Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

January 22, 2007

See if you are the best angler at ice fishing tournament

Da Shiver
The Crow River Youth Hockey Association is sponsoring Da Shiver, and ice fishing tournament at the west end of Lake Sarah Saturday, Jan. 27 from Noon to 3 p.m.

Besides ice fishing, the event will include open skating, games and price giveaways, music, cookout and raffle, and a bonfire will keep all anglers warm.

Anglers can register online at www.crtigers.com. The early registration cost is $35 per person, and $40 on the day of the contest. The maximum cost per immediate family is $100.

Questions can be e-mailed to Doug Lawman at dlawman@progressivesys.com, or asked over the phone at (763) 479-1206 or (612) 991-5159.

61st annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby Feb. 10

The 61st annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. on Howard Lake.

The grand prize this year will be a 6.5’ by 12’ King Crow fish house on wheels.

First prize is a FL8 Vexilar depth finder; second and third prizes are framed prints; and there will be a number of other prizes given away.

Before the derby, The Country Store in Howard Lake will be serving lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be a limited supply of fried fish, potato salad, beans, and dinner rolls, which will be served until they are gone.

The lunch is open to the public; all you need is a raffle ticket, which will be available at the event. Children are guests.

McLeod Fish & Wildlife Alliance’s 6th annual banquet March 3

The McLeod Fish and Wildlife Alliance’s sixth annual banquet is Saturday, March 3 at the Pla-Mor Ballroom in Glencoe.

Cash bar and games begin at 3:30 p.m., with a prime rib dinner to follow at 6 p.m.

You will be eligible for the early bird drawing if you respond by Feb. 20 – the early bird prize will be a 10-bird pheasant hunt at Major Ave. Hunt Club.

For tickets, contact Dave Dammann at (320) 864-4961, or Dave Sell at (320) 864-6324.

All proceeds will stay in McLeod County.

Wright County’s Bob Peterson receives award at state convention
From Pheasants Forever

Bob Peterson, president and founding member of Minnesota’s Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever (PF) has been named the first ever PF Minnesota State Conservation Educator of the Year.

Peterson was honored for his work with the Leopold Education Project (LEP).

The award was presented this past weekend at the 2007 Minnesota PF State Convention in Breezy Point.

This was the first year Minnesota PF presented the state conservation educator of the year award.

Any state council member may nominate an individual who exemplified tremendous teaching ability and overall dedication to Minnesota’s youth conservation education.

Peterson was nominated by Walt Barlow, the Wright County Chapter’s treasurer.

Peterson is a real estate agent for RE/MAX. He helped found the Wright County Chapter of PF with three others in 1985. He and his wife Jean make their home in Annandale, Minnesota.

Peterson and the Wright County Chapter have produced remarkable accomplishments for youth education in the past six years.

Since 2001, Wright County has held 286 conservation education classes, totaling 7,515 students, with Peterson being the primary educator in those sessions.

Peterson’s teaching extends well beyond Wright County, as he has taught the same course at the Hasty Silver Creek Conservation Day for the past three years, educating another 45 to 50 kids each year.

“Bob Peterson has a passion for habitat protection and recognizes the importance of conservation education for youth. Bob’s ready smile, infectious enthusiasm and sense of fun make him a natural for working with kids,” reported Sil Pembleton, Minnesota State coordinator for PF’s LEP.

“Bob influences teachers as well as students. He and his Wright County chapter have always supported LEP educator workshops.”

“Knowing the kind of warm-hearted and easy-going attitude Bob has, he will credit everyone but himself for this award,” commented Barlow. “Bob has done so much for our chapter, but even more for the youth. Because of Bob’s work, any kid who goes to one of the classes and wants to sign up for Pheasants Forever’s Ringnecks youth program, Wright County Chapter will pay for their first year of membership.”

The Leopold Education Project is an innovative, interdisciplinary, critical thinking, conservation and environmental education curriculum based on the classic writings of the renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold.

LEP teaches the public about humanity’s ties to the natural environment in the effort to conserve and protect the earth’s natural resources.

Pheasants Forever is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education.

Such efforts benefit landowners and wildlife alike. Charity Navigator, America’s charity watchdog, gives PF their highest rating of 4 stars and says that PF outperforms most non-profits in America.

The Wright County/West Metro Whitetails collect over 2,000 hides
Submitted

The Wright County/West Metro Whitetails collect over 2,000 hides in their Hides-for-Habitat drive.

We would like to thank the following area businesses who let us place a collection box by their place of business or home.

Lampi Auctioneers, Annandale
Perry’s Market, Annandale
Big Lake Lumber, Big Lake
Wal Mart, Buffalo
Cenex Station, Cokato
AK Corners, Corcoran
Dick Nordling, Delano
Ault Marine, Delano
Ebner‚s Bait Shop, Elk River
Joes Sports Shop, Howard Lake
H & H Sports Shop, Maple Lake
Marketon Body Shop, Montrose
Walt‚s Pawn Shop, Monticello
Monticello Gun Club, Monticello
Ace Hardware, Rockford
Cabela’s, Rogers
Alford’s Sinclair, Rogers
Hardware Hank., St. Michael

The money collected from the sale of these hides is used to maintain, enhance, and purchase public hunting areas in Minnesota.

In the past several years the Wright County/West Metro Chapter has helped purchase and plant oak trees on two Wright County WMA’s, provided MDHA food plot seed to the public at a reduced cost, provided access to a plotmaster for food plot planting, and helped, along with other local conservation groups, purchase additional public hunting areas in Minnesota.

If you are interested in this program, or want to find out more about the local chapter or the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, please call Al Weller at 763-370-1206 or Kent Peterson at 763-658-4020, or go to the state website at www.mndeerhunters.com.

The local chapter’s next meeting will be Tuesday, February 6th at 7:00 pm at the Buffalo Gun Club, located east of Buffalo on Highway 55.

The nuts and bolts of fish and wildlife populations
From Tom Conroy of the DNR

There are 710 nuts, bolts, screws and washers in a drawer at home. I know. I counted ‘em. Well, ok, I estimated.

Now, had I been inclined to count each item in that drawer, I could have. And had I done so, I might have discovered that the actual count is 681 - or maybe 835. But knowing there are approximately 700 items in that drawer is all I need to know (although I have no idea why).

Counting is something we all do. Sometimes it’s simple; sometimes it’s difficult.

And sometimes it’s downright impossible.

Consider, for example, trying to count objects that hide, constantly move around, appear and then disappear. Deer, ducks, fish, pheasants, grouse, rabbits, moose, turkeys, wolves, mourning doves, and Hungarian partridge, to name a few, are like that.

Still, determining fish and wildlife populations is essential for several important reasons.

But because it would be impossible to count every deer, grouse or walleye in Minnesota, the DNR must rely on population estimates derived from various scientific surveys to develop effective management strategies.

Population surveys are the backbone of good fish and wildlife management. In order to help various species survive and hopefully flourish, it is critical to know how populations are reacting to changes in habitat, climate and hunting and fishing pressure.

In order to collect that information, the DNR and other fish and wildlife agencies utilize a wide range of survey techniques.

Wildlife population surveys are coordinated through the DNR’s Wildlife and Populations Research stations at Madelia (farmland wildlife), Bemidji (wetland wildlife), and Grand Rapids (forest wildlife).

At these locations research scientists devise survey methods and analyze the results. Wildlife managers then use that information to develop hunting seasons and management strategies.

Two of the more familiar surveys are the annual roadside wildlife count and aerial waterfowl surveys.

Roadside counts, begun in 1956, involve DNR staff driving prescribed routes in the pheasant region during the first two weeks in August and counting the number of pheasants and other game animals they see along the way.

In estimating waterfowl populations, the DNR takes to the air and flies east-west transects across the state, counting and identifying ducks in “blocks” from 100-feet as well as the number of wetlands and other water bodies they see.

These population estimates are then combined with other data, such as hunter harvest surveys, to estimate fall populations and help set the waterfowl hunting season framework.

By themselves, neither the annual roadside count or duck survey would provide enough accurate data to closely estimate a current population.
But by combining this information with data collected through dozens of other statistically defendable survey techniques conducted over the span of many years, wildlife managers are able to determine how various populations are doing from year to year and over time (called a trend index).

Determining how fish populations are faring in our lakes, rivers and streams is also based on scientific surveys using nets, electrofishing and other techniques, such as creel surveys.

By accumulating many years of such information, together with water quality data and aquatic vegetation changes, managers can determine the relative proportion of big and small fish and whether each year’s new generation of fish (called a year class) is comparatively weak or strong.

From this, long-term trends and patterns can be perceived and fishing regulations, stocking plans, and habitat improvement projects developed.

Some years ago I spent four days deer hunting in the same location I had hunted for a couple of decades. In previous years I would almost always see at least a few deer, usually more.

During this particular season I saw not a single deer. I was convinced that the area deer population must be down considerably. And then the deer harvest figures came out.

The harvest was higher in this area than it had been for several years, just as the research data had predicted.

Habitat, of course, is key to how well fish and wildlife populations do.

And, understandably, hunters and anglers want to see the DNR work on projects that can be seen – more wetland restorations, additional grasslands, tree plantings, and the like.

However, knowledge about populations and what affects them is the foundation on which fish and wildlife management rests.

And it is not just fish and game populations that the DNR keeps tabs on.

Rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal species, loons, frogs, shorebirds and others are monitored and researched.

While it’s not necessary to know exactly how many nuts, bolts, washers and screws there are in a drawer at home, it should matter to all of us how our fish, wildlife and other natural resource populations are doing.

For, in the end, as they go, so go we.

Testing finds no highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds in Minnesota
From the DNR

Testing of more than 2,000 wild ducks across Minnesota has revealed no sign of highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The effort was part of a national strategic plan in which 71,000 birds were tested across the United States.

To date, no positive cases of the Asian strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) have been found anywhere in North America.

“The absence of the disease in this year’s testing is very good news,” said Dr. Michelle Powell, DNR wildlife health program coordinator. “We will, however, remain vigilant both at the state and national level for any signs of the disease.”

Since 2003, Asian H5N1 has swept through poultry populations in many parts of Asia and Africa.

The disease was also found in wild birds in parts of Europe in 2006.

Although movement of domestic poultry or contaminated poultry products, both legally and illegally, are believed to be the major driving force in the spread of Asian H5N1, migratory birds are thought to be a contributing factor.

The DNR and U.S. Department of Agriculture collected samples from wild ducks harvested by hunters or captured for banding across the state this past summer and fall.

Outside Minnesota, six cases of a low pathogenic from of H5N1 avian influenza were found during national testing. Commonly referred to as the “North American Strain,” low pathogenic H5N1 is considered harmless to wildlife and humans. No birds in Minnesota were found to have the North American H5N1 during this summer and fall’s sampling.

The DNR’s surveillance and response plan for highly pathogenic avian influenza includes increased vigilance of wild bird mortality events within the state. Federal and state officials are currently evaluating the need for further testing next year.

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