www.herald-journal.com
Ice fishing shelter removal dates fast approaching

Feb. 28, 2011

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 Monday, March 7 in the southern two-thirds of the state and Monday, March 21 in the northern third.

The March 7 removal deadline applies to waters south of a line starting at the Minnesota-North Dakota border near Moorhead along U.S. Highway 10, then east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border near Duluth.

The March 21 deadline applies to waters north of that line.

For border waters, the shelter removal deadlines are:
• Minnesota - Iowa, Feb. 20
• Minnesota - Wisconsin, March 1
• Minnesota - North Dakota and South Dakota, March 5
• Minnesota - Canada, March 31.

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

Those not removing shelters will be prosecuted.

Conservation officers may remove the structure and confiscate or destroy it.

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.

Anglers should check with local refuse providers or landfills for disposal.

According to the DNR, 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.

Watertown firearms safety training

Registration for Watertown firearms safety training will be Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club.

Classes will be March 24, 25, 29, 31, and April 4 and 7, with a field day being Saturday, April 9 at 8 a.m.

All classes will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For additional information, go to www.watertownFST@yahoo.com, or contact Cory (763) 218-3228 or Patrick (612) 709-1243.

DNR says now is good time to burn brush piles
From the DNR

With snow still on the ground, now is a good time for residents to complete winter cleanup by burning brush piles, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Snow on the ground drastically reduces the chance of a fire escaping and igniting unintended areas,” said Ron Stoffel, wildfire supervisor.

Burning permits are not required in the winter. As the snow melts, burning restrictions will be put in place over much of the state.

Burning restrictions are used seasonally to reduce the chance of wildfires.

The majority of wildfires in Minnesota result from human carelessness or lack of understanding about fire.

Even with a continuous blanket of snow, fire officials caution everyone to pay attention to their surroundings.

Parts of northern Minnesota are behind in soil moisture.

This deficit may allow dry peat soils to ignite due to vegetation being burned on its surface.

Peat fires are difficult to extinguish once they start and may burn underground, even beneath a layer of snow.

The DNR encourages people to evaluate the site before lighting a burn pile.

For questions about conditions, contact a local forestry office for information.

Stoffel emphasized that if individuals wait too long to burn, they may find that permits are unavailable until conditions improve.

“Windy days, coupled with low humidity create favorable conditions for wildfires. When the snow cover is gone, but before vegetation greens up, grass and brush burn readily,” said Stoffel.

2011 fishing regulation changes become effective March 1
From the DNR

New special fishing regulations for affected lakes and other general changes for the 2011 fishing season become effective Tuesday, March 1, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Minnesota Fishing Regulations 2011 booklet, which summarizes changes on page 4, will be available March 1 at DNR license agents and online.

The 2011 booklet does not list special regulations for walleye on Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake because they are not yet established.

These regulations will be announced through the media and on the DNR website, and posted at public access sites on the affected lakes.

Game and fish licenses for 2011 are available now from DNR license agents, online and by telephone at 888-665-4236. Licenses for 2011 become effective March 1.

The 2010 licenses are still good until the end of April.

New special regulations for 2011:

• Aitkin Lake including area known as Aitkin Flowage (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

• Big Sandy Lake and connected waters (Aitkin County) - Aitkin Lake including area known as Aitkin Flowage, Davis Lake including bay known as Steamboat Lake, Flowage Lake, Sandy River Lake, Prairie River from confluence with Tamarack River downstream to confluence with Big Sandy Lake, Sandy River from State Highway 210 downstream to confluence with the Mississippi River, and West Savanna River from County Highway 14 downstream to confluence with the Prairie River; sunfish, possession limit five; walleye, all less than 14 inches or greater than 18 inches must be immediately released, with one more than 26 inches allowed in possession.

• Clear Lake (Washington County) - walleye minimum size limit 17 inches, possession limit three.

• Crow Wing Lakes, 5th and 6th (Hubbard County) - northern pike, all from 24-36 inches must be immediately released, one more than 36 inches allowed in possession.

• Davis Lake (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

• Flowage Lake (Aitkin County) - same Big Sandy Lake.

• Melissa Lake (Becker County) northern pike - all from 24-36 inches must be immediately released, one more than 36 inches allowed in possession.

• Sallie Lake (Becker County) northern pike - all from 24-36 inches must be immediately released, one more than 36 inches allowed in possession.

• Sandy River Lake (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

• Prairie River (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

• Sandy River (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

• Red Lake (Beltrami County) northern pike - all from 26-44 inches must be immediately released, one more than 44 inches allowed in possession.

• West Savanna River (Aitkin County) - same as Big Sandy Lake.

Minnesota DNR completes Rare Species Guide
From the DNR

With the addition of 133 profiles, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has completed publication of The Rare Species Guide, an online reference about the state’s rarest plant and animal species.

“The Rare Species Guide, accessible through the DNR’s website, now provides easy access to information about all 439 of Minnesota’s endangered, threatened, and special concern species,” said Sarah Wren, Rare Species Guide Project manager.

The guide, which synthesizes knowledge from years of research and management experience by DNR biologists and external experts, is the state’s authoritative reference on state-listed species.

Each species profile includes an explanation of the species’ rarity; state and federal status designations; descriptive, life history, and habitat information; conservation/management issues and recommendations; Minnesota and North American range maps; photographs; and bibliographic references.

While designed for a broad audience, the Rare Species Guide is particularly valuable for natural resource professionals who prepare conservation and management plans, plan land acquisitions, or participate in environmental review.

Citizens, educators and students will also find it a useful tool to learn about the rare species that occur in their home or work areas.

Users can search for species profiles based on common or scientific name, state and federal endangerment status, broad taxonomic group (such as mammals or birds), habitat, location (including counties, watersheds and ecological classification system subsections), and/or keyword.

The guide, available online, is regularly updated as new information becomes available.

Moose population decline continues in NE Minnesota
From the DNR

Minnesota’s moose population in northeastern Minnesota continues to decline, according to results of an aerial survey released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Survey results revealed lower moose numbers and the proportion of cows accompanied by calves continued a 14-year decline, dropping to a record low of 24 calves per 100 cows.

The proportion of cows accompanied by twin calves was at the lowest level since 1999, which contributed to the record-low calf-to-cow ratio.

“These indices along with results from research using radio-collared moose all indicate that the population has been declining in recent years,” said Dr. Mark Lenarz, DNR forest wildlife group leader.

Moose numbers are estimated using an aerial survey of the northeastern Minnesota moose range.

Based on the survey, wildlife researchers estimate that there were 4,900 moose in northeastern Minnesota. Last year’s estimate was 5,500.

Since 2005, the downward trend in moose numbers has been statistically significant.

In addition to the decline in the calf-to-cow ratio, the bull-to-cow ratio also continued to decline, with an estimated 64 bulls per 100 cows.

Aerial surveys, conducted each year since 1960 in the northeast, are based on flying transects in 40 randomly selected plots spread across the Arrowhead region of Minnesota.

A study of radio-collared moose in northeastern Minnesota between 2002 and 2008 determined that nonhunting mortality was substantially higher than in moose populations outside of Minnesota.

Combined with the reduced number of calves, the high mortality has resulted in a population with a downward trend.
The causes of moose mortality are not well understood.

Of 150 adult moose radio-collared since 2002 in Minnesota, 114 have subsequently died, most from unknown causes thought to be diseases or parasites.

Ten moose died as a result of highway vehicle accidents. Two were killed by trains. Nine deaths were clearly the result of wolf predation.

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Natural Resources has recommended funding a study beginning in 2012 that would concentrate on identifying factors responsible for high mortality.

In August 2009, a Moose Advisory Committee convened by the DNR released its findings, which were used in the development of a legislatively mandated moose research and management plan.

This plan is undergoing final internal review and should be available for public comment soon.

The Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and provided personnel for the annual survey.

Dogs chasing deer an annual problem
From the DNR

Reports of dogs pursuing deer this time of year is an annual problem, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“It’s cold out, and deer are expending every bit of energy to stay alive, while the dog is likely frisky, full of food, and ready to run,” said Col. Jim Konrad, Minnesota DNR enforcement director.

The penalty for dogs caught chasing deer can be death. And the owner of a dog that kills or pursues a big game animal is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and is subject to a civil penalty of up to $500 for each violation.

State law says any conservation officer or peace officer has the option of killing a dog that is caught wounding, killing or pursuing a big game animal.

Also, between Jan. 1 and July 14, a person other than a peace officer or conservation officer may kill the dog.

The officer or person is not liable for damages for killing the dog.

The last thing a conservation officer wants to do is talk to people about controlling their dog, Konrad said.

“If people make a little extra effort, we won’t have these problems,” Konrad said. “The DNR doesn’t perceive this as a dog problem. We perceive it as a people problem.”