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DNR removes burning and campfire restrictions throughout Minnesota

November 5, 2012

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has removed the burning and campfire restrictions in all of Minnesota.

Burning permits will once again be available as determined by local conditions. Residents should be aware that conditions can change daily and some counties may still limit burning as conditions warrant.

Until snow covers the ground, fine fuels (such as grasses) can be wet one day and burn the next.

The DNR advises residents and homeowners to use caution if they conduct open burning.

Although much of Minnesota received precipitation sufficient to lower the chances of fires starting and spreading, soil moisture is still well below normal.

Should a fire start, there is still a chance peat soils could ignite.

Any piled material should be located well away from peat soils.

Fall weekends bring many people outdoors to recreate, including hunters, campers, and hikers, according to the DNR.

Everyone is urged to use extreme caution with campfires, keeping them to no larger than three feet high by three feet wide.

Do not leave fires unattended, keep water available, and make sure fires are completely out before leaving.

People are responsible for costs to extinguish a fire if it gets away.

Fire conditions change quickly.

More information, maps, and fire conditions are on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.

State venison donation progam available for deer hunters in 2012
From the DNR

With thousands of Minnesota deer hunters preparing for the start of the firearms season this weekend, the Minnesota Hunter Harvested Venison Donation Program is once again gearing up to provide hunters with the option to donate venison to help feed hungry Minnesotans.

The venison donation program is operated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and state food shelves.

The program provides a source of protein to people in need while helping reduce local deer populations.

Minnesota hunters donated 421 deer to the program in 2011, which provided 15,520 pounds of processed venison to Minnesota food shelves.

Funding for the program comes from a $1 surcharge placed on deer bonus permits.

To be eligible to donate venison to the program, hunters must have their deer processed at a state-registered meat processing plant that has agreed to participate in the program.

A list of processors can be found online by typing “venison processors” into the search field on MDA’s homepage at www.mda.state.mn.us.

Hunters are urged to contact the processor before bringing in a deer to make sure they are still able to handle the animal.

Only entire carcasses with the hide attached can be donated.

Cut and wrapped meat will not be accepted for donation.

Hunters and processors must also adhere to specific standards designed to prevent food-borne illness.

Processors may only accept carcasses for donation that are:

• Free from signs of illness;
• Field dressed with the hide intact;
• Free of visible decomposition or contamination; and
• Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.

DNR anticipates good deer hunting season
From the DNR

Deer hunting should be good when Minnesota’s firearms hunting season opened Nov. 3, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Minnesota’s deer population is up from last year, in part, because of the mild winter,” said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR’s wildlife research manager. “Mild winters result in more survival of adults, more fawns being born, and more deer in the state’s fields and forests the following hunting season.” He estimated the deer population at about 1 million.

Cornicelli said one difference between this and last year is there are fewer areas where hunters can harvest more than one deer.

This change, he said, reflects the agency’s interest in rebuilding or maintaining the deer herd in certain portions of the state by managing the harvest.

“Hunters in about half of the state had to apply for a limited number of antlerless permits,” said Cornicelli. “Moreover, there are fewer places where hunters can take two or more deer.”

These harvest reduction changes, he said, were implemented based on hunter input and also addressing the interests of private landowners, agricultural growers, automobile drivers and others.

They also reflect the fact that antlerless and bonus deer permit availability decreases as overly abundant populations are brought into line with agency goals.

Last year, Minnesota’s nearly 500,000 deer hunters harvested 192,300 deer.

Minnesota’s deer harvest has varied widely over the past half-century.

In a historical context, too many deer were taken during the 1960s, forcing the closure of the deer season in 1971 and a rebuilding of the deer herd through the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

The highest deer harvest occurred in 2003 when 270,000 deer were taken as part of an effort to reduce the deer herd.

Today, the DNR manages the deer population based on goals established with public input.

“The state’s deer population has gone from too low to too high to fairly close to what people are willing to accept,” said Cornicelli. “I don’t envision spectacularly high or low harvests in the years ahead but rather moderate harvests . . . harvests that reflect the herd being managed responsibly and responsively.”

Cornicelli said deer hunters play an important role in deer management by helping control deer numbers.

The firearms deer season concludes in the northern Minnesota oSunday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 11, in all other parts of the state.

A late season in southeastern Minnesota that stretches from Watertown in the north to Caledonia in the south opens Saturday, Nov. 17, and closes Sunday, Nov. 25.

Northwestern Region Outlook

The northwest region expects a good deer hunting season in 2012, barring any adverse weather conditions.

This past winter was extremely mild, which resulted in good deer survival and production.

Deer populations in most permit areas are at or near goal densities.

To maintain populations or increase them to goal densities, most permit area designations have dropped one level from 2011.

Hunter choice areas becoming lottery areas and managed areas becoming hunter choice areas are expected to lower the overall deer harvest from last year although the buck harvest likely will be higher.

DNR will again sample hunter-harvested deer in the bovine tuberculosis management area but at a reduced effort from prior years.

Samples will be collected Nov. 3-11 at six registration stations.

If no deer test positive, this will mark the third consecutive year of no positives and will be the last year of sampling for bovine TB.

Conditions are very dry this year so hunters should generally find easier access to hunting areas compared to past years.
In addition, the crop harvest is well ahead of normal, meaning there will be less cover available for deer as compared to most openers.

Northeastern Region Outlook

DNR wildlife managers in northeastern Minnesota are expecting a good deer season in 2012.

Harvest regulations generally are more conservative than in the recent past.

Following public input into our deer population goals, harvest changes were implemented that will allow the deer population to grow in most of the permit areas in this region.

The likely result for hunters is that more permit areas will have a lottery or hunter choice designation in 2012.

The 2012 harvest is projected to be less than that of 2011 because of these restrictions but hunters should expect to see good numbers of young deer.

Due to the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease near Shell Lake, WI, the DNR will conduct surveillance in deer permit areas 159, 183 and 225 along the Wisconsin border until 300 samples have been collected from each area.

CWD has not been found in those areas; however, the CWD management plan calls for surveillance when a new infection is discovered near Minnesota.

Central/Southeastern Region Outlook

Another mild winter and an early harvest of crops should lead to an outstanding deer hunting season in this region, which stretches from the northern borders of Morrison and Todd counties southeast to the Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa border.

The deer population overall is extremely healthy.

Most of the region’s deer permit areas can be categorized as hunter choice, managed or intensive.

This region has traditionally boasted excellent deer hunting with harvest rates per square mile well above average in spite of heavy human development, typically accounting for close to 30 percent of the state’s deer harvest.

Considering that nearly three-fourths of the state’s human population lives in this area, it’s clear that a lot of people are finding quality deer hunting opportunities close to home.

Hunters in 300 series permit areas (southeast) can legally shoot either a doe or a buck. Bucks, however, must have at least four antler points on one side to be legal and buck cross-tagging is prohibited.

The experimental antler-point restriction, aimed at increasing take of antlerless deer and producing older, bigger bucks, is in its third and final year, and will be re-evaluated this winter.

It does not apply to youth hunters ages 10 to 17.

Deer taken in an antler point restriction permit area must be registered at a walk-in station; telephone or internet registration is not allowed.

The Central/Southeastern Region also includes two no-limit antlerless permit areas that run for a full three weeks: 601 and 602.

Permit area 602 northwest of Rochester is a special area where chronic wasting disease was discovered in one hunter harvested deer nearly two years ago.

Special rules require hunters to submit deer taken there for lymph node sampling, and they prohibit carcasses from being moved out of the area until a negative CWD test result has come back.

Permit area 601 encompasses the seven-county metro region.

Southern Region Outlook

The Southern region, which encompasses much of Minnesota’s prime farmland, anticipates good deer hunting opportunities in 2012.

This mostly open, agricultural part of Minnesota is dominated by a lottery season framework.

Corn and soybean harvest is mostly complete.

The number of antlerless permits offered this fall under the lottery was decreased significantly from 2011 levels.

This will provide protection to the herd and allow for herd growth where desired.

The effects of the relatively mild winter of 2011-12 has helped deer and they are in good condition.

Generally, the population goals are to continue to increase the deer population, and the number of permits allotted should do just that.

Finally, the eastern portion of the region will have a block of six hunter choice permit areas where hunters can shoot one deer of either sex without first obtaining an antlerless permit through the lottery process.

Conditions are dry and hunters need to be careful to prevent wildlife fires.

2012 NE MN moose hunt harvest numbers announced
From the DNR

State-licensed hunters registered 46 bulls during the 16-day bull moose season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In the 2012 lottery, 76 once-in-a-lifetime bull moose licenses were issued in 30 zones, down from 105 bull moose licenses in 2011.

A total of 3,436 applicants consisting of 1,669 parties of two to four hunters applied for the 76 available tags.

The 60 percent success rate was slightly higher than 2011 success rate of 58 percent.

The northeast moose population is estimated at 4,230 animals and permit numbers are established to reflect a conservative harvest approach as outlined by the DNR’s moose management plan for the northeast moose population.

The bag limit is one antlered bull moose per party.

The DNR’s wildlife health program continues to work closely with hunters on a moose herd health assessment project.

This project is important for helping to better understand the health status of Minnesota’s moose and their exposure to disease and parasites.

“Voluntary participation of state and tribal moose hunters is vital to the success of the program,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program supervisor. “The program received samples from 62 moose taken by state and tribal hunters this fall. Hunter cooperation rates make it clear that Minnesota moose hunters value moose in our state.”

Moose viewing is also a popular activity in northeastern Minnesota.

The DNR advises that non-hunters should exercise caution while pursuing moose photo and viewing opportunities.

A blaze orange outer garment and cap are recommended.

Rutting moose can be very aggressive so observers should use caution and give the moose plenty of room.

For more information about the Minnesota moose management plan, habitat or hunting, please visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/moose or www.mndnr.gov/hunting/moose.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: With snow just around the corner, folks are getting ready to ride their snowmobiles.

What are the educational requirements for the legal operation of a snowmobile?

A: Current statute requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976 to take a safety-training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters.

Two types of courses are available.

First, for those 11-years-old and older, an 11-hour introductory course designed for youth or the rider with little or no experience, which includes hands-on training.

Second, for those 16-years-old and older, an independent study CD-based course where students learn at home.

Once they have successfully completed their courses, students follow a path by age to receive a certificate of completion from the DNR.

Both these courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents in Minnesota, and how to avoid them.

Volunteers teach classes across the state.

Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/vehicle/snowmobile.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked followed up on several hunting complaints of trespass.
Reller also assisted at the CO Academy with sport fishing week.
Reller worked on a PowerPoint presentation to be given to a civic group.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) assisted the Carver County Sheriff’s Department and Waconia Fire Department with a boating accident on Lake Waconia where a duck boat with three hunters ran into a fishing boat at a high rate of speed during day light hours.
None of the duck hunters had life jackets with and were very lucky not to have this turn into a tragic disaster.
TIP calls were responded to on Rice Lake in Savage for early shooters, a trapper placing traps early in Louisville Swamp in Jordan and a shot deer in Shorewood near Lake Minnetonka.
Enforcement action was taken for multiple no PFDs, no small game licenses and waterfowl stamps in possession, hunt without federal or state duck stamps, unplugged guns, no HIP certification, unsigned federal duck stamps, shining deer and litter.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) spent the week working on two possible wetland violations.
Mueller assisted in the investigation of a TIP call regarding a possible over limit of fish.
Waterfowl hunters were also checked, with one person found to be in possession of toxic shot.
A tree stand was removed from WMA that was left overnight.
A trumpeter swan was rescued off of Hoosier Lake in Meeker County, but died the next day of possible lead poisoning.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a busy opening to the water trapping season.
Time was also spent working night enforcement with neighboring officers.
Enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, no burning permit, transport aquatic macrophytes, transport watercraft with plug in, and taking muskrats out of season.
CO Oberg continues to do follow up on TIP calls received.