Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

March 3, 2003

New panish limits take effect May 10

We all know 2002 Minnesota fishing licenses expired Friday, Feb. 28 and new 2003 licenses are required March 1.

Another important date that gets thrown into the mix is Saturday, May 10, which happens to be the 2003 Minnesota fishing opener for walleye and northern pike.

Those dates are kind of standards in Minnesota fishing and are basically the norm. However, this year new bag limits for crappie, sunfish, and a few other species will take effect. The seasons for sunfish and crappie are continuous, meaning they never close.

The question of the start date or when the new law on bag limits takes effect comes up. Does the new law take effect March 1, which is the license date start of the 2003 season, or May 10, which is the fishing opener? Right now, many have been confused.

First of all, the DNR admittedly made a mistake by not clarifying the date in the new 2003 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook.

Secondly, the DNR did a poor job of getting info on the bag limit changes out to the general fishing public.

Finally, and most importantly, the new bag limits ­ 10 for crappies and 20 for sunfish ­ take effect May 10 on the fishing opener. Until then, with the appropriate 2003 license of course, you will be able to take 15 crappies and 30 sunfish.

In my opinion, it was a needed change, but will only be effective if a combination of angler ethics and enforcement activities keep anglers from double and triple tripping when the panfish are really biting.

Overall, it should make fishing better. Your cork should go down more often, you just won't be able to keep as many.

Big archery shoot to take place in LP

The Prairie Archery Club will host a large indoor archery shoot in the Lester Prairie High School gym Friday through Sunday, March 21 through the 23rd.

The club also conducts regular league shooting at lanes located above Angvall Hardware and Mercantile in downtown Lester Prairie.

For more information on the club, contact Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

Open house to honor Willard Kreitlow

Willard Kreitlow of Howard Lake will be honored for his 42 years of service on the Wright County Park Board during at open house at the county board room in the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo, 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, March 11.

The Wright County Board recently renamed Highland Hill, a sledding hill north of Howard Lake, the Willard Kreitlow Winter Recreation Area in his honor.

Following the ceremony, there will be a reception in room C118.

New technology available for license renewals

From the DNR

A new electronic way for outdoor enthusiasts anywhere in the United States, to renew their registrations for watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, off-road vehicles and snowmobiles has been launched by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"This step represents a significant improvement to our service delivery," said Kurt Ulrich, administrator for the DNR's Information, Education and Licensing Bureau.

Customers can renew their registrations by visiting www.dnr.state. mn.us and clicking on Regulations, Licenses and Permits and then Online Licensing.

"We've had quite a few customer requests for this service," explained Suellen Rau, project administrator. "It will be especially beneficial for those who don't realize that their registration is expired until they are ready to launch the boat or ride the trails and all of the offices are closed for the weekend. All they'll need is a computer with Internet service and a credit card to enable legal operation of their boat or vehicle."

For renewing a registration, the customer will need the registration number from the renewal notice or off of the vehicle or watercraft. Customers must use a Mastercard or Visa credit card to purchase the registration. A $3.50 Internet convenience fee will be added to each transaction.

Internet customers will be issued a Temporary License Receipt with a Temporary Authorization Number. They may either print the receipt or carry the authorization number with them. Temporary receipts are valid for 14 days to allow time for the vendor to mail the registration card and decals to the customer. Registration materials are mailed on the next business day.

Snowmobile Metal Traction Device stickers may also be purchased online at the same site. However, the MTDs temporary license receipt is not valid for immediate snowmobile use. Snowmobiles with MTDs cannot be operated until the sticker is received and displayed on the snowmobile.

State trail permits, required for snowmobiles with out-of-state registrations, and MTD stickers are also available from the DNR's telephone sales number at 1-888-665-4236.

Wild turkey leftover licenses again available

From the DNR

For applicants who were unsuccessful in the 2003 Minnesota spring wild turkey lottery, leftover licenses are available this year. Wild turkey hunting licenses that remain after the landowner and regular lottery drawings are being offered to unsuccessful applicants at Electronic Licensing System agents beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 17. All hunters successful in the lottery should have received their notification by now.

A total of 3,088 permits remain from the 25,016 initially offered, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The leftover permits will be available on a first-come, first-sold basis at any ELS license agent beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 17, until all are sold.

In addition to ELS point-of-sale agents, the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us will have a link to the ELS-Internet License Agent that will begin providing access to the surplus spring wild turkey licenses at 5 p.m. Monday, March 17. Due to anticipated high volumes and the surplus turkey license being a complicated transaction, Internet access problems could occur during the first hour.

Because hunting access in many zones is limited, hunters should obtain landowner permission before getting a leftover permit. The spring turkey hunt consists of eight consecutive five-day seasons from mid-April through late May. Most of the remaining permits are for the later seasons. A total of 44 of the 53 open wild turkey permit areas have some permits available.

Only applicants who were unsuccessful in the spring 2003 turkey hunt lottery may obtain these licenses. A person who obtains a leftover permit does not lose any existing preference for future lottery drawings. There is no additional application fee, but hunters obtaining leftover permits must pay the regular turkey hunting license and stamp fees. All license sales are final; there will be no refunds.

People may check where leftover licenses are available or the status of their lottery applications on the Internet at www.dnr.state.mn.us. On the DNR's home page, click on "Outdoor Activities and Places," click on "Hunting" and then click on the wild turkey photograph.

Tougher poaching laws took effect March 1

From the DNR

Poachers could have their fish and game licenses seized and face stiffer penalties, including having their boats, motors and trailers confiscated, under the state's new gross overlimits regulations that go into effect March 1.

The new laws are based on established restitution values that determine payments made to the state by poachers for illegally taken game and fish. For example, a walleye is valued at $30. Under the new law, the time period for license suspension is based on those restitution values.

The higher the restitution values, the longer the suspension of hunting of fishing privileges. For instance, a poacher would lose his fishing license for three years if he had 18 walleye over the legal limit.

The bill also allows for a gross misdemeanor penalty when the value of illegally taken game and fish exceeds $1,000. The enhanced penalties apply to small game and waterfowl violators as well as commercial fishing operations. It is aimed at intentional poachers, according to Mark Johanson, acting DNR Enforcement Division director.

"The goal of the legislation is not to target the average angler or hunter who makes an honest mistake," Johanson said. "It targets those who are intentionally out to break the law."

The changes also allow for joint liability when two or more people are involved. In addition, those who lose their hunting or fishing privileges in Minnesota would also be barred from similar activities in several other states that share reciprocity agreements. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming are partners in the agreement.

The gross overlimits legislation was prompted by retired DNR Conservation Officer Tom Chapin of Grand Rapids, who told participants at the 2000 fishing roundtable about poachers keeping their fishing licenses despite catching and keeping dozens of fish over the legal limit.

"They just paid their fines and went back to fishing," Johanson said. "This new legislation will give conservation officers better ability to protect and preserve our natural resources."

"Overlimit violations are among the most difficult and time-consuming violations for conservation officers to detect and enforce," said Major Chuck Schwartz, DNR Enforcement Division information and education manager. "Gross violations of overlimits can have a drastic effect on wildlife populations that are already at risk and complicate or render ineffective the management efforts of professional wildlife and fisheries managers."

One of the most widely recognized deterrents against violation of natural resource laws is the loss of license privileges.

"This, when coupled with developing wildlife violator compacts providing for reciprocal license revocation agreements between states, has the potential to greatly deter even the most habitual and flagrant natural resources law violator," Schwartz said.

An example of a flagrant violation occurred in August 2002 when conservation officers Scott Fritz and Joe Frear had a Turn in Poacher report of an illegal fish fry. Upon investigation, the officers discovered 61 bags of fish with 10 to 12 fish per bag, totaling 1,700 fish (perch, sunfish and crappies). Continuing the search, officers found several freezers containing fish. Each package was labeled with the date, lake, amount and species of fish in the bag.

"We don't expect to encounter a lot of these gross overlimit violations," Schwartz said, "but when we do, we now have the ability to swiftly and effectively deal with violators of our natural resources laws."

Youth firearms safety training at the Waverly Gun Club

Registration will be Tuesday, March 4, from 6:30 to 8 p.m for youth firearms safety training at the Waverly Gun Club. Classes will take place every Tuesday for eight weeks.

Parents must attend with the students for registration. Students must be 12-years of age or older by Sept. 1.

Contact Ed Marketon at (763) 658-4231 with questions.

Father/Son-Daughter Banquet March 21

The Lester Prairie Sportmen's Club will host the annual Father/Son-Daughter Banquet on Friday, March 21 at Lester Prairie City Hall.

Tickets are available from club members and at various Lester Prairie Businesses.

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