www.herald-journal.com
Deer licenses go on sale today

August 1, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota hunters will be able to purchase 2011 deer licenses starting Monday, Aug. 1, the same day the state’s hunting regulation booklet is available online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Booklets will be available in mid-August.

This year’s archery season opens Saturday, Sept. 17. The general firearms season opens Saturday, Nov. 5. The deadline for lottery permit applications is Thursday, Sept. 8.

“We’re looking forward to another good season,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Deer populations are at or near goals throughout much of the state.”

Cornicelli said hunters will discover several new regulations for the upcoming deer season.

The changes, he said, reflect the agency’s interest in regulation simplification and the protection of the state’s deer from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Significant changes for 2011:

• A new CWD management area, called Deer Area 602, has been established in southeastern Minnesota surrounding the area where a CWD positive deer was detected last fall.

The new CWD management area will feature a 23-day firearm season. Submission of samples for CWD testing will be mandatory for deer harvested in this area, and there will be carcass import/export restrictions.

Detailed information can be found in the regulations book and on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

• A new “hunter choice” deer management designation has been established that will allow hunters in certain areas to take one either-sex deer per year in one of these areas.

These areas function like lottery areas, with the difference being hunters do not need to make a lottery application or possess an either sex permit to take an antlerless deer.

In hunter choice areas, the license is automatically valid for an either-sex deer.

• Bonus permits are not allowed. If a deer is taken in one hunter choice area, a hunter cannot take another deer in another hunter choice or lottery deer area.

The designation was created because the majority of deer permit areas are within their established goal ranges, and DNR managers believe one either-sex deer without a lottery would allow those areas to stay within goal without going back and forth between lottery and managed areas.

Hunter choice was not created to increase antlerless harvest rates, but rather to make it simpler to take one either-sex deer in the area.

Overall, 30 percent of Minnesota’s 127 deer permit areas are designated hunter choice this year.

The DNR still uses the lottery in areas where antlerless deer harvest is restricted and managed and intensive harvest designations when additional antlerless deer harvest is needed.

This year, 27 percent are managed and 17 percent are intensive areas.

Firearm and muzzleloader lottery either-sex permits

Hunters may once again apply for either-sex or special hunt permits in both the firearm and muzzleloader seasons.

In a change from previous years, hunters successful in the lottery can use their permit in either the firearm or muzzleloader season, provided they have a valid license for that season.

The deadline for lottery and special hunt applications is Thursday, Sept. 8.

Although a hunter can be selected for both licenses, successful applicants still can only take one deer.

In the case of special hunts, a person may draw both a firearm and muzzleloader permit, in which case they must adhere to the bag limits established by each special hunt.

This year’s lottery deer areas are: 103, 108, 119, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296 and 299.

Other changes

Because deer herds are largely within goals, there will be no early antlerless deer season this year, and no youth-only antlerless areas available this year.

The DNR will continue to monitor harvest and population size, and may use these designations in the future.

Also, the 16-foot height restriction for permanent deer stands has been eliminated.

Cornicelli urged hunters to familiarize themselves with 2011 regulations before the hunting season begins.

Due to delays created by the state shutdown, the hunting regulations booklet will not be available until mid-August wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, but hunters may access an online version of the regulations at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Deer hunters are also encouraged to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before the Thursday, Sept. 8 application deadline for either-sex deer permits in lottery areas, and for all special hunts.

Additional information about the 2011 deer season can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer

Wake restriction issued for Winsted Lake

The McLeod County Sheriff’s Office has issued a no-wake zone for all of Winsted Lake, effective immediately, due to high water levels and concerns about shoreline erosion.

The restriction will remain in place until further notice.

Duck and goose numbers improved; wetland conditions excellent
From the DNR

Minnesota’s 2011 breeding duck and goose populations improved from last year, according to results of the annual Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) spring waterfowl surveys.

The state’s estimated breeding duck population was 687,000 compared with last year’s estimate of 531,000.

This year’s estimate is 11 percent above the long-term average of 622,000 breeding ducks.

This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 283,000, which was 17 percent higher than last year’s estimate of 242,000 breeding mallards, 3 percent above the recent 10-year average and 26 percent above the long-term average.

The blue-winged teal population was 214,000 this year compared with 132,000 in 2010, and near the long-term average of 219,000 blue-winged teal.

The combined populations of other ducks, such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads, was 191,000, which is 22 percent higher than last year and 7 percent above the long-term average.

The estimated number of wetlands (Types II-V) was 360,000, up 33 percent from last year, 44 percent above the long-term average, and the highest wetland count on record.

“When you combine the wet conditions across much of Minnesota last fall, lots of snowpack, and above average spring precipitation, it’s not surprising that we saw record wetland numbers across the survey area this spring,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “With such good wetland conditions, I would expect production, or the number of young ducks hatched, to be good this year.”

The same waterfowl survey has been conducted each May since 1968 to provide an annual index of breeding duck abundance.

The survey covers 40 percent of the state that includes much of the best remaining duck breeding habitat in Minnesota.

A DNR waterfowl biologist and pilot count all waterfowl and wetlands along established survey routes by flying low-level aerial surveys from a fixed-wing plane.

The survey is timed to begin in early May to coincide with peak mallard nesting activity.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service provides ground crews who also count waterfowl along some of the same survey routes.

This data is then used to correct for birds not seen by the aerial crew.

The Canada goose population was estimated at 370,000, which was higher than last year’s estimate of 311,000.

The number of breeding Canada geese in the state remains high, but has been relatively stable over the past 10 years.

Since 2001, the DNR has conducted a helicopter survey of nesting Canada geese in April.

The survey, which includes most of the state except the Twin Cities metro area, counts Canada geese on randomly selected plots in prairie, transition and forested areas.

Although breeding duck numbers increased relative to last year, the goal in the DNR’s Duck Recovery Plan is to attract and hold a breeding population of 1 million ducks while maintaining Minnesota’s rich waterfowling tradition.

“We remain committed to improving breeding and migration habitat for waterfowl in the state as one of our highest priorities,” said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief, “but we also realize it will require the DNR and all our partners to continue to focus our efforts to accomplish that long-term goal.”

The status of breeding duck populations and wetland conditions in other areas of North America is good to excellent.

Total breeding duck numbers increased 11 percent from last year and were 35 percent above the long-term average.

Mallard breeding populations increased 9 percent from last year and were 22 percent above the long-term average.

Wetland habitat conditions in the Dakotas and southern Canada are near record high levels this spring.

The Minnesota waterfowl report can be viewed online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

DNR will announce this fall’s waterfowl hunting regulations in early August.

DNR seeks designs for MN’s 2012 trout and solmon stamp
From the DNR

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2012 trout and salmon stamp from Monday, Aug. 8, through Friday, Aug. 19.

Designs should be securely wrapped and enclosed in an envelope or other container.

The words “Trout and Salmon Stamp” should be clearly marked on outside of the container. Late entries will not be accepted.

Trout or salmon must be the primary focus of the design.

Other fish species may be included in the design if they are used to depict common interaction between species or are common inhabitants of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries.

Any entry that contains photographic products will be disqualified.

Entries will be accepted via mail and in person at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul. Mailed entries should be addressed to 2012 Trout and Salmon Stamp Contest, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, Box 20, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.

The contest, which offers no prizes, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to trout and salmon management-related activities.

A contest entry form and reproduction rights agreement, which grants the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other promotional, educational and informational purposes related to trout and salmon, must be signed and submitted with the design.

Judging will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

Complete contest criteria and information are available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, and online at www.mndnr.gov/contests.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked boating and fishing activity on Lake Minnetonka and other Hennepin County lakes.
Violations included boating while intoxicated, PWC after hours, no PFDs, no fishing license, and angling with extra lines.
She met with the county attorney’s office in reference to upcoming court cases.
Waters violations were also handled.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) spent most of the week checking DNR facilities for vandalism during the state shutdown.
State parks and trails were patrolled for illegal activity and storm damage.
Area lakes and rivers were patrolled for boat and water safety and fishing compliance with special regulations.
Violations documented were no personal flotation device onboard watercraft, unlicensed watercraft, angling without license in possession and over limits of sunfish.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling, boating, and PWC activity.
Additional time was spent checking and advising boaters of invasive species.
Hatlestad also enforced ATV and OHM laws, and state forestry fire laws.
Time was also spent assisting with the state shutdown, and checking a possible WCA violation.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked the end of the government shutdown by checking on State Parks and other DNR facilities.
Officer Oberg worked angling and boating enforcement in his station with enforcement action taken for license issues.
The Minnesota River continues to be extremely high making it difficult for both anglers and boaters.
He also worked off-highway vehicle (OHV) enforcement.

State park reservation system reopens with record-setting results
From the DNR

The number of camping and lodging reservations made between 8 a.m. and midnight yesterday was a new record high, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

On Tuesday, July 26, the first day the reservation system was open following the government shutdown, some 4,140 reservations were made for a total of 11,489 nights of camping and lodging.

“We had 162 reservations in the first five minutes,” said Bill Anderson, reservation system manager for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails. “It was by far the busiest day in the history of our reservation system.”

The previous all-time high was 1,761 reservations on June 2, 2008, the date when Minnesota state parks began allowing reservations a full year in advance (up from the previous policy of 90 days in advance maximum).

Approximately three-fourths of the reservations made yesterday were for overnight stays in 2011, the rest were for 2012.

The highest number of reservations were for Itasca (379 reservations), Lake Carlos (278), Wild River (169), Sibley (167) and Bear Head Lake (160) state parks.

Others with more than 100 reservations included Temperance River, Tettegouche, Jay Cooke, Gooseberry Falls, Forestville/Mystery Cave, Whitewater, Split Rock Lighthouse, William O’Brien, McCarthy Beach and Father Hennepin state parks.

All but two of the 74 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas have reopened following the shutdown. Camden and St. Croix state parks remain closed due to extensive storm damage.

Standard campsites can be reserved for $12 to $20 a night (plus $5 for electric hook-ups), not including vehicle permits, which are required to enter Minnesota state parks.

Vehicle permits are $5 for one night or $25 for a 12-month permit providing unlimited access to all 74 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Due to the high call volume the reservation system has been experiencing since yesterday, the DNR recommends making reservations online at stayatmnparks.com, if possible.

For those who prefer to speak with an operator, reservations can be made at 866-857-2757.

“Reservations are recommended but not essential,” Anderson said. “Up to thirty percent of campsites at Minnesota state parks are nonreservable and available to campers on a first-come, first-served basis.”

For more information, including descriptions of each park’s scenery, wildlife and recreational opportunities, call (651) 296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367 or visit mndnr.gov.

Some parks have online virtual tours, which allow visitors to preview the park before their trip.

I Can Camp! and other family-oriented programs resume
From the DNR

An overnight “I Can Camp!” program at Wild River State Park, a guided canoe trip on the Rum River, and a bicycle safety and maintenance clinic at Fort Snelling State Park are among the many programs and special events resuming this weekend at Minnesota state parks and trails.

Visitors are encouraged to check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) online calendar for a complete schedule.

Families and individuals seeking outdoor fun have the last six weeks of summer to learn new skills and create lasting memories by participating in a variety of free or low-cost naturalist-led programs.

Examples include:

• I Can Camp! programs, which provide participants with equipment and expert instruction on how to camp in a tent. Twelve programs remain between now and Sept. 3. Registration required; fee is $35 (one-night) or $50 (two nights).

• I Can Climb! provides opportunities to try rock climbing – safely – on real rock at Tettegouche (July 30 and Aug. 27), Blue Mounds (Aug. 13) and Interstate (Aug. 21) state parks with trained professionals who will “show you the ropes.”

• I Can Fish! gives participants of all ages an opportunity to try fishing, with all equipment provided and instruction as needed. In the metro area, Fort Snelling and William O’Brien state parks offer I Can Fish! programs every Friday. Many other parks across the state also have I Can Fish! programs scheduled now through Sept. 2.

• I Can Paddle! programs provide basic equipment and hands-on instruction for paddling a canoe on lakes and rivers. Five lake programs and two river programs (including a four- to five-hour trip on the Rum River this Saturday, July 30) are scheduled between now and Aug. 27. Registration is required, and there is a $15 fee for the river canoeing programs.

• Archery in the Parks programs offer park visitors an opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow with guidance from trained staff. Seventeen programs remain this summer, including two this Saturday, July 30, at Frontenac (1-3 p.m.) and Temperance River (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) state parks.

In addition to skill-building programs, Minnesota state parks and trails have scheduled a series of free Outdoors EXTRA programs offering new and exciting things to do outdoors.

Other programs, between now and Oct. 29, will feature musicians, storytellers, craftspeople and outdoor skill-building experts.

All but two of the 74 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas have officially reopened.

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