Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

August 13, 2007

Minnesota increases limit for upcoming waterfowl season

From the DNR

With continental populations of many species of ducks at or near record highs, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established a 60-day duck season and increased the daily bag limit to six ducks.

The mallard bag limit will remain unchanged from last year, including only one hen, and the canvasback daily limit will be increased to two.

The bag limits will continue to protect local breeding mallard populations and will provide more opportunity for Minnesota hunters to benefit from high continental waterfowl populations if weather and migration patterns result in a good fall flight through the state.

“While continental duck populations look very good, this year’s hunting success is by no means assured,” said Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner. “Waterfowl hunting is always unpredictable. If weather and migration patterns result in a good fall flight through the state, a higher bag limit will allow more opportunity for Minnesota hunters.”

Based on an increase in breeding waterfowl populations and pond numbers across Canada and the northern plains, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota, a 60-day season that could include a six-duck limit with two hen mallards.

To protect local breeding mallards, Minnesota will keep a daily bag limit of one hen mallard.

“Maintaining mallard limits unchanged from last year will help protect local breeding populations,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “Given what we know about Minnesota’s breeding duck numbers, it is prudent to continue to take a conservative approach to the mallard limit.”

Based on record high numbers of canvasbacks in the continental breeding duck survey, the daily bag limit for canvasbacks will be increased to two for the first time in Minnesota since 1966, “Canvasbacks responded very well to improved habitat conditions in southern Canada this spring,” Cordts said. “Minnesota, along with neighboring states increased the bag limit to allow hunters to share in the harvest of this bird.”

Bag limits for all other species will be the same as last season.

• Duck season

The regular waterfowl season will open Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. and continue through Tuesday, Nov. 27.

The six-duck bag may include no more than four mallards, with only one hen mallard, one black duck, one pintail, two canvasback, two wood ducks, two redheads and two scaup.

Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limits.

Except for opening day, when shooting hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., shooting hours will be from one half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 6, and from one half hour before sunrise to sunset thereafter.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 6.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used at any time during the season on water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area boundaries.

Additional details on the duck, goose and migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2007 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August.

• Youth waterfowl day

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be held Saturday, Sept. 15.

Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a non-hunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required).

Canada geese, mergansers, coots, and moorhens may be taken from one half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.

Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken, except in the Metro, Southeast and Northwest goose zones and Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Swan Lake area, where the bag limit is one.

There are no license requirements, except hunters age 13 to 15 must have a firearms safety certificate in their possession. All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.

• Goose seasons

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season Saturday, Sept. 29, except for Canada goose seasons in the West-Central Goose Zone, which will open Thursday, Oct. 18.

The daily bag limit will be two Canada geese statewide. Possession limits are double the daily bag limits.

• Early Sept. goose season

The early Canada goose season will open statewide Saturday, Sept. 1.

The September season is designed to harvest as many Minnesota-breeding geese as possible.

Hunter survey results show about 36 percent of Minnesota’s goose harvest occurs during the early September season.

The early season is open through Saturday, Sept. 22 statewide, including the Northwest Zone.

This is the first year the early season in the Northwest goose zone has been extended to make it consistent with the rest of the state.

Bag limits for Canada geese will be five per day, except for the Southeast Zone, where the bag limit will be two.

A $4 permit, valid for both early and late season goose hunting, is required.

Permits are available wherever hunting and angling licenses are sold.

The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the Northwest, Southeast, and Metro goose zones, the Carlos Avery WMA and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County.

Early season goose hunters should consult the 2007 Waterfowl Supplement for details.

• Regular goose season

In the West Central Zone, the regular Canada goose season will be open from Oct. 18 through Nov. 27.

In the West Zone, the season will be open from Sept. 29 through Nov. 27 and in the remainder of the state, including the metro and southeast zone, the season will be open from Sept. 29 through Dec. 7.

The daily bag limit will be two Canada geese.

• Late goose seasons

December Canada goose seasons will be offered statewide except in the West-Central Goose Zone.

Late season hunters must have a $4 permit, which is valid for both early and late special goose seasons.

The late season will be open Dec. 8 to Dec. 17, except in the Southeast Goose Zone, where the season will be open Dec. 14 to Dec. 23.

Bag limits for Canada geese during the late season will be five per day, except in the Southeast Goose Zone, where the bag limit will be two.

The season for light geese (snow, blue and Ross’ geese), white-fronted geese, and brant will be Sept. 29 to Dec. 23.

The daily limit will be 20 light geese, one white fronted goose and one brant.

DNR looking for Asian carp
From the DNR

Anglers who catch bighead, silver or grass carp in Minnesota waters must report their catch to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) under a new law that went into effect this month.

The DNR is hopeful that reports are rare as these nonnative fish species - originally from Asia - pose serious threats to Minnesota’s fish populations.

No Asian carp catches or sightings have been confirmed so far this summer, but the potential clearly exists.

“DNR fisheries staff is on the lookout for these fish in the Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities, which is where they are most likely to show up,” said Kevin Stauffer, DNR area fisheries supervisor at Lake City. “The new law is a way for anglers to help us with this important task, which we really appreciate.”

The law requires people to report if they have caught one of the carp species.

Anglers should report it to DNR Fisheries Offices or the DNR Invasive Species Program at (651) 259-5100 within a week, but preferably the same day that they catch one.

“DNR wants to see specimens or photos of fish that people suspect are bighead, silver or grass carp,” said Jay Rendall with the DNR Invasive Species Program. “Although they are prohibited invasive species, it is legal to bring them to the DNR for identification because it is important to be able to confirm reports.”

Bighead and Silver Carp Watch identification cards are available from DNR Fisheries offices or by calling (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

These two carp have eyes toward the lower part of their heads and the fish may be visible when they feed on plankton near the surface.

The silver carp also frequently jumps from the water up to 10 feet high and may even jump into boats or hit people who are out on the water.

A few individual Asian carp have been found in Minnesota border waters.

A large grass carp was caught by a commercial fisherman in the St. Croix River on April 7, 2006.

The grass carp is a species that is harmful to aquatic ecosystems because it eats aquatic plants that are important for fish and wildlife and can harm water quality by increasing nutrients.

Grass carp were imported to the United States for use as a biological control for nuisance aquatic plants in other states.

In the fall of 2004, a 23-pound bighead carp was discovered in the same pool of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota.

Both bighead and silver are also considered threats to aquatic resources.
They filter feed on small organism that are food for many species of fish, mussels and other aquatic animals.

In other Mississippi River basin states, the jumping silver carp are injuring people in boats and on personal watercraft.

There are no known reproducing populations of bighead, grass or silver carp in Minnesota.

Application deadline approaching for Camp Ripley archery hunts
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting applications through Aug. 17 for the 2007 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.

Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons, Oct. 18-19 (code 668) or Oct. 27-28 (code 669).

A total of 5,000 permits, 2,500 per two-day hunt, will be made available.

Hunters may apply for the Camp Ripley deer hunts at any of the 1,800 businesses that sell fishing and hunting license across Minnesota, online at www.mndnr.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 665-4236.

Applications may also be made at the DNR License Center in St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $8 per applicant. The deadline to apply is Aug. 17.

Those who apply by phone or Internet will be charged an additional convenience fee of $3.50 per transaction.

This year, participants will be allowed to use bonus permits and take up to two deer during their hunt.

To apply, resident and nonresident hunters will need one of the following: a valid state driver’s license or state issued identification card with current address, a firearms safety certificate number, or a MDNR number found on a recent Minnesota fishing and hunting license.

It is important that the identification card used reflects the current mailing address; this is where your winning notification will be sent if you are successful in the computer preference drawing.

Applicants must be at least 12 years of age prior to Oct. 18. In addition, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate, a previous hunting license, or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course to obtain a license to hunt or trap in Minnesota.

Hunters applying for a permit will be asked a series of questions.

It is recommended that they prepare for these questions by completing a worksheet prior to making an application.

Hunt Application Worksheets are available on the DNR’s Web site, from the DNR License Bureau or from an ELS agent. Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group, up to four individuals.

Group members may only apply for the same two-day season.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

DNR issues open burning restrictions for most of Minnesota
From the DNR

With dry conditions persisting throughout much of Minnesota, wildfire agencies have further restricted open burning in portions of the state.

Beginning Friday, Aug.10, by order of the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, Mark Holsten, no open burning, including the use of burning barrels, will be allowed in Aitkin, Anoka, Beltrami, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Ottertail, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, St. Louis, Stearns, Stevens, Todd, Wadena, Washington and Wright counties.

In addition, recreational fires or campfires will only be allowed in a designated fire receptacle designed for such use provided it is associated with a residence, dwelling, campground, or resort.

“The decision to restrict burning in these areas is not taken lightly,” said David Epperly, the director of the Division of Forestry. “Conditions in the state have created a situation where any uncontained fire could spread and result in extensive damage or injury.”

Much of the state is currently in the midst of a moderate to severe drought.

In addition to affecting agricultural crops, the lack of precipitation allows vegetation in forests and grasslands to cure and dry making them far more susceptible to ignition and increasing the rate of spread of a fire once started.

Fire behavior analysts consider several factors when predicting fire danger.

The obvious factors like temperature, humidity and wind speed are considered with less obvious factors like the types of fuel available, moisture content of the fuels, the soil moisture, and potential for future precipitation.

Several stations within Minnesota calculate fuel moisture each day and their measurements are factored into the equation.

Recent measurements show numerous stations within Minnesota are showing the larger dead fuels have moistures of less than 18 percent.

DNR Fire Behavior Analyst Doug Miedtke said when moisture in large dead material falls this low, the potential for fires to spread is compounded with difficulty in controlling them should they start.

“If these larger fuels ignite, fire intensity increases dramatically, requiring additional effort to extinguish and often cannot be worked on without heavy equipment or air support,” Miedtke said.
Restrictions will remain in place until sufficient precipitation is received to moderate the fire danger.

If normal precipitation is not received in the near future, it may necessitate expanding the area.

Firefighters caution everyone to be extra careful with their outdoor activities; even recreational or campfires within receptacles have the potential to ignite nearby fuels.

“Stay with your fire, have water handy as well as a means of dispensing it,” Miedtke said. “We want to protect the people and resources we care for.”

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