Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

March 28, 2005

Coyotes on the howl again

Our local and growing coyote population seems to be on the howl again.

Late last fall I received numerous calls from readers who were wondering what, or who, was making those strange yelping and howling sounds they were hearing at night.

Were they dogs or maybe even wolves?

Last week, the howling and the calls started again. Apparently the coyotes are back at it.

I heard my first howling and yelping of the spring Thursday night.
At about 10 p.m., the coyotes that inhabit an area on the northeast outskirts of Lester Prairie were really going at it.

The howls and yips seemed very close to my back yard, and the concert lasted for more than an hour.
Angus, my black lab, and I patiently listened to it from the deck.

The first call came from other Lester Prairie residents. Then calls starting coming in from the Lake Mary area.

Several residents from that area noted howling from what seemed to be three or four different groups of coyotes, and the howling would go on for more than an hour.

Last fall no calls regarding coyotes came from the Lake Mary area.
With the calls, come concerns for dogs, other pets, kids and small farm animals.

Many people are wondering where the animals came from and why there seems to be so many of them.

For the record, the coyote population in our area is definitely expanding at a modest pace.

The animals, in the past five to 10 years expanded their range to our area from western Minnesota, by probably following the Crow and Minnesota River corridors.

When they got here, they found habitat that was suitable, sustainable food sources, and a few easy winters that increased winter survival and breeding success.

At this time, I have received no reports from our area of coyotes attacking domestic dogs, farm animals, or other household pets.

Finally, coyotes do not travel or live in packs like wolves do.
At times, coyotes will move and live in family groups, but they do not hunt in a pack like wolves.

They are much more like scavengers, preferring to eat mice, rodents and other varmints.

They do have an impact, and help to control skunk, raccoon, and fox populations, while having very little, or no, impact on the pheasant and song bird population.

For now, get used to coyotes and learn to enjoy their howling and yipping as a new part of the natural environment in our area.

Hog roast April 2

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will host a hog roast at the Winsted Legion Club Saturday, April 2 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $7 in advance, or $7.50 at the door.

25th Anniversary of Crow River Ducks Unlimited

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the chapter’s annual banquet Tuesday, April 12.

For more information call Ken Durdahl at (320) 543-3372.

Wild game feed planned at LP Sportsmen’s Club

The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s club is planning a potluck wild game feed and membership drive for Monday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Deer hunting show planned in Silver Lake

Attend free seminars, visit unique exhibitors, and find out about national and local hunting or fishing organizations at the Big Little Deer Hunting Expo and Auction Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Silver Lake City Auditorium on Main Street.

The expo is free and an event for the entire family. Children may experience minnow races and everyone will have a chance to win a door prize every hour.

The event will conclude with an auction from 7 to 8 p.m.

For more information, visit online at www.christiandeerhunters.org or call Gerald or Thelma at (320) 587-2866, or Tom at (320) 327-2266.

Wright County Pheasants Forever banquet April 4

The 20th annual Wright County Pheasants Forever (WCPF) banquet is scheduled for Monday, April 4 at the Buffalo Civic Center. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is scheduled at 7 p.m.

All proceeds raised at the banquet are used to purchase, restore, and enhance wildlife habitat for local and regional projects, as well as fostering conservation education for youth.

Over the past 20 years, the WCPF chapter has raised over $356,000 that has been dedicated to acquiring and preserving habitat in the state of Minnesota and conservation education.

To attend the banquet, contact Walt Barlow at (320) 543-3660 or Brad Hayes at (763) 682-3117.

McLeod County Pheasants Forever banquet April 9

The 19th annual McLeod County Pheasants Forever banquet is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

Pheasants Forever is a non-profit organization aimed at improving and maintaining both public and private lands for the use of sportsmen.

In addition to purchasing land, Pheasants Forever assists private landowners in developing habitat and food plots, works on public lands to improve habitat, and conducts a youth hunt and fun day.

All profits raised at the banquet will be spent in McLeod County.

The program includes a social hour at 5 p.m., prime rib dinner at 7 p.m., and special events starting at 8 p.m.

There will be an auction, and $20,000 worth of prizes given away, including 20 guns.

Raffle ticket packages purchased before the banquet will cost $75 for $125 worth of tickets.

Reservations should be made before Thursday, March 31, by calling (877) 238-5304, or (320) 587-0052, or by mail to Pheasants Forever, PO Box 446, Hutchinson, MN 55350.

Organizers of Rally for Ducks, Wetlands, and Clean Water confirm goals
From the DNR

Although they share a common affection for the outdoors, Minnesotans who favor camo clothing tend to look at “enviros” with a raised eyebrow. And vice-versa.

But faced with a marked deterioration in the state’s ducks, wetlands and waterways, the two sides have joined forces in a unique coalition.

“The formation of this coalition marks a turning point in Minnesota’s conservation history,” says David Zentner of Duluth, coordinator of the rally.
For the first time in more than a generation, hunters, anglers and environmentalists are committed to finding common ground on issues that will help restore our outdoor heritage and quality of life.”

Groups supporting the rally confirmed three key short-term objectives:
• securing funding for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) acquisition at recommended levels;
• securing dedicated long-term funding for wildlife and habitat;
• implementing comprehensive duck recovery and wetlands initiatives.

Long-term objectives that the groups will be working toward include:
• conducting an annual ducks/wetlands summit;
• engaging and empowering sportsmen and citizens in legislative and natural resource issues;
• protecting, restoring and enhancing Minnesota’s shallow lakes;
• improving and enforcing state wetland conservation legislation;
• reauthorizing conservation provisions of 2007 federal farm bill;
• increasing appropriations for federal National Wetlands Conservation Act.

“We will work to engage the people of this state in natural resource issues and get them actively involved in the decision-making process,” says Zentner. “This rally is only the beginning.”

Illustrating the course that coalition members want to pursue, a habitat development project at Lake Maria in Murray County has been chosen as the first rally wetland project.

Corporate and other financial supporters of the rally will receive recognition at the Lake Maria project site.

Organizers also confirmed events taking place at the rally on Saturday, April 2, 2005 at the Capitol Mall in St. Paul.

These will include duck calling contests, a silent auction for a wide range of items, a free casting contest for kids, an opportunity to meet some special guests, a Minnesota waterfowl heritage display, door prizes, displays from a number of organizations supporting the rally and lots of food.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar), former Vikings coach Bud Grant, rally coordinator David Zentner and several other speakers will address rally attendees as part of a one-hour program that begins at 1 p.m.

Scheduled events for the rally include:
• 9 a.m. Youth duck calling contest;
• 10:30 a.m. Two-man team duck calling contest;
• 1 p.m. Speakers program begins;
• 2:30 p.m. Drawing for door prizes.

Rally attendees are encouraged to wear camo and bring a duck call.
On the Net: www.wetlandsrally.org.

Volunteers are the backbone of DNR firearm safety training
From the DNR – One in a series of stories celebrating 50 years of firearms safety

A volunteer is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “one who performs or gives services of his/her own free will; to give of one’s own initiative.”

Perhaps it should be added that a volunteer is one who never wants to be rewarded for those serviced. They often feel that the service is reward enough.

It can, without a doubt, be said that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a better place because of volunteers.

The backbone of the education section in DNR Enforcement is the volunteer instructor.

Without the many dedicated volunteers for each of the education programs managed by the division there would be no education programs.

It is volunteer instructors like Harold Kick, Pine City, Duane Sundberg, Isanti, Glen Gitchel, Walker, Roger Eisen, Milaca and nearly 3,500 other volunteers who make those programs the success stories they are.

Since 1963, Kick has taught nearly 3,000 students the importance of firearms safety as a DNR hunter education instructor.

His classes were so effective that they were video taped and used by state agencies as an example of how to organize and conduct a successful firearms safety program.

Kick was awarded the DNR’s Minnesota Firearms Safety Education Volunteer Instructor of the Year award in 1999.

The award culminated Kick’s 50-years of service and firearms safety education to the people of Minnesota.

Sundberg has taught thousands of people how to be safe, responsible hunters in the 35 years that he’s been a volunteer instructor with the DNR.
His dedication and energy earned him the title of 2001 Minnesota Firearms Safety Education Volunteer Instructor of the Year.

“I like to see young people learning,” Sundberg said. “I feel that I have something to offer and can contribute something to their lives that they’ll remember later on.”

As a school bus driver, Eisen encouraged his young passengers to take firearms safety training.

The DNR recognized Eisen for his efforts in teaching nearly 5,000 students about hunting safety and outdoor ethics by naming him the 2003 Volunteer
Firearms Safety Training Instructor of the Year.

Eisen has taught hunter education in Minnesota for the past 45 years.

For Eisen, firearms safety training became a family affair with his wife and two children instrumental in helping him advertise, organize, prepare and teach classes, and set up and hold the shooting range portion of the class.

He certified his two children and later his two grandchildren. His son David also became an instructor.

Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR education program coordinator, said making an important contribution to safe hunting is the cadre of volunteer instructors.

“These people dedicate their personal time to teach the skills of safe and responsible hunting to help make the sport safer.”

As a result of hunter education courses, hunting today is safer than many outdoor activities.

Based on the number of people seeking emergency-room treatment for sports injuries, The National Safety Council reports that hunting has fewer injuries per 100,000 people participating than football, baseball, cycling, volleyball, swimming, golf, tennis, fishing, bowling, badminton, billiards and ping-pong.

Most DNR hunter education classes are conducted January through April of each year and fill up fast. “So don’t wait to enroll,” Hammer advised.
For information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367, or check the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us. for a list of classes.

DNR sets spring fire restrictions for April 4
From the DNR

Spring burning restrictions in 17 Minnesota counties will go into effect at 8 a.m. April 4.

The purpose of the fire restrictions is to reduce personal property damage resulting from the large number of wildfires caused by vegetative debris burning.

The counties affected by the April 4 fire restrictions are: Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Isanti, Pope, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Washington and Wright.
Within the past week, the DNR and local fire departments have responded to wildfires in Anoka and Chisago counties.

As temperatures continue to warm up and vegetation dries out, fire agencies are expecting an increase in fire activity.

Data indicates that most spring wildfires originate from the burning of yard debris, according to Olin Phillips, the DNR’s fire protection manager.

“The DNR is asking residents to use alternative methods of debris disposal, such as recycling, composting or chipping,” Phillips said.

Once the restrictions are in place, they will continue for four to six weeks, or until vegetation greens up enough to significantly lower the fire danger.

The DNR can issue a limited number of permits through a variance process during the restriction period.

“Each variance application is reviewed separately,” said Phillips. “These permits are only granted for situations such as prescribed fires conducted by trained fire personnel, burning for approved agricultural practices, and construction or economic hardship burning for which there is no feasible alternative.”

Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.

More information is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire.

Outdoor notes

• Don’t forget to purchase your new 2005 Minnesota angling license.
• Look for the ice to leave our area lakes sometime in mid-April.
The average ice out date for lakes in our area is about April 15.
• Attend one of the many conservation and fundraising events in our area this spring.
• Take time to get outside and watch spring happen. Before you know it the ice will gone, the landscape will be green, and the trees will be full of leaves.
• Lots of Canada geese are in Winsted. The number of Canada geese using the open water on Winsted Lake continues to increase.
• Lat week I did see a pair of bald eagles on the south fork of the Crow River.
• Today the sun will rise at 6:00 a.m. and set at 6:36 p.m.

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