Warmer weather could mean ice dangers

January 14, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With several days of temperatures hovering above and below freezing, 32°F, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding everyone not to let their guard down when traveling out on a frozen lake, river or pond.

With days of warmer than normal temperatures, it doesn’t take long to make the ice brittle, said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Anglers or snowmobilers might be safe in one spot one day, but might fall through in the same place the very next day.”

So far this winter, there have been no ice-related deaths in Minnesota.

Last winter, four people died after falling through the ice.

“We want people to get out and enjoy our weather, but remember ice is never 100 percent safe,” she said. “Don’t put yourself or someone else in danger by going out on thin ice. No fish is worth your life.”

DNR clear ice minimum thickness recommendations are:
• 4 inches for walking.
• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
• 8-12 inches for a car.
• 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

Owens added when the temperature rises above freezing for six hours during a 24 hour period, people should double the recommended minimum thicknesses.

If temperatures rise above freezing for 24 hours or more, they should stay off the ice.

Owens recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: wear a life jacket, carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort— ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice.

Carver County PF banquet Saturday

The 27th annual Carver County Pheasants Forever banquet is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Hamburg Hall.

A limited number of tickets are available.

For tickets or additional information, contact Randy Wendlund at randy.wendland@te.com.

Kingston Lions Fishing Contest

The 25th annual Kingston Lions Fishing Contest is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The contest will take place on the northwest side of Lake Francis, and there is a $5 entry fee per person.

There will be door prizes for biggest walleye, northern, and bass – pays only on the largest of those three.

Also, there will be prizes for sunfish and crappie.

Additoinally, there will be drawing for cash prizes, and concessions will be available at the contest by the Kingston Lions Club.

Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week
From the DNR

Gov. Mark Dayton with the support of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) has proclaimed Jan. 13-19 as Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week in Minnesota.

More than 1,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state.

For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov or call 800-366-8917.

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
DNR and MnUSA also remind snowmobilers of a few basic safety tips:

DON’T DRINK – Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Alcohol causes body temperature to drop at a faster rate, increasing the likelihood of hypothermia.

SLOW DOWN – Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. Remember, when driving at night the DNR recommends a speed of only 40 miles an hour. Faster peeds may result in “over driving” your headlight.

BE PREPARED – When traveling, make sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches, and a compass.

STAY ALERT – Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment.

ICE ADVICE – Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.

WATCH THE WEATHER – Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.

BRING A BUDDY – Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. If snowmobilers must travel alone, they should inform someone of their destination, planned route, and return time.

REPORT ACCIDENTS – The operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file an official accident report through the county sheriff’s office within 10 days.

For a copy of DNR’s 2012-2013 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, call (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

It’s also available on DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/snowmobile/index.html

Elk hunt extended to meet management goals, control depredation
From the DNR

The need to manage the size of northwestern Minnesota’s elk population and control depredation has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to extend the elk hunt beginning Saturday, Jan. 12.

“Our rules for the 2012-2013 elk hunt authorized an extended season if harvest goals were not met during the regular seasons,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “We are committed to managing these populations at levels identified within the management plan. We need to take additional animals to keep us moving in that direction.”

Only six elk were harvested in the September and December hunts, well below a quota of 23 animals DNR established to meet population management goals and address depredation concerns.

Elk hunters who were selected to participate in either the Grygla zone or Kittson Central zone but did not harvest an elk may hunt their zones during the extended season.

In the Kittson Central zone, hunters will be restricted by time period.

Hunters in the Kittson Central zone will be scheduled to hunt one four-day period, either Jan. 12-15 or Jan. 17-20.

They cannot hunt during both time periods. Hunters in the Grygla zone will be allowed to hunt the full nine-day period from Jan. 12-20.

Elk are native to Minnesota but were extirpated from the state in the early 20th century.

They were reintroduced into the state in the 1930s, and in recent times elk from Manitoba have naturally immigrated to Minnesota.

Two small herds exist in northwestern Minnesota, one near Grygla in Marshall County and another in Kittson County.

Minnesota’s elk population is 80 to 120 animals, depending on the location of a herd that moves back and forth between Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada.

By law, elk hunts in Minnesota can be authorized whenever the pre-calving population exceeds 20 animals.

MN state forest nurseries announce seedling sale
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) state forest nurseries are gearing up for their spring seedling sale.

Millions of seedlings are available for the 2013 planting season, including 20 species of native bareroot trees and shrubs grown from seeds collected in Minnesota. Seedlings vary in size from 6 to 18 inches in height.

“Pines, spruces, oaks, maples, wildlife shrubs and much more are available with prices starting as low as 24 cents per piece,” said Craig VanSickle, nurseries supervisor.

The state forest nurseries are taking orders now for April and May pickup or delivery.

A minimum of 500 seedlings must be ordered, which will cover approximately one acre of ground.

Seedlings can be ordered by phone at 800-657-3767.

Visit the DNR’s website at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/nurseries for a list of available species and to download the tree seedling order form.

Seedlings can be used for reforestation, improving wildlife habitat, creating shelterbelts, developing green buffers to protect water quality and cleaning the air by removing carbon dioxide.

By law, seedlings purchased from Minnesota state forest nurseries may not be planted for ornamental purposes, resold, given away or removed with roots attached for a period of 10 years from the date of purchase and seedlings must be planted in Minnesota.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: White-nose syndrome has decimated many bat populations in the eastern United States.
Is it having an impact on Minnesota’s bats?

A: White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that was first observed in New York during the winter of 2006 - 2007.

It has since spread across parts of the U.S. and Canada, killing nearly 7 million bats.

The disease is often characterized by white fungal growth on the muzzles and wings of hibernating bats and is associated with abnormal behavior, such as flying outside hibernacula during the winter.

This causes the bats to use up their stored fat reserves, and as a result they often freeze or starve to death.

Minnesota DNR staff biologists conducted surveys during winter 2012 for White-nose syndrome and the disease was not detected. Surveillance will continue this winter.

How you can help Minnesota’s bats?

While the disease appears to only affect bats, the fungus may be transmitted by humans and their gear when they visit affected caves.

To avoid possible spread of WNS, observe all cave and mine closures and do not enter caves or mines where bats hibernate.

People who have visited caves in states known to have populations of bats with WNS, should decontaminate clothing, footwear and gear.

More information is available on the Minnesota DNR’s White-nose syndrome website www.mndnr.gov/wns.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked sleds last week.
CO Mies checked anglers on area lakes.
CO Mies worked on a trap theft complaint.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) observed an increase in angling activity on area lakes as the ice conditions improve for more vehicle traffic.
Several lakes have been producing a good pan fish bite and the northern pike are hitting the tip ups, with numerous 30+ fish observed taken.
Snowmobile traffic has decreased with the lack of new snow but the trails are still fair.
Enforcement action was taken for over limit on crappies, angling with extra lines and snowmobile speed.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) investigated trapping complaints near Watertown.
Coyote hunters were checked having very good success.
Snowmobile trails were patrolled finding very few snowmobilers out.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) spent the week checking anglers, trappers and predator hunters.
She took multiple complaints regarding predator hunters chasing coyotes with ATVs and snowmobiles.
CO Mueller participated in a detail focusing on predator hunters.
Follow up investigations were completed during the week with enforcement action taken on a past shinning complaint and allow illegal operation of a minor on a snowmobile.
Time was also spent on snowmobile patrol with CO Oberg

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports snowmobile, fishing and predator hunting enforcement this week.
Officer Oberg spent time working a walleye bite on a Sibley County lake with fish ranging from 10-17 inches.
Snowmobile enforcement was worked around Hutchinson with one sled stopped for doing 90 mph.
Snowmobile violations included no snowmobile safety, fail to display registration, no registration, no state trail sticker, and speed. A predator hunting detail was also worked.