR already has begun implementing the state’s CWD response plan. Three additional CWD testing stations were opened in Fillmore County last weekend and electronic registration was turned off in two additional deer permit areas.

“We’ll wait until the late 3B firearms season concludes this weekend and analyze test results from all the samples we collect from hunters,” Cornicelli said. “That will provide a better indication of the potential prevalence and distribution of CWD so we can determine boundaries for a disease management zone and the actions we’ll take to manage the disease and limit its spread.”

The DNR began CWD testing in southeastern Minnesota again this fall in response to expanded CWD infections in Wisconsin, Illinois, and northeast Iowa, as well as new and growing infections in Arkansas and Missouri. The increasing prevalence and geographic spread of the disease also prompted an expanded carcass import restriction that does not allow whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose and caribou to be brought into Minnesota.

The discovery of CWD in wild deer reinforces the need for the vigilance that disease surveillance and carcass import restrictions provide. Although inconvenient, hunter cooperation with these measures help protect Minnesota’s deer herd.

“Working with landowners and hunters to better protect deer from disease is vital to Minnesota’s hunting tradition and economy and most important, the deer population in general,” Cornicelli said. “In states where CWD has become well-established in wild deer, efforts at elimination have been unsuccessful. Research has shown that if established, the disease will reduce deer populations in the long term. Nobody wants this to happen in Minnesota.”

Because much of southeastern Minnesota’s land is privately owned, the DNR will work with landowners when collecting additional samples to assess disease distribution and reduce the potential for CWD to spread. Sample collection could take the form of a late winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits and sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission.

“Those decisions will be made after surveillance is done this hunting season,” Cornicelli said.

The DNR has been on the lookout for CWD since 2002, when the disease first was detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota; the region abuts Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Wisconsin has 43 counties affected by CWD and the disease has been detected in northeastern Iowa’s Allamakee County.

Since 2002, the DNR has tested approximately 50,000 deer, elk, and moose for CWD.

CWD is transmitted primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. The disease also can persist for a long time in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

For more information, including maps of CWD surveillance areas, frequently asked questions, hunter information and venison processing, visit the DNR’s CWD homepage at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Landowners, hunters and citizens can stay engaged and informed by visiting the CWD page and signing up to receive an email automatically when new information on CWD management becomes available.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #89                                                                                          Nov. 21, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
DNR updates Minnesota buffer strip map; implementation continues

Grant aims to get more people hunting and fishing

DNR seeks designs for Minnesota’s 2018 turkey stamp

Eagles on roadways – Give them a brake

Question of the week: turkeys

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Steve Colvin, deputy director, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 651-259-5709, steve.colvin@state.mn.us.

DNR updates Minnesota buffer map; implementation continues

The Department of Natural Resources has released the first of two planned updates to Minnesota’s buffer map that was first released in July. The map shows public waters and public ditches requiring permanent vegetative buffers or alternative water quality practices to help reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment.

The update is based on comments and change requests from landowners and drainage authorities to ensure the map accurately shows where buffers are needed. The update includes 645 changes. Not all comments resulted in changes. The DNR found some of the change requests lacked foundation, while some comments were duplicates and others still require review or action.

  • Nearly 1,000 comments involve discrepancies in watercourse alignments or lake and wetland boundaries.
  • 500 comments involve additions to or deletions from the public ditch inventory, as directed by drainage authorities.
  • 275 comments relate to public waters inventory status. Using statutory public waters inventory criteria, the DNR has removed 120 water features from the buffer map and added 40.
  • More than 600 locations require field review. 133 field reviews have been completed, with the balance expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Since the preliminary buffer map was released in March, the DNR has received more than 3,400 comments or change requests and has made nearly 2,100 map updates.

DNR Buffer Mapping Project Manager Bill Huber explained why some change requests are approved and others are not. Each change request is evaluated for consistency with the statutory requirement and DNR criteria for map development, he said. Other comments that do not meet the criteria for the buffer map, such as adding wetlands without a shoreland classification, were not changed on the buffer map.

“It’s important to note that these types of changes were expected, and they represent a very small fraction of the total waters depicted on the map,” Huber said.

Map criteria and the updated buffer map are available at www.mndnr.gov/buffers.

The DNR has also updated the buffer map application. The application is a web-based mapping tool for soil and water conservation districts, drainage authorities and local governments to review the buffer map, suggest corrections and see DNR review decisions. The updated application provides soil and water conservation districts and drainage authorities with an easy way to submit map change requests and other comments.

The final update of the buffer map is scheduled for early 2017. Meanwhile, buffer implementation is moving forward with these deadlines:

  • Nov 1, 2017: 50-foot average width, 30-foot minimum width, buffers must be in place on lands adjacent to public waters and identified and mapped on the buffer map.
  • Nov. 1, 2018: 16.5-foot minimum width buffers must be in place on lands adjacent to public ditches as identified and mapped on the buffer map.

The buffer initiative is a multi-agency effort involving the DNR, Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The DNR is responsible for maintaining a map of the public waters and public ditches that require permanent vegetation buffers or alternative water quality practices.

More information and answers to specific questions about Minnesota’s buffer mapping project are available at www.mndnr.gov/buffers.

NOTE: Image of a segment of the buffer map is available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “11-21-16 buffer map.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    
Media contact: Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment and retention supervisor, 651-259-5247, jeff.ledermann@state.mn.us.

Grant aims to get more people hunting and fishing

Anglers still cast lines and hunters head to deer camp each year, but the percentage of Minnesotans who hunt or fish is shrinking.

To help grow the number of hunters and anglers, organizations can apply for grants from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Groups that will help move people through the process of becoming hunters and anglers, or of continuing to hunt or fish, are encouraged to apply for funding,” said Jeff Ledermann, DNR angler recruitment and retention supervisor. “We give priority to programs for underserved audiences, new immigrant populations and those with an ongoing impact rather than one-time events.”

Types of activities could include fishing and hunting educational programs, clinics, workshops, and camps, and funding for fishing and hunting equipment and transportation.

Groups must apply for this round of grants by Jan. 9, 2017. The grant program began this year and this is the third round of grants. In this round, awards will range from $5,000 to $50,000. The DNR anticipates a total of $100,000 will be available. Third-round projects must be completed in Minnesota and be finished by June 30, 2018.

New in this round, there is no longer a requirement of a funding match. Organizations are nonetheless encouraged to include a match in their project that can be funding, or donated labor, materials or services. Match amounts will be considered in the selection process.

“The grant program began this year and the first two rounds were competitive, with more than 50 applicants,” Ledermann said. “The groups we chose shared a commitment to ongoing support for helping people enjoy the outdoors through hunting or fishing.”

To learn more about the DNR’s work in recruitment, retention and reactivation, and to find grant application requirements, visit www.mndnr.gov/r3. Details about the grant and a list of award winners can be found at the link under “Help others discover.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Steve Merchant, wildlife populations program manager, 651-259-5220, steve.merchant@state.mn.us.

DNR seeks designs for Minnesota’s 2018 turkey stamp

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2018 Minnesota Wild Turkey Stamp from Monday, Dec. 5, through 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16.

The cost of a turkey stamp is included in a turkey license, but pictorial stamps are sold as collectables. In the contest, the eastern wild turkey must be the primary focus of the design.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists may issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Final judging is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul. The public is welcome to come and view the winning design 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Dec. 23.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to wild turkey habitat management. Extirpated from Minnesota around 1900, wild turkeys now thrive throughout all but the northern forested portions of the state.

For more information on stamp contests, guidelines for submitting work, and to sign up to receive regular email updates on stamp contests, visit www.mndnr.gov/stamps. Contest guidelines are also available from the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Christine Herwig, DNR northwest region nongame specialist – Bemidji,
651-259-5706, christine.herwig@state.mn.us.

Eagles on roadways – Give them a brake

It’s the time of year when an increase in deer activity leads to more road-killed deer that attract animals, such as eagles, to a free meal along roadways. This is also the time of year when Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nongame wildlife staff and area wildlife managers receive many calls about injured or dead eagles on Minnesota roads.

Why do eagles get hit by vehicles? After all, people rarely see a crow injured or dead along the roadway. Crows simply fly off.

Just as an overloaded plane can’t take off, eagles can “over eat” and become too heavy to fly until they digest their meal. Eagles can also suffer from neurological issues if they are exposed to lead in the carcass of the animal they are eating. When this happens, eagles become disoriented and do not know to fly off when a car is approaching.

“When deer are particularly active, we tend to get calls about eagles that are injured or killed by vehicles or sick and dying from lead poisoning,” said Christine Herwig, DNR northwest region nongame specialist. “If you see a dead deer on the road and can safely move the deer off the roadway, this improves the safety of other motorists and wildlife.”

People who encounter a dead eagle, can leave it alone or bring it to the nearest DNR office; it’s a good idea to call ahead to be sure they have a freezer. Eagles are sent to a national feather repository where the feathers and other eagle parts are cleaned and distributed to Native American reservations for use in ceremonies.

“You may not keep a dead eagle, but by law you are allowed to transport a dead eagle to a state or federal wildlife agency office.” Herwig said. “In 1940, Congress enacted the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which makes possession of an eagle or an eagle feather a federal crime punishable by a $10,000 fine and a year in prison.”

For people who encounter an injured eagle, Herwig recommends either contacting a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or letting nature take its course. Some eagles can survive their injuries and be transported to a rehabilitator like the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, which rehabilitates more than 800 sick and injured hawks, eagles, falcons and owls a year. Again, there are exceptions to federal laws, including an allowance for those attempting to bring wounded birds to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Citizens may not rehabilitate wildlife without a permit.

Before transporting an eagle to the Raptor Center, DNR office or wildlife rehabilitator, Herwig recommends to first contact the local DNR office or rehabilitator. Transporting any injured animal, particularly a raptor, can be challenging and even dangerous. Thick leather gloves should be worn and a blanket (without loops) could be put over the head of the animal to calm it down. Be sure the animal is contained in a secure and appropriately sized pet carrier or box. Do not feed or water the animal, and bring the animal to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Being near humans and around unfamiliar, loud noises is stressful to wildlife, especially when they are injured. When transporting any wild animal in a vehicle, passengers should remain quiet, leave the radio off and leave the animal alone.

Information about wildlife rehabilitation including a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/rehabilitation/injured-wildlife.html.

People can help support Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program by making a tax-deductible donation using the Nongame Wildlife checkoff this tax season.

For more information on bald eagles and the Nongame Wildlife Program, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame.

Question of the week: turkeys

Q: Wild turkeys seem to be fairly common in Minnesota. Has this always been the case?

A: Historically, wild turkeys are thought to have lived only in far southern Minnesota. By 1880, they had vanished from the state due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss.

Attempts to re-establish wild turkeys in Minnesota date back to the 1920s, but these efforts weren’t successful until 1971, when turkeys trapped in Missouri were released into Houston County and showed strong survival. From the 1970s through 2008, the DNR continued its trap-and-release program to release wild turkeys throughout much of Minnesota to improve hunting opportunities. This, along with a favorable mix of agricultural and forest habitat, allowed turkeys to expand well beyond their pre-settlement range.

DNR research has shown why the ag/forest habitat mix is important for year-round survival of wild turkeys in Minnesota. Woodlands provide roosting sites and year-round cover, while forest edges and openings provide nesting and brood-rearing cover. Access to nearby agricultural land provides an important food source. Turkeys can survive Minnesota’s cold winters as long as they can find food, which is another reason why they have successfully expanded their range to the north.

To learn more, visit the DNR’s wild turkey management page at www.mndnr.gov/turkey.

Nicole Davros, DNR upland game project leader

DNR MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                             Nov. 17, 2016
Media contact: Amy Kay Kerber, forestry outreach supervisor, amykay.kerber@state.mn.us, 651-259-5272.

Governor’s Christmas tree to be harvested from state forest

WHAT:
With the holiday season just around the corner, Gov. Mark Dayton’s home will soon become festive. A large balsam fir will be cut down in the Nemadji State Forest that will be the Christmas tree on the front grounds of the governor’s residence in St. Paul.

WHO:
DNR forestry and Conservation Corps of Minnesota will cut and load the tree.

WHEN:
Friday, Nov. 18, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:
The tree is located in the Nemadji State Forest. Media should meet at 9:30 a.m.
outside the Duquette General Store, 88235 Minnesota Highway 23, Duquette,
MN 55756 and then drive to the site.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The 2016 Christmas tree for the governor’s residence is a balsam fir from the Nemadji State Forest. This tree is 30 feet tall and estimated to be 40-45 years old. Each year, DNR staff and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota cut the tree on the Friday before Thanksgiving. But, the search for just the right tree begins months before. DNR foresters keep an eye out for a tall tree that’s nicely shaped and well filled out. The tree also needs to be in a location where it will not be damaged when dropped and then easily pulled out and loaded onto a trailer.

The tree will be set up at the governor’s official residence, 1006 Summit Ave., St. Paul, around
9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 21. The tree will be lit Dec. 1. More information and details on viewing the tree is at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/governor-christmas-tree.html.

Each holiday season, half a million Christmas trees are harvested from private tree farms in Minnesota, contributing about $30 million to the state’s economy. For each tree harvested, one to three trees are replanted. Real Christmas trees store carbon during their lifespan. They can be chipped for mulch when the season is over, making them an environmentally friendly choice.

NOTE
Video and photos of the tree being cut and loaded will be available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “11-18-16 Christmas tree” after 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Nov. 10, 2016
Media contact: Adam Murkowski, big game program leader, 651-259-5198,
adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

Hunters register 68,958 deer during first weekend of season
Harvest down 3 percent from a year ago

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 68,958 deer during the first two days of firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered fell 3 percent from 2015. Of the deer harvested, 67 percent were bucks, compared to 68 percent of the first weekend harvest of 2015.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 16 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was down 7 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 28 percent.

“Even with record-high temperatures statewide, the opening weekend harvest in Zone 1 is at least 16 percent higher than last year,” said DNR big game program leader Adam Murkowski. “Since these are preliminary numbers, it’s too soon to say if the unusual weather had any impact on harvest elsewhere in the state, but as conditions change and hunting continues, we’ll get a better sense of how the season is progressing.”

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2016 total deer harvest to be between 165,000 and 185,000 deer. The 2015 total harvest was a little more than 159,000.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 13. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 20; the late southeastern season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 19, through Sunday, Nov. 27; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 26, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 11.

The DNR strives to maintain a healthy wild deer population that offers recreational and economic opportunities, while addressing conflicts between deer, people and other natural resources. Habitat management, hunting, research and monitoring are several primary tools used to manage the Minnesota deer population. More information on deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Nov. 10, 2016
Media contacts: John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager, 218-308-2680, john.williams@state.mn.us; Ruth Anne Franke, Karlstad area wildlife supervisor, 218-436-2427,
ext. 222, ruth.anne.franke@state.mn.us.

Minnesota’s elk hunts successful

The 2016 elk hunts in northwestern Minnesota wrapped up on Sept. 18 with another successful season in the Kittson County area, according to the Department of the Natural Resources. Five of seven hunters harvested bulls.

Two zones were open to hunting and all permits were bull only. In the Caribou-Vita herd (Zone 30), which migrates between northern Kittson County and Manitoba, two permits were issued and both hunters successfully harvested 6×6 bulls, meaning each bull had six points on each side. One bull was harvested on private land and one on the Caribou Wildlife Management Area.

In the Kittson-Central herd (Zone 20), located near Lancaster in Kittson County, three of five permits were filled with 5×6, 6×6 and 6×7 bulls, all on private land.

“We are excited to be able to offer elk hunters the opportunity to take part in these once in a lifetime hunts in northwestern Minnesota,” said Ruth Anne Franke, Karlstad area wildlife supervisor. “The large tracts of public land and willingness of landowners to allow elk hunting on their properties make Minnesota an excellent elk hunting destination. We are grateful to local landowners for their support.”

The elk season was timed to coincide with the elk rut (breeding season) and elk were actively bugling. This gave hunters the opportunity to locate the bulls by listening for their bugles, and test their bugling (calling) and stalking skills.

Once again, a hunting season was not offered in the Grygla area where herd numbers remain below the population goal of 30-38 elk. The Grygla herd survey last winter recorded 21 elk. Previous estimates are 18 in 2015, 20 in 2014 and 28 in 2013. This herd hasn’t been hunted since 2012.

Elk management in Minnesota
The DNR’s goal is to maintain a free-ranging, wild elk population in northwestern Minnesota. The department envisions a healthy population that offers recreational and economic opportunities while actively addressing conflicts between elk and people. Habitat and herd structure will be maintained. Hunting seasons are used to help manage problem animals and herd size.

Information on Minnesota’s elk and the current management plan is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/elk.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Nov. 3, 2016
Media contacts: Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager, 651-259-5789, bradford.parsons@state.mn.us; Don Pereira, fisheries chief, 651-259-5229,
don.pereira@state.mn.us.

Mille Lacs Lake to be open for winter fishing season
Winter fishing limits 1 walleye, 5 northern pike per angler

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today announced that the winter walleye regulation will allow anglers to keep one walleye between 19 and 21 inches or one longer than 28 inches.

The 2016-17 winter regulation continues last winter’s one fish limit but moves the harvest slot up slightly from last year’s 18 to 20 inches.

The winter walleye season begins Thursday, Dec. 1, and extends through Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.

Tribal and DNR biologists met Nov. 1 to evaluate the status of the walleye population following the completion of the 2015-2016 fishing season. The key conservation goal of conserving the abundant 2013 year class was achieved, with minimal fishing mortality occurring during the past year and key population benchmarks successfully met. Those factors combined to support a modest winter harvest for Mille Lacs Lake walleye.

“The winter season regulation enables Mille Lacs anglers to catch and keep walleye while providing necessary fish conservation and support to the Mille Lacs area economy,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.

“This regulation allows continued protection of walleye in Mille Lacs’ abundant 2013 year class, which are the lake’s future spawners,” Pereira said.

Northern pike will provide anglers and darkhouse spearers with additional opportunity to harvest fish on Mille Lacs this winter. Like last winter, ice anglers and spearers can keep up to five fish with one longer than 30 inches. However, in order to keep the one northern pike longer than 30 inches, anglers and spearers must have caught or speared two northern pike shorter than 30 inches and have both smaller fish in immediate possession.

The pike regulation goes into effect on Dec. 1. It continues through Sunday, March 26, 2017, for angling and Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 for spearing.

For now, bass regulations will remain the same. But on the heels of a very successful Toyota Angler of the Year tournament and the increased attention it has focused on Mille Lacs’ world-class smallmouth, discussions with the Mille Lacs advisory committee will be ongoing to determine if changes may be warranted for the open water bass season.

More information about Mille Lacs Lake management is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #84                                                                                          Nov. 3, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Deer stands not allowed left overnight on wildlife management areas
Turenne wins 2017 walleye stamp contest
Good conditions greet hunters during Camp Ripley hunts

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Capt. Jon Paurus, education programs coordinator, 320-616-2504, jon.paurus@state.mn.us.

Deer stands not allowed left overnight on wildlife management areas

With the Minnesota firearms deer season beginning Saturday, Nov. 5, hunters are reminded that deer stands cannot be left overnight on state wildlife management areas (WMA).

“Leaving stands overnight on these public lands is a fairly common violation,” said Capt. Jon Paurus, education programs coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The reason for this rule is to prevent hunters from pre-empting hunting spots. At the beginning of each day, all locations on these public lands are available to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Portable stands may be used on WMAs if they are removed each day at the close of shooting hours and do no permanent damage. Spikes or nails driven into trees are not allowed, but screwing or clamping devices are allowed if removed each day at the close of shooting hours.

“Hunters who use stands are reminded to always wear a safety harness, check climbing sticks or ladders for damage and always wait until safely in the stand before loading a firearm,” Paurus said.

Minnesota has 1.3 million acres of land in WMAs, and an estimated 500,000 hunters are expected to hit the woods and fields in hopes of harvesting an animal. Hunters need to be familiar with hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting. License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.

NOTE: Image of a deer stand on a birch tree, an example of what not to do on WMAs, is available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “11-03-16 deer stand.” The railroad spikes will cause permanent damage to the tree.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant, 651-259-5178, neil.vanderbosch@state.mn.us.

Turenne wins 2017 walleye stamp contest

Richfield artist Timothy Turenne won the 2017 Minnesota Walleye Stamp contest. The painting was selected by judges from among eight entries for the annual contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Turenne’s painting of a walleye foraging on minnows will be featured on the 2017 walleye stamp.

This is the second time Turenne has won the walleye stamp contest, his first win being in 2010. What’s more, Turenne has now won all four state stamp contests he’s entered this year – leaving out only the pheasant stamp.

“This is an incredible feat to win all these contests in one year,” said Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant. “The only reason he did not enter the pheasant stamp contest this year was because he won that contest last year and was ineligible to enter.”

The voluntary walleye stamp validation costs $5 but is not required to fish for or keep walleye. For an extra 75 cents, purchasers will be mailed the pictorial stamp. A pictorial collectable stamp without the validation is available for $5.75. Walleye stamps are available year-round and need not be purchased at the same time as fishing licenses.

Four entries advanced as finalists and were selected Oct. 27 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work.

Revenue from stamp sales is used to purchase walleye for stocking in Minnesota’s lakes. The 2016 walleye stamp is still available for purchase at all license vendors. More information about stamps is available at www.mndnr.gov/stamps.

NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “11-03-16 walleye stamp.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Beau Liddell, Little Falls area wildlife manager, 320-616-2468, ext. 222, beaulin.liddell@state.mn.us.

Goodconditions greet hunters during Camp Ripley hunts

Archers took 113 deer during this year’s bow hunts at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

There were 2,995 permits issued, with 2,270 hunters participating. Participation and harvest declined this year since bonus permits weren’t allowed, and the harvest was heavily dominated by bucks, which comprised 75 percent of the take.

This year, Central Lakes College Natural Resources Program coordinated morning check-in and provided deer registration services at the hunts, which took place Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 29-30.

“We have a strong partnership with Central Lakes College and the event is a good opportunity to train students pursuing a career in wildlife management,” said Beau Liddell, DNR wildlife manager at Little Falls.

Brian Sanoski of Randall took the largest buck registered during the hunts, tipping the scales at 218 pounds. Hunters registering other large bucks included Urban Brady of Bowlus (212 pounds), Matthew Tester of Andover (208 pounds), Jordan Torma of Menahga (207 pounds), Daniel Austad of Staples (198 pounds), Michael Barnes of Little Falls (198 pounds), and Paul Paine of Mound (198 pounds).

Of adult does registered, the largest weighed in at 148 pounds, taken by Devin Nelson of Watkins, and 124 pounds taken by Richard Reginek of Hutchinson.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunts in collaboration with Central Lakes College Natural Resources Department, and the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #83                                                                   Oct. 31, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Deer hunting opener: Top 10 points to know  
Newest state record fish hooked in Vadnais Lake
Reminder: Apply by Nov. 6 to serve on DNR fish work groups  
Question: poached animals  


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Adam Murkowski, big game program leader, 651-259-5198, adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

Deer hunting opener: Top 10 points to know  

In less than a week, excitement over Halloween and pumpkins turns to deer hunting and blaze orange, with the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season set to begin a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“Deer season is talked about as a major holiday among hunters, and it’s a great time to reconnect with family, friends and nature,” said Adam Murkowski, big game program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Here are 10 reminders for deer hunters from the DNR:

CWD sampling in southeast
Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations.

Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the DNR will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 during the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. Locations of deer check stations, information about how hunters can enter to win prizes for participating and more are available at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Prizes are two muzzleloaders and a bow donated by Bluffland Whitetails and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Buy license and check regulations
The DNR encourages hunters to purchase their licenses now to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. Locations to purchase are listed at www.mndnr.gov/licenses/agents.html. Hunters also should review regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.
 
Register deer
Hunters are reminded to register deer before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal. Deer can be registered by phone, internet or in-person, with details available at www.mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp. However, in-person registration will be required in deer permit areas 339 to 349, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas, during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons.

Learn to hunt with a mentor
Do you know somebody who wants to try hunting but doesn’t have a firearms safety certificate?

The potential hunter can use the apprentice hunter validation. The validation is a short-term exception to the requirement for completing hunter firearms safety training and can be purchased where hunting licenses are sold. The validation may be purchased in two license years in a lifetime. Find details at www.mndnr.gov/safety/apprentice.  

Stoke the digital campfire
Have Minnesota deer camp photos or stories to share? Hunters can use #?DeerCampMN on Twitter or #DeerCampMN on Facebook. Also check out #MNDeerOpener, which will include some activity from the festivities at Breezy Point Resort during the 2016 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener.

Celebrating tradition at Breezy Point
Each year the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener celebrates the state’s deer hunting tradition – and offers a chance to start some new ones. A deer hunting expo is open to the public, starts 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at Breezy Point Resort, and features a variety of hunting-related booths and activities. More about the event is at www.mngovernorsdeeropener.com.

Projected harvest
The DNR is projecting that the 2016 total harvest will be between 165,000 and 185,000 deer. The 2015 total harvest was a little more than 159,000. More information on deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Deer plan
The DNR continues to develop the state’s first-ever deer management plan. Overall goals of the deer plan include setting a statewide harvest objective; addressing regional variations in deer habitat and populations; and describing and guiding the DNR’s responsibilities and activities related to deer management. More information will be posted as it becomes available at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan, and people can stay informed by subscribing to the Deer Notes email list at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

No whole deer carcasses allowed to enter Minnesota
Hunters who harvest deer outside the state are reminded that whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be brought into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This new restriction that includes all members of the deer family (deer, elk, moose and caribou) is an effort by the DNR to respond to the increasing prevalence and geographic spread of CWD. More about how hunters can bring deer into the state and a link to a video about how to cape a deer can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deerimports.

Info center expanded hours
To provide better year-round customer service, the DNR Information Center is piloting a permanent move to longer hours and days for phone calls only, starting this Wednesday, Nov. 2. The public will be able to get answers to their natural resources questions by dialing 888-646-6367 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Information Center will take phone calls only during the new hours, not in-person visits or license sale requests. The License Center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, as well as 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 5, for deer opener only, but is otherwise open for calls and in-person visits from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #82                                                                       Oct. 28, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Zebra mussels confirmed in Kimble Lake in Crow Wing County
Trappers and waterfowl hunters reminded to avoid spreading invasive species

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor, heidi.wolf@state.mn.us.

Zebra mussels confirmed in Kimble Lake in Crow Wing County
Invasive species found on boat lifts

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Kimble Lake in Crow Wing County. As with a recent confirmation at another Crow Wing County Lake, zebra mussels were reported on boat lifts that had been removed from the water at the end of the season.

A lake service provider business contacted the DNR after finding an adult zebra mussel on a boat lift in storage on a Kimble Lake beach. DNR invasive species staff surveyed the lake and found one additional zebra mussel on a boat lift out of the water several hundred feet north of the public access.

“We want to remind lake property owners to carefully inspect docks and boat lifts once they’re out of the water for the season,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Several recent zebra mussel confirmations have been made because vigilant lake property owners, lake service providers and watercraft inspectors are checking docks and lifts.”

Minnesota law requires docks and boat lifts to be out of the water for at least 21 days before putting them in another body of water. This requirement is an important tool for preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.

Zebra mussels are an invasive (non-native) species that can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

Less than two percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels.

Along with requiring docks and lifts to be out of the water for 21 days before putting them into another body of water, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean their watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To further reduce risk of transport, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least 5 days.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

                                        -30-

NOTE: Images available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “10-28-16 zebra mussels.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Allison Gamble, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist, 507-766-3823, allison.gamble@state.mn.us; Tim Plude, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist, 320-234-2550, ext. 238, timothy.plude@state.mn.us.

Trappers and waterfowl hunters reminded to avoid spreading invasive species

With hunting season in progress, it’s time for waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Without the proper precautions, invasive species such as purple loosestrife, faucet snails, Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels could be transported in waterfowl hunters’ boats, decoys or blind material.

Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and even cause die-offs of waterfowl.

“After hunting, take a few minutes to clean plants and mud and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles,” said Allison Gamble, DNR invasive species specialist. “It’s the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat.”

The DNR has the following recommendations to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Use elliptical or bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors.
  • Drain water and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment.
  • Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials.
  • Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t in use the rest of the year.

Waterfowl hunters should also remember that they must cut cattails or other plants above the water line when using them as camouflage for boats or blinds, if they want to move them from lake to lake.

The DNR is also reminding trappers to clean their equipment before moving them to another body of water.

“Trappers of muskrats and other furbearers should also keep the ‘Clean in-Clean out’ mantra in mind,” said DNR invasive species specialist Tim Plude. “All traps, lines, boots, and waders should be cleaned to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”

To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse before launching into another water body (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds). Air drying can also be effective but may require more time due to cooler weather.

Less than five percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are on the infested waters list, and it’s up to sportsmen and women to help keep it that way.

“If the sporting public can help us by acting as our eyes and ears on the water, it can help us catch a problem before it’s too late,” said Gamble. “And that is invaluable,” she said.

A short video showing what waterfowl hunters can do is available at http://tinyurl.com/jtf8tda. Additional resources on aquatic invasive species are available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        Oct. 27, 2016
Media contacts: Barb Naramore, DNR assistant commissioner, 651-259-5033,
barb.naramore@state.mn.us; Eric Durkee, director of public relations, Minnesota United FC,
651-270-8755, eric.d@mnunitedfc.com.

Minnesota United soccer team partners with
DNR to support loons and state parks

Portion of season ticket purchases to benefit Loon Monitoring Program

The Minnesota United, a professional soccer team commonly referred to as “the Loons,” is partnering with the Department of Natural Resources to support loon populations throughout the state by way of the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program.

The partnership is part of team’s Itasca Society, a program made up of the first 11,842 season ticket holders – one for every lake in Minnesota – which provides exclusive perks and opportunities for fans who become season ticket holders ahead of United’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2017.

“We are proud to partner with a great organization like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,” said United President Nick Rogers. “Supporting our state parks and iconic wildlife in Minnesota is something our organization is passionate about. These values are reflected in what the DNR does on a daily basis. This partnership is a perfect way for our organization and our fans to give back to the state we love and to support the mighty loon, our state bird, which is proudly represented on our club crest.”

As part of the partnership, a portion of all Itasca Society members’ season ticket purchases will go to the DNR to support the Loon Monitoring Program. Additionally, all inaugural season ticket holder accounts will receive a complimentary Minnesota State Parks Day Pass.

“We are excited about our partnership with Minnesota United and grateful to the team for their generous support of our Loon Monitoring Program,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.  “We also appreciate their enthusiasm for connecting soccer fans to Minnesota state parks and trails by providing one-day passes for season ticket holders.”

The DNR’s Loon Monitoring Program, in its 23rd year, is the principal tool for monitoring the health of Minnesota’s loon population. Volunteer citizen scientists assist with loon monitoring. Minnesota United’s support will be used to expand loon surveys to lakes throughout Minnesota where there are currently no active volunteers. The contribution will also enhance the DNR’s analysis of the survey data being collected.

There are multiple opportunities for United fans to take part in and support the loon population through the Loon Monitoring Program. Some basic information about loons and their populations throughout Minnesota:

  • The common loon is Minnesota’s state bird and a source of pleasure to thousands of residents and visitors who enjoy its enchanting sights and sounds.
  • Minnesota is the summer home to over 12,000 adult loons, more than in all other states combined, excluding Alaska.
  • Minnesota’s loon populations are currently stable.
  • As a diving bird, loons use sight to hunt prey and therefore thrive in clear lakes and healthy fish populations.
  • The Loon Monitoring Project has over 1,000 volunteers and provides the DNR with information that helps direct loon conservation throughout the state.

For more information about the Loon Monitoring Program, visit: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/mlmp_state.html.

For more information about the soccer team, which will play home matches at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, call 763-476-2237 or visit www.mnunitedfc.com.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #81                                                                                         Oct. 24, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announces ‘Free Park Friday
Hunters reminded registering deer is important and required
Lifelong interest in fishing and conservation can start small
Question of the week: deer coats


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, Parks and Trails Division public information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announces ‘Free Park Friday

Entry fees at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas to be waived the day after Thanksgiving

Smith and DNR encourage all Minnesotans to get outdoors and explore Minnesota’s parks and trails 

Following the success of last year’s Free Park Friday, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is encouraging all Minnesotans to include outdoor activity as part of their family festivities over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As added incentive, Smith announced that entry fees at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will be waived on Friday, Nov. 25.

Smith, who has set a goal of visiting all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, said she intends to work another state park visit into her schedule on Free Park Friday.

“In my travels around Minnesota, I visit Minnesota state parks and recreation areas as often as I can,” she said. “We have one of the finest park and trail systems in the country, and spending time in nature is the best way I know to get some exercise, relax and refresh with family and friends. I want as many Minnesotans as possible to enjoy a free day in the parks after Thanksgiving.”

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Minnesota state parks and trails system. The celebration has brought record crowds out to explore Minnesota’s most beautiful locations. Through the end of September, one-day parks and trails permit sales were up 6 percent, year-round permit sales were up 8 percent and overnight stays were up 6 percent over last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“As a way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails, we’re encouraging visitors to see if they can go a total of 125 miles by bike, boot or boat by the end of 2016,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Free Park Friday will provide an opportunity to add to your mileage, whether you’re near the end of the challenge or just getting started.”

Those who log 125 miles will receive a limited-edition sticker and can post their photo in an online Finishers Gallery at www.dnr.state.mn.us/125/125mile_finishers.html.

Minnesota state parks are open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and feature more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails through the state’s hardwoods, prairies and pinelands.

In addition to hiking a favorite park, visitors and families can participate in naturalist-led programs, search for wildlife and even participate in the DNR’s “Call of the Wildflowers” geocaching adventure.

To learn more about Minnesota’s 75 state parks and trails and to plan your “Free Park Friday” trip, visit: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html.

For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/freeparkfriday.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Adam Murkowski, big game program leader, 651-259-5198, adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

Hunters reminded registering deer is important and required

Hunters are reminded to register deer before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Every hunter who registers their deer is providing important information and playing a critical role in our ability to scientifically manage deer populations,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. “Deer can be registered with a phone call, online or in person, with the exception of southeastern Minnesota during the firearms seasons, where in-person registration will be required.”

Before registering a deer, hunters must validate their site tag. The validated tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation.

Phone registration
Register deer via phone by calling 888-706-6367. Directions are printed on each deer hunting license. Have a pen or permanent marker ready. A confirmation number will be given; it must be written on the license and site tag.

Internet registration
Register deer via internet at www.mndnr.gov/gameregistration. Directions will be similar to phone registration, and a confirmation number must be written on the license and site tag.

In-person registration
When phone or internet registration is not possible, hunters must take their deer to a big-game registration station. The person whose name appears on the license must be present at the registration station with their deer. They will receive a big-game possession tag that must be attached to the hind leg, ear or antler where the site tag was attached. A list of all stations organized by city and county is available at any DNR wildlife office or at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

In-person registration will be required in deer permit areas 339 to 349, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas, during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons while the DNR samples deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD). More information on CWD sampling and registration locations is at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

In all areas, hunters are allowed to transport deer out of the permit area where the deer were taken before registering the deer. However, during registration, the hunter must use the permit area number where the deer was harvested; using the wrong deer permit area for registration is illegal. Registration instructions for all methods are available at www.mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp.

Through registration, hunters provide important information on deer, an animal that is significant not only ecologically, but also socially and economically in Minnesota. Hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact in the state.

Although deer populations vary in density from place to place and year to year and are influenced by the severity of winter weather, the DNR strives to manage deer for the benefit of everyone through habitat management, regulated hunting seasons, research and planning. Deer registration is one of many ways that citizens help.  
 
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor, 651-259-5247, jeff.ledermann@state.mn.us.  

Lifelong interest in fishing and conservation can start small

Fishing and curiosity have always gone hand in hand, and when it comes to cleaning fish, some anglers have memories of examining the stomach of a catch – perhaps finding minnows, crawfish or the occasional oddity on the cutting board.

So when a group of Boy Scouts got a chance over the summer to analyze the stomach contents of fish – led by Ariel Johnson, MinnAqua program intern for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – one might say the tradition continued with high interest.

MinnAqua is a state aquatic resources and fishing education program of the DNR. The program teaches people about fishing and aquatic habitats.

After the Boy Scouts event, Johnson answered some questions about what exactly the Scouts were learning.

Q: So, where did you get the fish for this lesson?
A: These fish were given to me by Duluth area fisheries staff for the sake of the MinnAqua program of the DNR. As an intern for the program, I was teaching the scouts how to analyze the fish – you might call it organized gutting – and how to pull scales and otoliths, or ear bones, which help us determine the age of fish. These brave Scouts were on a mission to meet requirements for their Fish and Wildlife Merit Badge.

Q: What is the importance of lessons like this?
A: Our lessons got at real-world topics including how to how to count fish populations in a lake, how to identify invasive species and learning about DNR jobs in conservation. Through the MinnAqua program the Scouts were able to address the majority of the requirements for the merit badge, requirements that focused on recognizing the role that they had in conservation and what some threats are to natural resources in Minnesota. The Scouts even had some time to fish.

Q: So were the guts just a great attention getter?
A: The purpose of fish guts, interesting as they are, weren’t only about keeping the attention of a group of Scouts. Much can be learned by examining fish in general. When I worked as an intern for the Lake Superior fisheries office, we examined lake trout for sea lamprey wounds, diet, fin clippings that can show if a fish was stocked by the DNR, and we pulled aging structures, which are scales and ear bones.

On those lake trout, we found very few wounds from sea lampreys, a good sign that efforts are successful to reduce sea lamprey populations. Another great sign was that not many fish caught had any fin clippings, meaning that the fish we had were naturally reoccurring and populations appeared to be more stable.

Perhaps the most interesting thing found during my fisheries internship was one of the larger lake trout had eaten a bird’s foot. It was hard to tell exactly how this happened with the evidence at hand. But it got us wondering: How long has a fish of this size been around? That’s where the scales and otoliths come in – aging structures provide more information about the year class and their survival.

Q: The idea that seemingly small experiences can lead to big things is also a theme in MinnAqua. How does learning about fish lead to anything beyond a fun day at camp?
A: Sparking an interest in fishing can perhaps lead to a lifelong hobby and, in the process, development of a sense of responsibility for protecting natural resources. So they get an awareness of the value of the natural resources that exist and what can be done to protect these resources.

Q: Do these kids give you any hope for the future, or should we just pack up and play virtual reality fishing instead?
A: Well, I believe in the real thing, that’s for sure. This MinnAqua internship has shown me that environmental education is definitely what I want to pursue as a career. I find hope for the future of conservation every time a child says, “This was my first time ever fishing in my life. I want to go fishing again!”

Learn more about MinnAqua at www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua.

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NOTE TO MEDIA: Images are available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named 10-24-16 MinnAqua.”

Question of the week
Q: Why does the fur coat of a deer change colors depending on the time of year – a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall?

A: The deer’s coat is designed to provide both a means for thermoregulation and camouflage. Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress. In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons. The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow.

A deer’s winter coat is comprised of two layers. The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about 2 inches longer than the undercoat. The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow. Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.

Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #80                                                                                          Oct. 20, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Minnesota state parks and trails specialty license plates to go on sale
DNR designates Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area
DNR updates Wildlife Action Plan to address emerging conservation concerns
DNR coordinating new starry stonewort treatment method in West Lake Sylvia
DNR launches updated performance and accountability webpage

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, DNR Parks and Trails Division, communications and outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, DNR Parks and Trails Division, information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

Minnesota state parks and trails specialty license plates to go on sale

 

A specialty license plate benefitting Minnesota state parks and trails will be available starting Thursday, Dec. 1, at Driver and Vehicle Services offices statewide.

The plates provide their owners with unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for the year, replacing the need for a vehicle permit (a $25 value). Proceeds from license plate sales will benefit Minnesota state parks and trails.

The cost of the new plates will start at $60, plus tax. This total includes a one-time $10 fee for the plate itself and a minimum $50 contribution (renewable annually).

“Purchasing the new license plates will be a great way to show everyone on the road that you ‘go the extra mile’ to support Minnesota state parks and trails,” said DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers.

The plate features an image of a canoe on the water, surrounded by Minnesota’s four seasons. Designed by Michelle Vesaas of Coon Rapids, it was chosen from among 80 entries as the winning entry in a contest that took place earlier this year in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and the DNR unveiled the winning design on July 6.

This plate is one of several specialty license plates available from the DNR. There are also nine critical habitat license plates that Minnesotans can purchase – including a loon, moose, deer, and more – to support conservation.

For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/plates or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “10-20-16 specialty plate.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Mark Hauck, DNR community assistance specialist, 320-223-7846, mark.hauck@state.mn.us.

DNR designates Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area

The Department of Natural Resources this week designated the state’s second groundwater management area. Designation of the central Minnesota Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area allows a more comprehensive and focused approach to ensuring that groundwater supplies will be adequate to meet human needs while protecting lakes, streams and wetlands.

The DNR also approved a management plan for the area, designed to ensure adequate supplies of groundwater. The designated area includes parts of Stearns, Pope, and Kandiyohi counties along with smaller parts of Douglas, Meeker, Swift and Todd counties.

The Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area Plan lays out five broad objectives and describes specific actions the DNR will take. The plan was developed over two years by DNR staff and an advisory team of nearly two dozen representatives of local government, industry, and other agencies.

“Here in the land of 10,000 lakes and hundreds of streams and rivers, it’s easy to take water for granted,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But in some parts of Minnesota, such as the Bonanza Valley, growing demands on groundwater could place our aquifers and other resources at risk if we’re not careful. This plan explains how the DNR will work to make sure our use of groundwater remains sustainable.”

The plan provides a framework within which the DNR will work with major water users, including municipalities and farmers. This cooperative effort will promote conservation, protect surface waters and water quality, improve the groundwater appropriations permitting process, and resolve any conflicts that might arise among users.

The Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area is one of three groundwater management areas under development around Minnesota. The North and East Twin Cities Metropolitan Area was designated in November 2015 and the Straight River near Park Rapids in north-central Minnesota is yet to be designated.

More information, including plans and maps for the Bonanza Valley Groundwater Management Area, can be found on the project webpage www.dnr.state.mn.us/gwmp/area-bv.html.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Faith Balch, Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan coordinator, 651-259-5074, faith.balch@state.mn.us.

DNR updates Wildlife Action Plan to address emerging conservation concerns

The Department of Natural Resources and numerous partners have updated the Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan to better reflect conservation of the state’s native wildlife species in a changing climate.

“The plan addresses the primary causes of species population declines in Minnesota,” said the plan’s coordinator, Faith Balch. “Those causes include habitat loss and degradation, low reproduction and other biological issues, and the impacts of climate change. Along with the agencies and organizations that will implement the plan, we encourage anyone concerned about our state’s wildlife to review it and get involved.”

The plan outlines three goals:

 

  • Ensure that Minnesota’s wildlife remains healthy and viable, with a focus on Species in Greatest Conservation Need. About 16 percent of Minnesota’s known native wildlife species are identified as Species in Greatest Conservation Need because they are rare, declining or vulnerable to decline.
  • Enhance opportunities for people to watch wildlife and participate in conservation.
  • Acquire the resources necessary to successfully implement the plan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the revised Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan earlier this year.

The 2005 plan goals were updated to better reflect wildlife conservation needs and approaches in a changing climate. The updated plan identifies 346 Species in Greatest Conservation Need, compared to 292 in the previous plan. Among the changes are the addition of the monarch butterfly and five native species of bees.

The plan, a list of Species in Greatest Conservation Need, and related resources are available at www.mndnr.gov/mnwap.

In developing the plan, the DNR collaborated with more than 40 conservation partners representing a diverse group of agencies, organizations and individuals. Partners include the DNR’s divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Forestry, Parks and Trails, and Ecological and Water Resources, as well as representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, University of Minnesota, Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Zoo, The Nature Conservancy, The Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and Audubon Minnesota. More than seventy agencies and organizations including 10 tribes were contacted and invited to review and submit comments on the final draft of the plan.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Dan Lais, DNR EWR central-north district manager, Sauk Rapids,
320-223-7848, dan.lais@state.mn.us.

DNR coordinating new starry stonewort treatment method in West Lake Sylvia
Public access closed during treatment

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is partnering with the Greater Lake Sylvia Association on an aggressive new treatment method for the invasive algae starry stonewort in West Lake Sylvia in Wright County. This week’s treatment is the first time the diver-assisted suction harvest, or DASH, method has been used in Minnesota.

Earlier this month, DNR invasive species staff confirmed a half-acre of sparse to moderate growth of starry stonewort at the public access to West Lake Sylvia. The public access, which also provides access to adjoining East Lake Sylvia, will be closed for about a month during the treatment. An alternative public access site has been made available at Camp Chi-Rho, located on a peninsula directly east of the temporarily closed public access. The DNR is working with the Greater Lake Sylvia Association to provide signs and directions to the temporary access.

The lake association is sharing in the cost of the effort to remove the half-acre of starry stonewort from the lake.

Diver assisted suction harvest is a manual control method that combines hand pulling with machine suction to physically remove starry stonewort while sparing native vegetation, followed by application of a selective herbicide.

“We’re hoping for effective treatment of the relatively small area where starry stonewort is present,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “While no treatment method has eradicated starry stonewort from any lake in the United States, this aggressive treatment will at least remove enough of the algae to minimize the risk of spread to other parts of the lake and to other lakes.”

Starry stonewort are grass-like algae that may produce dense mats, which could interfere with use of the lake. The invasive algae also may choke out native plants.

The algae is typically spread by lake users who transport fragments of the plant from an infested body of water. Lake users must follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, whether or not a lake has invasive species:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To prevent their spread, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another body  of water, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

More information about aquatic invasive species and how to report them is available at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Linda Bylander, outreach program coordinator, 218-203-4347, linda.bylander@state.mn.us; David Schueller, information officer, 651-259-5708, david.schueller@state.mn.us.

For first-time deer hunter, big buck is only the beginning  

 

 

Teresa Head (right) with her mentor Naomi Walker and the buck Head shot at a Becoming an Outdoors Woman hunt.

Teresa Head always has loved hiking and being outside, even doing organized trail work when she lived in Alaska. The one-time vegetarian never had hunted or even held a gun until a few weeks ago.

So the Duluth-area resident was in for several surprises the first time she went deer hunting Saturday, Oct. 15.

Chief among them was her harvest of a 17-point buck in the waning daylight of that first day hunting. Many would consider her harvest the deer of a lifetime – it weighed 235 pounds field dressed and its antlers sprouted a 20-inch spread.

“I’ve never experienced being outside like we were that Saturday, where it’s so different than hiking,” Head said. “I’ve never sat still and quiet in the outdoors for eight hours. It was kind of an amazing experience.”

The Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources organized the hunt as part of its four-part program about how to hunt deer. Participants learn about deer biology, hunting safety, ethics and outdoor skills. They practice at a rifle range and meet with a DNR conservation officer, who answers questions and shares personal insights. The program culminates with an actual hunt in which participants are paired with a trained mentor.

“The program was just amazing and perfect,” Head said.

Head and her mentor sat in a ground blind for the whole day at Itasca State Park, located halfway between Park Rapids to the south and Bemidji to the north. She watched a mouse and saw individual leaves fall as finches and chickadees flitted from branch to branch.

“I saw all the little things that I’ve never in my whole life taken the time to look at. I thought, hunters – they’ve really got it figured out. They really know what they’re doing here,” Head said.

With daylight fading, mentor Naomi Walker was the first to spot the wiggling ears of a deer. The deer seemed to sense them but kept moving forward, finally stopping to browse. When it did, Head squeezed off a perfect shot from 40 yards, and the deer died quickly.

“I honestly felt like the way that animal went down was more humane than the way you buy beef and chicken in the grocery store,” Head said.

Head used a copper bullet, which prevented eagles or other wildlife from eating lead bullet fragments that can remain in the environment.

Walker, the leader of the learn-to-deer-hunt sessions, was honored to be a part of the hunt with Head. Walker herself learned to hunt through the BOW program.

“She definitely took her time to set up the shot,” Walker said. “She definitely paid attention to her firearms safety training and did everything by the book.”

Eight women participated in the weekend hunt in controlled areas of the state park and nearby La Salle Lake State Recreation Area. Only Head fired a shot. The state park also hosted a controlled deer hunt this fall for 75 youth.

Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator, said the stories generated by participants in the learn-to-deer-hunt program often inspire others to give hunting a try or become a mentor themselves.

“Female participation in hunting is on the rise in Minnesota,” Bylander said. “Many women, like Teresa, are going afield to harvest their own food, enjoy nature in a new way or spend time with their family.”

Bylander said BOW provides a valuable role in the process of becoming a hunter.

“Ongoing social support is at the heart of becoming and continuing to be a hunter,” she said. “We offer a friendly, safe and supportive environment, and that’s valuable because hunting isn’t an activity you normally adopt based on a single experience.”

For Head, other unexpected experiences from the hunt include a trip to the taxidermist and finding wall space for a mount. And she is excited about the new connections she formed during the program.

“I never in a million years imagined I’d have a mount in my house,” she said, adding that she appreciates the beauty of the animal and what she saw that day. “For me, it was just about feeding my family.”

For more information about BOW and its outdoor skills classes visit www.mndnr.gov/bow.

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NOTE: Images and fact sheet are available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “10-20-16 BOW.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Peter Holt, conservation measures analyst, 651-259-5565, peter.holt@state.mn.us.

DNR launches updated performance and accountability webpage

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources launched a new version of its performance and accountability reporting webpage. The webpage on the DNR’s website tracks the DNR’s progress toward achieving conservation results through 88 performance measures and targets.

The DNR has been setting targets and tracking progress toward most of these measures for over a decade. Measurements on the website span all aspects of the agency’s work, from river and stream restoration projects and moose abundance to parks and trails management and facility energy use. The 2016 update includes many new performance measures to track progress in areas critical for better natural resources conservation, customer service, and related priorities.

Some examples of significant results over the last five years of data collected include:

  • An average of 8.77 million visitors and overnights guests visited state parks and recreation areas each year.
  • The number of watercraft users contacted about invasive species increased 353 percent, from 76,000 to 344,000. Much of this increase is a result of state funding provided to counties beginning in 2014 for aquatic invasive species prevention.
  • Approximately 34,000 additional acres have been acquired for wildlife management areas since 2010, one of many DNR programs to protect wildlife habitat and provide public access for outdoor recreation.
  • The number of long-term groundwater level monitoring wells in Minnesota increased 59 percent as part of an effort to expand and overhaul Minnesota’s groundwater level monitoring network.
  • Maintained an average of over 4.96 million acres of state-administered lands approved for forest certification.
  • Income from state mineral leases generated an average of $50.2 million dollars per year primarily benefiting public education.

The DNR will update the performance and accountability webpage annually and will work with stakeholders, the public, and elected officials to provide context for these measures as well as strategic advice on how to best achieve Minnesota’s conservation goals and targets.

Explore the performance and accountability reporting webpage: https://webapps8.dnr.state.mn.us/outcomes_reporting/conservation_agenda/.

View the Conservation Agenda: DNR’s 10-year Strategic Plan: www.mndnr.gov/conservationagenda.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #79                                                                                         Oct. 17, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early
Minnesota deer facts
Minnesota DNR celebrates National Forest Products Week
Zebra mussels confirmed in Lower Cullen Lake
  and nearby Lake Hubert in Crow Wing County
Reminder: Youth deer season is Oct. 20-23

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Steve Michaels, licensing program director, 651-355-0150, steve.michaels@state.mn.us.

Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early

With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2016 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 5.

“Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a deer license. There can be long lines of people waiting to buy licenses in the days before deer opener. Last year we sold more than 145,000 licenses the Thursday and Friday before opener,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Buy early and you can spend more time getting ready to hunt and enjoying time with family and friends.”

Deer licenses can be purchased at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. There are additional fees for telephone and internet transactions. Deer licenses and tags ordered by phone and internet take three to five business days to arrive, so hunters who choose these options should allow enough time for delivery. Hunters must have a valid deer license and tag in their possession when hunting deer.

Hunters need to be familiar with deer hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting. License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Maintaining quality habitat to support an appropriate population level is good for deer, deer hunters and the habitats that sustain them. Deer populations, which vary in density from place to place and year to year are influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Adam Murkowski, big game program leader, 651-259-5198, adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

Minnesota deer facts

Deer: The animal

  • Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 lbs., and males weigh about 170 lbs.
  • The biggest white-tailed deer recorded in Minnesota was a 500-pound buck.
  • A whitetail’s home range is about 1 square mile.

Deer hunting

  • There are nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in Minnesota.
  • Last year, 30 percent of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer. About 63 percent were antlered bucks.
  • 70 percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.
  • The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.
  • Hunters can register their deer via internet, phone or at walk-in big-game registration stations, except in southeastern Minnesota permit areas 339 to 349 during the firearms season while the DNR samples deer for chronic wasting disease.
  • The largest typical whitetail buck taken in Minnesota had a Boone & Crockett score of 202, shot by John Breen in 1918 near Funkley.
  • Minnesota’s No. 1 nontypical whitetail buck had 43 points, shot by 17-year-old Mitch Vakoch in 1974.

Deer licenses

  • In total, about 606,000 deer hunting licenses and permits (all types) were sold in 2015.
  • 97 percent of Minnesota deer licenses are sold to state residents.
  • The DNR Information Center remained open 3 1/2 hours later on the day before last year’s deer opener to answer more than 1,600 telephone inquiries, most of them related to the firearms opener.

Hunting economics*

  • All hunting-related expenditures in Minnesota totaled $725 million.
  • Trip-related expenses such as food and lodging, transportation were $235 million.
  • Hunters spent $400 million on equipment.
  • Hunters spent $90 million on other items such as magazines, membership dues, licenses, permits, land leasing and ownership.

* From the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (www.census.gov/prod/www/fishing.html).

Deer management in Minnesota

  • The DNR is entrusted to manage the deer herd on behalf of, and for, the benefit of all Minnesotans.
  • Deer are the number one hunted species in Minnesota and deer hunters along with other hunters and wildlife watchers together contribute more than $1.3 billion to the economy.
  • The DNR is beginning the planning process to write a statewide deer management plan and the agency is interested in your thoughts about deer management. The public will have multiple ways to provide input into the planning process including membership on the Deer Plan Advisory Committee, public meetings, focus group meetings, and online public comments.

More information on deer and deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Kristen Bergstrand, DNR forest utilization and marketing coordinator,
218-322-2511, kristen.bergstrand@state.mn.us.

Minnesota DNR celebrates National Forest Products Week

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, along with the nation, celebrates National Forest Products Week, Oct.16-22, by bringing attention to the vast array of products forests provide.

“Every day we use Minnesota forest products in our lives — like paper, lumber or energy generated from forest biomass,” said Kristen Bergstrand, coordinator of the DNR’s Forest Utilization and Marketing Program. “National Forest Products Week celebrates America’s forests, the products they provide and the local economies they help support.”

Everything from the trunk and limbs to sap, leaves and needles of a tree are used to make consumer products. When a tree is harvested, another tree or two is grown in its place. When people use tree products — such as lumber, paper, mulch, cosmetics, energy and even Christmas trees — they encourage sustainability by choosing products made from a renewable resource that also supports the local economy, Bergstrand said.

Minnesota is home to 17.3 million acres of forests. Purchasing wood products made in Minnesota supports jobs and family forest owners by bringing money into rural areas. Nearly 300 Minnesota cities sell goods and services to the forest products industry. Statewide forest products manufacturing facilities sustain and enrich local communities by providing jobs, taxes and infrastructure. The forest products industry is Minnesota’s fifth largest manufacturing sector by employment. It provides over $16 billion in economic impact and creates 62,800 jobs.

Thirty percent of all wood fiber in Minnesota comes from DNR-administered forest lands. This wood fiber is used primarily to make paper, pulp, engineered wood products, lumber, pallets, animal bedding, biomass energy and specialized cellulose for products like clothing.

“This week, please join in celebrating the many benefits of forest products in Minnesota — choose products made from trees,” Bergstrand said. “It is good for the environment. It is good for Minnesotans. It is good for the nation.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     
Media contact: Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor, heidi.wolf@state.mn.us.

Zebra mussels confirmed in Lower Cullen Lake
and nearby Lake Hubert in Crow Wing County

Invasive species found on boat, boat lift

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Lower Cullen Lake and nearby Lake Hubert in Crow Wing County.

A resort owner contacted the DNR after finding several zebra mussels on a boat moored at the resort on Lower Cullen Lake. DNR invasive species staff found no other zebra mussels during inspections of adjacent docks and a nearby stream.

A county watercraft inspector and a lake service provider business, both trained by the DNR, spotted adult zebra mussels on a boat lift as it was removed from Lake Hubert. DNR invasive species staff found and removed more zebra mussels on an adjacent dock and at a three-foot depth in the water.

“Several recent zebra mussel confirmations are thanks to vigilant lake property owners, lake service providers and watercraft inspectors checking docks and lifts coming out of the water this time of year,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Minnesota law requires docks and boat lifts to be out of the water for at least 21 days before putting them in another body of water. This requirement is an important tool for preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.”

Zebra mussels are an invasive (non-native) species that can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

Less than two percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels. Along with requiring docks and lifts to be out of the water for 21 days before putting them into another body of water, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean their watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To prevent their spread, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least 5 days.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator, 651-259-5193; michael.kurre@state.mn.us.

Reminder: Youth deer season is Oct. 20-23

Youth, ages 10-15, can participate in a special deer season that runs from Thursday, Oct. 20, to Sunday, Oct. 23, in 27 permit areas of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota, including in the Twin Cities metro permit area 601, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Deer permit areas open to the hunt are: 101, 105, 111, 114, 201, 203, 208, 209, 256, 257, 260, 263, 264, 267, 268, 338, 339, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349 and 601. Blaze orange requirements apply to all hunters, trappers and adult mentors in areas open for the youth deer season.

More information can be found on page 34 of the 2016 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook under the heading Special Youth Deer Season and online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Maintaining quality habitat to support an appropriate population level is good for deer, deer hunters and the habitats that sustain them. Deer populations, which vary in density from place to place and year to year are influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact.

DNR NEWS                                                                                                                    Oct. 14, 2016
Media contacts: Scott W. Roemhildt, MN DNR grassland programs coordinator, 507-995-9832; Lisa Havelka, Explore Minnesota southern regional manager, 507-837-9042.

Marshall named host community
of 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener

The city of Marshall has been selected as the host community for the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.

“I thank the people of Marshall for graciously hosting the 2017 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “This will be the second time the Marshall community has hosted this unique Minnesota tradition, and I look forward to celebrating the beginning of this great season there again next year.”

The announcement was made during the Community Banquet of this year’s pheasant opener event, hosted by the Montevideo area community.

Marshall was selected through an application process that considered hunting land in the area, event facilities and community support. The city lies near the 34,000-acre Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, and actively promotes hunting and outdoor recreation. Marshall has a population of 13,680 and is located in southwestern Minnesota, 150 miles west of the Twin Cities.

The 2017 event in Marshall will mark the seventh annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, initiated by Dayton in 2011. The event highlights the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will assist local partners in planning the event.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #78                                                                                            Oct. 13, 2016
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
DNR creates new online tool for finding public hunting land
Deer hunts will take place at several Minnesota state parks this fall

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Steve Benson, DNR Wildlife MNIT coordinator, 218-328-8932, steve.benson@state.mn.us

DNR creates new online tool for finding public hunting land

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has created an improved search tool that makes it easier for people to find places to hunt or enjoy the outdoors at wildlife management areas (WMA).

The tool is at www.mndnr.gov/wmas.

“We’ve built a WMA finder application that replaces a web app that was over a decade old,” said Steve Benson, DNR Wildlife MNIT coordinator. “People can now search for WMAs anywhere in the state based on features important to them.”

Acreage in WMAs totals 1.3 million acres, spread among 1,500 WMAs located in 86 of the state’s 87 counties. Using the WMA finder, users can search by:

  • Name of WMA (or partial name).
  • County.
  • Game species.
  • Wheelchair accessibility.

Once users have found a WMA, interactive maps are available that allow zooming in and toggling between maps and aerial photography, as well as toggling the view to full screen to see other public lands nearby.

“Another important feature with the new WMA finder is providing users with more information about WMAs, contact information for DNR area wildlife offices, and specific rules if they apply to a WMA,” Benson said.

WMA information can now be updated daily, including special announcements if conditions change, such as an access road under construction. In the future, users will also be able to find more information about aquatic management areas in similar formats to the WMA pages.

Funding for the work behind this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

There are other types of public land available for hunting or other recreation use. Those types of land are displayed both through the WMA finder maps, and through the interactive Recreation Compass tool available on desktop computers at www.mndnr.gov/maps/compass.html and on mobile devices through www.mndnr.gov/mobile.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division, communications and outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, Parks and Trails Division, public information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

Deer hunts will take place at several Minnesota state parks this fall
Park visitors advised to wear blaze orange or bright colors at parks that remain open during special hunts

Special hunts to prevent overpopulation of deer and protect resources will take place this fall at several Minnesota state parks, and access to the parks will vary during these hunts, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Some parks will remain open to all visitors, some will have limited access and some will be open only to hunters with special permits (closed to the general public). The deadlines for youth and adults to apply for a special permit to participate in the hunts—which include firearms, muzzleloader and archery options—have passed.

“An overpopulation of deer can be hard on the natural resources at the parks, so we allow occasional hunts as a way to protect the trees and native plant communities,” said Ed Quinn, natural resource program supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “We do our best to minimize the disruption to park visitors, but in some cases safety concerns require us to close—or partially close—the parks where these hunts take place.”

The DNR advises anyone planning to visit a state park between now and the end of December to go online or call ahead to check whether a hunt is planned and whether the park will be open. The DNR also advises wearing blaze orange when visiting parks where hunts are taking place. Visitors should check for hunt-related information at the park office when they arrive, look carefully for hunt-related signage and follow instructions.

For a list of parks that are open, partially open or closed during the 2016 hunting season, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/hunting.html or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.Monday through Friday.

Details on which areas of each park will be affected by the special deer hunts can also be found in the “Visitor Alert” boxes on the individual park web pages at www.mndnr.gov.

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                                           Oct. 14, 2016
Media contacts: Dan Ruiter, DNR information officer, 507-359-6014, dan.ruiter@state.mn.us; Scott W. Roemhildt, DNR grassland programs coordinator, 507-995-9832, scott.roemhildt@state.mn.us.

Images available of Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Montevideo

Photos from the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Montevideo this weekend will be posted for the media on Saturday afternoon.

Images will be posted by 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, and may be downloaded at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us/Photo%20library/.

This event marks the sixth annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011. Montevideo also hosted the inaugural event. The weekend activities highlight the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors.

Montevideo has a population of 5,500 and is located 130 miles west of the Twin Cities at the intersections of U.S. highways 212 and 59, and Minnesota Highway 7. The city actively promotes hunting and outdoor recreation. Within 25 miles of Montevideo, there are 25 Walk-In Access areas totaling 3,335 acres, 16 waterfowl production areas totaling 4,366 acres and 76 wildlife management areas totaling 47,004 acres. All are open to public hunting.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting the Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce with the event. More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at www.mngpho2016.com.

 

Citizens who have a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests, and wetlands and the plants and animals in them are invited to apply to be part of a key advisory board with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR is seeking people to fill four vacancies on the commissioner’s advisory committee on natural heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity.

Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division, including nongame wildlife, Minnesota Biological Survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring and terrestrial invasive species.

Any Minnesota resident with interest or expertise in sustaining our state’s natural heritage may apply online until Friday, Nov. 18 at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html.

Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, protection of Minnesota’s rare species, or marketing, communication or promotions focused on natural resources.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will appoint committee members for terms of up to five years starting Jan. 1, 2017.

Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the committee’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #77                                                                                          Oct. 10, 2016
Media contact: Steve Carroll, media unit supervisor, 651-259-5342, steve.carroll@state.mn.us. All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Early antlerless-only deer season to open in 2 southeastern permit areas

Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith in Montevideo this weekend for pheasant hunting Opener

Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota encouraged to submit harvested deer for CWD sampling


Minneopa bison range hours changing for winter

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Adam Murkowski, Big Game Program leader, 651-259-5198, adam.murkowski@state.mn.us.

Early antlerless-only deer season to open in 2 southeastern permit areas

Hunters in portions of southeastern Minnesota can harvest antlerless deer in an early antlerless-only season from Thursday, Oct. 20, to Sunday, Oct. 23, in deer permit areas 346 and 349 in Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

These areas have high deer densities and private landowners have experienced deer damage to agricultural crops. Hunters should be aware that public land is limited in the early antlerless hunt areas, and hunters need to ask permission to hunt private lands.

In the early antlerless deer hunt, only antlerless deer may be taken, and hunters may use up to five early antlerless permits. Deer harvested during the special season do not count toward a hunter’s statewide limit during the regular season. Early antlerless deer permits cost $7.50 for residents and may be purchased wherever hunting licenses are sold. Bonus permits may not be used for the early antlerless season.

All deer harvested during this season must be tagged with an early antlerless permit. Hunters also must have a valid archery, firearms or muzzleloader deer license. The early antlerless season coincides with the four-day special youth deer season. More information can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

The DNR works to protect and maintain Minnesota’s white-tailed deer. The deer population, which varies in density from place to place and year to year, is dependent on adequate habitat and influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impacts.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Angela Steinbach, city of Montevideo, 320-269-6575, cdd@montevideomn.org; Scott W. Roemhildt, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 507-995-9832, scott.roemhildt@state.mn.us

Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith in Montevideo
this weekend for pheasant hunting opener

Pheasants will be the focus in Montevideo this weekend, as the community hosts the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will lead the festivities, which highlight the many hunting, recreational and community opportunities that the greater Montevideo area has to offer visitors.

“For 60 years, I have enjoyed pheasant hunting in Minnesota,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “Over the past six years, we have held terrific Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener events across Minnesota. I thank our wonderful hosts in Montevideo and the surrounding area for all of their hard work and gracious hospitality. I invite all Minnesotans to join us for this unique Minnesota tradition.”

On Friday afternoon, a dedication of the Mills Creek Gun Range will take place at 3 p.m. The range was the vision of the Tri-County Sportsmen’s Club to involve more area people in shooting sports. It has been a community project, built with countless donations by local citizens and businesses. The range is home to the Montevideo High School trap and skeet teams and features two combined trap and skeet fields, pistol range and 200-yard rifle range and state-of-the-art equipment. It is located 1.5 miles north of Montevideo on state Highway 29.

Friday evening, the public is invited to join the governor at a community banquet at the Montevideo American Legion. The event will run from 5-8 p.m., with social hour, dinner and a program featuring Dayton and other notable speakers. Tickets are $15 each and available until sold out, at the Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce, city hall or by calling 320-269-5527.

On Saturday, hunters will take to the field to enjoy the outdoors and pursue ring-necked pheasants, one of the state’s most popular upland game birds.

The 2016 event in Montevideo will mark the sixth annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. The event was initiated by Gov. Dayton in 2011. Montevideo also hosted the inaugural event.

Montevideo has a population of 5,500 and is located 130 miles west of the Twin Cities at the intersections of U.S. highways 212 and 59, and Minnesota Highway 7. The city actively promotes hunting and outdoor recreation. Within 25 miles of Montevideo, there are 25 Walk-In Access areas totaling 3,335 acres, 16 waterfowl production areas totaling 4,366 acres and 76 wildlife management areas totaling 47,004 acres. All are open to public hunting.

Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting the Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce in planning the event.

More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at www.mngpho2016.com.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager, 651-259-5202, lou.cornicelli@state.mn.us

Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota encouraged
to submit harvested deer for CWD sampling

Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations that will be staffed.

Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 throughout the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. The goal is to collect 3,600 samples.

“Working with hunters to sample deer for evidence of CWD is our best opportunity for early detection of the disease in Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. “Early detection is important from the perspective of limiting disease spread, and we will make the process as quick as possible to get hunters on their way.”

CWD is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain. The disease is always fatal, and can spread from one animal to another. Months to years pass from the time an animal is infected to when it shows signs of the disease. There is no known treatment for the disease, and the prions can persist and remain infectious in the environment.

Recent research has demonstrated that long-term CWD infections in wild deer have led to measurable reductions in deer populations.

“We take these actions because our only real opportunity to reduce or eliminate disease is to find it right away,” Cornicelli said. “If a disease like CWD becomes established, it will be a problem for future generations.”

The DNR’s CWD management plan calls for surveillance when risk increases. That risk includes positive domestic animals or when the disease is found in adjacent states.

“Much of the southeast has not been extensively sampled since 2009 and because of the Iowa and Wisconsin infections, it is important to aggressively conduct surveillance,” Cornicelli said.

To further reduce the risk of CWD entering Minnesota, whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be imported into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This is a new restriction this year in Minnesota. There are no restrictions on carcass movement for deer harvested in Minnesota and moved within the state.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies have concluded there is no known link between CWD and any neurological disease in humans. However, both the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that no part of a known positive animal should be consumed by humans. Additionally, there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to species other ungulates.

Reminders for hunters, and chances to win
Hunters in the permit areas where sampling is taking place are reminded that they will not be able to register deer by phone or internet during the surveillance period. Deer must be registered in person at a walk-in registration station and hunters are strongly encouraged to allow sampling of their deer.

Deer must be present at the time of registration. When surveillance quotas are met, the electronic system will be turned back on. Hunters will not be notified of individual results, unless their deer is positive. The DNR will release details after deer season that explain overall surveillance results.

CWD sampling only takes a few minutes and is done while the hunter registers their deer. To help encourage samples, Bluffland Whitetails Association has donated a compound bow and a muzzleloader and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has donated a muzzleloader. Hunters who submit a sample for testing will be entered into a random drawing for one of those items. Also, every hunter who donates a sample will be given a DNR cooperator patch as a small token of appreciation.

DNR staff will be working at 30 sampling sites from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 7. A smaller number of stations will be open the second weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 13.

Sampling goals will likely not be met during the opening 3A season that runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 13, so stations will be staffed during the 3B season, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 27.

Deer check stations where CWD surveillance is occurring are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd, and hunters are encouraged to check the site for new information. They are:

  • Bissen’s Tavern, 202 S. Third, Brownsville.
  • Caledonia True Value, 520 Old Highway Drive, Calendonia.*
  • Rhino’s Archery, 31821 64th Ave., Cannon Falls.
  • Magnum Sports, 21 First St., Chatfield.*
  • Elba Valley Express, 1105 S. Main St., Elba.*
  • Mauer Brother’s Tavern, 1200 S. Main St., Elba.
  • Holiday Station Store #3563, 1500 Vermillion St., Hastings.
  • Main Street Saloon, 56 Main St., Hokah.
  • Houston Amoco Food Shop, Highway 16 E., Houston.*
  • Kasson Hardware Hank, 11 Fourth St. SE., Kasson.
  • Prairie Bait Shop, 705 Dodge St., Kellogg.
  • Pump for Less/Southside Corner, 101 Kistler Drive, La Crescent.
  • BP Gas, 100 Sheridan W., Lanesboro.*
  • Lewiston Hardware Hank, 400 Debra Drive, Lewiston.
  • Mabel BP, MN-44, Mabel.
  • Becklund’s Auto Repair and Towing, 500 Bridge St., Millville.
  • Eagle View Bar and Grill, 208 Bennett Ave., Minneiska.
  • Greenway Cooperative, 100 North Main St., Pine Island.
  • Kreofsky Building Supply, 865 Enterprise Drive SW., Plainview.
  • 4 Season’s Sport Shop, 2301 W Main St., Red Wing.*
  • Gander Mountain-Rochester, 3470 55th St. NW., Rochester.
  • Archery Headquarters, 3440 Northern Valley Place NE., Rochester.
  • Rollingstone Mini Mart, 555 MN-248, Rollingston.
  • Pam’s Corner Convience, 105 State Highway 16, Rushford.*
  • Good Sport Liquor/Bar N Grill, 149 E. Sixth St., St. Charles.
  • River Valley Outfitters, 1023 Hiawatha Drive W., Wabasha.
  • Mills Fleet Farm, 920 US-61, Winona.*
  • Witoka Tavern, 27999 County Road 9, Witoka*.
  • Gas and Goodies, 104 E. Front St. Box 155, Wykoff.
  • Neptune Bar and Grill, 468 MN-60, Zumbro Falls.

*These stations will be open the entire week of the 3A season.

Additionally, the DNR is working with area taxidermists to help collect CWD samples. There are currently eight taxidermists helping and hunters are asked to work with them as well.

They are:

The DNR works to protect and maintain Minnesota’s white-tailed deer. The deer population, which varies in density from place to place and year to year, is dependent on adequate habitat and influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impacts.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Craig Beckman, area supervisor DNR Parks and Trails, 507-359-6067, Craig.Beckman@state.mn.us

Minneopa bison range hours changing for winter

Hours for the bison range road at Minneopa State Park in Mankato will change for the winter due to decreasing daylight hours, according the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Starting Oct. 16, the range road will be open Thursday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The road will be closed on Wednesdays for regular maintenance.

Hiking trails around the bison range provide additional bison viewing opportunities. Trails are open daily year round during regular park hours.

There is no charge to view the bison, but a vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter the park.

Minneopa’s bison herd arrived in September of 2015 and has been a popular attraction.

For more information, call 507-389-5464 or visit www.mndnr.gov/minneopa.

For information on the Minneopa State Park bison herd, see
www.mndnr.gov/minneopa-bison.

Resources on bison can be found at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/bison.html

 

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #76                                                                                                  Oct. 6, 2016
Media contact: Steve Carroll, media unit supervisor, 651-259-5342, steve.carroll@state.mn.us. All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news. Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR.

IN THIS ISSUE
Boat lifts focus of 2 new zebra mussel reports

Starry stonewort confirmed in West Lake Sylvia

Youth can hunt with mentors for youth deer season Oct. 20-23


Get Wild hockey discounts with hunting or fishing license


DNR seeks applications for advisory committee on natural heritage


Temporary off-highway vehicle trail closures begin in November

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor, 651-259-5152, heidi.wolf@state.mn.us.

Boat lifts focus of 2 new zebra mussel reports
Docks and boat lifts must be out of water 21 days before use in another lake

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Sybil Lake in Otter Tail County and Maud Lake in adjacent Becker County in northwest Minnesota. In both cases, the zebra mussels were found on boat lifts when they were removed from the water.

According to the DNR, both incidents serve as good reminders for citizens to check equipment as they remove it each season.

DNR invasive species staff confirmed live zebra mussels on a boat lift removed from Sybil Lake. The DNR appreciates the assistance of the property owner who made the initial report and the lake service provider business that removed the boat lift from the lake in late September. DNR invasive species staff did not find any other zebra mussels in the lake or on other nearby equipment. They will conduct more extensive follow-up searches.

A vigilant lake service provider business reported finding two zebra mussels attached to a boat lift they were removing from Maud Lake. In a follow-up search, DNR invasive species staff found and removed one additional zebra mussel about a half-mile from the area where the boat lift was removed.

“Minnesota law requires docks and boat lifts to be out of the water for at least 21 days before putting them in another body of water,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “This requirement is one of the most important tools for preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. Lake service provider businesses receive specific training about this law, but it’s essential for everyone to follow it, even when the lake a dock or lift comes out of is not listed as infested.”

Zebra mussels are an invasive (nonnative) species that can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

Less than 2 percent of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels. Along with the 21-day dry law before putting a dock or lift into another body of water, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean their watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.
                                                    -30-

 

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Heidi Wolf, invasive species unit supervisor, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 651-259-5152, heidi.wolf@state.mn.us.

Starry stonewort confirmed in West Lake Sylvia

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the invasive algae starry stonewort in West Lake Sylvia in Wright County.

DNR invasive species staff confirmed sparse to moderate growth of starry stonewort among a heavy population of native plants at the southwest public access on the lake. A wider search indicated the invasive species has apparently not spread beyond the immediate access area. Potential treatment options are being pursued this fall.

Starry stonewort are grass-like algae that may produce dense mats, which could interfere with use of the lake. The invasive algae also may choke out native plants.

Starry stonewort is typically spread by lake users who transport fragments of the plant from an infested body of water. This new infestation reminds boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To further reduce the risk of spread, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days

More information about aquatic invasive species and how to report them is available at www.mndnrgov/ais.
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator, 651-259-5193; michael.kurre@state.mn.us.

Youth can hunt with mentors for youth deer season Oct. 20-23

Youth, ages 10-15, can participate in a special deer season that runs from Thursday, Oct. 20, to Sunday, Oct. 23, in 27 permit areas of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota, including in the Twin Cities metro permit area 601, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Youth can hunt with adult mentors during youth deer season,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “The season is a way to focus on young hunters so they have good experiences and learn valuable skills. You might be showing youth how to hunt now, but as their interest in the outdoors grows, pretty soon they might be teaching you a lesson or two.”

Deer permit areas open to the hunt are: 101, 105, 111, 114, 201, 203, 208, 209, 256, 257, 260, 263, 264, 267, 268, 338, 339, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349 and 601. Blaze orange requirements apply to all hunters, trappers and adult mentors in areas open for the youth deer season.

Youth must meet all firearms safety requirements, purchase a license and use the appropriate firearm for the permit area in which they are hunting. Youth may take a deer of either sex and may only take one deer during the youth season.

An adult mentor must accompany the youth but may not hunt or carry a firearm and does not need a license. However, in certain portions of permit areas 346 and 349 in Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties, the adult can participate in the early antlerless hunt while being a mentor if in possession of an early antlerless permit and a regular firearm license.

Public land is open, and private land is also open provided the hunters have landowner permission.

Participating in the youth deer season does not affect eligibility of youth to participate in the regular firearms deer season but any deer harvested does count against the youth’s season bag limit.

More information can be found on page 34 of the 2016 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook under the heading Special Youth Deer Season and online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

The DNR works to protect and maintain Minnesota’s white-tailed deer. The deer population, which varies in density from place to place and year to year, is dependent on adequate habitat and influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impacts.
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Jenifer Wical, DNR outreach section, 651-259-5217, jenifer.wical@state.mn.us.

Get Wild hockey discounts with hunting or fishing license

Hunting or fishing license holders can order discounted tickets to select Minnesota Wild hockey games, as the Wild and the Department of Natural Resources again team up for this special ticket offer.

New this season, one game will include a free blaze orange hockey logo hat courtesy of the Wild.

The promotion includes these home games:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, vs. Los Angeles Kings.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23, vs. Winnipeg Jets (includes blaze orange logo hat giveaway).
  • Sunday, Dec. 11, vs. St. Louis Blues.

“Hunt, fish and hockey – they all fit well together in Minnesota,” said Jenifer Wical, with the outreach section of the DNR. “We play hockey on ice, auger through ice to fish, and in November deer hunters often cheer a good dusting of snow before firearms season opens.”

A limited number of tickets are available for each game and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket prices vary based on game and seating options. The offer is available only through advance online purchase at www.mndnr.gov/wildhockey, to hunting or fishing license holders for 2016 or 2017. The discount is not available at the Xcel Energy Center box office.

Buy fishing and hunting licenses anywhere DNR licenses are sold, online with a mobile or desktop device at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Peggy Booth, SNA program supervisor, 651-259-5088, peggy.booth@state.mn.us; Ann Pierce, section manager, 651-259-5119, ann.pierce@state.mn.us.

DNR seeks applications for advisory committee on natural heritage

Citizens who have a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests, and wetlands and the plants and animals in them are invited to apply to be part of a key advisory board with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR is seeking people to fill four vacancies on the commissioner’s advisory committee on natural heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity.

Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division, including nongame wildlife, Minnesota Biological Survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring and terrestrial invasive species.

Any Minnesota resident with interest or expertise in sustaining our state’s natural heritage may apply online until Friday, Nov. 18 at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html.

Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, protection of Minnesota’s rare species, or marketing, communication or promotions focused on natural resources.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will appoint committee members for terms of up to five years starting Jan. 1, 2017.
Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the committee’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/cac.html.
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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division outreach manager, 651-259-5578, patricia.arndt@state.mn.us; Amy Barrett, Parks and Trails Division public information officer, 651-259-5627, amy.barrett@state.mn.us.

Temporary off-highway vehicle trail closures begin in November

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in some areas during the upcoming firearms deer hunting season. Vehicles affected by the restrictions include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) off-road vehicles (ORVs) and snowmobiles that are not being used in conjunction with deer hunting by a licensed deer hunter.

The restrictions, which apply to state forest trails and access routes but not to state forest roads, aim to protect recreational riders from potentially unsafe riding conditions and to minimize conflicts between deer hunters and recreational riders who may inadvertently disturb them.

Licensed deer hunters may only use an OHV or snowmobile in restricted areas during the legal hunting season:

  • Before legal shooting time.
  • From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • After legal shooting hours.

Effective dates of the recreational riding restrictions will be:

  • Nov. 5-Nov. 20 for the northeastern Minnesota 100 series deer season.
  • Nov. 5-Nov. 13 for the Minnesota 200 series deer season.

Because recreational OHV trails located in southeastern Minnesota close Nov. 1 each year, no additional OHV riding restrictions are necessary in that part of the state.

While many recreational OHV riders have voluntarily opted not to ride forest trails during deer hunting and small-game seasons, recreational OHV riding has become a year-round sport for many. DNR officials remind everyone who visits Minnesota’s state forests this fall to put safety first.

For more information, see the 2016 deer season map online at www.mndnr.gov or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.