Now is the time to plan for 2008 deer license options

August 11, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesotans who intend to hunt deer this fall may want to start scouting their license-buying options now.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding hunters that 2008 deer hunting licenses will be a departure from the past.

“We’ve simplified license-buying and a number of regulations,” said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief. “And because of that, we ask that hunters, during this transition year, familiarize themselves with those options now. Our aim is to avoid potential confusion during the last-minute rush of license buying in early November.”

Deer hunting licenses are now available for purchase. The regulation book, which includes a color map, helps explain the new system.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator, said the new license options will benefit hunters in a number of ways.

For example, deer hunters now can buy multiple licenses for the specific types of hunting they do rather than a single inclusive license, have more flexibility in where they hunt, and may choose from a wider selection of firearms.

“Minnesota had more types of licenses and options than any other Midwestern state,” Cornicelli said. “The changes for the 2008 season fulfill the hunting community’s desire to dramatically simplify deer hunting regulations.”

The changes were developed by a group of stakeholders during the last year and approved by the Legislature this spring.

They allow deer hunters to buy a firearms, archery and muzzleloader license singly or in any combination.

This a la carte approach eliminates the all-season deer license and multi-zone buck license, which in many cases will save hunters money.

“We found that the vast majority of hunters who spent $78 on an all-season deer license were only hunting two seasons: archery and firearms or firearms and muzzleloader,” Cornicelli said. “The new regulations allow hunters to buy an archery and firearms license, for example, saving them $26 a year.”

Hunters need to be aware that bag limits in the area they choose to hunt take precedence over the number of licenses they can purchase.

Hunters can buy a maximum of three licenses – archery, firearms and muzzleloader – but not all deer areas allow hunters to harvest three deer.

Hunters should consult the regulation book to determine the bag limit for the deer area they hunt.

Deer areas are annually designated as lottery, managed, intensive, or early antlerless, so hunters should read the regulations to determine if they need to apply for an either-sex permit.

A second major revision consolidates the six traditional firearms zone licenses, the all-season deer license, and the multi-zone buck license into two license types: a statewide A license and a late southeast B season license.

The statewide A license is valid in all deer areas that begin on Nov. 8 and hunters are no longer required to stay in their traditional zone.

The $26 statewide A license is valid during the following seasons: Nov. 8-23 in northeastern Minnesota (deer areas in the 100 range); Nov. 8-16 in most of southern, central and northwestern Minnesota (deer areas in the 200 range); and Nov. 8-14 in southeastern Minnesota (deer areas in the 300 range).

The late southeast B license preserves the traditional nine-day season in southeastern Minnesota, which will begin Nov. 22 and end Nov. 30.

Hunters may purchase a regular firearms deer license in either the statewide A or late season B license, but not both.

The muzzleloader season runs statewide from Nov. 29–Dec. 14.

This year, any hunter can purchase a muzzleloader license. This new rule includes traditional 3B deer hunters who were formerly excluded from that season.

In areas of Minnesota where deer populations are below goals and either-sex permits are limited, hunters who opt to buy a firearms and a muzzleloader license must apply for an either-sex permit by Sept. 4.

Lottery winners will receive a permit valid for either the firearm or the muzzleloader season.

Hunters who purchase only a muzzleloader license in these areas can take an either-sex deer without applying in the lottery.

A third regulation revision allows hunters to harvest deer with firearms that shoot centerfire ammunition of .220 caliber or larger, which is consistent with the regulations of most other Midwestern states.

There no longer is a shell casing length provision.

Although the centerfire law has changed, the rifle-shotgun line has not, so hunters are cautioned to know what constitutes a legal firearm in the area they hunt.

The final regulation revision eliminates the need to for hunters to cut a notch in their license.

Tagging rules still require that the site tag be notched at the kill site to indicate time and date of kill and properly attached to the animal according to the regulations.

The only change is hunters do not need to validate their deer license.

Ducks Unlimited banquet at the Blue Note Sept. 9

The Winsted chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting its annual banquet Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

For additional information contact Doug Chalupsky at (612) 770-7848 or Dale Gatz at (320) 485-4274.

DNR encourages people to sign up for firearms safety classes now
From the DNR

Now is the time for people who plan to hunt this fall to sign up for a Firearms Safety Hunter Education class, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Youth can’t buy a hunting license in Minnesota and many other states unless the training is completed.

“Instructors throughout the state are gearing up for the rush right now,” said Capt. Michael Hammer, education program coordinator.

The purpose of the DNR hunter education course is to teach safe, responsible firearm handling in the field, in the vehicle, and in the home after hunting.

Through lectures, hands-on activities and videos, students learn about firearms, firearm safety, shooting fundamentals, and firearm and wildlife laws.

“While hunter education courses enable safer hunting, they also help hunters be more successful in their hunts—and emphasize ethical hunting behavior,” said Hammer. “Subjects covered include hunter responsibility, wildlife identification and management, game care, and more.”

In Minnesota, hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979, must complete a DNR Firearms Safety Training Course or equivalent course from another state before purchasing a license for big or small game. The course is also open to people who don’t hunt.

Hunter education courses are recommended for anyone who spends time in the outdoors, whether or not they intend to hunt, adds Hammer.

One of the courses, survival basics, can help out in any emergency situation.

In addition, firearm safety courses provide insight into how and why wildlife agencies manage resources – particularly by using hunting as a management tool.

The youth firearm safety class consists of a minimum of 12 hours of classroom and field experience in the safe handling of firearms and hunter responsibility.

Those 16 and older can complete the training through an independent study online course, or by acquiring an independent study guide and workbook available from a volunteer instructor.

Classes are now available but fill up fast, especially at this time of year.

For more information on local classes log on to www.mndnr.gov or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Volunteers on the trails making a difference
From the DNR

For conservation officers, members of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) Trail Ambassador Program are another set of eyes.

For trail riders, the ambassadors provide education about safe and responsible trail riding.

And the 69 ambassadors themselves have the satisfaction of trail protection along with the joys of community service.

“These folks came to training sessions earlier this year and said they wanted to help protect and preserve Minnesota’s trail system,” said 2nd Lt. Leland Owens, DNR Enforcement Recreational Vehicle coordinator. “And they have delivered. They give of their time, talent and energy. They are making a difference.”

Established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2007 to meet the growing number of motorized recreationalists in the state, the program exists to promote safe, environmentally responsible operation of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) through informational, educational contacts and monitoring efforts. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel-drive trucks.

Trail Ambassadors are specially trained volunteers sponsored by qualifying organizations.

They are assisting land manager efforts to provide a recognizable presence on the lands they enjoy, while offering a positive and informative role model for fellow OHV and trail users.

“We’ll be the motorized and non-motorized recreationalists best friend,” said Kevin Hennen of Pierz, a member of the Eastern Morrison County 4-Wheeler Club and a member of the DNR Trail Ambassador Program. “We’ll emphasize the positive things about the sport to everyone.”

Volunteer ambassadors are responsible for greeting fellow outdoor enthusiasts, educating trail users, giving minor aid in emergencies, and providing useful information about responsible OHV use on public lands.

And they’ll watch for more than reckless riders.

Through a special DNR training program they have learned to identify invasive plants and determine what constitutes trail damage.

The volunteers also received training in the use of Global Positioning Systems to note locations of trail damage, invasive plants, off-trail riding incidents and irresponsible or illegal OHV use. DNR Forestry, Trails & Waterways, and Enforcement staff teamed up to provide the training.

• Trail Ambassadors carry no law enforcement authority.

Their influence lies in their knowledge, friendliness and willingness to help others.

They have a high degree of commitment to maintaining the environment and the responsible use of OHVs on public lands.

The first fully qualified and trained ambassadors started working trails in May.

Reports from ambassadors like Hennen are forwarded to local conservation officers such as Paul Kuske who patrols parts of Morrison and Crow Wing counties where a portion of the Soo Line Trail is located.

“This is a way of empowering user groups to patrol their own ranks,” Kuske said. “And they are already proving valuable at Nemadji. St Croix, Chengwatana, General Andrews state forests.”

Ambassadors’ reporting data adds to the monitoring and assessment information that the DNR is now gathering for OHV work planning.

Their timely and accurate reports have helped Trails and Waterways’ staff continues to focus on top work priorities, adds Joe Russell, a supervisor in the Moose Lake area.

Volunteer Ambassadors also are reporting on unique wildlife sightings found while out on the trails.
For example, Trail Ambassadors with the Lake of the Woods/Roseau Sportsman Club reported the GPS location of Trumpeter Swans seen recently along the Krull and Carp Trails in Beltrami Island State Forest.

DNR Enforcement’s Owens said the volunteers are the core of the Trail Ambassador Program, but building public trust is essential for the program to succeed.

“It’s a new initiative so there’s a great focus on accountability, because public trust is essential to its success,” he adds. “Providing safe and ethical riding education, proper management of taxpayer assets and good stewardship of Minnesota’s trails systems are critical components of the Trail Ambassador Program. With the public’s support, volunteers on the trails will continue to make a difference.”

DNR K-9 team is among the best around
From the DNR

Hunter, a four-legged conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and his partner took fourth place overall honors at the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) Region 12 field trials held July 20-22 in Park Rapids. Hunter’s partner is Conservation Officer Travis Muyres of Ham Lake, a six-year DNR veteran and the dog’s handler for three years.

The competition included 84 K-9 units from Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.
Areas tested included agility, suspect search, evidence search, and obedience and criminal apprehension. All events were scored by USPCA certified judges.

“It’s pretty intense competition,” said Muyres, “but Hunter was more than up to the tasks.”
Conservation officers and police officers use their K-9s differently.

While police K-9s are largely used for officer protection and dealing with criminals, conservation officer dogs are used to find evidence in game and fish investigations.

“Hunter’s been invaluable in tracking down spent shells with human scent on them, and finding hidden fish and game,” Muyres said. “Hunter will attack someone only if I’m attacked.”
Col. Mark Johanson, the DNR’s interim chief conservation officer, adds, “Conservation Officer Muyres works very hard with Hunter and demands a lot of the dog. Watching them execute a search is impressive. They’re fast, efficient and, more important, very accurate. They make a good team.”

Bird watchers asked to look for banded martins
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking observers to contact the agency if they spot any of the color-banded nestling purple martins at colonies near Willmar, Brainerd, Mille Lacs Lake, St. Cloud and Rice.

The purpose of the banding is to study the dispersal and survival of the young martins after they fledge, their fidelity to their natal colonies, their long-term survival, and their lifetime productivity.

All banded martins have a silver-colored aluminum band on their left leg and a red color- band with white alphanumeric letters on their right leg.

The color bands have a vertical “MN” followed by a letter (this year “A”) followed by three or four digits from 001 to 1000.

“The color bands should be easy to read with a good pair of binoculars if the martin is sitting,” said Mike North, the DNR’s lead bander for the project.

“Even if the observer can’t read any or all of the band, we still want to hear where they saw the birds,” added Pam Perry, DNR Nongame wildlife lake specialist.

Next year the color-banded martins could show up in colonies up to 60 miles from their natal colonies. But most will find colonies within 30 miles from where they hatched, according to Kelly Applegate, biologist with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

One martin that fledged from the Willmar colony in July last year showed up near Lake Osakis in mid-August.

Birders who observe color-banded martins should notify Mike North at (320) 255-4279, ext. 235 or by e-mail at michael.north@dnr.state.mn.us.

DNR survey indicates wolf range similar to 2004
From the DNR

Minnesota’s gray wolf population has changed little in the past 10 years, according to a recent survey by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The preliminary estimate for the 2008 wolf populations is 2,922 animals, compared with the 1998 estimate of 2,450 and the 2004 estimate of 3,020.

The overall range of wolves in Minnesota has not changed since 1998, encompassing approximately 34,100 square miles of northern Minnesota.

According to Dr. John Erb, DNR wolf research biologist, “the recent survey indicates wolves currently occupy about 81 percent of this overall area, similar to results from the past two surveys (77 percent and 84 percent). Considering the estimated margin of error from each survey, the population estimates from the past three surveys are statistically similar,” Erb said. “The lack of notable change in wolf numbers is not surprising given that northern deer populations have remained relatively stable since 1998, and most forested portions of northern Minnesota are already occupied by wolves.”

According to the study, the average mid-winter pack size was 4.9 wolves.

Late winter generally represents the low point in the annual cycle, with pack size increasing again in early summer following pup production.

The study estimated that radio-marked wolf packs were occupying territories that averaged 40 square-miles in size, similar to results from the 2003-2004 survey.

In March 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the western Great Lakes region, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Wisconsin has about 550 wolves. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula also has 510 wolves.

Since the wolf was removed from the endangered species list, DNR has been managing gray wolves in accordance with state laws and a wolf management plan completed in 2001, said Dan Stark, DNR wolf management specialist.

“This survey presents more evidence that the gray wolf continues to be recovered in Minnesota, and that Minnesota’s state wolf management program is effectively protecting wolves,” Stark said.
The survey, completed last winter, used methods identical to the 1997-1998 and 2003-2004 surveys.

A variety of sources were used in estimating the wolf population, including field observations, habitat models, and data based on current radio telemetry studies.

Previous surveys were completed at 10-year intervals starting in 1978. Under state management, future wolf population surveys are being conducted at five-year intervals.

The complete 2008 wolf survey report will be available online at www.mndnr.gov by mid August.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: We see a lot of turtles crossing roads. Why? Is there anything we can do to help them cross safely?

A: The turtles we see crossing roads are typically painted and snapping turtles. Both species spend most of their time in lakes, ponds and wetlands, but lay their eggs in nests dug in dry, sandy and warm soils.

Since many roads are built skirting water bodies, our roads often separate a turtle’s home from its nesting area.

If the turtle can find the right type of soil near their home water body, they’ll use it.

However, they may often travel great distances to find a suitable nesting spot. And so, a turtle may have to cross the road to get to the other side to lay its eggs.

If you see a turtle crossing the road, you can help it cross safely. Be careful and watch for traffic.

Pick up the turtle by the back of its shell – never pick up a turtle by its tail. Move the turtle in the direction it is heading.

The painted and snapping turtles laid their clutches of eggs in June.

If the eggs survive predation, they are expected to hatch in late August, which means there’ll be even more turtles – quarter-sized hatchlings – crossing the road again, trying to get home.