Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

December 17, 2007

Snow and slush on lakes creating unsafe ice conditions

From the DNR

Even with recent cold conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reporting spotty ice conditions around the state due to snow that fell on thin ice before it had a chance to thicken.

“Even though we’ve had some good cold temperatures, the recent snow that blankets much of the state insulates the ice and slows the ice thickening process,” said Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist. “The weight of the snow pushes down on the ice, causing water to seep from cracks. This creates a slushy mess on the ice surface.”

DNR conservation officers (CO) from throughout the state report slush on many lakes with ice thicknesses ranging from 14 inches or more on some lakes down to an inch or two on others.

CO Tim Collette, from the Longville area of northern Minnesota, reports the ice is not safe for vehicle travel with several inches of snow over minimal ice.

Collette noted that an SUV and an ATV went through the ice last weekend on lakes in his area. He said both drivers escaped after cold swims with a valuable lesson about ice safety.

CO Brandon McGaw reports lakes in the Babbitt area of Minnesota’s Iron Range have six to eight inches of slush on top of four to six inches of ice.

While the DNR recommends four inches of new clear ice for ice activities on foot, slush adds weight and reduces the ice’s carrying capacity.

“Folks who are planning on heading out on the ice need to call ahead to a local bait shop or a resort on the lake, to find out the current conditions,” Smalley said.

For more ice safety information, visit www.mndnr.gov.

2009 Wild Turkey Stamp contest opens today
From the DNR

Artists can submit entries for Minnesota’s 2009 Wild Turkey Stamp Contest from Monday, Dec. 17, to Friday, Jan. 4, 2008, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Entries, which can be mailed or hand delivered, must be received by 4 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2008 to: 2009 Wild Turkey Stamp Contest, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4020.

The design should be securely wrapped and enclosed in an envelope or other container.

The words “Wild Turkey Stamp” should be clearly marked on the outside of the container. Late entries will not be accepted.

The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) must be the primary focus of the design.

Other wildlife species may be included in the design if they are used to depict a common interaction between species or are common inhabitants of Minnesota’s wild turkey range.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to development, restoration, maintenance and preservation of Minnesota’s wild turkey habitat.

The contest is open to Minnesota residents only and offers no prizes.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain the proceeds.

A contest entry form and reproduction rights agreement, which grants the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other promotional, educational and informational purposes related to wild turkeys, must be signed and submitted with the design.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries.

Any entry that contains photographic products will be disqualified.

Contest judges will include individuals with expertise in art, ornithology, hunting, conservation and/or printing.

Judging will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, at DNR headquarters on 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

For contest criteria and information contact the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040.

Information also is available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) and on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov, click on hunting, then click on turkey.

MN hunter charged with shooting trumpeter swan
From the DNR

A Lester Prairie, Minn., man faces a fine and restitution of $3,000 following his conviction for shooting and killing a trumpeter swan in Carver County on Oct. 13. State conservation officers Steve Walter and Aaron Kahre received a tip that an individual using a canoe was chasing and shooting at a trumpeter swan on Swan Lake, near Waconia.

When the officers reached the scene they discovered Chad T. Woodall, 21, did not have a hunting license, was using a shotgun that held more than three shells at a time, was driving with a suspended license, and did not have any personal flotation devices in the canoe.

He also did not possess a state or federal duck stamp, and wasn’t registered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Harvest Information Program that is designed to provide wildlife experts with better data for the management of migratory bird populations.

Every fall, officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warn waterfowl hunters to avoid mistakenly shooting the federally protected swans.

Notices are printed in Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting regulations and warning signs are posted on some lakes frequented by swans.

Despite those admonitions, a handful of swans still are shot each year.

“There’s really no excuse for shooting one because Minnesota hunters won’t encounter any other waterfowl as large as a trumpeter swan, one of the largest waterfowl in the world,” said Walter.

Walter said that trumpeter swans weigh 28 to 30 pounds or more, are 59 to 72 inches long with wingspans up to eight feet and a neck nearly as long as a football field.

Snow geese, in comparison, are smaller than the familiar Canada geese that populate the state. They average 25 to 31 inches long and weigh only 6 or 7 pounds.

“It’s like comparing a Volkswagen to a Cadillac,” Walter said.

Also, trumpeter swans are all white, while snow geese have distinct jetblack tips on their wings.

Woodall’s sentencing is set for Jan. 11 in Carver County District Court.

Question of the week
From the DNR

• Q: Buckthorn has become a major problem throughout the state.
Can planting native species help suppress the growth of buckthorn, especially after buckthorn is removed from an area?

A: Depending on the circumstances, restoring native plant species after buckthorn removal may help suppress the regrowth of buckthorn.

Without follow-up control of resprouting plants and seedlings that emerge after initial control, buckthorn will come right back.

Buckthorn seeds in the soil can remain viable for up to five years.

As a result, it is essential to monitor and manage buckthorn stands each year to suppress its growth, and allow native plants to establish.

The best time to cut and chemically treat the stumps is in late summer and throughout the fall.

Control methods are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov.

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