Now is the time to take a hunter safety course

July 20, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With the fall hunting seasons just around the corner, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging all hunters to sign up now for a hunter education class.

“Though classes are held throughout the year, we offer more of them in late summer and early fall,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. “So now is the time to sign up and complete a course, because once the hunting season gets rolling, it might be too late.”

Besides ensuring you’ll be able to hunt this year, taking the class sooner rather than later means more time for scouting, sighting-in, and securing permission to hunt on private lands.

Minnesota hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979, must take a DNR Hunter Education Firearms Safety Training Course and receive a certificate of completion before purchasing a license for big or small game.

The firearm safety class consists of a minimum of 12 hours of classroom and field experience in the safe handling of firearms and hunter responsibility.

Field experience allows students to learn and demonstrate commonly accepted principles of safety in hunting and the handling of firearms.

It includes firing practice on a rifle range.

Students who pass the course receive a temporary certificate, allowing them to purchase a hunting license in Minnesota and other states where certification is required.

The department recognizes that courses can be difficult to fit into the hectic schedules of today’s fast-moving lifestyle.

As a result, the DNR offers independent study course options.

These include the on-line or workbook version and are administered through volunteer instructors around the state for those 16 and older.

Independent study courses are not a “short cut” to certification.

Experience has shown that they involve a similar amount of time as the traditional firearms safety classroom course.

Hunter education classes fill up fast, so now is the time to register.

To find an upcoming class or information on the independent study options, go to www.mndnr.gov and click on “Education/safety” or www.dnr.state.mn.us/events/index_safety.html, or call (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-646-6367.

Cabela’s 2009 Archery Classic in Rogers

Cabela’s invites you to the premier archery hunting event in the upper Midwest, Saturay, Aug. 1 and Sunday, Aug. 2 at the Rogers Cabela’s near the intersection of I-494 and HWY 101 North in Rogers.

With seminars, product demonstrations, giveaways, and the first Youth NASP Cabela’s Archery Classic no charge shooting event.

Cabela’s indoor archery range will be available to try different bows and see which one is right for you.

Expert outfitters will help you maximize your budget by recommending exactly what you need for your next outdoor hunting adventure or target shooting and competitions.

• First 100 Customers August 1 receive a commemorative Cabela’s 2009 Archery Classic T-Shirt and Hat gift package.

• Register to win the Cabela’s Archery Classic Giveaway valued at over $2,650.

• Meet Stan Pots, legendary bow hunter, and Jerry Wydner owner of Hunters Safety System. Learn how to stay safe while tree stand hunting.

DNR offers deer hunting clinic Aug. 16
From the DNR

Women, men, and youth who want to learn the basics of deer hunting are invited to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) annual Deer Day.

The event, hosted by the DNR’s Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) Program, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 at the Wilkens Farm near Mora in Kanabec County.

Youth who posses a firearms safety certificate can attend if accompanied by a guardian.

“Deer Day is a great opportunity to learn the basics of deer hunting in a supportive, safe and non-intimidating outdoor setting,” said Linda Bylander, who coordinates family and women’s outdoor skills classes.

Participants will learn about deer, deer habitat and deer habits during several presentations.

Hands-on activities include learning to track deer; learning how to place and use deer stands safely; and learning shotgun, rifle, archery and muzzleloader shooting.

Instructors will be DNR wildlife staff, DNR conservation officers, BOW volunteers and members of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

“The beauty of this event is that participants learn from DNR deer management and hunting safety experts, as well as others who have skills to share,” said Bylander.

The program fee is $20 per family, which includes an instructional DVD on deer hunting and field dressing.

To register, contact BOW Coordinator Linda Bylander at (218) 833-8628 or via email at linda.bylander@dnr.state.mn.us.

Registration is limited to the first 60 registrations. Lunch will be served.

To see a complete list of programs available through the Becoming An Outdoors Woman program, visit www.mndnr.gov/bow.

Winds of change coming to Hurricane Lake
From the DNR

Winds of change are headed for Hurricane Lake in Cottonwood County, thanks to a habitat improvement project led by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Ducks Unlimited (DU), and Ann Township.

Once a quality waterfowl lake, the 225-acre shallow lake located within the Hurricane Wildlife Management Area has become seriously degraded in recent years due to high water levels, an increasing rough fish population and nutrient-laden run-off.

The project involves installing a water control structure on the WMA that will allow for periodic lake drawdowns, then re-establishing aquatic vegetation.

“Without healthy aquatic vegetation, a shallow lake will soon become turbid and be of little value to waterfowl and other wildlife species,” explained Randy Markl, DNR wildlife manager at Windom. “Drawdowns are an effective strategy for restoring aquatic plants and improving water quality in shallow basins.”

An over-population of undesirable fish species in wetlands and shallow lakes can disturb the aquatic ecology of these systems by consuming aquatic vertebrates, excreting nutrients, and causing turbidity that impairs water quality.

Temporary drawdowns can create fish winterkill conditions where needed and also give lake bottom soils a chance to dry out, solidify, and bind nutrients, providing an excellent substrate for plant growth.

DU conducted an engineering study for the project and designed the water control structure and an underground pipeline to handle water discharge from the lake.

Adjacent landowner Ken Engen donated an easement to the DNR to install the pipeline, while Ann Township gave permission to replace a failing culvert under a township road to facilitate outflow.

The culvert will be replaced first, followed by work on the structure.

The drawdown is expected to begin sometime in August and the lake could be dry by this fall.

While the total drawdown will continue at least through next summer, water levels will continue to be held low until aquatic vegetation is established

Jon Schneider, DU manager of Conservation Projects for Minnesota, applauded the joint effort to restore yet another shallow lake in the state’s prairie pothole region.

“We have worked often and successfully with the Minnesota DNR on projects of this nature over the years,” Schneider said. “The Hurricane Lake project is just one more example of what private and public organizations can accomplish when they pool their resources and work cooperatively.”

Stepped-up invasive species enforcement results in citations
From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers recently issued about a dozen citations and several warnings in the Mille Lacs area.

Most citations were for transporting aquatic macrophytes and failing to drain water.

The CO’s also distributed educational materials in a stepped-up effort to reduce the spread of invasive species that threaten native fish and wildlife, and water recreation.

Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport invasive aquatic plants and animals, as well as water from waterbodies infested with zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas. Violators could face fines up to $500.

“We hope these citations and warnings will raise awareness that this state looks at invasive species very seriously,” said Capt. John Hunt, DNR water resource enforcement manager. “Once a species like the zebra mussel gets into our waters, it’s very unlikely we can eliminate it. That’s why prevention is critical.”

The increased enforcement effort will include a greater presence at public water accesses, where officers will look closely for violations.

Officers will also give out informational cards, which explain laws on transporting infested water and aquatic invasive species, to all boaters.

By taking a few simple steps when leaving a lake or river, boaters and anglers can do their part to help stop the spread of aquatic hitchhikers.

The key steps are to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment:

• Clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other aquatic animals from boats, equipment and trailers before leaving the water access.

• Drain water from bilges, live wells, and bait containers before leaving the water access.

• Dry boats and equipment for five days, or spray with high pressure and hot water before transporting to another lake or river.

The zebra mussels can be unintentionally transported on boats and trailers because they can remain alive while being transported out of water, and they attach to boats, aquatic plants, and other objects.

Intercepting invasive-contaminated boats at landings is just a small part of the solution, Hunt noted, because it will take the combined efforts of citizens, businesses, visitors, and other law enforcement agencies to contain the spread of these harmful species.

“Any success in controlling the spread of invasive species will rely heavily on boat owners taking responsibility for their boats,” Hunt said. “It’s important that they know what to look for and thoroughly clean their boats.”

For more information on zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, see www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index.html.

And, for more information on ways to help stop aquatic hitchhikers go to www.mndnr.gov.

Teen’s recent death is harsh reminder that ATVs can be fatal
From the DNR

The recent death of a 19-year-old woman is a reminder to both adult and youth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators to apply “safety first” when operating their machines, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Kayla Lien, 19, and Macy McCormick, 18, both of Foley, were riding an ATV in a houseing development near Duelm and east of St. Cloud, on July 2, when the ATV struck a tree. Neither was wearing a helmet. Neither had completed ATV safety training.

McCormick, the driver of the ATV, was treated for non-threatening injuries. Lien, the passenger, died. She was the sixth Minnesotan and second teenager do die in an ATV incident this year.

Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program coordinator, said many fatalities could be avoided if people followed safety guidelines and took advantage of ATV safety training classes.

“Operators require special knowledge and training to be able to use an ATV safety,” Hammer said. “ATV safety training is important for everyone, regardless of age.”

Anyone who wants to operate an ATV on public lands in Minnesota and is 16 or older and born after July 1, 1987, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD.

Those ages 12-15 must complete the ATV Safety Training CD and attend an ATV Safety Class before riding on public lands. Request a Youth/Adult ATV Training CD by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367.

The DNR provides guidelines for reducing the risks involved with ATVs:

• Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride on one as a passenger.

• Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. They are unstable on paved roads because the big, low- pressure tires can cause the machine to flip.

• ATVs are not toys and can be hazardous to operate. Supervise your youngster’s operation of the ATV at all times.

• ATV operators less than 18 years old must wear an approved safety helmet, except when operating on private property.

To prevent head injuries, everyone should wear a helmet.

• An ATV handles differently from other vehicles. Even routine maneuvers such as turning and driving on hills and over obstacles, can lead to serious injury if you fail to take proper precautions. With preparation and practice, operators can safely develop and expand their riding skills.

• Youth need to “fit” the machine. A 60- to- 120 pound youth and a 600-pound ATV are a mismatch.

For more information, go to the 2008-2009 Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation booklet at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/ohv/index.html.

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: It’s that time of year when turtles are trying to cross the road. Why? Is there anything we can do to help them cross safely?

A: The turtles we see crossing roads are typically painted and snapping turtles.

Both species spend most of their time in lakes, ponds, and wetlands, but lay their eggs in nests dug in dry, sandy, and warm soils.

Since many roads are built skirting water bodies, our roads often separate a turtle’s home from its nesting area.

If the turtle can find the right type of soil near their home water body, they’ll use it.

However, they may often travel great distances to find a suitable nesting spot.

And so, the turtle may have to cross the road to get to the other side to lay its eggs.

If you see a turtle crossing the road, you can help it cross safely.

Watch for traffic. Pick up the turtle by the back of its shell – never pick up a turtle by its tail. And move the turtle in the direction it is heading.

The painted and snapping turtles laid their clutch of eggs in June.

Should the eggs survive predation, they are expected to hatch in late August, which means there’ll be even more turtles – quarter-sized hatchlings – crossing the road again, trying to get home.