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DNR offers water safety tips for summer

July 26, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Hot summer weather continues in Minnesota, and families are enjoying summer vacations that include long weekends at the beach or pool.

Unfortunately, as cool and refreshing as it may look, water can be dangerous.

“Everyone wants to have a little fun in the water, so they head to the lake,” said Tim Smalley, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) boat and water safety specialist. “But people need to remember that even though water is fun, it can be deadly to the careless, the uninformed, or the just plain unlucky individual.”

A person can drown in as few as ten seconds and drowning can occur in just inches of water – including wading pools, hot tubs and even buckets.

The DNR offers these tips to help make it a safer summer in Minnesota:

• Swim in a designated swimming area with lifeguards whenever possible.
Parents need to watch their own children because lifeguards aren’t babysitters and can’t watch every person at once.

• Take swimming lessons and make sure children do too. Many local parks and recreation departments, community schools and the American Red Cross offer swimming lessons, even for adults.

• Swim with a buddy. Even adults can get into trouble in the water and if no one is there to help, they may drown.

• Watch children carefully at the beach, pool or anytime they are near the water.
Children can slip away without you noticing and they are unable to cry out for help while they are drowning.
People who are reading a book, chatting with friends or on the cell phone, may not be watching children closely enough.

• Don’t rely on plastic arm “floaties,” or water toys to save a child’s life. Those items may slip off or deflate.
The only flotation device a child should be using is a U.S. Coast Guard- approved life vest. Recently approved children’s models include bathing suits with life vests built in.

• Learn to recognize what drowning looks like. Drowning often occurs within minutes, and often in areas where others are nearby to help but are unaware of the signs of distress.

A drowning person usually is silent, has their head tipped back, and bobs up and down in a playful-looking manner.

So far this year (as of July 22), Minnesota has had 12 non-boat-related drownings.

That compares to an average of 21 such drownings per year over the last 10 years.

To learn more about water safety, go to www.mndnr.gov.

New public hunting and outdoor rec. area in Wright County
From the PF

Minnesota’s 2009 Build a Wildlife Area campaign has resulted in a new Waterfowl Production Area in Wright County.

The 65-acre addition to the Pelican Lake West Waterfowl Production Area will be officially dedicated Tuesday, Aug. 3.

In eight years, Pheasants Forever and partners in Minnesota Build a Wildlife Area campaigns have led in the creation of 3,165 acres that have been opened to public hunting and outdoor recreation as federal Waterfowl Production Areas or state Wildlife Management Areas.

The 65-acre Weldele tract –sold by John and Sandra Weldele – connects to the Pelican Lake West Waterfowl Production Area and also neighbors the Pelican Lake state Wildlife Management Area, strengthening a great wildlife complex.

“This land has been in their family a long time,” said Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever Regional Wildlife Biologist, “An honest and hardworking Minnesota family, the Weldeles wanted to protect their land from development. Not only is the area permanently protected, but thanks to the Weldeles and the Build a Wildlife Area campaign is a place countless others will enjoy.”

In addition to the Build a Wildlife Area campaign, major funding for the land acquisition came via the Outdoor Heritage Fund and Pheasants Forever’s Minnesota Habitat Fund, Pheasants Forever chapters, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and Muller Family Theatres.

The dedication ceremony will take place Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m..

The location is Edmondson Ave NE / County Highway 15 (South of 60th St. NE, north of 50th St. NE), Buffalo, MN 55313.

Representatives from Pheasants Forever, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be on hand, and photo and interview opportunities are available.

For more information, please contact Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever regional wildlife biologist, at (763) 242-1273 or esandquist@pheasantsforever.org.

Build a Wildlife Area - Minnesota

Pheasants Forever National and the Anoka County (Minnesota) Chapter of Pheasants Forever combined forces with Outdoor News (a series of Midwest outdoor publications), Gander Mountain and Game Fair to launch the initial effort Build a Wildlife Area campaign effort in 2003.

Major partners have also included Ron Schara Enterprises, Federal Premium Ammunition, Apple Auto Group, and KFAN Radio.

Since then, Minnesota Build a Wildlife Area campaigns have resulted in more than 3,000 acres that have been opened to public hunting and outdoor recreation.

Build a Wildlife Area: $1 = $3

Through a unique funding mechanism, the Build a Wildlife Area program puts 100 percent of the funds raised directly toward land acquisitions utilizing state, federal and other grants.

It’s been Pheasants Forever’s pledge from the beginning to see that every dollar of your donation is multiplied x3 through matching grants that Pheasants Forever has in place with state natural resource agencies, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other partners.

In other words, your $25 donation is worth $75 and your $10,000 donation is worth $30,000 for the Build a Wildlife Area campaign.

Watertown firearms training class

Registrations for Watertown firearms training class will take place Saturday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club.

Class size is limited, and participants must be 11 years old, or older, before class date in order to be eligible to take this class. The cost is $15.

Classes start Monday, Aug. 2, and continue Tuesday, Aug. 3, Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, there will be a field day that starts at 8 a.m.

For additional information, call (612) 709-1243, or send an e-mail to watertownFST@yahoo.com.

Botulism study to track migratory patterns of loons
From the DNR

Two adult loons in Minnesota were equipped with satellite transmitters and geolocator tags last week in an effort to study the movements and foraging patterns of fish-eating waterbirds while they migrate through the Great Lakes.

Staff from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), St. Johns University and students observed while scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wis., captured, attached telemetry equipment, geolocator tags and identification bands and released the loons.

This movement study is being done in association with a larger U. S. Geological Survey study on avian botulism on the Great Lakes.

The work will help determine the pathways of botulism exposure through the aquatic food chain.

Botulism, which has caused more than 80,000 bird deaths on the Great Lakes since 1999, causes paralysis and death of vertebrates who ingest neurotoxin produced by the botulism bacterium.

“This study will also help managers better understand how loons fare as they head to their wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts,” said USGS scientist Kevin Kenow, of the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center. “Right now, little is known about habitat use along their entire migratory routes.”

Although only two Minnesota loons were tagged, they may provide some critical information.

“This small sample still may aid us in understanding the possible effect of the gulf oil spill on the Minnesota loon population,” said Carrol Henderson, supervisor Minnesota’s DNR Nongame Wildlife Program. “The information also will help us develop important conservation strategies for loons in Minnesota.”

In addition to satellite transmitter loons, up to 80 loons in the Midwest will be equipped with geolocator tags.

These devices are programmed to record a daily location estimate, temperature, and pressure data to provide information on foraging depths.

Loons are iconic symbols of Minnesota Lakes, where they spend their summers raising their young and charming Minnesotans with their haunting calls.

The state’s loon population currently estimated at about 12,000.

Movement of loons from previous studies carrying satellite transmitters can be followed at www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/migratory_birds/loons/migrations.html.

Loon movements from the current study will be available later this summer.

More information on avian botulism can be found at www.nwhc.usgs.gov/.