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Walleye, sunfish, and morels

May 18, 2009

by Chris Schultz

In the spring, especially over the Memorial Day weekend, there’s nothing like a meal of fried walleye or sunfish and morel mushrooms.

I haven’t heard any reports on morels yet, but they should be out soon.

The best time to hunt for morels is when the lilacs are blooming.

The best morel hunting comes after heavy spring rains, followed by a few days of hot, humid and sunny weather.

Moving on to fish, my opening weekend consisted of never getting the boat in the water and a few hours of shore fishing on a couple local ponds.

Heavy winds and cold weather slowed our motivation and the fishing wasn’t much different.

Between myself and my kids, we caught four sunfish, one small northern, and one perch.

Other than my own personal experience, I’ve heard very little local news from the fishing opener and no great reports on any particular lake.

Look for the sunfish spawn to start in about two weeks

The largemouth bass fishing season opens Saturday, May 23. Good bass lakes in our area include, Rebecca, Mary, Howard, Clearwater, Stella, Marion and Union.

Good luck fishing, and have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Lake Ann to have visioning session in June

There will be a “Visioning/Planning Session,” where the Lake Ann Improvement Association will identify key community concerns, assets, opportunities, and priorities.

Everyone who is interested in, or concerned about Lake Ann is encouraged to join us for a roll and cup of coffee Saturday, June 6 at 8:30 a.m. at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, located at 8700 Co. Rd. 6 SW in Howard Lake.

The planning session will be facilitated by John Sumption of Cass County Environmental Services, and is planned for 9 to 11 a.m.

The Lake Ann Improvement Association was invited to participate in the Initiative Foundation’s “Healthy Lakes and Rivers Partnership” program, along with seven other lake associations in Wright County.

For more information, contact Deb Stenberg at (320) 543-3193 ext. 102, or (612) 619-3070.

MN DNR assumes management of state wolf population
From the DNR

Minnesota’s wolves have been removed from the federal endangered species list, allowing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to manage the state’s wolf population.

Wolves in Minnesota, considered part of the Great Lakes population of wolves, were delisted in March 2007, but a federal court ruling last September reinstated the wolf’s status as threatened, based on technical questions about procedural aspects of the delisting rulemaking.

After re-examining its legal authority, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reissued its delisting decision in March 2009 with an effective date of May 4.

“After the initial 18 months of state wolf management, Minnesota demonstrated the effectiveness of ensuring long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota and resolving conflicts between wolves and humans,” said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “Wolf recovery is a great conservation success story.”

Minnesota’s wolf management plan is designed to protect wolves and monitor their population while giving owners of livestock and domestic pets more protection from wolf depredation.

It splits the state into two management zones with more protective regulations in the northern third of Minnesota, which is considered the wolf’s core range.

“The major change with state management is that it allows individuals to directly protect their animals from wolf depredation, subject to certain restrictions,” said Dan Stark, DNR wolf management specialist. “In addition, the state-certified gray wolf predator control program will be available to individuals as another option to deal with livestock depredation.”

Minnesota’s management plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure long-term wolf survival.

The state’s wolf population, estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, has stabilized at about 3,000 wolves.

Under state law, no public hunting or trapping seasons on wolves is allowed for at least five years after delisting.

Federal law also requires USFWS to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure recovery continues.

Similar to federal regulations, the state plan allows anyone to take a wolf to defend human life.

Pet owners also may shoot or destroy a gray wolf posing an immediate threat on any property as long as the owner is supervising the pet.

Owners of livestock, guard animals or domestic animals may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to their animals on property they own or lease, in accordance with local statutes.

Immediate threat means the observed behavior of a gray wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock, a guard animal or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner.

In the southern two-thirds of the state (Zone B), a person may shoot a gray wolf at any time to protect livestock, domestic animals or pets on land they own, lease or manage. For a detailed description of Minnesota’s wolf management zones go to www.mndnr.gov/wolves/zones.

Regardless of location, a person shooting or destroying a gray wolf must protect all evidence, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours and surrender the wolf carcass.

Unlike federal regulations, state regulations allow harassment of wolves that come within 500 yards of people, buildings, livestock or domestic pets.

Activities that discourage wolves from contacting people and domestic animals are allowed, but wolves cannot be attracted or searched out, and harassment activities cannot cause physical harm.

To ensure a seamless transition from federal to state wolf management and to address immediate conflicts between wolves and livestock, the long-standing wolf depredation control program managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services office in Grand Rapids will continue under a cooperative agreement with the DNR.

Additional details as well as the complete wolf management plan, zone maps, population survey information and frequently asked questions are available online at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.

DNR urges people to report wildfires to authorities
From the DNR

With four fatalities caused by wildfires already this spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds people who see a fire, or who have a fire on their property, to call 911 and request fire department assistance.

While it may seem important for people to fight a fire when it escapes their control, calling early for assistance is the best action they can take, according to Curt Cogan, DNR Forestry enforcement supervisor.

Waiting to call until the fire cannot be controlled can be dangerous.

The majority of deaths this year have been older people, Cogan noted. “Loved ones should encourage family members who are burning debris piles to have a back-up plan and a phone nearby,” he advised.

“People should call for emergency assistance because fire department and agency personnel have proper protective gear, training and tools to suppress fires,” said Cogan. “These professionals are also accustomed to the rigors and stress of battling a fire. A burned field, meadow, or structure is minor compared to the loss of life.”

The state averages about one death per 1,000 wildfires. So far this spring, there have been about 450 reported wildfires.

For more wildfire information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/index.html.

Outdoor notes

• Last week the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club dedicated a new volunteer memorial and US flag, which was recently erected on club grounds.

The dedication ceremony reminded me that all of the things we do in the outdoors, like hunting, fishing, and trap shooting, are secondary to who we enjoy those activities with. It’s the people, and not the place or the activity that create lasting memories and great times.

• Local turkey hunters are continuing to do well. I got several reports last week of local hunters bagging a turkey.

• Get out early for good bass fishing. The best bass fishing of the day usually occurs right at dawn, when water and winds are calm.

• Goslings hatched last week and I’ve seen quite a few of them on local ponds and sloughs. I also received a report of two recently-born fawns and does witnessed late last week.

• Take a kid fishing – he or she will have fun, and so will you.