Be aware of thin ice this time of year

November 29, 2010

by Chris Schultz

Many of our local sloughs and small ponds are completely frozen over, covered with a thin layer of ice and on most, approximately one-half inch of snow.

As of Friday, Nov. 26, Howard Lake was 90 percent covered with a good clear sheet of ice and had several areas of open water near the middle of the lake.

Although the ice on the cattail sloughs is probably thick enough to carry a late-season pheasant hunter, and I’ve received reports of ice angler activity on Lake Rebecca, the ice on our area lakes isn’t ready yet for safe walking traffic, and with warmer weather predicted for this week, it may be a week or two before the ice angling season is off and rolling.

A plus for many of the larger lakes is the lack of snow cover on them.

Most had no ice cover at all when we got the last snowfall and now have no snow on top of the ice that has just formed, meaning they have a good chance to develop good, clear, solid ice at a faster pace than those smaller lakes that have a thin blanket of snow on them.

Remember that no ice is ever completely safe, and it takes at least 4 solid inches of good ice for foot traffic and 8-plus inches of good ice for vehicle traffic.

Last spring, Howard Lake became ice-free April 5.

The latest ice over date recorded on Howard Lake was Dec. 20 in 1998, and again in 2001.

Lake Maria State Park closed Dec. 4-6
News release

Lake Maria State Park will be closed to the public Saturday, Dec. 4 through Monday, Dec. 6 due to a special-permit hunt to better manage the deer population within park boundaries.

According to Park Manager Mark Crawford, all park facilities will be closed during these dates, and the entrance will be blocked.

The park will re-open Tuesday, December 7.

“The objective of the hunt is to reduce deer density to an acceptable level to minimize damage to park vegetation and decrease intrusion on adjacent cropland, orchards and gardens,” says Crawford. “Mild winters and less hunting pressure outside the park has led to a larger than normal herd. In addition, the hunt will serve as an evaluation of alternative strategies to control deer population.”

Only muzzle-loading firearms will be used in the hunt, and 25 special permits were issued to highly skilled hunters last September.

For more information, call the park at (763) 878-2325 or visit its web site at www.mnstateparks.info.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Buckthorn has become a major problem throughout the state. Can planting native species help suppress the growth of buckthorn, especially after buckthorn is removed from an area?

A: Depending on the circumstances, restoring native plant species after buckthorn removal may help suppress the re-growth of buckthorn.

Without follow-up control of re-sprouting plants and seedlings that emerge after initial control, buckthorn will come right back.

Buckthorn seeds in the soil can remain viable for up to five years.

As a result, it is essential to monitor and manage buckthorn stands each year to suppress its growth, and allow native plants to establish.

The best time to cut and chemically treat the stumps is in late summer and throughout the fall.

Control methods are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov.

Conservation officers reports from area
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked hunters. CO Mies also checked trappers and worked on waters case. CO Mies also worked on follow up deer investigations.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) investigated several TIP calls and injured wildlife calls. Reller also checked waterfowl hunters and small game hunters.
Time was also spent preparing boats and other open water equipment for storage.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer out of season.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) handled several deer hunter trespass complaints.
Dogs chasing deer in the San Francisco Township area has been a big problem.
Several dog owners were contacted, but commented that their dogs were not involved.
CO Walter worked the 3B deer hunting opener.
Few hunters observed; very few deer shot in the 3B area.
He returned numerous phone calls regarding hunting questions.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) checked deer hunters during a special firearms deer hunt in the Elm Creek Park Reserve in Hennepin County.
She followed up on a hunter harassment issue in Minnetrista and issued several car kill deer permits.
Duck hunters continue to be checked on area lakes though very few ducks are being shot.
She also met with a college student for a class project.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) conducted follow up work on firearms and archery deer hunting investigations.
Additional time was spent checking waterfowl and pheasant hunting activity, as well as trapping activity.
Hatlestad also enforced ATV laws, and spoke at a FAS class in Litchfield.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent the week following up on cases from the firearms deer season.
Time was also spent checking pheasant hunters in the area.
Snowmobile activity has decreased significantly in the area.
CO Oberg also spent time monitoring trapping activity in the area.

• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) checked waterfowl and small game hunters, as well as trappers and anglers.
Officer Graham also followed up on complaints from the firearms deer season.

Outdoor notes

• The firearms deer hunt went well in our area and across the state. After the weekend of Nov. 20 and 21, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported 171,000 deer registered during the firearms hunt, which is a 10 percent increase over the same time a year ago.

• The Minnesota regular waterfowl hunting season ends Tuesday, Nov. 30.

• Late-season pheasant hunters have been reporting good success across many portions of the Minnesota and Midwest pheasant range.

Frozen sloughs are helping, and for those heading west to hunt, there is little or no snow when you get west of Cosmos.

• Take a kid hunting or fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.