Final 2009 Minnesota deer harvest numbers released

February 22, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

A strategy to achieve deer population goals by allowing hunters to harvest fewer deer succeeded in 2009, according to final deer harvest numbers the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released.

Hunters harvested 194,178 deer during the 2009 season.

The decline reflects the fact that fewer permits were available to hunters to harvest antlerless deer because the deer population has been reduced to desired levels in many permit areas.

“We regulate deer populations by allocating antlerless deer harvest,” Cornicelli said. “In 2008, one-third of deer permit areas were lottery. In 2009, half the deer permit areas were either lottery or bucks-only, so hunters could only take one deer and many did not receive an either-sex permit. Consequently, total harvest declined because thousands of antlerless deer were not included.”

Firearm hunters harvested 165,428 deer while archery and muzzleloader hunters harvested 20,659 and 8,091 deer, respectively.

Overall, the statewide firearm harvest was down 13 percent from 2008. Archery was down 9 percent. The muzzleloader harvest decreased 15 percent.

However buck harvest in 2009 was only 1 percent lower than in 2008 and archery and muzzleloader hunters actually took 6 percent and 11 percent more bucks in 2009, respectively.

Final population estimates will be completed after the winter ends. DNR staff re-evaluates populations relative to established goals.

In many areas, hunters should expect similar bag limits and possible placement of their hunting area into the lottery designation, requiring them to apply for lottery permit.

The final deer harvest number is calculated using information provided by hunters when they register their deer.

A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, is available online at www.mndnr.gov.

Hunters should pay close attention to the hunting synopsis, which comes out in early August, to see if they need to apply for a lottery either-sex permit.

For the 2010 season, the deadline for the either-sex permit application is Thursday, Sept. 9. Archery deer hunting will begin Saturday, Sept. 18.

The statewide firearms deer-hunting season opens Saturday, Nov. 6.

The muzzleloader season opens Saturday, Nov. 27.

Contest spotlights importance of roadside wildlife habitat
From the DNR

Minnesota students in grades 7 and 8 have until Wednesday, April 7 to portray their view of the importance of roadside wildlife habitat through a statewide poster contest.

The 26th annual Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) “Roadsides Are for the Birds” contest is for students living in Minnesota’s pheasant range, which covers the southern half of the state as well as west-central Minnesota.

“The contest is an effective and fun way to teach youth and adults alike about the importance of roadsides, an often over-looked resource,” said Carmelita Nelson, DNR Roadsides for Wildlife coordinator. “Roadside habitat provides a virtual lifeline for many wildlife and plant species.”

Generally conducted through art and science programs in local school systems, the contest attracts entries from numerous schools and students.

Home school students in 7th and 8th grade also may participate.

Last year, 77 students from 29 schools submitted entries.

Both student winners and their schools are awarded prizes, including framed and unframed wildlife art prints, books, hats and T-shirts.

Winning entries are displayed at the Minnesota Deer Classic and Sports Show and at the DNR’s State Fair Building.

Schools that have not received contest information or that would like additional information may contact Larinda Burg at the DNR’s regional office in New Ulm by calling (507) 359-6035.

Conservation award winners recognized
From Ducks Unlimlited

Ducks Unlimited presented conservation awards to recognize individuals and organizations for their commitment to improve Minnesota’s wetland and waterfowl resources at their annual Minnesota state convention in Brainerd this weekend.

The 2010 DU Minnesota conservation awards announced were:
• Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – Partner of the Year
• Kevin Lines, Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources – Professional of the Year
• Minnesota Farmers Union – Public Policy Champion of the Year

“These award recipients have made tremendous and distinctive contributions to improve North America’s waterfowl resource” said Ryan Heiniger, director of conservation for Minnesota and Iowa.

The Partner of the Year Award was presented to Minnesota DNR Fish and Wildlife Division Director Dave Schad.

Other DNR staff in attendance at the convention included Steve Cordts, waterfowl biologist, and Nicole Hansel Welch, shallow lakes program coordinator.

Ducks Unlimited’s partnership with the Minnesota DNR began in 1972 when the DNR made a $15,000 contribution for habitat work in Canada.

This partnership continues and in 2009 Minnesota surpassed the $1 million mark for their total contributions to breeding habitat work in Canada.

”The Saskatchewan River Delta is in the heart of the boreal breeding range for scaup, ring-necked ducks and canvasbacks, all ducks that are very important to Minnesota hunters,” said Dave Schad,. “The $1 million sent there and the additional matching funds those contributions have generated have been good investments for the state.”

In addition to support for DU conservation work in Canada, DU and DNR have also forged a strong partnership in Minnesota.

Beginning with the enhancement of the 81-acre Pelican Creek wetland in Grant County in 1984, DU and DNR have partnered to complete dozens of major wetland projects throughout the state, including the enhancement of 9,300-acre Swan Lake in Nicollet County, 425-acre Lake Maria in Murray County, 2,700 acre Big Rice Lake in Cass County, 895-acre Buffalo Lake in Waseca County, 1,875-acre Geneva Lake in Freeborn County and approximately 125 wild rice lakes in northern Minnesota.

To date, the DU-DNR partnership has restored, protected and enhanced more than 93,000 acres across the state and is poised to do even more with a recent recommendation of funding from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

“This award recognizes the tremendous commitment the DNR has made and is continuing to make to address the state’s wetland and waterfowl issues,” Heiniger said. “For example, five shallow lakes were recently designated by Commissioner Holsten including Anka, Jennie, Curtis, Round, and Smith. This represents a dramatic increase and is a reflection of the DNR’s commitment to accelerating shallow lake enhancement and management in Minnesota.”

The Professional of the Year was presented to Kevin Lines, who works as the conservation easement section manager for the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

In this role, he has the responsibility to restore, manage and enforce more than 5,000 easements totaling 193,000 acres.

Lines has worked for BWSR since 2000 and started his career with the DNR in 1975 where he held several positions including area wildlife supervisor, farmland wildlife program leader and lake designation coordinator.

His many accomplishments include the monumental task of enrolling 100,000 acres into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in the Minnesota River valley.

“Kevin Lines is a tireless champion for the permanent protection of wetlands and the need to provide attractive habitat programs to farmers and other landowners in Minnesota,” Heiniger said. “Kevin has demonstrated leadership throughout his 35-year career that has been devoted to conservation and natural resources.”

The award was presented to Lines largely in recognition of his efforts to help lead the implementation of the Reinvest in Minnesota/Wetlands Reserve Program Partnership.

During the last two years, the partnership has invested $28.2 million of state funds, which has leveraged $45 million in federal funds that, together, has enrolled 22,836 acres in perpetual easements.

“Kevin Lines is famous for saying that the RIM/WRP is the premier private lands program in the nation, and his passion is a driving force and primary reason why this program is successful,” Heiniger said.

The Public Policy Champion of the Year award was presented to Minnesota Farmers Union and their president Doug Peterson to recognize their support and collaboration on several key legislative initiatives.

As an ongoing priority, DU has been working hard to get changes made to the farm bill that would remove subsidies for the conversion of native prairie through “Sodsaver.”

DU and the Minnesota Farmers Union legislative priorities overlapped when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee started debating the Clean Water Restoration Act.

This legislation is intended to clarify Congress’ intent to provide federal protection for wetlands after several Supreme Court cases weakened this protection leaving millions of acres at risk for destruction.

Recognizing the introduced legislation was approaching an impasse, the National and Minnesota Farmers Union helped broker a compromise known as the Baucus-Klobuchar Amendment.

This amendment brought additional clarity to which waters of the United States would be covered and was key to getting it to pass out of committee.

“While Congress must still pass this important piece of legislation, the actions by the MN Farmers Union remind us there is common ground between conservation and agriculture,” Heiniger said. “Ducks Unlimited very much appreciates the forward thinking of Doug, his staff and board to help identify areas of overlap and willingness to bring solutions oriented thinking to the discussion.”

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats.

Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent.

Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.

When is ice safe?
From the DNR

There really is no sure answer.

You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow.

Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

Some cold facts about ice
From the DNR

New ice is usually stronger than old ice.

• Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.

• Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

• Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous.
This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts.
Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

• The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.
The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support.
Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

• Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous.
It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

• Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice.
The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake.
In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.