Trapper education courses are now forming

June 28, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Summer is a perfect time for youth trappers to complete required trapper education courses, according to the Minnesota Trappers Association (MTA) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The course fulfills the requirement that anyone born after Dec. 31, 1989, and who has not been issued a trapping license in a previous year, must have a trapper education certification card in order to obtain a trapping license.

The MTA conducts the classes for free statewide, according to MTA President Shawn Johnson. “We just ask that students and their parents plan to take the courses well in advance to ensure a smooth trapping license purchase.”

More information about on the MTA trapper education course is available online at www.mntrappers.org.

Apply now for the 2010 MN elk hunt
From the DNR

Hunters have until Friday, July 16, to apply for one of 11 elk licenses offered this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Licenses for the 2010 hunts will be available in the traditional Grygla area and central Kittson County, which is a consolidation of the north and south Kittson zones from last year.

Maps of the two hunt zones can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/elk.

“Annual elk hunts help manage population size and provide a unique hunting experience for Minnesota hunters,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

Seven licenses (two either-sex and five antlerless) will be offered in the Grygla area.

Four licenses (one either-sex and three antlerless) will be offered in Kittson County.

“With the completion of our elk management plan, we’re allocating elk licenses so that we can manage the two populations at established levels,” Cornicelli said.

A total of three licenses (two in Grygla and one in Kittson County) may be issued to qualified landowners in their elk zone in a preferential drawing.

Unsuccessful landowner applications will then be added to the general drawing, from which the remaining applicants will be selected.

Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a permit.

In total, there will be two seasons in each zone, divided as follows:

• Sept. 18-26, two either-sex in Grygla, one either-sex and one antlerless license in Kittson County.

• Dec. 4-12, five antlerless licenses in Grygla and two antlerless licenses in Kittson County.

Applications may be made at any DNR license agent or the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Paper applications will not be accepted.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two.

There is a non-refundable application fee of $10 per hunter.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail.

In order to hunt, they must purchase an elk license for $250.

Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk.

If no qualified landowners apply, all licenses will be drawn from the general pool of applicants.

In Minnesota, elk hunts are considered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which means parties that choose to purchase their license will not be eligible to apply for future elk hunts.

Applicants must select a single zone in which to hunt.

Choices are Zone 10 (Grygla) or Zone 20 (Central Kittson County).

Applicants may not apply for both zones.

Applicants successful in the lottery will be randomly selected for season and license.

“The early hunt is timed to coincide with the elk rut, sohunters will have a good opportunity to try calling a bull,” Cornicelli said. “During the second season, elk should be congregated in larger groups with snow on the ground, making tracking and trailing easier.”

All successful applicants will be required to attend an orientation session at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area headquarters in Middle River prior to the hunt. Hunters also must register their elk in their hunt area.

Some biological information relative to elk physical condition will be collected at the check station.

Elk will be tested for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis as part of Minnesota’s wild cervid surveillance program.

Hunters should be aware that both elk zones include private land.

Permission to hunt these lands should be obtained prior to purchasing their license.

Campsites still available for Fourth of July weekend
From the DNR

There are still plenty of places left to pitch a tent or park an RV over the Fourth of July weekend at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Up to 30 percent of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are nonreservable and available to campers on a first-come, first-served basis, as are all campsites at Minnesota state forest recreation areas.

To increase the chances of getting a nonreservable campsite, the DNR advises campers to arrive by Thursday night or early Friday morning or delay their arrival until Sunday, when campsites begin to open up again.

The following state parks, all within 100 miles of the Twin Cities metro area, had at least 10 reservable campsites remaining for the Fourth of July weekend as of June 21:

• Carley State Park (near Rochester), a quiet spot to hike and trout fish amid wildflowers and grand old white pines along the Whitewater River.

• Minneopa State Park (Mankato), where highlights include beautiful waterfalls and panoramic views.

• Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area (Jordan), an ideal destination for wildlife observation as well as hiking, biking and mountain biking along the multi-use Minnesota Valley State Trail that runs through the park.

• Myre-Big Island State Park (Albert Lea), with rental canoes and kayaks available for exploring Albert Lea Lake, a haven for waterfowl.

• Rice Lake State Park (Owatonna), which has a great variety of songbirds to observe while paddling the lake or hiking the park’s five miles of trails.

• St. Croix State Park (Hinckley), the state’s largest state park, with 34,000 acres bordered by the St. Croix and Kettle rivers, has a swimming beach, a fire tower, 21 miles of mountain bike trails and a 5.5-mile paved bike trail.

• Sakatah Lake State Park (near Faribault), a scenic place to boat and bike, with easy access to the 39-mile paved Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail that runs through the park.

Many campsites are available at parks further from the metro area including:

• In the southwest, Blue Mounds, Camden, Kilen Woods, Lac qui Parle, and Upper Sioux Agency state parks.

• In the northwest, Hayes Lake, Lake Bronson, Maplewood, and Zippel Bay state parks.

• In the northeast, Scenic and Schoolcraft state parks.

For campers planning family reunions or traveling with friends, several group camps are available, which feature space for multiple tents.

They can be reserved for $30 to $75 per night.

Day-use visitors can choose from a variety of naturalist-led programs or spend the day hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, geocaching, or riding horses or off-highway vehicles on their own.

Many parks even loan out free GPS units, fishing equipment, birding kits, and Kids Discovery Kits.

For details about programs and special events and equipment check-out, call (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 or visit www.mndnr.gov/parksandtrails.

A daily state park vehicle permit costs $5.

Year-round $25 permits provide unlimited access to Minnesota state parks for a full year from the month of purchase.

Entrance to Soudan Underground Mine State Park and the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert is free.

Camping or lodging reservations can be made by calling 866-85PARKS or 866-857-2757 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, or by visiting www.stayatmnparks.com.