Ice houses need to be off the lakes

March 1, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota’s ice fishing shelter removal dates are fast approaching.

Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice of inland waters no later than midnight today (Monday) in the southern two-thirds of the state, and Monday, March 15 in the northern third.

Today’s removal deadline applies to waters south of a line starting at the Minnesota-North Dakota border near Moorhead along US Highway 10, then east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to US Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border near Duluth.

The March 15 deadline applies to waters north of that line.

For border waters, the shelter removal deadlines are:
• Minnesota - Iowa, Feb. 20.
• Minnesota - Wisconsin, today.
• Minnesota - North Dakota and South Dakota, Friday, March 5.
• Minnesota - Canada, Wednesday, March 31.

Anglers are advised to remove shelters earlier if ice conditions warrant.

Those not removing shelters will be prosecuted.

Also, conservation officers may remove the structure and confiscate or destroy the ice house.

It is also unlawful to store or leave a shelter at a public access.

After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended.

It is unlawful to improperly dispose of ice fishing shacks anywhere in the state.

Check with local refuse providers or landfills for disposal.

Litter is a costly problem that Minnesotans all end up paying for to keep roadways, parks and waterways clean.

The act of littering not only hurts pocketbooks, it also causes harm to the environment in many ways.

Firearms safety training in Delano

The Delano Sportsman’s Club is hosting a 10-day firearms safety training course this spring.

The registration date is Monday, March 29, from 7-8 p.m. at the Delano Sportsman’s Club.

The course is for students 11 years old and older. A parent is required to register minors. Adults are welcomed and encouraged to take the course. The cost is $8 per person.

Each class is from 7-9 p.m. each night, starting Thursday, April 1. A parent or guardian is requested to attend the April 1 class. The course will end Saturday, May 1, with a field/range day, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The training course will cover hunter responsibility, firearms handling, archery, marksmanship, wildlife identification, game management and care, survival, water safety, and first aid.

Questions, call John McClay at (763) 675-2397 after 6 p.m.

The course dates
Thursday, April 1
Tuesday, April 6
Thursday, April 8
Tuesday, April 13
Thursday, April 15
Monday, April 19
Thursday, April 22
Monday, April 26
Thursday, April 29
Sat., May 1 field/range day

Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club fishing contest results

The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club’s annual ice fishing contest was Feb. 14 at Brooks Lake in Cokato, and the results for the junior and senior divisions are in.

In the junior division, Joel Selseth and Brandon Yurek both reeled in a 10-ounce crappie to tie in that category.

Jonny Berg pulled up a 6-ounce sunfish to win the prize for that category, and Dakota Ogaard caught the northern, which weighed 1.2 pounds.

In the adult division, Dean Terning reeled in the biggest crappie, weighing in at 10 ounces.

The prize for the biggest sunfish went to Dorothy Foster with a 7-ounce sunnie.

Marilyn Saulsbury pulled up the largest perch of the competition, which weighed 3 ounces.

The biggest fished caught during the day, though, was Russ Tenhoff’s 5.2-pound northern.

The top raffle prize winners were Kellie Oestreich, who won $100; Jeremy Telecky, who won $200; and the $300 grand prize went to Alicia Kelly.

DNR names snowmobile instructor of the year
From the DNR

Richard Kuttner of Hutchinson was named the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2009 Volunteer Snowmobile Safety Instructor of the Year during the recent Minnesota United Snowmobiler’s Association (MnUSA) Winter Rendezvous and Governor’s Ride in Hinckley.

Kuttner has been a DNR snowmobile safety instructor for 17 years.

The DNR also recently honored 30 snowmobile safety instructors with 20, 30, or 40 years of service.

The DNR’s snowmobile safety program has certified 212, 378 youths and 23,282 adults since 1969.

Hunter education instructors honored
From the DNR

Three Minnesota Hunter Education instructors have been honored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for 50 years of volunteer service to the program.

John Berg of Buffalo, Roger Eisen of Milaca, and Clarence Sasse of Minneapolis began teaching Hunter Firearms Safety Training four years after the Minnesota Hunter Education program was established in 1955.

Since that time 1 million Minnesotans have completed firearms safety training.

“Volunteer instructors are the heart and soul of the hunter education program in Minnesota,” says Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program coordinator. “The service of these dedicated men and women has made a significant difference in ensuring that hunting in Minnesota is safe, and hunters are ethical and responsible. No one knows how many injuries were prevented and lives saved because of their efforts.”

Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 cannot purchase a license to hunt in Minnesota without first taking a DNR Safety Training Course and receiving a certificate.

About 6,000 volunteer instructors teach more than 23,000 students in Minnesota each year.

Berg, Eisen, and Sasse were joined by another 130 firearms safety instructors honored by DNR for 20, 30, and 40 years of service to the agency.

DNR is always looking for experienced hunters to pass on the tradition of hunting safety and responsibility to the next generation.

If you are interested in joining DNR in this volunteer activity, call 800-366-8917, ext 2504, for information on becoming an instructor, or visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/instructors/firearms/index.html.

DNR seeks input on deer hunting, trapping, duck and fall turkey hunting
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will soon seek citizen input on nearly a dozen different hunting season options.

The first of several public meetings to be held during February and March has already taken place.

The agency will take public comments on possible changes to Zone 3 deer hunting regulations, youth deer hunting, use of crossbows, fall turkey hunting, the duck season opener and trapping.

“We are addressing a number of topics that will be of great interest to many hunters and trappers this year,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. “We are very open to comment on all of these proposals and hope our stakeholders can either attend a meeting or give us their comments online.”

Each year, the DNR conducts public meetings across the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons and other wildlife management issues.

Those who cannot attend the meetings are urged to complete a questionnaire online at www.mndnr.gov.

Topics to be addressed include:

• Furbearer harvest: In an effort to simplify regulations and provide additional opportunity, public comment will be taken on allowing river otter trapping statewide, including in southwest counties where the season is currently closed.

• Youth deer season: This four-day, youth-only deer season would be conducted statewide during what’s colloquially known as MEA Weekend, when public school students are given a two-day break on Thursday and Friday so teachers can attend the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference.

Youth would be allowed to take one either-sex deer statewide.

Adults would not be allowed to carry a firearm.

The early antlerless season would coincide with the youth season in areas where an early antlerless hunt already is scheduled.

• Buck cross-tagging: Public comment is being taken on requiring hunters in Zone 3 to tag only bucks that they shoot.

Hunters would no longer be allowed to tag bucks for others in their hunting party.

• Antler point restriction: In an effort to protect the majority of yearling bucks and encourage the harvest of does.

Zone 3 hunters would be restricted to harvesting only bucks with at least four antler points on one side.

• Zone 3 season length: If an antler point restriction were enacted, the Zone 3A season would be lengthened to nine days under this proposal.

• Crossbows: Public comment is being taken on allowing anyone 55 and older to hunt during the archery season with a crossbow.

• Fall turkey hunting: Public comment is being taken on a proposal to expand fall turkey hunting to a single 30-day season.

Public comment will also be taken on allowing dogs while hunting fall turkeys.

• Duck opener: Public comment is being invited on a possible legislative change that would allow the duck season to open in late September.

For example, the 2010 duck season could open on Sept. 25 rather than Oct. 2 if this proposal were carried forward.

• Duck shooting hours: Comment is being taken to gauge public support for moving shooting hours for ducks on opening day to one-half hour before sunrise as opposed to the current shooting hours, which begin at 9 a.m.

Actual changes would require future legislation.

• Other Waterfowl Management Options: Opportunity for public comment on other management options such as moist soil units, additional refuges, controlled hunting areas and split seasons and zones.

• Waterfowl feeding and resting area: In addition, some local meetings will include the chance to comment on establishing a migratory waterfowl feeding and resting area at Upper Twin Lake in Freeborn County.

Meeting dates and locations

Unless noted, the following meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m.
• Thursday, March 4: Initiative Foundation, 405 First Street Southeast, Little Falls
• Thursday, March 4: Waseca Area Senior Citizen’s Center, 308 State Street N, Waseca
• Tuesday, March 9: LaQuinta Inn & Suites, 1625 Broadway, Rochester
• Tuesday, March 9: Kilowatt Community Center, 600 Kilowatt Drive, Granite Falls, 6:30- 8:30 p.m.
• Thursday, March 11: DNR Headquarters cafeteria, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul
• Tuesday, March 16: Spring Lake Town Hall Community Center, 20381 Fairlawn Avenue, Prior Lake
• Tuesday, March 16 (6:30-9:30 p.m.): Hinckley-Finlayson High School board room, 201 Main Street, Hinckley
• Wednesday, March 17 (6-9 p.m.): Rainy River Community College room H118, International Falls

The location, time and date of meetings in northwest and southwest Minnesota will be announced once meetings are scheduled.

Those who can’t attend the meetings may submit comments via e-mail wildlife.dnr@state.mn.us or mail written comments to: Season Comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4007.

Ten tips for winter angler safety
From the DNR

After reports of several vehicles crashing through ice in recent weeks, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding winter anglers of tips to help make their ice outings safe:

1) Ice is seldom 100 percent safe; this is especially true of rivers. Even during the coldest winters you can find bad spots on almost any body of water due to current, springs, rotting vegetation, water chemistry and schools of rough fish.

2) If the ice is white, multiply the recommended thickness by two. Eight to 12 inches of new clear ice are the minimums recommended for automobiles and small trucks.

3) Multiply the recommended thickness by two any time the temperature rises above freezing for six of the past 24 hours. If it has been above freezing for 24 consecutive hours, stay off the ice; it’s not safe.

4) If you are leaving a load such as a vehicle in one place for more than two hours, multiply the recommended thickness by two. It’s best to drill a hole next to your vehicle. When the water overflows the hole; that means it’s sinking and it’s time to move.

5) Don’t park vehicles close together; they should be at least apart 100 times the ice thickness. If the ice is one foot thick, vehicles should be at least 100 feet apart.

6) Vehicles should stay off the ice in for 24 hours after a cold snap. A rapid drop in temperature makes the ice brittle.

7) Until slush is refrozen, keep vehicles off the ice. Refrozen slush will only support half the weight of new, clear ice. Snow is heavy and causes the ice to sag so its surface will be below the surface of the water. At that point, the ice is overloaded and water will overflow any cracks or holes. This saturates the bottom layers of snow creating slush.

8) Drive less than 15 miles per hour. A car or truck moving on ice creates waves, just like a boat in the summer. If the waves’ speed is the same as the vehicle speed a “critical velocity” is reached that can lead to ice failure.

9) Drive with windows open and be ready to bail out if the vehicle starts to break through. Don’t risk your life trying to save fishing gear or other equipment.

10) Be sure your insurance premium is paid. Even if a person escapes successfully, it can cost $15,000 or more to recover a submerged vehicle from the ice. Law requires removal within 30 days.

And finally, call before you visit, said Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist.

“Judging ice by just looking at it can be deceiving,” he added. “Check on ice conditions with a local bait shop or resort on the lake or river you’re planning to visit. Also, winter anglers need to drill holes frequently to check thickness as they move out onto the ice, since ice thickness can vary considerably from one spot to another.”

For more information, go to www.mndnr.gov and click on “ice safety.”

2010 spring light goose hunting begins today (March 1)
From the DNR

Minnesota hunters can harvest snow geese this spring – including blue-phased and the smaller Ross’ geese – under the provisions of a federal conservation order.

Hunting during 2010 will be open from Monday, March 1, to Friday, April 30.

This conservation order is part of an international effort to reduce populations of lesser snow geese, which breed in high Arctic coastal areas and the Hudson Bay area.

High populations of the birds cause habitat damage on breeding grounds and negatively impact other bird and waterfowl species that breed in the high Arctic.

Since 2000, when Minnesota began participating in the conservation order, the state spring harvest of light geese has varied dramatically.

Numbers have ranged from a few hundred to 6,000, depending on weather conditions.

“Minnesota is at the extreme eastern edge of the spring migration through the Midwest,” said Ray Norrgard, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wetland wildlife program leader. “March weather, particularly snow and ice conditions, can have a tremendous effect on the migration routes of light geese.”

A spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained from any DNR license agent.

Spring light goose permits also will be available by telephone at 1-888-665-4236 or online after March 1 at www.mndnr.gov.

No other license, stamp or permit is required to participate. Although the permits are free, there is a $3.50 application fee to cover permit issuing costs.

Non-toxic shot requirements and federal baiting regulations, as well as most regulations that apply to fall goose-hunting seasons, also will apply during the spring light goose conservation action.

Hunters may use electronic calls and unplugged shotguns.

Refuges closed to either duck or goose hunting during fall seasons also are closed during the spring conservation action.

Shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset each day.

No daily or possession limits apply.

A summary of regulations will be available from license vendors, DNR wildlife offices or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367.)