Our stretch of five-plus years of mild winters is finally over, and we will probably see the effects in our local wildlife populations this spring.
Long, cold winters with stretches of significantly severe weather makes it tough for pheasants, deer, songbirds, and even fish.
Throw in habitat loss from more development and the reductions in Conservation Reserve Program acres, and wildlife populations locally and across the Midwest could really take a blow this winter.
Most noticeably will be the pheasant numbers. Even good quality habitat can only carry so many pheasants in an average winter. In a severe winter, like the one we are experiencing now, that capacity is even less.
We will most likely go into the spring nesting season with fewer birds than what we’ve seen in the last five years.
If nesting conditions are poor this spring, total pheasant numbers could drop by has much as 40 to 60 percent compared to the last few years.
Although whitetail deer numbers may not be impacted much at all, if the winter doesn’t drag out, shallow lakes in our area could take a real beating with winter kill.
Early ice-over followed by significant snow cover are perfect ingredients for oxygen depletion in shallow lakes.
That oxygen depletion will probably create the most significant winter kill issue we have had in quite some time.
Look for several lakes to open up for liberalized fishing later this winter.
Finally, it was darn cold last week. So cold I actually burned some skin off my hand when I grabbed a snow shovel with my bare hands.
Behind my garage the gauge hanging above the shovel read 38 below zero.
63rd annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby
The 63rd annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby will take place Saturday, Feb. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Howard Lake.
Prior to the derby stop by The Country Store in Howard Lake for a University of Minnesota Raptor Center presentation from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by a Minnesota cultivated wild rice recipe tasting from 11 a.m. to noon.
There will also be store door prize drawings at 11:30 a.m. at The Country Store (must be present to win).
For additional information on the derby, contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.
Firearm safety classes in Glencoe
The lower level of Lindy’s Cafe in Glencoe will be the location for firearm safety classes Saturday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 14.
Classes will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are available for students (12 years old by Dec. 31, 2009) and adults.
Beverages and lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Bob Polifka at (320) 864-6268.
Watertown Rod & Gun Club to host annual sportsman banquet
The Watertown Rod & Gun Club will be hosting its 13th annual Family Sportsman Banquet Saturday, March 7.
Look for additional information in the weeks to come.
Minnesota Deer Hunter banquet
The Minnesota River Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will be hosting their annual banquet Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Shakopee.
Social hour begins at 5 p.m., and tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 16 and under.
To purchase tickets, call Barb Breeggemann at (952) 445-4396.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Proceeds from this event are used for youth hunter education, deer habitat improvement, and maintaining the Shakopee Archery Range.
MDHA state habitat 22nd banquet
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is proud to announce their 22nd Annual State Habitat Banquet to take place Sat., Feb. 28, at the Minneapolis Gateway Hotel, formerly the Four Points Sheraton, in Minneapolis.
Designed specifically to raise matching grant dollars for state-wide wildlife habitat projects, festivities will begin with a social hour and raffle ticket sales at 4:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program at 6 p.m.
MDHA will be giving away prizes to include the 2009 MDHA Gun of the Year, a Remington Model 700 30.06; the 2009 MDHA Print of the Year, “Something is in the Air” by Scot Storm; and many, many more.
Tickets to the State Habitat Banquet are available from the MDHA State Headquarters for $45.
To order your tickets, call 800-450-DEER ext. 12 or fax a ticket order form, found at www.mndeerhunters.com, to (218) 327-1349.
There will be no tickets sold at the door, so be sure to get yours early as there are a limited number of tickets available.
MDHA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization composed of approximately 20,000 members and 63 chapters throughout Minnesota “working for tomorrow’s wildlife and hunters today through education, habitat and legislation.”
Join the fun, attend the banquet and help us ensure a positive future for our outdoor heritage.
Richfield resident wins 2010 turkey stamp design contest
From the DNR
A painting of three turkeys near an old barn by Timothy Turenne, Richfield, will be featured on Minnesota’s 2010 Wild Turkey Stamp.
Turenne’s design was chosen from among 10 entries in a contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This is the second turkey stamp contest win for Turenne.
Four entries advanced to the second stage of judging, from which two finalists were selected during the contest conducted Jan. 8 at DNR Headquarters in St. Paul. The second place finalist was Laurence Huls of Avon.
An artist whose work is selected for a Minnesota fish or wildlife stamp receives no compensation from the DNR but does retain reproduction and marketing rights.
The 2010 turkey stamp contest judges were: Eric Linder, National Wild Turkey Federation regional director; Dick Oehlenschlager, curator/collections manager Science Museum of Minnesota; Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring coordinator; Don Dittberner, Outdoor News and Dick Kimmel, DNR farmland research group leader.
The Minnesota Wild Turkey Stamp was authorized by the 1996 Minnesota Legislature at the request of turkey hunters.
Stamp revenue is used for wild turkey management and research.
Revenues from stamp sales are dedicated to the development, restoration, maintenance and preservation of wild turkey habitat in Minnesota.
MN fish shelters require identification
From the DNR
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers remind ice anglers that all fish houses, dark houses, and portable shelters placed on the ice and left unattended overnight must be properly identified.
“Some people abandon or burn shelters as the March 1 or March 16 removal date draws near, creating an eyesore and a potential safety hazard,” said Capt. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement acting director. “Conservation officers can monitor shelters that are properly identified.”
The March 1 deadline is for shelters located south of an east-west line formed by US Hwy 10, east along Hwy 34 to Minnesota Hwy 200, east along Hwy 200 to US Hwy 2 East along Hwy 2 to the Minnesota -Wisconsin border. The March 16 date is for shelters north of that line.
Dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must be legibly marked on the outside with one of three forms of identification in figures at least two inches high.
Those forms of identification include the owner’s complete name and address; drivers license number; or nine-digit Minnesota DNR license number.
Other shelter regulations include:
• a license is not required on border waters with Wis., Iowa, ND, and SD
• a tag, furnished with a license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location
• dark houses, fish houses, and portable shelters must have a door that can be opened from the outside at any time when in use
• fish houses left on the ice overnight need to have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side of the house
• fish houses must comply with the identification requirements of the state for which the angler is licensed
• no person may erect a dark house, fish house, or shelter within 10 feet of an existing dark house, fish house, or shelter
• portable dark houses, fish houses, and shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night; the structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.
More information about ice shelters is available on the DNR web site.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: Winter heating bills have been relatively high the past couple winters. How can planting trees help lower energy bills in the winter and summer?
A: Shade trees can reduce air conditioning bills by nearly 25 percent and reduce annual fuel bills by up to 20 percent.
Also, trees around the community help keep us cool in summer and shelter us from harsh winter winds.
In order to achieve these savings and benefits, trees should be strategically located on your property and throughout your neighborhood.
For example, avoid planting shade trees near south-facing windows.
If a tree already blocks a south-facing window, remove the lower branches.
The angle of the sun is much lower in the winter, so not blocking these windows will allow you to take full advantage of the free solar energy when it’s cold outside.
On a regional scale, trees could significantly reduce energy use during peak load periods and reduce air pollution.
More information on how trees can lower your energy bills can be found on the DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/treecare/energy/index.html.