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It’s nesting season, so delay roadside mowing until Aug. 1

June 29, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Roadside landowners can give wildlife a helping hand by delaying mowing until Saturday, Aug. 1, when most bird species have completed nesting.

Grassy roadsides are vital habitat for many birds and small animals, according to Carmelita Nelson, Roadsides for Wildlife coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

These narrow ribbons of vegetation provide food, cover, and nesting habitat for thousands of pheasants, partridges, rabbits, ground nesting waterfowl and grassland songbirds.

“Late April until early August is Minnesota’s primary nesting season,” Nelson said. “Birds and other species benefit when landowners don’t mow during this time.”

Nelson recommends precision spraying or spot mowing to address noxious weed problems.

Though private landowners can mow their own roadside anytime, provided they own the land and the road is an easement, state law does restrict “road authorities” from mowing until Aug. 1.

The “Mowing Ditches Outside Cities” law (Minn. Statute 160.232) has been in place since May 17, 1985.
It allows road authorities to mow the first 8 feet and intersections for safety and to spot mow for noxious weed control.

Farmers must obtain permission from adjacent landowners to hay additional roadsides.

In general, state and federal lands adjacent to the roadway do not permit private haying in their roadsides without special permission from the public land manager (parks, wildlife lands, etc.).

For safety reasons, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) permits are required to hay interstate highway rights-of-way as well as noninterstate roadway medians. MnDOT offices in the St. Cloud and Baxter areas require a permit to hay along all state and interstate highways within their jurisdiction.

Where hay is cut along roadsides, hay bales must be removed from the right-of-way before sunset on the same day they are baled.

Habitat loss is the main threat to wildlife and general biodiversity worldwide.

Management decisions and practices along roadsides can make a dramatic difference to local wildlife populations, Nelson noted.

“Roadsides will not replace the need for large blocks of prairie, but roadside vegetation provides important parcels grassland habitat and serves to interconnect larger grasslands for native species,” she said.

Roadsides provide more than one-half million acres of vital nesting areas in the southern and western half of Minnesota.

Roadside habitat is especially important in intensively farmed regions where there is little other grassland available.

For more information about the Roadsides for Wildlife Program, see the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/oradsideforwildlife or contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-646-6367.

Waverly Lake fishing contest July 11

Waverly Lake will host a fishing contest Saturday, July 11.

Registration will take place from 7 to 8 a.m. on the day of the event, with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.

For more information call (612) 759-8284.

Apply now for prairie chicken, fall turkey hunts
From the DNR

Hunters who wish to apply for one of 186 permits for the 2009 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for one of 9,330 permits for the fall turkey hunt must do so by July 31.

Applications are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Application materials and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Web site at www.mndnr.gov.hunting.

Winners will be notified by mail by mid September after applying at one of 1,800 electronic license agents across Minnesota.

• Fall turkey season

This year’s 9,330 turkey permits represent a substantial increase in fall hunting opportunities from last year when 5,555 permits were available, said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.

The increase relates to a major expansion of fall hunting opportunities in southwest and western Minnesota as well as higher permit numbers in hunting areas that opened last year.

In 2008, a record 1,187 birds were harvested during the fall hunt with hunter success typically about 25 percent.

“If you’ve never tried fall turkey hunting before, 2009 is a good year to start,” said Penning. “Permit numbers have nearly doubled and areas open to hunting have increased, too.”

The fall turkey hunt application fee is $3. The license costs $23 for residents and $78 for nonresidents.

The $5 stamp validation has been incorporated into the license fee; a separate stamp is no longer required.

Hunters may apply for one permit from 67 different hunting areas that will be open from Oct. 14-18 and Oct. 21-25.

• Prairie chicken season

Hunters who apply for the 186 available prairie chicken permits will have about a one-in-three chance of being drawn, depending on the area chosen.

Prairie chicken permit numbers are unchanged from last year.

In 2008, 139 birds were harvest with 90 percent of hunters taking at least one bird.

Minnesota’s prairie chicken population has increased substantially in recent years, now standing at more than 1,600 adult males.

The DNR expects more than four times that number of birds in the fall population.

“Prairie restoration and protection programs have helped stabilize the bird’s population in recent years,” Penning said. “The restoration of a regulated prairie chicken hunting season has helped build awareness and support for protecting and enhancing prairie and grassland habitats.”

The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Oct. 17, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.

The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren in the north and Breckenridge in the south.

Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

Resident hunters younger than 12 may apply for a prairie chicken license.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.

Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species and the general closure on taking sharp-tailed grouse by small game hunters in this area is to protect prairie chickens.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.

DNR accepting applications for 2009 Camp Ridley archery hunts
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will begin accepting applications on July 1 for the 2009 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.

The application deadline is Aug. 14.

Hunters may pick from one of two hunting seasons: Oct. 15-16 (code 668) or Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (code 669).

There will be 5,000 permits available (2,500 per two-day hunt).

Hunters may choose from four options this year to apply for hunts:

• Through the DNR’s computerized Electronic Licensing System (ELS) at any one of 1,800 agents located throughout Minnesota.

• By telephone at 1-888-665-4236.

• Through DNR’s Internet licensing link at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

• At the DNR License Center in St. Paul.

The fee is $8 per applicant. Those who apply by phone or Internet will be charged an additional convenience fee of $3.50 per transaction.

To apply, resident and nonresident hunters will need one of the following: a valid state driver’s license or state issued identification card with current address, a firearms safety certificate number, or a MDNR number found on a recent Minnesota fishing and hunting license.

It is important that the identification card used reflects the current mailing address, because this is where notices will be sent to people who are successful in the computer preference drawing.

If nonresidents use their DNR number to apply, they must use the number from the last time they applied in order to retain accrued preference.

Residents must be at least 10 years old and nonresidents at least 12 year old prior to their hunt.

In addition, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate, a previous hunting license, or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course to obtain a license to hunt or trap in Minnesota.

Applicants will be asked a series of questions for which they can prepare by completing a worksheet available on the DNR’s Web site. Hunters may apply as individuals, or as a group of up to four.

Group members must apply for the same two-day season.

The first group applicant must specify “Create New Group” when asked and will receive a group number.

Subsequent group applicants must specify they want to “Join an Existing Group” and use the group number supplied to the first group applicant.

The Camp Ripley archery Camp Ripley is an annual event.

The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

Apply now for the 2009 Minnesota elk hunt
From the DNR

Hunters who want to participate in this fall’s Minnesota elk hunt can apply for one of 30 licenses to be awarded through a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) lottery. The application deadline is July 24.

Licenses will be available in three zones: the traditional Grygla area, Kittson County-South, and Kittson County-North.

Maps of the three hunt zones and additional application information can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/elk/index.html.

“The larger hunting area is due to an increasing crop damage problem in portions of Kittson County,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “Though this year’s elk harvest will likely increase, our intent is to maintain a relatively stable population while we finalize our elk management plan.”

Fifteen licenses (two either-sex and 13 antlerless) will be offered in the Grygla area, 10 either-sex licenses will be offered in Kittson County-South, and five licenses (one either-sex and four antlerless) will be offered in Kittson County-North.

Six licenses (three in Grygla, two in Kittson County-South, one in Kittson County-North) may be issued to qualified landowners in their elk zone in a preferential drawing.

Unsuccessful landowner applications will then be added to the general drawing, from which the remaining applicants will be selected.

Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a permit.

There will be three seasons in each zone, divided as follows:

• Sept. 12-20, two either-sex and three antlerless licenses in Grygla, two either-sex in Kittson-South, and one either-sex licenses in Kittson-North.

• Sept. 26-Oct. 4, five antlerless licenses in Grygla, four either-sex licenses in Kittson-South, and two antlerless licenses in Kittson-North.

• Nov. 21-29, five antlerless licenses in Grygla, four either-sex licenses in Kittson-South, and two antlerless licenses in Kittson-North.

Because the majority of interest will be for the either-sex licenses, the DNR will have a two-stage internal lottery process.
This means hunters will apply for only their preferred area.

Once those hunters have been identified by preference area, a random drawing will be held to determine whether they get an either-sex or an antlerless license and the dates on which they can hunt.

Hunting license applications may be made at any of the 1,800 statewide locations where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $10 per hunter.
Successful applicants will be notified by mail, and must purchase an elk license for $250.
Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk.

All successful applicants will be required to attend an orientation session at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area headquarters in Middle River prior to the hunt.

Hunters should be aware that all three zones contain private land; permission to hunt these lands should be obtained prior to purchasing their license.

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: Because of their flat hulls, canoes and kayaks can navigate just about any body of water, but are there trails specifically designated for these types of activities?

If so, where are they located and where can a person find information about them?

A: Minnesota has 30 state-designated water trails, one kayak route (Lake Superior Water Trail) and nearly 2,000 water access sites across the state.

Many of these routes may require a certain level of experience, so they should not be attempted by all watercraft users.

Rivers and rapids are rated by class level according to the International Scale of River Difficulty.

In Minnesota, the lowest class level is “class I” (easy), and the highest is “class VI” (cannot be attempted without great risk of life).

Free water trail guides, which include maps and descriptions of public access points, campsites, rest areas, navigational features, and river miles are available through the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or toll free 1-888-646-6367.

Information regarding the DNR Water Trail System can be found on the DNR ’s Web site at www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.