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More keeper walleye to be allowed on Mille Lacs; hunting deadlines approaching fast

July 25, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota’s state government shutdown will not affect upcoming hunting seasons or prevent a mid-season walleye regulation change at Lake Mille Lacs.

“Some application deadlines are approaching fast but that’s the only significant impact to hunters,” said Ed Boggess, director of the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Fish and Wildlife Division. “On the angling side, we moved quickly to implement a more liberal walleye length limit regulation on Lake Mille Lacs.”

The upcoming regulation change is based on an evaluation of the 2011 walleye harvest through June 30 that deemed a change was warranted.

Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 27, the walleye length limit regulation on Lake Mille Lacs will change to a 20- to 28-inch protected slot.

Currently the walleye regulation is an 18- to 28-inch protected slot.

As DNR services resume operation, the following items relate to hunters and anglers:

• Fishing and hunting licenses: They are again available at any of the state’s 1,500 license agents, as well as over the internet or by phone.

• Bear license purchase deadline: Hunters who successfully applied in the 2011 bear license lottery must purchase their license by Aug. 1. Licenses that are not purchased will go on sale on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Thursday, Aug. 4. Bear baiting can legally begin Friday, Aug. 12.

• Fall turkey/prairie chicken: The application deadline for fall turkey and prairie chicken licenses is Friday, July 29. Applications may be made online at www.mndnr.gov, by calling toll-free 888-665-4236, or through the electronic licensing system wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

• Deer hunting: Licenses will go on sale Aug. 1. The deadline for lottery either-sex permit applications and special deer hunts is Thursday, Sept. 8. The firearms deer season opens Nov. 5. The Camp Ripley archery hunt will be held as scheduled, as will special youth and state park deer hunts. One potential exception is the St. Croix State Park youth deer hunt. The feasibility of going forward with that hunt is under evaluation because of widespread damage to the park from high winds on July 1. Additional information will be announced later.

• Hunting regulations booklet: Printed copies of this year’s regulation booklet won’t be available until mid-August but an online version should be available Aug. 1.

• Waterfowl hunting: Hunting season decisions will be made in mid-August.

State parks reopen, and other DNR functions are back
From the DNR

Some Minnesota state parks opened for day and overnight use Friday, while other facilities did not open until the weekend, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials said.

DNR employees returned to work Thursday, July 21, after the agency and state government was shut down July 1 due to a state budget impasse.

For state parks and trails employees, the first day of work will be focused on making sure parks and trails are safe for public use.

For some parks, a best-case scenario means they will reopen for day and some overnight use within 24 hours of staff returning to work.

For overnight use, it may take two days or longer for staff to make campgrounds and facilities suitable for customers, which includes clearing away storm debris, turning on utility systems and cleaning restrooms.

Up-to-date information on park operations and other DNR functions can be found on the agency’s website at www.mndnr.gov/reopen.

A red, yellow or green symbol will indicate the closed, partially open or open status of individual parks, trails and forest recreation areas on the website.

The availability of specific facilities within parks will be noted as well.

Customers will not be able to get reservation information by telephone from the ReserveMN system until July 26, but they can call individual parks to check their specific reservations.

The biggest challenge for state parks and trails is making sure downed trees are cleared, trails and campsites are safe and water, electricity and restrooms are available.

Numerous storms across Minnesota in July left debris and otherwise damaged parks, said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.

“We ask for the public’s patience as we reopen state parks after being closed for nearly three weeks,” Nelson said. “We want to make sure parks are not only safe for the public, but that they can provide the high-quality experience our customers have come to expect.”

Anglers and hunters are now able to purchase their licenses as well.

The DNR’s Electronic Licensing System (ELS) is operational, which means boat and other licenses can also be renewed.
Licenses can be purchased through one of the DNR’s ELS vendors, which include sporting goods stores and bait shops.
Licenses can also be purchased by telephone and online at www.mndnr.gov.

“We wanted to make sure that was one of our first operations to start up,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
Information on the status of other DNR functions, such as managing hunting seasons; water, mining and other permits; state timber sales; state forest campgrounds; and environmental review projects will be available on the DNR website on Thursday.

State parks that may require more time to reopen are Afton, Lake Bronson, Camden, Upper Sioux Agency, Flandreau, Blue Mounds, Wild River and St. Croix.

Those parks sustained facility and tree damage that will take longer to clean up.

St. Croix State Park will be closed indefinitely while staff assess building and other damage from a July 1 windstorm.

Current overnight reservations will be honored at individual parks as they reopen.

New reservations will not be accepted until July 26 at 8 a.m.

The DNR’s reservation system has a backlog of shutdown refunds that must be made to customers before new reservations can be accepted.

Landwehr said DNR employees are eager to return Thursday and restart the agency’s business. “We’ll be happy to be back in business and ready to serve the public,” he said.

Last chance to apply for prairie chicken, fall turkey hunts
From the DNR

Hunters who wish to apply for one of 186 permits for the 2011 Minnesota prairie chicken season or for a fall turkey hunting permit must do so by Friday, July 30, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Application materials and maps of permit areas for both hunts are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

Winners will be notified though the mail by mid-September after applying at any DNR electronic licensing agent.

The application fee is $3. The license costs $23 for residents and $78 for nonresidents.

The $5 stamp validation has been incorporated into the license fee. A separate stamp is no longer required.

This year there will be 10,450 fall turkey permits available for the season, which runs from Saturday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 30. In 2010, hunters harvested a record 1,353 birds in the fall hunt, with hunter success typically about 20 percent.

• Prairie chicken season

The five-day prairie chicken season, which will begin on Saturday, Oct. 22, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $20.

The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between Warren in the north and Breckenridge in the south.

Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

Resident hunters younger than 12 may apply for a prairie chicken license.

The odds of being drawn are about one in three, depending on the area chosen, said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.

Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species.

The general closure on taking sharp-tailed grouse by small game hunters in this area is to protect prairie chickens.

Licensed prairie chicken hunters who wish to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.

In 2010, an estimated 87 prairie chickens were harvested, with 37 percent of hunters taking at least one bird.

Hunter success varies considerably from year-to-year, especially when poor weather prevents hunters from going out in the field.

DNR accepting applications for 2011 Camp Ripley archery hunts
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began accepting applications on July 21 for the 2011 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.

Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons, Oct. 20-21 (Th.-Fri.; code 668) or Oct. 29-30 (Sat.-Sun.; code 669).

A total of 5,000 permits, 2,500 per two-day hunt, will be made available.

Successful applicants must purchase a valid archery license at least two days before their hunt to participate.

The bag limit for this year’s hunt is two, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer.

Hunters may choose from four options to apply for the Camp Ripley archery hunts:

• through the DNR’s computerized Electronic Licensing System (ELS) at any one of 1,500 ELS agents located throughout Minnesota

• by telephone at 888-665-4236

• through DNR’s Internet licensing link at www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/index.html

• at the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $8 per applicant. The application deadline is Aug. 19.

Those who apply by phone or Internet will be charged an additional convenience fee of 3 percent ($0.24) per transaction.

To apply, resident hunters 21 and older must provide a valid state driver’s license or public safety identification number.

Residents under 21 may also provide a DNR firearms safety training number to apply.

Nonresident hunters must apply using a valid driver’s license number, public safety identification number, or MDNR customer number from a recent Minnesota hunting or fishing license.

All applicants must be at least 10 years old prior to the hunt they apply for.

In addition, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course to obtain a license to hunt or trap in Minnesota.

Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group, up to four individuals.

Group members may only apply for the same two-day season.

The first group applicant must specify “Create New Group” when asked, and will receive a group number.

Subsequent group applicants must specify they want to “Join an Existing Group” and must use the same group number supplied to the first group applicant.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event.

The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.