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Increased deer activity raises risk of deer/car collisions

October 18, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Fall is a time of movement and migration for many of Minnesota’s wildlife species. White-tailed deer, which maintain an annual home range of about one square mile, increase their daily movements and become more active during this time of year.

The shortening days of fall also trigger a whitetails’ reproductive cycle with the peak of breeding coming during the first two weeks of November.

As bucks begin to search for receptive females, they may separate the male fawn of the year from its mother.

Yearling bucks, participating in their first breeding season, may move many miles from their home range.

“All of this natural white-tailed deer movement increases the number of deer crossing highways,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director. “This in turn increases the chances for motorists to strike deer.”

The DNR encourages motorists to increase their awareness of deer during the fall breeding season and offers these tips to decrease the odds of striking a deer:

• Be observant because a deer standing calmly in a field may suddenly jump into the road; anticipate the potential for this rapid change.

• When observing a deer crossing the road ahead, slow down, and scan for more deer. Many times additional deer are out of view.

• Slow down to avoid hitting a deer, but do not swerve because that can cause a person to lose control and strike another vehicle, leave the highway and strike a tree or other object.

• Be especially aware during the morning and afternoon when deer tend to be more active, moving between evening feeding areas and daytime bedding sites.

• Elevate deer awareness at locations with deer crossing signs, which indicate locations of frequent deer crossings.

Wright County PF special youth hunt

The 2nd Annual Wright County Pheasants Forever (PF) special mentored youth hunt, co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Annandale Conservation Club, takes place Saturday, Oct. 23.

New this year, is a version for females who would not normally have an opportunity to experience the rush of the flush.

The Wright County Chapter, partnering with the Annandale Conservation Club, is offering youth and women the chance to step into the field with an experienced mentor.

Interested youth age 12-17 were selected from a lottery to participate in the special mentored youth hunt, along with women over age 18 with limited experience.

Mentors from the chapter will be paired with women hunters, youths, and their guardians.

“The mentored hunts have all the critical factors we need to engage youths for both short- and long-term involvement in pheasant hunting. Access to the resources, gear, a mentor, social support from new friends and family, plus the positive experience, will make for memories from the field that will last a lifetime. I commend Pheasants Forever for creating on-the-ground and community actions that will last forever,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator.

For more information about PF in Minnesota, log onto www.minnesotapf.org.

Minnesota’s 75 PF chapters account for over 23,000 members statewide.

Those chapters have spent more than $23.8 million to complete over 20,000 habitat projects since the first Minnesota PF chapter was formed in 1982.

Those projects have benefited more than 170,000 acres for wildlife.

Conservation officer reports from area
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers and boaters.
CO Mies also checked archery hunters along with waterfowl hunters.
CO Mies checked ATVs and talked at the Maple Lake firearms class.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) found a lot of hunters and anglers out enjoying the mild weather.
Waterfowl hunters were still getting some birds, but the harvest was down from last week.
It will take some cooler weather to get some new migrants in the area.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting without the proper licenses and stamp validations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) spent much of the week returning calls on hunting questions.
Several TIP calls were handled; most of them were related to waterfowl hunting.
Waterfowl hunters were checked all week, with hunting success very good on ducks and geese.
It’s turning out to be the best waterfowl season in many years, with many limits of ducks and geese in the bag.
Violations documented were no licenses or waterfowl stamps in possession, unsigned federal stamps, no HIP, no personal flotation devices, transporting loaded firearms in motor boat, unplugged shotguns, and no ATV registration.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked a security detail for the vice presidential visit to St. Paul.
She followed up on deer hunting and trespassing complaints in Hennepin County.
Boating continues to be busy on Lake Minnetonka due to the warm weather.
Numerous boating and fishing violations were found.
She also completed seasonal equipment maintenance.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked waterfowl, small game, and archery deer hunting activity.
Additional time was spent checking angling, boating, and ATV activity.
Hatlestad also checked and advised boaters of invasive species, checked a possible WCA violation, and spoke to an ATV class in Litchfield.

• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) spent the week checking anglers, archery and waterfowl hunters, ATVs, and state/county parks.
Enforcement action was taken on no license in possession, no burn permit, burning prohibited materials, failure to display ATV registration, and PFD violations.
Officer Graham also worked Turn in Poachers calls.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) focused on waterfowl enforcement.
CO Oberg observed a decent number of waterfowl in the bag despite the summer temperatures.
Wood duck and teal continue to make up the majority of hunters’ bags.
CO Oberg took enforcement action for PFD violations, lead shot, and no license in possession.
Officer Oberg also worked an ATV complaint area where enforcement action was taken for operating ATV’s on a county highway, trespassing on agricultural land, trespass on HTI property, and registration issues.

Famed grouse researcher recognized with kiosk at Mille Lacs WMA
From the DNR

Gordon Gullion’s footfalls haven’t been heard in the Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for 20 years.

But without his pioneering research, today’s grouse hunters likely would find their fall walks through those woods a lot less enjoyable.

That’s why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and Federal Premium Ammunition honored Gullion Wednesday, Oct. 13, with the dedication of an informational kiosk at the Mille Lacs WMA headquarters near Onamia.

“Gullion was a world-renowned researcher whose work at Mille Lacs has helped sustain Minnesota as one of the top grouse hunting destination in the country,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “His work was instrumental in developing forest management practices that benefit ruffed grouse.”

Gullion, a University of Minnesota professor, headed the forestry wildlife project at the Cloquet Forestry Center for 32 years.

He conducted a management-oriented study of ruffed grouse and its habitat relationships that was unequalled in duration and intensity.

His research, much of conducted in the 39,000 acre Mille Lacs WMA, clearly identified the influence of specific habitat components, especially aspen, on grouse.

The two-panel kiosk located on the circle drive in front of the WMA’s headquarters gives an overview of Gullion’s ruffed grouse research and discusses the importance of habitat to the bird’s lifecycle.

“Mille Lacs is the ideal place to highlight the benefits of forest management to wildlife, particularly grouse, because much of Gullion’s work was done right here,” said Dan Dessecker, director of conservation policy for the RGS. “His research clearly demonstrated the important relationships between ruffed grouse populations and aspen.”

Since 1949, Mille Lacs has served as a flagship WMA. For many people, particularly in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, it’s the first place they are introduced to Minnesota’s forests and grouse hunting. More than 60 percent of its users are from the metropolitan area.

RGS received a grant from Federal to fund the kiosk. The grant is part of the Minnesota-based ammunition company’s effort to highlight science-based management and show how critical applied research is to habitat for wildlife and recreation.

“Grouse habitat just doesn’t happen,” said Ryan Bronson, Federal’s conservation manager. “It takes work. It takes money. Sportsmen need to understand that part of the money they pay for firearms and ammunition is for the Pittman-Robertson excise tax, which helps fund habitat work and wildlife management that make recreation possible.”

Gullion’s research helped the DNR formulate its approach to forest management practices that benefit ruffed grouse.

Of Minnesota’s 15.6 million acres of timberland, 6 million acres have aspen, balm and birch cover. Grouse seek cover in young aspen forests and the resinous buds are a primary food source.

Ruffed grouse is one of Minnesota most sought after game species.

Supported by habitat that grouse prefer, Minnesota is tops among all states in the average number of grouse harvested per hunter each year.

Because habitat that supports grouse and the bird itself are important resources, the DNR and RGS have partnered to create a new ruffed grouse coordinator position at the DNR.

The coordinator allows both organizations to better focus on habitat for game and non-game species and promote the continuation of abundant grouse and woodcock hunting opportunities.

“The people, practices and places Gullion’s work influenced over the many years of his research are one of the reasons I have this opportunity,” said Ted Dick, the DNR’s ruffed grouse coordinator. “I’m here to work with others who share an interest in healthy forests and quality grouse habitat.”

Finding a local DNR CO is now just a click away
From the DNR

Locating a conservation officer is now just a click away thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) new “Enforcement Conservation Officer Locator.”

“This is another way the DNR is leveraging technology to improve customer service,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement Division director.

DNR customers can access a conservation officer’s name, location and phone number by clicking anywhere on the state map provided on the Internet link.

People can also use the city/address form located on the web page to quickly zoom to a place on the map to find the contact information for a local conservation officer.

For people without computer access, they can contact nearby DNR office for the name of local conservation officer.

People may also call state patrol dispatch for name and phone number of area conservation officer.

For more information, contact DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

Special resource management deer hunts to take place at some MN state parks
From the DNR

Numerous special resource management deer hunts are scheduled to take place at Minnesota state parks this fall, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR advises anyone visiting a park during these hunts to wear blaze orange or other brightly colored clothing.

Visitors should also check for hunt-related information at the park office when they arrive and look carefully for signage related to the hunt.

Access to the parks will vary around the state during the special hunts.

Some parks will remain open to all visitors, some will have limited public access, and some will be open only to hunters with special permits.

The deadlines for youth and adults to apply for a special permit to participate in the hunts – which include regular firearms, muzzleloader and archery options – have passed.

“The DNR allows these annual resource management hunts as a way to help control the deer population at state parks,” said Ed Quinn, resource management coordinator for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails. “When there are too many deer in one area, the native plants and animals can be negatively affected. Our goal is to ensure healthy natural communities.”

The DNR thanks park visitors for their patience and understanding at parks where access will be limited during the hunts.

Parks that will remain open to all visitors during special hunts (hunt dates in parentheses):
Beaver Creek Valley State Park (Nov. 6-7)
Buffalo River State Park (Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 30-31)
Crow Wing State Park (Dec. 3-5)
Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Nov. 6-8)
Glacial Lakes State Park (Nov. 6-7)
Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area (Sept. 18-Dec. 31)
Hayes Lake State Park (Oct. 16-17 and Nov. 6-21)
Itasca State Park (Nov. 6-14 and Nov. 27-Dec. 12)
Judge C.R. Magney State Park (Nov. 6-21)
Lake Bemidji State Park (Oct. 16-17 and Nov. 6-9)
Lake Bronson State Park (Nov. 6-14)
Lake Carlos State Park (Nov. 6-9)
Lake Louise State Park (Nov. 13-14)
Maplewood State Park (Nov. 6-9)
Schoolcraft State Park (Nov. 6-21)
Sibley State Park (Dec. 4-5)
Soudan Underground Mine State Park (Nov. 27-Dec. 12)
Zippel Bay State Park (Nov. 6-21)

Parks where some areas will be open only to hunters with special permits but other areas will remain open to all visitors:
Banning State Park (Oct. 30-31)
Big Stone Lake State Park (Dec. 4-5)
Gooseberry Falls State Park (Nov. 6-21)
Hayes Lake State Park (Oct. 21-24)
Itasca State Park (Oct. 16-17)
Jay Cooke State Park (Dec. 4-8)
Lake Bronson State Park (Oct. 21-24)
Old Mill State Park (Oct. 21-24)
St. Croix State Park (Oct. 30-31)
Savanna Portage State Park (Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 13-17)
Scenic State Park (Nov. 6-21)
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Nov. 6-21)
Tettegouche State Park (Oct. 16-17 and Nov. 6-21)
Zippel Bay State Park (Oct. 17-18)
Parks that will be open only to hunters with special permits:
Father Hennepin State Park (Oct. 30-31 and Dec. 4-5)
Frontenac State Park (Nov. 20-22)
Lake Maria State Park (Dec. 4-6)
Lake Shetek State Park (Dec. 4-5)
Lake Vermilion State Park (Nov. 6-14)
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park (Nov. 27-28)
Rice Lake State Park (Nov. 27-28)
St. Croix State Park (Nov. 12-15)
Whitewater State Park (Nov. 20-21)
William O’Brien State Park (Nov. 6-7)

Parks that are not having any special hunts and will remain open to the public:
Afton State Park, Bear Head Lake State Park, Big Bog State Recreation Area, Blue Mounds State Park, Camden State Park, Carley State Park, Cascade River State Park, Charles A. Lindbergh State Park, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Fort Ridgely State Park, Franz Jevne State Park, Garden Island State Recreation Area, Glendalough State Park, Grand Portage State Park, Great River Bluffs State Park, Interstate State Park, John A. Latsch State Park, Kilen Woods State Park, Lac qui Parle State Park, McCarthy Beach State Park, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Minneopa State Park, Monson Lake State Park, Moose Lake State Park, Myre-Big Island State Park, Red River State Recreation Area, Sakatah Lake State Park, Split Rock Creek State Park, Temperance River State Park, Upper Sioux Agency State Park, and Wild River State Park.

Special situations:
• Fort Snelling State Park and Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area will not be having a special hunt, but access to these parks is currently limited due to flooding.

• George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park is not having a special hunt, but hunting is allowed in a portion of the park during the normal season, Nov. 6-21. The park will remain open to all visitors during this time.

• The city of New Ulm is having an archery deer hunt Oct. 9-Dec. 31. Some of the deer stands are located within Flandrau State Park, but nowhere near trails or public use areas. The park will therefore remain open to all visitors during this time.

• Although there is no hunt at Hill Annex Mine State Park, the park is only open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Details on which areas of each park will be affected by the special deer hunts will be included in the “visitor alert” boxes on the individual park web pages on DNR website.

Information is also available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: During late summer and early fall, large numbers of loons were recently spotted gathering on a number of lakes.
However, they were not feeding and not fighting; they appeared to be partying.

Why is this? Is this part of the fall migration?

A: Loons are territorial when they are nesting and raising chicks.

But starting in mid-summer, groups of non-mated loons, or loons that were unsuccessful with nesting, begin to gather and move around between lakes.

I call these groups “loon parties” because they are indeed socializing and not fighting.

Sometimes the loons will circle and actively interact.

As the summer wanes on, these groups get larger and blend into the pre-migratory behavior of gathering on larger lakes.

In September, many adult loons that successfully raised chicks leave those lakes, and their chicks, to join the loon groups.

In 1998, loon counts completed on Mille Lacs and Winnibigoshish lakes documented a peak of more than 1,500 loons on each lake in mid-October.

The loons then fly south to the ocean for the winter, leaving in late October and November.