Howard Lake Fishing Derby is Saturday

February 6, 2012

by Chris Schultz

The 66th annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby will be taking place Saturday, Feb. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Howard Lake.

Prior to the fishing derby, there will be free coffee, cocoa, and cookies at the Country Store in Howard Lake from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be a limited supply, and they will serve until it is gone.

There will also be a store door prize drawings at 11:30 am. – need to be present to win.

A raffle will also be taking place at the fishing derby, with the grand prize being a Ice Castle V-front fish house on wheels.

Other prizes in the drawing include a depth finder, and framed prints, among other items.

For additional information on the fishing derby, contact Denny Decker at (320) 543-2992.

Prairie Archers Sweethearts dinner

Prairie Archers will be hosting a February “Sweethearts” dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Feb. 11 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The prime rib dinner costs $16 and includes baked potato, tossed salad, dessert, and coffee or milk.

Reservations need to be made by Thursday, Feb. 9 before 8 p.m., and be called in to (320) 395-2877 or (320) 395-2721.

No walk-ins are allowed, and the number of meals available is limited.

For non-rib lovers, a 12 oz smoked pork chop is available for $10.

Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club Ice Fishing contest is Feb. 12

The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club is hosting it’s annual Ice Fishing Contest and raffle Sunday, Feb. 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Brooks lake in Cokato.

The fishing contest is free, along with free minnows and hole drilling.

There are both junior and senior divisions for the fishing.

Raffle tickets are $1 each for a chance at the $300 top cash prize along with many other merchandise and cash prizes.

There will be a lunch wagon on site with hot pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and beverages.

Bring out the whole family for some winter fun and relaxation.

For more information, contact Tim at (320) 980-0460 or Dave at (612) 670-1916.

Firearms safety training at Waverly

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting firearms safety training for boys and girls who will be 12-years old and older. Interested adults are also welcome.

The class includes safety, gun handling, conservation, first aid, and orientation.

Successful completion of the course meets requirement for purchasing a game license.

Register Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Waverly Gun Club. Registrations limited, taken in order received. Need to bring birth certificate to registration.

Classes will be Tuesdays – February 7, 14, 21, 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10, and Saturday, April 14.

There is a fee and class size is limited to 25.

If you have questions, contact Mike Dongoski at (320) 543-3515.

DNR seizes 234 fish at Lake of the Woods, urges anglers to know the rules
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently seized 234 walleye/sauger for a variety of violations on Lake of the Woods.

From Jan. 20-23, conservation officers issued 67 summonses and 66 warnings, reporting 23 instances of over-limits, 14 cases of anglers using extra lines, 12 anglers with no fishing licenses, and five cases of illegal length fish in possession.

“It was a little bit of everything that, when combined, can result in some hefty fines,” said 1st Lt. Pat Znajda, DNR Enforcement Division district supervisor in Thief River Falls.

In many instances, officers observed anglers violating fish cleaning and fish consumption rules on the lake, as well as ignoring mandated size restrictions.

Transportation of fish without the required head, tail, fins and skin intact was also common.

“This year seems to be getting worse for these types of violations,” said Znajda. “It’s not like these are new regulations; folks should know the rules.”

Anglers are reminded that they must keep the carcasses of the fish they fillet on the ice until the fish are consumed.

Once consumed, the carcasses can be discarded, but not on the ice or in the water.

“The carcasses of the fish filleted on the ice must be available for inspection by a conservation officer,” Znajda said. “If they are frozen or cut up, it’s a violation.”

Anglers choosing to have their fish filleted by DNR licensed commercial fish packers can possess their processed fish on the ice, so long as it is properly labeled by the licensed packer.

These fish count toward the angler’s possession limit.

Znajda said anglers spending multiple days on Lake of the Woods, or other lakes with special regulations such as Upper Red and Leech lakes, can keep a few things in mind to remain legal while taking their fish home:

• Daily and possession limits are the same; if anglers eat a fish they caught that day, it still counts toward their daily limit.

• Anglers should not clean the fish they are taking home while they’re still on the ice.

• Filleted sauger will be counted as walleye.

For more information on transportation, storing and processing of fish, see the 2011 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, or visit http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/fishing/fishing2011.pdf.

DNR issues citation for cougar shooting in Jackson County
From the DNR

Charges have been filed today by the Jackson County attorney’s office against a Jackson County man in southwestern Minnesota for allegedly shooting a cougar Nov. 27, 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Daniel Hamman, 26, was charged by citation with shooting a protected animal.

Hamman allegedly shot the cougar after being contacted by a neighbor, who saw the cat run from a rural grove of trees into a culvert.

The cougar was shot as it flushed from the culvert.

Maximum penalties Hamman could face include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.

The DNR has filed an affidavit of restitution requesting the court to order Hamman to pay $1,000 to the state for the cougar.

Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The cougar shot in Jackson County was a 125-pound male, estimated to be one to three years old.

The DNR conducted a necropsy of the cougar to assess the condition of the animal, look for signs of captivity and collect additional samples to help determine the origin of the animal.

No obvious signs of captivity were present such as being declawed, exhibiting excessive pad wear, or having tattoos or microchips.

Samples have been submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Forensics Lab in Missoula, Mont., to do a DNA analysis; results are pending.

The DNR plans to have the cougar mounted and used for educational purposes.

Since 2007, the DNR has confirmed 14 cougar sightings across the state.

Eleven have been from trail cameras or video.

One was road killed, one was found dead and one was shot.

Dozens of other, unconfirmed sightings have also been reported.

Why might cougars show up in Minnesota?

Cougars are solitary, roaming animals. As young males reach maturity, they begin to look for new territory and will travel considerable distances.

The timing of many of Minnesota’s verified cougar sightings (mid- 2000s and forward) is not unexpected given the somewhat rapid increase in the cougar population in the western Dakotas that began in the mid-1990s.

Extensive research in the Black Hills has documented the changing cougar dynamics that typically lead to increased dispersal of young males.

Although verifications have increased, evidence of cougars in Minnesota remains extremely rare.

Cougars are protected animals in Minnesota.

State statute makes it illegal for a citizen to kill a cougar in most circumstances.

Minnesotans can kill a cougar if a life threatening situation arises.

Public safety officials are authorized to kill a cougar to protect public safety.

If a cougar poses an immediate threat to public safety, a DNR conservation officer or local law enforcement person should be contacted as soon as possible.

Minnesota Statutes section 97A.301, Subdivision 1(1) states: Misdemeanor. Unless a different penalty is prescribed, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if that person: (1) takes, buys, sells, transports or possesses a wild animal in violation of the game and fish laws.

According to Minnesota Statutes section 97B.641, there is no open season for cougars in the state of Minnesota.

DNR program pays landowners to allow public hunting on their land
From the DNR

Landowners in 21 southwestern Minnesota counties can earn money by allowing public hunting on their private land through the Walk-In Access (WIA) program, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

WIA, which is entering its second year as a pilot program, targets privately owned parcels of 40 acres or more that are already enrolled in a conservation program such as Reinvest In Minnesota or Conservation Reserve Program.

River bottoms, wetlands and other high-quality habitat will also be considered for WIA this year.

WIA pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access.

Bonuses are added if more than 140 contiguous acres are enrolled, if the land is within one-half mile of existing state or federal hunting land, or if a multi-year agreement is signed.

This year’s sign-up period goes from Feb. 1 to April 15.

Local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices are handling program details and enrollments.

“We had a great response from hunters and landowners last year,” said Marybeth Block, WIA coordinator. She said that 90 landowners enrolled about 9,000 acres in 2011.

In 2012, she hopes to have a total of 25,000 acres enrolled.

“Studies across the country say that hunter numbers are declining because it’s getting tougher to find places to hunt,” Block said. “I see WIA as one way to address this, while also rewarding landowners for keeping their land in high-quality habitat.”

Block said that the program is entirely voluntary for landowners.

Recreational use laws provide extra liability protection for WIA acres.

DNR conservation officers will address trespass and hunting violations.

Enrolled acres are for walk-in traffic only; no vehicles are allowed on conservation land.

Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas.

WIA land is for public hunting only. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed.

Similar rules apply to WIAs as to other public wildlife lands.

Once private land is enrolled in the program, bright yellow-green hexagon signs are placed at the property boundaries.

More information on WIA and a map of the 21 counties involved in the program can be found at mndnr.gov/walkin.

Locations of parcels enrolled for 2012 will be on the website in August.

The WIA program is a partnership between the DNR, SWCD, Board of Soil and Water Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is funding the first two years of the pilot program.

Remember to help wildlife during tax season
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Nongame Wildlife Program is urging Minnesotans to remember to help wildlife by donating to the Wildlife Checkoff Fund on their tax forms.

Every dollar donated helps ensure the future of wildlife in Minnesota.

“The tough economy has affected our budget, and donations are down by more than 10 percent,” said Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor. “It is critical to the survival of the Nongame Program that donations maintain or increase.”

Eighty percent of funding for the Nongame Wildlife Program comes from donations to the Wildlife Checkoff Fund.

It is unlike other government programs that depend primarily on general tax dollars or license fees for funding.

“Every year, the number of people donating to the checkoff decreases, with fewer than one person in 35 households remembering wildlife at tax time,” Henderson said. “While we appreciate those who currently donate to our program, we need help from more Minnesotans.”

The tax deductible, voluntary donations fund more than 80 conservation projects, including monitoring of loon populations; surveys of wood turtles, ospreys, timber rattlesnakes and dragonflies; frog and toad research, habitat restoration and protection; monitoring of heron rookeries; and protection and management of important wildlife habitat for bald eagles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons and other wildlife at risk.

Recoveries of the bald eagle, trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon and other species were made possible in part by the donations to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund on state income and property tax forms.

The opportunity to donate to help wildlife first appeared on state tax forms in 1981 to provide funding for the protection of nongame wildlife in Minnesota.

Henderson suggested that people tell their tax preparer they would like to personally help Minnesota’s wildlife by donating to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff fund on their tax forms.

Donations can also be made online any time of the year at www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.

CO Weekly Reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) station checked anglers.
CO Mies also finished on a trapping investigation.
CO Mies worked on a trespass complaint and other tip calls.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked anglers and trappings in the Wright County area.
Several dead or injured trumpeter swans calls were handled.
Litter has become a problem again this year on area lakes as more anglers venture out on the lakes.
Please clean up your garbage before leaving the lake.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling with extra lines and several ATV violations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) handled several injured animal calls including deer, raccoons and trumpeter swans.
Anglers were checked on area lakes and rivers all week; the best success was on the Minnesota River.
The vintage snowmobile event was worked with District 13 officers, but due to the lack of snow and thin ice it was much slower than previous years.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked a snowmobile event on Lake Waconia with district officers.
She patrolled Lake Minnetonka for snowmobile, ATV, and fishing activity finding numerous violations.
The Luce Line State Trail and area Scientific and Natural Areas were also checked.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling and spearing activity.
Additional time was spent checking ATV and snowmobile activity on area lakes.
Hatlestad also completed an employment background investigation, and spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Litchfield. Time was also spent assisting another agency with a vehicle through the ice, and checking trapping activity.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time looking into cougar sittings.
If anybody has any photos or information please call Officer Oberg at (320) 234-3741.
CO Oberg also spent time checking predator hunters in the area.
Overall numbers are down but some groups are having luck with red fox while others are doing better on coyote.
Snowmobile activity is very low in the area.