Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

November 20, 2006

Another strong deer hunting season

Outdoors by Aaron Schultz, this week

The 2006 firearms deer hunting season was, again, very good, and according to the DNR, one of the top five in state history.

The DNR predicts that the 2006 harvest will exceed 250,000. The record of 290,000 was in 2003.

In 2003, Joe’s Sport Shop in Howard Lake registered 139 deer in the opening weekend, and 209 over two weekends.

In comparisons this season, Joe’s registered 129 deer on the opening weekend, and a total of 185 over the two weekends.

Last year, Joe’s registered 140 deer over the opening weekend.

The most deer ever registered at Joe’s was in 1992 when 237 deer were brought in over the two weekends.

At Ron’s BP Amaco in Dassel, there were 94 deer registered over the opening weekend, and 168 over the opening two weekends.

There are usually around 200 deer registered at Ron’s over the three-weekend deer hunt.

At All-Season Sports in Delano there have been a total of 146 deer registered that were taken by firearm over the opening two weekends.

Youth snowmobile safety training class

There will be a youth snowmobile safety training class in Winsted Monday, Nov. 20 and Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

Youth must be 11 years of age before class start date in order to be eligible to take the class.

The class will take place at the Distinctive Dental Building, in the community room, located at 131 W. Main Ave. in Winsted.

DNR urges caution on aerated lakes
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns ice anglers, snowmobile riders, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that have aeration systems operating on them.

Approximately 280 Minnesota lakes will have aeration systems operating on them this winter.

Private hatchery operators also use aeration systems, usually on small lakes without public accesses.

“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 helps prevent winterkill of fish populations by adding oxygen to the lake. But they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.

Aeration systems are generally operated from the time the lakes freeze until the ice breaks up in the spring.

A permit is required from the DNR to install and operate an aeration system.

Permit holders must publish public notices, post warning signs and inspect the systems at least once every seven days.

Liability insurance is generally required of private parties operating aeration systems in protected waters.

Aeration systems are inspected for safety and compliance with regulations by permit holders and DNR personnel.

People are advised to watch for notices in local newspapers identifying aerated lakes.

Two types of signs are used to post aerated lakes, “Thin Ice” and Warning” signs.

The person or organization that holds the permit 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. “Thin Ice” signs are used to mark the perimeter of the thin ice and open water area.

These signs are diamond shaped with an orange border and white background with the warning “Thin Ice” in bold print.
Some municipalities may have ordinances, that prohibit entering into the thin ice marked area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.

For more information, call a regional DNR fisheries office or the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

The following is a list of lakes, from the area, where aeration systems will likely be 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.

For a complete list of lakes in the state of Minnesota go to www.dnr.state.mn.us.

• Carver County: Eagle, Oak, Susan.

• Hennepin County: Arrowhead, Bass, Crystal, Gleason, Hadley, Hyland, Indianhead, Irene, Mitchell, Murphy, Penn (Lower Penn), Powderhorn, Rebecca [Maple Plain], Red Rock, Rice, Round, Snelling, Sweeney-Twin, Wirth, Wolfe.

• Stearns County: Becker, Black Oak, Dullinger, Fink, Marie (Maria) [Kimball].

• Wright County: Augusta, Crawford, Dean, Little Waverly, Louisa, Mink, Somers.

• McLeod County: Marion, Swan [Silver Lake], Winsted.

• Meeker County: Jennie, Star, Thompson.
Sibley County: Silver [Henderson].

Assessment aims to improve information on state’s wetlands
From the DNR

A team of state wetland experts has begun to implement a new strategy to more precisely track losses, gains and changes in the quality of Minnesota’s wetlands.

The strategy, outlined in a report entitled “A Comprehensive Wetland Assessment, Monitoring and Mapping Strategy,” is a mix of approaches that includes developing a map-based database to track wetland permits and restoration projects and an ongoing statewide assessment of changes in the amount and quality of wetlands using aerial photography.

Another component of the strategy calls for updating the state’s wetland inventory maps, which are now nearly 30 years old.

“This new strategy addresses the concern that all of us in the conservation community have: that existing efforts to assess wetland status and trends in Minnesota are inadequate,” said Doug Norris, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wetland coordinator. “Our goal is to collect the best possible data so that it can be used to better inform decision makers at the local, state and federal levels.”

The wetland monitoring team is led by the DNR and Pollution Control Agency and includes the Board of Water and Soil Resources,

Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The idea for a comprehensive wetland monitoring strategy came up two years ago when the group successfully applied for a $170,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

“The grant provided the means for us to address a growing recognition that local and state government officials lacked a systematic and objective strategy for monitoring Minnesota’s wetlands,” Norris said. “Our state’s wetlands are vitally important to slow runoff and erosion, reduce flooding and as habitat for numerous species of fish and wildlife.”

The strategy relies on the following approaches for gathering data on the state’s progress toward the goal of no net loss of wetlands.

• develop an online, geographically-based database for tracking wetland drain/fill permits and restorations

• periodically update the National Wetland Inventory in Minnesota

• initiate a statewide, random sample survey using aerial photography to track wetland gain and loss and changes in wetland quality.

The random sample survey component of the strategy began last spring, funded by the DNR and another grant from the USEPA.

Nearly 5,000 one-square-mile permanent sample plots have been established across the state.

Aerial photographs will be taken of each of these plots on a continuous three-year cycle.

Wetland gain and loss will be determined by comparing subsequent photos of each sample plot using GIS technology.

A companion sampling effort to monitor changes in wetland quality is planned to begin in 2007.

Limited results based on the first round of sampling will be available in 2009. The first full report will be prepared in 2012, after two sampling cycles have been completed.

A full copy of the strategy report is available online at: www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Burnsville angler faces nearly $7,000 in fines and restitution
From the DNR

For two weeks, the Turn In Poacher caller watched several anglers take a large number of fish from Farquar Lake in Apple Valley.

The attentive caller then provided State Conservation Officer Jason Peterson of Eagan with a description of the vehicles and a license plate number.

That’s all the officer needed to eventually cite a man who didn’t miscount by a fish or two, but by several hundred.

The maximum number of sunfish Minnesota allows is 20 per individual. The maximum number of black bass is six per individual.
Tam Thanh Cao, 33, of Burnsville, was charged with being 257 sunfish over the legal limit and 79 black bass over the limit.

Restitution for the fish totals $3,655. Cao also faces a possible fine of $3,000 and one year in jail.

Additional charges may be filed against other anglers as the investigation continues.

On Oct. 10, Peterson and Conservation Officer Thephong Le watched Cao catch several fish while using two lines.

They later followed him to his home in Burnsville to question him about his activities.

Cao agreed to allow the officers into his house to see the fish he had caught that day, as well as allow the officers to examine his refrigerator-freezer and chest freezer in the home.

“Officer Le, Mr. Cao, and I removed a total of 34 frozen bags of what appeared to be bass from the two freezers and laid them on the kitchen floor” Peterson said. “We also removed 35 frozen sandwich sized bags of what appeared to be sunfish, from the chest freezer and placed them on the kitchen floor as well.” The fish were seized and later counted.
When asked where he caught the fish, Cao did not know the names of all the lakes but did mention Prior Lake and Lake Minnetonka. He said the fish were caught over the summer and some last year.

DNR Enforcement Operations Manager Al Heidebrink, said the DNR appreciates help from the public and encourages people who see illegal fishing activities to call the TIP line at 1-800-652-9093.

“The more detailed the description, the more helpful it is to the officers,” said Maj. Heidebrink. “Most important are boat and vehicle license numbers, the number of people and the area where the activity took place.”

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Cao has been charged with two counts of gross overlimit violation and one count of angling with two lines (all gross misdemeanors).

Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Cao will make his first court appearance on these charges in Hastings before the end of the year.

Boggess named deputy director of DNR Fish and Wildlife
From the DNR

Ed Boggess has been named deputy division director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Division of Fish and Wildlife. He will replace Larry Nelson, who recently announced his retirement.

Boggess has served in a wide variety of positions since he joined the DNR in 1982 as furbearer program leader.

During his DNR career, he has served as wildlife program manager, assistant chief of the wildlife section, assistant director of the wildlife division and most recently the fish and wildlife policy section chief.

“Ed is familiar with all aspects of fisheries and wildlife programs and operations, and is very well respected both within and outside of the department,” said Dave Schad, director of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. “I look forward to working with him in this new role.”

As the deputy director, Boggess will oversee wildlife and fisheries research and policy units and planning staff, and direct the division’s legislative policy work.

In addition, he will supervise the fisheries and wildlife acquisition and federal aid programs.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in fisheries and wildlife biology and a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Iowa State University.

He will begin his new duties this month.

Outdoor notes

• Josh Pflanz shot a 23-point buck Nov. 4, just north of Blakeley.

The deer was an estimated 170 pounds, and was given a green score of 211.

• According to a report near Howard Lake, five deer carcusses were discovered.

The deer were stripped of all of the meat and left.

• Remember no ice is ever completely safe.

• The earliest freeze-over of Howard Lake, on record, was Nov. 7, 1991.

The latest occurred Dec. 20 in 1998 and 2001.

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