DNR reminds parents of ice danger for children

December 1, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns parents to caution their children to stay off ponds and other water bodies that now have a thin coating of ice.

“Every season, people fall through ice they thought was safe,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “It’s especially tragic when these incidents involve children. A quarter of the people who die by falling through the ice are 9 years old or younger.”

As of Nov. 26, no ice in Minnesota is consistently four inches thick, the minimum experts recommend for walking.

Ice safety guidelines also recommend a minimum of five inches of new, clear ice for snowmobiles, and eight to 12 inches for a small to medium-sized automobile, pickup or SUV.

During holidays, children are often sent outside to play while meals are being prepared and presents are being wrapped.

Parents are advised to keep those children away from frozen water bodies near home.

“Many years around the holidays, we receive reports of children falling through ice and drowning. It’s just so incredibly tragic,” Smalley said. “Kids are attracted to ice like a magnet. They just don’t know how much ice it takes to support a person, nor what is or isn’t safe.”

Smalley said children should not go out on the ice without adult supervision, even when conditions improve.

The DNR recommends contacting a local bait shop or resort at the destination lake to find out if ice is safe for the planned activities.

Winter sports enthusiasts can obtain a free packet of ice safety information by calling 651-296-6157 in the Twin Cities area or toll-free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Computer users can go to the DNR’s ice safety web page at www.mndnr.gov/safety/ice.

Ice fishing season got started last week

Although many lakes in the area, like Howard, froze over Wed., Nov. 26 and opened up again on Thanksgiving Day, there was enough ice on some of the smaller lakes for ice fishing.

I received several reports that a few local and aggressive ice anglers were pulling out small portables and drilling holes on Hydes Lake near Norwood Young America Wednesday morning.

It was also reported anglers were on Winsted, Ida, Little Waverly, and Collinwood.

I have a hard time believing anyone was on Collinwood Wednesday, and I haven’t been able to confirm the Collinwood report.

Ice or no ice, the ice fishing season has started and we all have to remember, including those late season pheasant hunters and muzzleloader deer hunters, that no ice, especially early ice, is ever completely safe.

Look for lakes like Jenni, Big Waverly, Buffalo, and Dutch to provide good early ice action this year.

The latest ice-over date recorded for Howard Lake is Dec. 20, which occurred 1998 and 2001.

• Moving on, most local deer hunters reported a dismal season this year and many of them are wondering actually how much lower this years’ harvest was compared to last year’s.

Last week, the DNR reported an approximate 11 percent decline in harvest totals compared to last year.

A 15 percent decline in the 100 series of permit areas (zone 1); a 4 percent decline in the 200 series of permit areas; and a slight increase in zone 3.

Many local hunters will have a hard time believing there was only a 4 percent decline in zone 2 or across the farmland region.

Beginning today, Monday, Dec. 1, Minnesota pheasant hunters will be able to harvest three roosters daily and have nine in possession that is an increase from two and six.

The change in bag limit marks the first time in 40 years Minnesota hunters will be able to bag three birds in a day. The Minnesota pheasant hunting season ends Friday, Jan. 4

Remember to wear blaze orange when you’re outdoors, the muzzleloader deer hunting season opened Saturday and runs through Sunday, Dec. 14.

Montrose Ducks Unlimited to host fundraising event

The newly formed Montrose Ducks Unlimited chapter will host its first annual fundraising event Thursday, Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Montrose Community Center, located at 200 Center Avenue South in Montrose.

Every 10 minutes, an acre of wetlands is lost in the United States. In Minnesota, 80 percent of the wetlands have been lost.

Citizens can help protect and restore those valuable wetlands by attending a local Ducks Unlimited (DU) fundraising event.

DU has full-time staff on the ground in Minnesota conducting the much needed wetland conservation work. All monies raised goes into habitat work.

More than 80 percent of the dollars raised through local fundraising events goes into conservation programs throughout Minnesota and North America.

Since 1937 DU has restored, enhanced, or protected nearly 12 million acres of habitat in North America. More than 200,000 acres of habitat have been directly impacted in Minnesota through DU conservation programs. In 2007 alone, DU conserved 24,000 acres in Minnesota.

The “Living Lakes Initiative” will restore and protect 300 shallow lakes in Minnesota over the next 10 years. This initiative will help preserve Minnesota’s rich water fowling heritage and fulfill some specific conservation needs.

For more information on the Montrose DU event, contact Ronald Carlson at (763) 221-4985 or go to mn.ducks.org.

“More habitat on the ground = more ducks in the sky.”

Prairie Archers to host steak/shrimp dinner

Prairie Archers in Lester Prairie will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Call in your reservation before 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 to either Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.

New licensing regulations allow hunters to participate in muzzleloader season
From the DNR

Minnesota’s upcoming muzzleloader deer season is open to any eligible hunter even if that hunter participated in the regular firearm season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“New this year, firearm deer hunters now can purchase a muzzleloader license,” said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR’s big game program coordinator. “The change, implemented as part of deer season regulation simplification, gives deer hunters another opportunity to get out in the field.”

The 16-day statewide muzzleloader season begins Nov. 29 and ends Dec. 14.

Before an “a la carte” deer licensing system was implemented this year, only hunters with an all-season license could hunt during both the regular firearms and muzzleloader seasons.

“Muzzleloader hunting has been gaining in popularity the last few years, but to participate in both the regular firearms and the muzzleloader seasons, people had to purchase a higher priced license,” Cornicelli said. “Hunters asked for more opportunities, so now hunters can simply buy licenses for their seasons of choice.”

Hunters must adhere to the bag limits for the deer area they are hunting.

People can buy extra licenses but the bag limit, which varies depending on deer area, dictates how many deer can be tagged by one individual.

The statewide bag limit is five deer regardless of where each of those deer is taken.

Hunters should refer the 2008 hunting regulations book for complete information on the muzzleloader deer season and associated bag limits.

A muzzleloader license is valid for either-sex deer in managed and intensive deer areas.

Hunters in lottery areas who buy both a firearm and muzzleloader license can take an either-sex deer only if they were successful in the September lottery.

Hunters with only a muzzleloader license who did not purchase a regular firearms license can take a deer of either sex in lottery areas without an either-sex permit.

Spring turkey application deadline approaching
From the DNR

Turkey hunters have until Jan. 9 to apply for the 2009 spring hunt, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“The spring turkey application deadline tends to sneak up on hunters, so we extended the process this year,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “Although we’ve allowed additional time, we encourage hunters to apply early and avoid the last-minute rush.”

Hunters can apply for one of 42,328 permits to hunt a five- or seven-day season in one of 76 permit areas.

Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested a record 10,944 birds.

This spring’s hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons, with all participants chosen by lottery.

Hunters not chosen will be eligible to purchase surplus turkey permits, which will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis in mid March.

Those not chosen will also earn preference points, increasing their chances of being drawn in future years.

Archery spring turkey licenses will again be available for residents and nonresidents.

Archery spring turkey licenses may be purchased for the last two time periods only in any permit area with 50 or more applicants.

Successful spring lottery applicants who hunt with a bow do not need to purchase a separate archery license.

Turkey hunters may harvest only one bird regardless of hunting method, and must hunt within the permit area and season listed on their licenses.

The $18 turkey license and $5 turkey stamp have been combined into one fee, creating a new $23 license cost, which does not include the $3 application fee or any transaction fees.

As in the past, all $5 stamp proceeds will be placed into a dedicated account used strictly for turkey management.

The 2009 wild turkey lottery application booklets are available at 1,800 license agents statewide or online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting.

The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and an application worksheet.

Hunters should complete the application worksheet in advance to ease the process at the license agent.

A special landowner-tenant preference drawing for up to 20 percent of the permits also will be conducted.

Successful drawing applicants will be mailed the 2009 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book in February.

For more information, visit the DNR Web site or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Migration Reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

• Name: Ben Cade
Date: November 26, 2008
Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: We have had lows in the teens and highs in the upper thirties lately with no major weather systems.
Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: Most area lakes are frozen with up to three inches of ice in some places. Local rivers are still being used for roosting locations as well as some of the deeper lakes which will take some time to freeze over. In some areas, birds are keeping shallow lakes open while roosting at night.

Feeding Conditions: Birds have been hitting chisel plowed corn fields almost exclusively. In some areas, they have turned to once a day feeding especially after a cold and clear night.

Species and Numbers: We have an excellent number of Canada geese around as well as groups of several hundred mallards. Diving ducks can be found where there is open water.

Migrations: Nothing new since the last major cold snap. Look for north winds to bring a good trickle of new birds.

Season Stage: Our duck season ends Tuesday, December 2. Late season goose hunting begins on December 13.

Hunting Report: Hunting has been very good. A chisel plowed corn field provided a good bag of greenheads and Canada geese for our group on Saturday and Sunday. Those who have been doing their scouting have been filling the freezer lately.

Gossip: Guys who are packing up the waterfowl hunting gear for the season are missing out on some of the best decoying action of the year. Birds are becoming very fun to work over the field decoys. I expect good hunting for the remainder of the year, especially if we get some accumulating snow.

Furbearer registration begins Dec. 9
From the DNR

Minnesota trappers can register bobcat, fisher, pine marten and otter furs beginning Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 30 locations throughout the state.

Furbearers also may be registered by appointment with area wildlife managers.

All species can be registered Dec. 9 between noon and 7 p.m.

Only bobcat and otter furs can be registered Tuesday, Jan. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m.

A misprint in the 2008 Hunting and Trapping Regulations lists the incorrect date for furbearer registration at Cook, Grand Marais, Finland and Two Harbors.

These stations will register all species of furs Dec. 4 and Dec. 9 between noon and 7 p.m. Bobcat and otter furs can be registered at these stations from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 6.

The DNR requires anyone who takes a bobcat, fisher, pine marten or otter to register the fur before the pelt is sold or removed from the state and no more than 48 hours after the season closes.

Details on furbearer registration are available on pages 51-53 of the 2008 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

To speed up the registration process, trappers are encouraged to bring the following information for each animal to be registered: date taken as well as county, township and range where taken.

Furbearer registration forms are available at wildlife offices and online at http://mndnr.gov/hunting/smallgame/index.html.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: With snow in the air, folks are getting ready to ride their snowmobiles. What are the educational requirements for the legal operation of a snowmobile?

A: Current statute requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976, to take a safety-training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters.

Two types of courses are available. First, there is a course for those 11 years old and older, which is an 11-hour introductory course designed for youth or riders with little or no experience, and includes hands-on training.

Second, for those 16 years old and older, there is an independent study CD-based course where students learn at home.

Once they have successfully completed their courses, students print and mail a certificate of completion to the DNR.

Both these courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents in Minnesota, and how to avoid them.

Volunteers teach classes across the state.

Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR’s Web site at www.mndnr.gov.