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DNR to discuss Smith Lake management Oct. 8

September 1, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct a public meeting to discuss proposed changes to the management of Smith Lake in Wright County at 7 p.m., Oct. 8 at the Cokato Township Hall, 14987 SW 30th St., Cokato.

The DNR is proposing to formally designate Smith Lake for wildlife management and to restrict boats there to non-motorized watercraft or those with electric motors (12-volt maximum motor size) in order to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Located two miles east of Cokato, Smith Lake is a 330-acre shallow basin that has long been considered an important waterfowl migration lake.

At present, Smith Lake is in a degraded condition typical of many shallow lakes in central Minnesota, with poor water quality likely caused by high water levels, excessive nutrients and over-abundant carp.

Designation of Smith Lake as a wildlife lake would give DNR authority to conduct periodic drawdowns by way of a control structure to limit rough fish populations and to facilitate wildlife habitat improvements, including re-establishment of aquatic vegetation.

The DNR installed a fish barrier at the outlet of Smith Lake in 2005, but lack of a fish winterkill in the lake prior to installation of the barrier has prevented habitat and water quality improvements.

To maintain the abundance and diversity of aquatic plants once they are restored to the basin, the DNR is also proposing restrictions on motorized boats.

Motorized boats can damage aquatic plants in shallow areas and they can disturb nesting and feeding wildlife.

The purpose of the October meeting is to inform the public of the proposed management plan and gather input.

The management plan may be revised based on input received and the final plan will be presented at a formal public hearing at a later date.

Written comments may be submitted to DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor Fred Bengtson, 940 Industrial Drive S., Suite 103, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379, or to DNR Shallow Lakes Program Supervisor Nicole Hansel-Welch, 1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401.

Comments also can be e-mailed to Fred.Bengtson@dnr.state.mn.us.

Roadside wildlife counts to be released Sept. 9
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will release its annual roadside wildlife survey Tuesday, Sept. 9.

The report summarizes roadside counts of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits and other wildlife observed in the early morning hours during the first two weeks of August throughout the farmland region of Minnesota.

Observers surveyed 171 25-mile routes, 152 of which were located in the ring-necked pheasant range.

Anglers needed to reel in AEDs and bring Project Lifesaver to Wright County

Sign up now to compete in Buffalo Hospital Foundation’s second annual fishing tournament, Saturday, Sept. 20, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Buffalo Lake. To register, call (763) 684-6800.

The fishing tournament will raise funds to support Project Lifesaver and Heart Safe Communities, two initiatives designed to save lives in Wright County.

Buffalo Hospital Foundation will use funds raised from the fishing tournament to help launch Project Lifesaver in Wright County.

Project Lifesaver uses state-of-the-art technology to track lost children and adults dealing with Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and related disorders.

Participants wear a wrist band with a radio transmitter.

If that person ever goes missing, emergency agencies use a mobile tracking system to locate them.
The average recovery time is less than 30 minutes.

When Keith Kennedy, an adult with Autism, walked away from a Wisconsin camp this past June, it took hundreds of searchers one week to find him.

Currently, five Minnesota counties and the city of New Brighton, use Project Lifesaver.

Heart Safe Communities provides Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and the training needed for Wright County’s first responders.

The most effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an electric shock to the heart, called defibrillation.

This shock is administered by an AED and police officers are typically the first to arrive at the scene.
AEDs already placed through the county have been credited for saving more than a dozen lives.

• Tournament details

Registration and boat checks for the fishing tournament begin at 6:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. The tournament runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Entry fee is $100 per two-person team. Depth finders and live bait are permitted.

Winners are determined by largest fish in total weight in pounds and ounces for each category (walleye, bass and northern).

Winners will receive a trophy and cash: 1st place – $350; 2nd place – $100; 3rd place – $50.

To register, call Buffalo Hospital Foundation at (763) 684-6800.

Registrations will be accepted up to the day of the tournament.

• Sponsorship opportunities, donations

Consider becoming a major sponsor, registering a fishing team, donating a cash gift or silent auction item. Your support will help save lives in Wright County.

For $50, you can sponsor a large bobber with your name or organization on it to line a park walkway.

Call (763) 684-6800 for more information.

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.

Crow River Clean Up Day moves into fifth year
From the CROW

The fifth annual Crow River Clean Up Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13 starting at 8 a.m.

The Crow River Clean Up Day began in 2002 and has continued to evolve over the past five years.

The clean up started in 2002 with citizens groups in Rockford, Hanover, and Delano.

The clean up activities inspired Diane Sander, Watershed Coordinator for the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) to organize a regional event that would encompass the entire watershed.

In the past four years, the CROW, a 10 County Joint Powers Organization has helped coordinate over 1,040 volunteers to remove over 30 tons of trash from 118 miles of shoreline on the Crow River and its tributaries.

The Crow River Clean Up Day is a one-day event. Clean up activities start at 8 a.m. and run until noon in each community.

Following the clean up, volunteers enjoy a sponsor provided lunch while they admire their piles of trash.

Each volunteer receives a t-shirt commemoration the event as a thank you for all their hard work.

Planning for the Sept. 13 event had already begun. The CROW is assisting interested groups to organize clean ups across the watershed.

If you are interested in the clean up or other outreach programs, contact the CROW at (763) 628-1933, ext. 112.

Public comments on special fishing regulations sought statewide
From the DNR

Special and experimental fishing regulations for walleye, bass, crappie, sunfish, northern pike and lake sturgeon will be the subject of nine public meetings that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct across the state in the coming weeks.

The DNR will use Input gathered at these meetings to help determine whether to extend, modify or drop two existing experimental regulations and move forward with nine proposals for new special regulations.

Also, the department will review a proposal to modify the existing angling season and minimum length requirement for lake sturgeon on Lake St. Croix and the St. Croix River in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“Fisheries managers welcome the opportunity to hear opinions from anglers,” said Al Stevens, DNR fisheries program consultant. “Public participation is critical in determining whether proposed and existing regulations are meeting angler expectations.”

Special and experimental regulations are intended to produce a quality fish population that can sustain increasing angling pressure and improved angler efficiency.

During the past 20 years, fisheries managers have monitored a variety of regulations across Minnesota.

Lakes with special or experimental regulations are regularly evaluated to determine the effectiveness of special regulations.

Currently, there are special or experimental regulations in effect on about 7 percent of Minnesota’s fishable lakes.

“Much has been learned from our efforts to improve fish populations with length and bag limits,” Stevens said. “If successful, special or experimental regulations can be replicated on similar waters where fisheries managers and anglers agree they would help improve or maintain quality fishing.”

Lakes with proposed new special regulations or regulations that will be evaluated this year were posted at public access points this spring.

Public notices for each meeting will be published in local newspapers.

For more information about a specific meeting, contact your local DNR fisheries office.

Written or verbal comments will be accepted at local fisheries offices up to 10 days following a local meeting.

Telephone numbers and addresses of local fisheries offices can be found on pages 74-75 of the 2008 Fishing Regulations booklet, or online at http://mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html.

Those unable to attend a local meeting may attend an open house from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul.

Staff will be available to take comments on any proposal.

Comments also may be submitted via e-mail until Monday, Oct. 6, to al.stevens@dnr.state.mn.us or by calling (651) 259-5239.

The open house in our area is scheduled for:

• Wright County/Sylvia and West Sylvia lakes: New regulation proposal for sunfish, crappie, walleye, largemouth bass, northern pike. Sept. 13, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Southside Town Hall, 8209 County Road 3 NW, Annandale.

DNR asks bear hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears
From the DNR

Hunters participating in this fall’s bear hunt, which opens Sept. 1, should avoid shooting radio-collared animals to aid researchers in collecting valuable data about Minnesota’s black bear population, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR researchers are monitoring about 30 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota near Thief Lake, New Main, Twin Lakes, Pelan, Beaches Lake, Skull Lake and Caribou wildlife management areas and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge.

Additional radio-collared bears reside in areas in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.

The Wildlife Research Institute near Ely is monitoring an additional 15 bears.

“Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for collared bears,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. “But bears, especially those that live at the edge of Minnesota’s bear range, travel widely looking for food in the fall and may move up to 50 miles away from their normal summer home range.”

Most of the monitored bears are fitted with highly visible blaze orange colored collars.

Many of the collars contain global positioning devices that collect and store data that is downloaded when researchers visit the bears in their winter dens.

“We’re asking that hunters find other bears to harvest,” Garshelis said. “Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals, and the data stored in their collars is extremely valuable for monitoring the dynamics of our bear population.”

DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar in some situations, and taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.

“We’re simply asking hunters to cooperate with research efforts, which provides information that helps wildlife professionals monitor and manage the bear population,” Garshelis said. “Ultimately much of this information benefits hunters as well as researchers.”

Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at (218) 327-4146 or (218) 327-4133.

Special hunting validation offers first-hand opportunity for beginners
From the DNR

Experienced hunters can adopt an apprentice this fall and introduce someone new to hunting with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) apprentice hunter validation.

“Apprentice hunter programs like Minnesota’s are providing more opportunities for participation and making it easier than ever for youth and young adults to try hunting,” said Jay Johnson, DNR hunter recruitment and retention program supervisor. “Enjoying Minnesota’s outdoors in the fall with family and friends is easier than ever.”

During the 2007 hunting season, more than 2,800 young men and women throughout Minnesota utilized the apprentice hunter validation program.

A recent survey of participants showed that 76 percent either would not have gone hunting or were not sure if they would have hunted without the program. And 91 percent of participants said they plan to continue hunting.

“The program is a powerful recruitment tool,” Johnson said. “More importantly, it gives people a chance to experience hunting first-hand without requiring that they make an up-front investment of a significant amount of time before trying the sport.”

Apprentice hunter validation costs $3.50 and is available from any of the 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) vendors in Minnesota.

Individuals possessing the validation can hunt for one season without first having to satisfy firearm safety training requirements, which stipulate that people born after Dec. 31, 1979, who are 12 or older complete training before they can hunt popular species such as whitetail deer and wild turkeys.

A licensed, adult hunter must accompany an apprentice hunter in the field.

The two must be within unaided sight and speaking distance of each other at all times.

Depending on their age, apprentice hunters also must purchase all applicable licenses and stamps for the type of hunting they plan to do.

Getting apprentice hunters into a firearms safety program so they can keep hunting in 2008 and beyond is a priority for the agency, said Capt. Michael Hammer, education coordinator for the DNR enforcement division.

“We offer courses taught by local volunteer in almost every community in the state,” he said. “That means parents must make it a priority to get their son or daughter into local firearms safety hunter education course. Those 16 years and older have the option of home study or online version of the course.”

For information about Apprentice Hunter Validation or Firearms Safety Hunter Education programs, visit www.mndnr.gov or call 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Minnesota’s fields and forest offer prime youth hunting opportunities
From the DNR

Extensive research about youth participation in hunting has been conducted in recent years, and the results are in.

Young people become hunters because adults take them hunting, and the earlier that kids start hunting the more likely they are to hunt for the rest of their lives.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering several special opportunities to make taking a young person hunting a little easier.

• Take a Kid Hunting Weekend:

Adult residents who go small game hunting with a youth under age 16 on Sept. 20-21 can do so without a license.

Squirrels, rabbits, grouse and doves provide opportunities for an enjoyable hunt throughout the state.

Resident youth under age 16 do not need a Small Game license, and kids under age 12 can hunt small game without a Firearms Safety Certificate when a legal guardian accompanies them.

• Youth Waterfowl Day:

Sept. 20 is Youth Waterfowl Day. Kids under age 16 may hunt waterfowl in Minnesota on this day, prior to the opening of the regular waterfowl season.

An adult must accompany youth under age 14, but may not hunt.

• Northwest Minnesota Youth Anterless Deer Season:

A special season for youth 12-14 years old and their non-hunting adult parent of guardian is scheduled for Oct.18-19. Lands within Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, and Roseau counties are open for this hunt.

• Future Pheasant Hunters Weekend:

Together with the Minnesota Chapters of Pheasants Forever, the DNR is encouraging pheasant hunters to take a kid pheasant hunting the weekend of Oct. 25-26.

The DNR offers the following suggestions for those taking out young hunters:

– focus on the young hunter, and make sure that they are comfortable and well rested

– stay close to them, and emphasize safety at all times

– emphasize ethics, and demonstrate good conduct in the field

– take the pressure off them to measure the success of the hunt by the amount of game in the bag

– make sure their clothing and firearms fit them

– Make sure everyone has fun; hunting shouldn’t feel like work.

For more information about the upcoming hunting season and hunting regulations, consult the 2008 Hunting Regulations Handbook or go to www.mndnr.gov.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: There has been a lot of news coverage recently about water birds and Newcastle disease. Will this disease affect songbirds?

A: No. There have been no documented cases of virulent Newcastle Disease in songbirds.

This does not rule out the possibility that some individual songbirds may die, but it is highly unlikely that it would impact them on a population level.

To the best of my knowledge, virulent Newcastle has only been documented in wild double-crested cormorants, American white pelicans, and ring-billed gulls to date.