DNR seeking nominations for new waterfowl hunting focus group

March 7, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesotans who would like to participate in a newly formed Department of Natural Resources (DNR) waterfowl hunting listening session should nominate themselves by March 14.

The DNR soon will select a 12-person focus group that will meet once a month from March through June 2011.
Each listening session will focus on a single topic.

The agency will seek input on hunter recruitment and retention; habitat issues and strategies; and hunting and harvest issues such as season dates and bag limits.

“I want to hear what waterfowl hunters have to say,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “And I believe this approach – an in-depth conversation about their attitudes, preferences and feelings – will add value to the information we collect through surveys, public input meetings, stakeholder gatherings and biological assessments.”

Each meeting will begin with a brief DNR presentation followed by a moderated discussion.

All meetings will be in or around the Twin Cities.

Interested individuals should send an e-mail with their name and address and a short description of their interest and background to commissioner.dnr@state.mn.us before the March 14 deadline.

This first-ever focus group will be comprised of one representative each from Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, plus nine at-large waterfowl hunters.

The at-large hunters will represent different areas of the state, age and types of hunting interests and experiences.

Participants will be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Ray Norrgard, DNR wetland wildlife program leader, said focus group information will be incorporated into other public input and biological considerations as the agency sets its waterfowl priorities during the next four years.

Minnesota has a long and storied waterfowl history, he said, but that saga is saddened by the realities of wetland loss, wetland and shallow lake degradation, limited nesting cover, and unfavorable migration patterns.

“The next chapter of our state’s waterfowl history will be defined by what happens on the land and the actions taken by conservation agencies, conservation organizations and those who hunt,” Norrgard said. “Focus group participants will have an opportunity to influence these actions.”

Christian Deer Hunters Association event March 19 in Silver Lake

The Christian Deer Hunters Association will be hosting its annual Big Little Hunting and Fishing Expo and Auction Saturday, March 19 in Silver Lake.

The expo and auction will take place at the Silver Lake Auditorium with the doors opening at 9 a.m.

Many exhibitors and seminars will be going on throughout the day.

For additional information on the expo, go to www.christiandeerhunters.org.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Sat.

Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, March 12 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Options for the dinner include steak and shrimp combo ($12), steak ($10), butterfly pork chop ($8), six shrimp ($8), and ribeye ($14).

Each meal includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, coffee or milk, and a complimentary drink.

Reservations need to be made by Friday, March 11 before 6 p.m., and be called in to the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877 or to Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

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.

Ice houses need to be removed today (Mon.)
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.

Minnesota state parks’ free maple syruping programs are a sweet deal
From the DNR

The annual springtime tradition of maple syruping is about to begin with several Minnesota state parks hosting workshops in March and April.

Some events are demonstrations only; while others provide hands-on opportunities to participate in each step of the process, from drilling holes in the trees to boiling the sap to reduce water content. I

t usually takes 30-40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of pure maple syrup.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), maple sap runs best when daytime temperatures are in the high 30s to mid 40s and overnight temperatures are below freezing.

This cycle of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights needs to continue for several days.

Some sap may flow as early as January or as late as May, but the typical time for a “good” sap run in Minnesota is from about March 15 to April 20.

The maple syrup programs are free, but a vehicle permit ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit) is required to enter the parks.

Registration is required for some programs.

A schedule of maple syrup programs at Minnesota state parks is available at mndnr.gov/parksandtrails.

For more information, call (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bull moose license application period begins April 1
From the DNR

Minnesota’s bull-only moose hunt will continue in 2011, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has reduced the number of available permits by half to reflect a continued decline in the moose population and a more conservative harvest model.

This year, 105 licenses will be available in northeastern Minnesota, down from the 213 permits issued in 2010.
The application period for the fall hunt, which is open only to Minnesota residents age 10 and older, begins Friday, April 1, and ends Friday, May 6.

The DNR’s forthcoming moose management and research plan recommends using bull-cow ratios as a measure to determine whether a bulls-only hunt should continue.

DNR biologists will now base the harvest level on 5 percent of the estimated bull population rather than 2 percent of the estimated total moose population.

Based on the January 2011 aerial moose survey, a decline in the bull-cow ratio was observed.

The current ratio is sufficient for cows to be bred each fall, but is below the threshold identified in the management and research plan.

“We continue to allocate moose licenses very conservatively and anticipate about 50 will be harvested this fall by state hunters.” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. “This low level of harvest should allow for an increase in the proportion of bulls in the population.”

Moose season opens Saturday, Oct. 1, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 16.

Hunters may apply at any DNR license agent or at the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul.
Moose hunters must apply in parties from two to four individuals.

An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application.

Permits are issued through a random drawing, except that applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.

A person who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection also will be included in the regular drawing.

Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2011 drawing.

The license fee is $310 per party.

There will be mandatory orientation sessions required for all hunters chosen for moose licenses.

In 2010, licensed hunters harvested 109 bull moose, for a party success rate of 51 percent.

The DNR’s most recent aerial survey of moose in northeastern Minnesota estimates the population at 4,900. Last year’s estimate was 5,500.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program uses money raised from the sale of the critical habitat license plates to protect and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.

What sort of an impact has this program made in Minnesota?

A: The Reinvest in Minnesota Matching Program was established in 1986 by a recommendation from the Citizen’s Commission to Promote Hunting and Fishing in Minnesota.

Since that time, the Critical Habitat Conservation License Plates have generated more than $34 million, and the Minnesota Legislature has appropriated another $33 million for acquisition and enhancement of critical habitat.

These funds have matched private donations of land and cash totaling more than $73 million.

The money has helped restore wetlands, improve forest habitat, plant critical winter cover, preserve habitat for rare native plant and animal species, and protect reproduction areas for fish and wildlife.

The program has also created public places for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and other outdoor activities.

With the help of Minnesotans and other conservation-minded people, the RIM Matching Program has been able to acquire and protect more than 107,000 acres of land.