Minnesota waterfowl season dates and limits announced

August 10, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With continental populations of many species of ducks again near record highs, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established a 60-day duck season that opens Saturday, Oct. 3 with a daily bag limit of six ducks.

Bag limits for most species will be the same as last season, except hunters will be able to harvest one canvasback and the scaup limit will be two for the entire 60-day season.

This good news for diver duck hunters is based on increased numbers of canvasbacks and scaup in the continental breeding duck survey.

Based on an increase in breeding waterfowl populations and pond numbers across Canada and the northern plains, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota, a 60-day season that could include a six-duck limit with two hen mallards and three wood ducks. Minnesota will continue with a daily bag limit of one hen mallard that has been in place since 2005.

Likewise, the DNR is maintaining a conservative approach to wood ducks by maintaining a two-bird limit.

The bag limits will continue to protect local breeding mallard and wood duck populations and will provide more opportunity for Minnesota hunters to benefit from high continental waterfowl populations if habitat conditions and weather cooperate, and migrant ducks move through the state in ample numbers.

“We knew the wood duck limit would be of interest to our hunters,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “So we reviewed the biological information, took some additional public input through a new online questionnaire, and in the end decided to maintain the two-bird limit again this year.”

• Duck season

The regular waterfowl season will open Saturday, Oct. 3, at 9 a.m. and continue through Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The six-duck bag may include no more than four mallards, with only one hen mallard, and one black duck, one pintail, one canvasback, two wood ducks, two redheads and two scaup.

Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limits.

Except for opening day, when shooting hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., shooting hours will be from one half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 10, and from one half hour before sunrise to sunset thereafter.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 10.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used at any time during the season on water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area boundaries.

Additional details on the duck, goose and migratory bird hunting seasons will be in the 2009 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August.

• Youth waterfowl day

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 19.

Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required).

Canada geese, mergansers, coots, and moorhens may be taken from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.

Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect.

New for this year, five geese may be taken statewide.

There are no license requirements, except hunters age 13 to 15 must have a firearms safety certificate or an apprentice hunter validation in their possession.

All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.

• Goose seasons

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season Saturday, Oct. 3, except for Canada goose seasons in the West-Central Goose Zone, which will open Thursday, Oct. 15.

The daily bag limit will be two Canada geese statewide.

Possession limits are double the daily bag limits.

Efforts to increase Minnesota’s daily goose bag to three statewide except for the West Central Goose Zone were not approved by the Mississippi Flyway Council.

• Early Sept. goose season

The early Canada goose season will open statewide Saturday, Sept. 5.

The September season is designed to harvest Minnesota-breeding geese prior to the arrival of migrant geese.

Hunter survey results show about 36 percent of Minnesota’s goose harvest occurs during the early September season.

The early season is open statewide through Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Bag limits for Canada geese will be five per day, statewide.

A required $4 permit is valid for both early and late season goose hunting.

Permits are available wherever hunting and angling licenses are sold.

New this year, the restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water has been lifted for the Southeast and Metro goose zones.

Now this restriction applies only to the Northwest goose zone, the Carlos Avery WMA, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County.

Early season goose hunters should consult the 2009 Waterfowl Supplement for details.

• Regular goose season

In the West Central Zone, the regular Canada goose season will be open from Oct. 15 through Oct .18, and from Oct. 24 through Nov. 29.

In the remainder of the state the season will be open from Oct. 3 through Dec. 11.

The daily bag limit will be two Canada geese.

• Late goose seasons

December Canada goose seasons will be offered statewide except in the West-Central Goose Zone.

Late season hunters must have a $4 permit, which is valid for both early and late special goose seasons.

The late season will be open Dec. 12 to Dec. 21, except in the Southeast Goose Zone, where the season will be open Dec. 19 to Dec. 28.

Bag limits for Canada geese during the late season will be five per day, except in the Southeast Goose Zone, where the bag limit will be two.

The season for light geese (snow, blue and Ross’ geese) and brant will be Oct. 3 through Dec. 28, with a daily limit of 20 light geese and one brant.

The season for white-fronted geese will be Oct. 3 through Dec. 27, with a daily limit of one white-fronted goose.

Waverly Gun Club upcoming events

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting several events coming up.

Ladies only night will be Tuesday, Aug. 11 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The range will be open Saturday, Aug. 15 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lastly, a conceal and carry class will take place Tuesday, Sept. 15 and Wednesday, Sept. 16.

For additional information, go to www.waverlygunclub.org.

Youth conservation field day at Gopher Campfire Grounds

The 2009 Youth Conservation Field Day at the Gopher Campfire Grounds will take place Saturday, Aug. 22.

Doors open at 9 a.m. for registration with events begining at 10 a.m.

Sessions include trap shooting, air rifles, .22 pistols, .22 rifles, archery, conservation education, black powder, and sporting clays.

Participants must be 6 to 17 years old and have a parent or legal guardian with them at all times during the event.

Parents or legal guardian must sign an authorization form.

For information, contact Roxanne Godejahn at (320) 693-8840.

The Gopher Campfire Grounds are located northwest of Hutchinson.

New fishing tourney rules reduce fees, offer more exemptions
From the DNR

New rules for Minnesota fishing contests in 2010 may exempt some tournament organizers from permit requirements and will reduce permit fees by half, but charitable organizations will no longer be exempt from fees.

Anglers and others who want to host fishing tournaments in 2010 can submit applications now.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will give preference to applications received by Friday, Sept. 25.

Under the new permit fee structure, small open-water contests (31-100 participants, 50 or fewer boats) pay $60, while large open-water contests (more than 100 participants or 50 boats) pay $200.

For contests that involve an off-site weigh-in, where contestants travel with their fish to a location away from the boat landing to weigh their fish, the fee for small open-water contests is $250.

The fee for large open-water contests (more than 100 participants or 50 boats) with off-site weigh-ins is $500.

Fee payment, required at the time of application, is nonrefundable except for applications denied following a drawing or withdrawn by applicants prior to permit issuance.

Generally, fishing tournament organizers are exempt from permit requirements if one of the following conditions applies:

• The contest is limited to rough-fish species.

• Total prize value is $500 or less.

• All participants are 18 or younger.

• The number of boats is limited to 25 or less, entry fees are $25 or less, and the prize value is $25,000 or less.

Rules governing ice fishing contest permits, required for contests exceeding 150 participants, are unchanged.

The fee for ice fishing contests with more than 150 participants is $120.

If the number of applications exceeds monthly limits, the DNR uses a lottery to allocate available permits.

Applications received from Aug. 1 through Sept. 25 will be eligible for any necessary lottery drawing.

Tournaments with a history established prior to 2001 for a particular water body and time period will have preference.

Applications received after Sept. 25 will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through the 2010 tournament season, which begins Jan. 1, 2010.

“By limiting the number of contests held on any lake or stream on a monthly basis, we are trying to balance the interests of tournament participants with those of non-tournament anglers and others using state waters,” said Al Stevens, DNR fisheries program consultant. “In addition, we keep two weekends each month free of permitted tournaments.”

DNR limits the size and frequency of tournaments on lakes smaller than 55,000 acres, and on rivers and streams.

In 2009, DNR issued nearly 450 permits statewide for fishing contests.

The number of tournaments allowed each month on lakes is based on lake size.

For example, on lakes smaller than 2,000 acres, only two tournaments per month are allowed, each limited to no more than 50 boats or 100 participants.

Lakes from 15,000 to 55,000 acres can have five contests per month, three of which may exceed 50 boats or 100 participants.

There are no limits for lakes larger than 55,000 acres.

For a complete summary of the tournament regulations, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Tournament permit applications and a fishing contest rule summary are available on the DNR web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/tournaments/index.html.

First ever youth archery hunt to take place at Greenleaf Lake SRA
From the DNR

Three lucky youngsters will become the first-ever hunters in the new Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area in Meeker County this fall.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering the special archery hunt Oct. 15 -18 on a 108-acre parcel of land within the State Recreation Area. Y

outh must be 12 to 17 years old at the time of the hunt.

The successful applicants must obtain a valid license for taking deer by archery at least two days prior to the start of the hunt.

The deadline to apply for the hunt is Saturday, Aug. 14.

This youth hunt will be the only permitted hunting activity within the SRA boundaries until the management plan for the unit is officially approved and authorized by the DNR commissioner at a later date.

Additional information about special youth hunts can be found beginning on page 32 in the 2009 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, now available at local license agents.

$3,740,000 in conservation grants coming soon
From the DNR

Hundreds of new conservation projects are expected to soon get underway throughout Minnesota thanks to a new $3,740,000 grant program that begins in September, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced.

The grants from the Outdoor Heritage Conservation Partners Grant Program were recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (L-SOHC), reviewed by the Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Pawlenty.

The L-SOHC receives 33 percent of revenue generated by a state sales tax increase approved by voters in a constitutional amendment last November.

The new grant program was a high priority of the L-SOHC, according to Leslie Tannahill, DNR grant coordinator who will head the program.

“It is well known that there are many outstanding conservation organizations in Minnesota with great ideas and projects they would like to tackle if only they had the funding,” Tannahill said. “This program will be exactly what they need to get those projects up and running.”

Half of the grants awarded during the first round of the program will be for less than $125,000 and half for more than $125,000.

The maximum grant amount is $400,000.

A second round of grants will be offered if there are funds remaining after this fall’s selections, or if the L-SOHC recommends additional funding for the program in fiscal year 2011.

Grants are available to local, regional, state and national organizations and government entities.

Projects are eligible in the following categories:

• Restore or enhance fish and wildlife habitat on lands permanently protected by conservation easements or public ownership.

• Protect lands through acquisition of fee title or conservation easements and be open to public hunting and fishing during open seasons.

Organizations are required to fund 10 percent of the project from non-state sources and be able to complete the work and cover all expenses before being reimbursed.

Request for proposals will be out in late August with first-round applications due Nov. 3.

Successful applications will be selected by Dec. 15.

Program details are available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/habitat/lessard-sams.html.

Final details of the program are still being worked out so interested organizations are urged to check the Web site regularly.

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: The DNR recently announced that people may fish for free in Minnesota State Parks, provided they have paid for a park permit. What other rules apply?

A: Specifically, the Minnesota state parks fishing license exemption allows Minnesota residents to take fish without a license when shore fishing or wading on state-owned land within a state park.

All limits and special regulations in effect for the body of water being fished apply.

When angling from a boat or float, the law applies only to those water bodies that are completely encompassed within the statutory boundary of the state park.

Anglers must possess a valid license when fishing in Minnesota’s six state recreation areas; on waters where a trout stamp is required; and when fishing in any city, county, regional or federal park.

For more information go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fishing.html.