Thanks for the turkeys

February 15, 2010

by Chris Schultz

Back in the early 90s I remember working with Less Kouba, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on one of our area’s first wild turkey transplant projects.

Birds were trapped and taken from the Whitewater Wildlife Management area in southeast Minnesota and released in a heavily wooded area a few miles south of Lester Prairie.

One year later turkeys were transplanted to an area near Dassel.

I was the guy taking the photos and writing the stories so people knew what was going on and didn’t go crazy when the saw a wild turkey crossing the road near Dassel or Lester Prairie.

After those two projects were complete, myself and several others who were involved, just kind of went our merry ways, hoping the turkeys would do well and expand.

Since then, and even before, guys like DNR Conservation Officer and hunter Bob Mlynar, originally of Lester Prairie, grabbed the reins and made the expansion of wild turkeys in Minnesota really happen.

It’s been a success story, I’m sure, even beyond Mlynar’s expectations.

Because of his efforts, Mlynar recently received the award of Minnesota Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The full story ran in last weeks Herald Journal. You can find in on line at www.herald-journal.com.

Mlynar, now stationed in Aitkin, gained much of his passion for the outdoors and conservation from running around and working at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club as a kid.

His parents Ed and late mother Florence, managed and ran the club.

I’ve known Bob a long time and hope we, from all of our local sportsmen’s clubs, can influence more kids to be like him.

Congratulations Bob!

Wright County PF corn giveaway

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Feb. 20, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. #6.

Bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.

For additional information call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.

Moose population decline continues in NE Minnesota
From the DNR

According to results of an aerial survey released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the moose population in northeastern Minnesota continues to decline.

Survey results revealed lower moose numbers and the proportion of cows accompanied by calves continued a 13-year decline and dropping to a record low of 28 calves per 100 cows.

“These indices along with results from research using radio-collared moose all indicate that the population has been declining in recent years,” said Dr. Mark Lenarz, DNR forest wildlife group leader.

Moose populations are estimated using an aerial survey of the northeast Minnesota moose range.

Based on the survey, wildlife researchers estimate that there were 5,500 moose in northeastern Minnesota.

The estimate, while not statistically different from last year’s 7,600, reinforces the inference that the moose population is declining.

In addition to the decline in the calf to cow ratio, the bull to cow also continued to decline with an estimated 83 bulls per 100 cows.

Aerial surveys have been conducted each year since 1960 in the northeast and are based on flying transects in 40 randomly selected plots spread across the Arrowhead.

A study of radio-collared moose in northeastern Minnesota between 2002 and 2008 determined that non-hunting mortality was substantially higher than in moose populations outside of Minnesota.

Lenarz indicated that, “combined with the reduced number of calves, the high mortality results in a population with a downward trend.”

The causes of moose mortality are not well understood.

Of 150 adult moose radio-collared since 2002 in Minnesota, 103 have subsequently died, most from unknown causes thought to be diseases or parasites.

Nine moose died as a result of highway vehicle accidents. Two were killed by trains. Only six deaths were clearly the result of wolf predation.

Analyses by Lenarz and other scientists have indicated a significant relationship between warmer temperatures and non-hunting mortality.

“Moose are superbly adapted to the cold but intolerant of heat,” said Lenarz, “and scientists believe that summer temperatures will likely determine the southern limit of this species.”

As recently as the 1980’s as many as 4,000 moose inhabited northwestern Minnesota, an area of agricultural land interspersed with woodlots.

The population declined dramatically during the 1990s and currently numbers fewer than 100 animals.

In contrast, the northeastern population occurs in wetland-rich forested habitat which presumably provides thermal cover in a warming environment.

In August, a Moose Advisory Committee convened by the DNR released their findings which will be used in the development of a legislatively mandated research and management plan.

They indicated that while climate change is a long-term threat to the moose in Minnesota, moose will likely persist in the state for the foreseeable future.

The plan should be ready later this spring and will be open to the public for comment.

The Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and provided personnel for the annual survey.

New DNR license-buying system goes line Thursday
From the DNR

Minnesotans who buy their hunting, fishing and other Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) licenses at retail outlets will soon do so via a new electronic licensing system.

Effective Thursday, Feb. 18, DNR retail license sales will be available on new touch-screen terminals that allow sales clerks to be more efficient when inputting data and outputting licenses.

“Hunters, anglers and trappers alone account for about 3.3 million license transactions a year,” said Steve Michaels, DNR License Center manager. “We are moving to new terminals to stay in step with advances in technology, data management, and customer service.”

The DNR switched from hand-written licenses to electronic-generated licenses in 2000.

This is the first major change in license sales and management equipment in 10 years.

In addition to the new terminals, the DNR wants license buyers to know:

• Later this year the transaction fee for resident licenses that do not require a registration tag and are purchased from the DNR’s Web site will drop from $3.50 to 3 percent of the cost of the license, plus a $1 agent fee.

The transaction fee for a resident annual fishing license, for example, will be only 54 cents.

That’s likely less than it would cost to drive to a license vendor.

• DNR licenses will continue to be available 24 hours a day by simply placing a toll-free call to 888-665-4236.

• Possessing a Minnesota driver’s license or state of Minnesota identification card will be mandatory for adults age 21 or older to purchase a resident license.

The only exception relates the Religious Freedom Act.

“Years ago we made license sales available by computer and phone,” said Michaels. “Now we’ve reduced the fees for these transactions. Our strategy is to adapt to what the customer wants - and that’s to have low-cost and convenient options.”

The DNR does intend to reduce the number of terminals it distributes to license vendors from about 1,750 to 1,600.

This reduction will generate about $1 million in savings over five years.

The DNR will maintain an efficient distribution of terminals throughout the state.

New critical habitat license plates are a hit
From the DNR

Minnesota motorists have purchased 20,000 critical habitat license plates since a series of new designs were unveiled six months ago.

That means there are nearly 120,000 registered vehicles on the road that display a colorful conservation plate.

“By purchasing a critical habitat plate, Minnesotans are showing their commitment to preserving and enhancing habitat for loons, deer, chickadees, fish and other wildlife,” said Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner.

A showy ladyslipper, a northern Minnesota fishing scene, a majestic white-tailed buck, and a black-capped chickadee are among the new designs.

A fifth option, the loon plate, which has been available since 2005, remains a popular choice amongmotorists.

“The loon is an iconic symbol of Minnesota’s wilderness that our citizens identify with,” Holston said. “Many people don’t realize they can purchase their new plates right now, and they don’t need to wait until the registration is due.”

Revenue generated from the sales of the plates has helped purchase 10,300 acres of critical habitat.

Nongame research and surveys, habitat enhancement and educational programs have also benefitted from the license plate sales.

The critical habitat license plate program was created in 1995 to provide additional opportunity for Minnesotans to contribute to conservation.

Motorists who purchase a critical habitat plate make a minimum annual contribution of $30 to the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program.

Every dollar generated through the sale of the license plate is matched with private donations of cash or land.

The new license plates are available at all deputy registrar offices statewide.

To order plates over the phone, or for questions about ordering the Critical Habitat License plate, call the Department of Public Safety-Driver and Vehicle Services at (651) 297-3304.

Important to fund RIM Reserve program
From Ducks Unlimlited

Ducks Unlimited says full-funding for the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program would be a good investment bringing positive economic benefits and leveraging millions in federal dollars.

DU urges the state legislature to include $50 million in the 2010 bonding bill for the Board of Water and Soil Resources RIM program, which offers landowners incentives to conserve wildlife habitat in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program.

“The RIM/WRP partnership is good for waterfowl, clean water and the state’s economy,” said Ryan Heiniger, DU director of conservation programs for Minnesota. “The more dollars the state legislature invests in RIM, the more federal WRP dollars will be invested in the state.”

In 2007, before the RIM/WRP partnership began, the NRCS sent $13 million of WRP dollars slated for Minnesota back to Washington.

“In 2010, Minnesota could lose at least $18 million in federal funding,” said Tim Koehler, assistant state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Minnesota. “As a result of a national effort to accelerate WRP enrollment, Minnesota might have to forfeit an additional $50 million in WRP funding through 2011 unless the state bonding appropriation is secured.”

NRCS recently completed an economic impact study of the RIM/WRP partnership in Minnesota.

The study found there was a positive impact of $1.28 in industry output, or sales, for every $1 the state invests in RIM.

The assessment said one full-time job would also be created or maintained through each $100,000 invested in RIM.

“RIM/WRP is very labor intensive and puts people back to work or keeps them in their jobs,” Koehler said, “plus it generates dollars for things like grass seed, diesel and equipment work.”

Heiniger says dollars invested through RIM/WRP would provide Minnesotans habitat restoration and protection projects that would provide improved water quality in downstream lakes and rivers, increased flood water storage potential as well as important habitat for ducks, pheasants and other wildlife.