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Second chance to help Minnesota’s wildlife

April 1, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesotans who forgot to donate to the line with the loon on their state tax forms now have a second chance to help the state’s bald eagles, trumpeter swans, blue herons, peregrine falcons and bluebirds, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

To donate to the DNR nongame wildlife program, visit the website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.

More than 800 nongame wildlife species depend on donations.

The nongame wildlife program receives 80 percent of its funding through donations.

Last year 66,000 Minnesotans donated to the line with the loon on their tax forms, compared with 88,000 people 10 years ago, said Carrol Henderson, DNR nongame wildlife program supervisor.

“Only one in 31 households contributes to the wildlife checkoff fund, so every dollar donated is an important gift to wildlife,” he said.

Many Minnesotans use tax services to prepare their taxes and never see their tax form so they miss the line with the loon, Henderson said.

These same people enjoy watching the new live bald eagle webcam as well as frequenting the outdoors to watch soaring eagles along the riverbanks and listening to the haunting call of the common loon.

“We are fortunate to offer this second chance to help wildlife and keep Minnesota a special place to live,” Henderson said. “It’s fast and easy to make your tax deductible donation; just go to the DNR website and click on the nongame wildlife donate button. Every dollar donated will help protect and preserve the future of all wildlife in Minnesota.”

Firearms safety classes in Winsted

The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will be offering firearms’ safety classes starting Monday, April 8.

The classes will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Blue Note in Winsted, and is for anyone 12 years old or older by Sept. 1, 2013. Adults are welcome.

The class will run for three weeks, and sign up at the first meeting April 8.

The cost is $10, with checks made payable to the Winsted Sportsmen’s Club. If you have questions, contact Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434 anytime after 4 p.m.

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club hog roast

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club’s annual hog roast is set for Saturday, April 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Winsted Legion Club.

Advance tickets are $9, or $10 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Winsted Farmers Co-op, Winsted Floral, Keg’s Bar, Corner Bar, Blue Note, and from any member. Take-outs are available.

Firearm’s safety training at LP Sportsmen’s Club

The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will be having DNR-certified firearm’s safety training in April, starting Tuesday, April 2.

Registration for the class will be April 2 starting at 6:30 p.m., with the first class to start that same evening.

Classes will continue Thursday, April 4, and will run every Tuesday and Thursday night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. through April, ending Thursday, May 2.

LP Sportsmen’s Club opens soon for trapshooting

Weather permitting, the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will open the trapshooting season with practice shooting Wednesday, April 10. The league season then begins Wednesday, April 17.

For more information, call (320) 395-2258.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner

Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, April 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Options for the dinner include steak and shrimp combo ($13), steak ($11), pork chop ($10), six shrimp ($9), and ribeye ($15).

Each meal includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, and coffee or milk.

Reservations need to be made by Friday, April 5 before 6 p.m., and be called in to the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877 or to Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721 or (612) 636-7214.

US Fish and Wildlife service to host Habitat Day April 13 in Litchfield

The Litchfield Wetland Management District (District) of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will host “Habitat Day 2013” Saturday, April 13, from noon to 4:00 p.m. in Litchfield.

The event has a variety of offerings to those of all ages interested in wildlife and habitat of our area. The event is free-of-charge.

Spring is just around the corner and it won’t be long before wood ducks and bluebirds return to the area in search of nesting sites.

If you have good habitat areas for placing nest boxes for these species, free, pre-cut bird house kits will be available for assembly on site (one of each per family).

Robin nesting shelves, wren houses, and new this year, bird feeders will also be available while supplies last.

All necessary tools to assemble the houses will be provided.

USFWS staff and volunteers will be on hand to assist with construction.

Information will be provided on wood ducks and bluebirds and how best to place the nesting houses.

Design plans will be available to build these houses or feeders on your own.

Come build a house anytime between noon and 4 p.m.

Staff from the University of Minnesota, Raptor Center, St. Paul, MN will be on hand once again with live birds, including a bald eagle.

Meet some of Minnesota’s raptors or birds of prey in person and learn how their role in the environment is important to us all.

An hour-long program will start at 1:00 p.m.

Raptor Center education specialists will be available after the program to answer questions about the birds, with the birds available for viewing.

Coloring books, posters and an assortment of wildlife related materials and displays for kids “of all ages” will be available throughout the afternoon including a staff demonstration of prairie seed cleaning via use of a fanning mill.

Special guests at the event include the Wildlife Wizard who will quiz children and adults on wildlife and habitat of the area as well as the Crow River Organization of Water who will have a staffed booth.

No reservations are necessary but if you would like further information contact us by phone at (320) 693-2849 or by e-mail at litchfieldwetland@fws.gov.

Snowmobile season could continue into April
From the DNR

With a foot or more of snow still blanketing most of northern Minnesota, the snowmobiling season may extend into April for the first time in many years, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

State trails will remain open on public land while weather and snow conditions permit; however grant-in-aid snowmobile trails close for the season on April 1, when permits with private landowners expire.

“We have had great snowmobiling this year, especially in the last half of the season, and we owe a great debt of thanks to the many snowmobile club volunteers who made it possible by grooming Minnesota’s extensive system of grant-in-aid trails,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Of the state’s 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 21,000 miles are maintained by snowmobile club members. They worked long and hard this winter, and we appreciate the great work that they did.”

Late season snowmobilers need to be aware of changing conditions, including bare spots, flowing water and exposed rocks. Some gates may be closed on grant-in-aid trails.

“As the temperatures rise, riding conditions are likely to deteriorate,” said Andrew Korsberg, DNR trail program coordinator. “We advise checking conditions before hitting the trails.”

The statewide snow depth map and state trail conditions are updated by 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.mndnr.gov/snow.
For the most up-to-date trail conditions, contact the local trail administrator.

Contact information can be found online at www.mndnr.gov. (www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/trailcontacts.html) or by calling the DNR Information Center Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

Even if snow conditions are good, the DNR reminds snowmobilers not to ride on trails that traverse private land.

After April 1, riding these trails without the landowner’s permission would be trespassing.

Bear hunt applications available; deadline is Friday, May 3
From the DNR

Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are available beginning Monday, April 1, and will be accepted through Friday, May 3, the Department of Natural of Resources (DNR) said.

A total of 3,750 licenses are available in 11 permit areas.

The number of available licenses for 2013 is about 35 percent fewer than the 6,000 licenses available in 2012.

The 2012 bear harvest was 2,604. That was a 22 percent increase from 2011, despite 15 percent fewer bear quota licenses being available.

The increase in harvest for 2012 was largely due to poorer fall food conditions, making bears more attracted to hunters’ baits.

The DNR’s goal with the lower license quotas is to allow for a gradual increase in the current bear population.

“Although the trends in the last few years indicate a stable bear population, DNR is reducing bear license numbers in the quota bear area to increase bear population numbers,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “After intensive efforts in the 1990s and early 2000s to reduce a growing bear population, we are now at or near population goals. These quotas will help assure that we continue to have a productive bear population.”

DNR monitors the bear population using a modeling technique based on ages of harvested bears, supplemented periodically by total population estimates based on mark-recapture data.

Bear ages are determined from tooth samples that hunters are required to submit.

Notification to successful lottery winners will be made in mid- to late May.

The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1.

Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to any eligible persons starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Application for a bear license can be made at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center in St. Paul, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236.

Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. There is a $4 application fee.

An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be available over the counter for the no quota area of east-central and far northwestern Minnesota.

The bag limit in the no quota area is being reduced from two to one.

Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.

DNR seeks volunteers for frog and toad calling survey
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) nongame wildlife program is recruiting volunteers for a frog and toad calling survey to help track the health of the state’s 14 species.

This effort is part of the nationwide North American amphibian monitoring program.

“Without the dedication of generous volunteers, this project would not be possible,” said Heidi Cyr, frog and toad survey volunteer coordinator. “Many frog and toad species are indicators of habitat quality and provide valuable information on the condition of Minnesota’s wetlands. The volunteers’ reports also help us track the health of the state’s frog and toad populations.”

New volunteers are provided with a kit that includes a CD containing calls of Minnesota’s frog and toad species, a poster of Minnesota’s frogs and toads, a map of a pre-defined route in an area of their choice (for route availability and the results of past surveys visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/frogtoad_survey/index.html), and directions on how to run the route. A vehicle is required to travel between stops.

Participants will conduct nighttime “listening surveys” on three evenings between April and July.

These 10-stop routes are run after dark in good weather and in each of the following time periods to capture seasonal variation in calling frog species: April 15 – 30 (early spring), May 20 - June 5 (late spring), and June 25 - July 10 (summer).

Participants record their information on datasheets in their volunteer kit.

The routes in and around the Twin Cities and other larger cities have already been filled but that doesn’t mean people living in these areas can’t still participate.

There are many routes still open in the more rural areas of northern and southern Minnesota.

Many volunteers take a new route every year to explore the state, or they take routes near a favorite campground, near their cabin or near relatives.

Anyone interested in learning frog and toad calls and participating in this survey should check the route availability map, choose a route, and call Cyr at (651) 259-5107 or email heidi.cyr@state.mn.us.

With the continued help of Minnesotans who volunteer their time and donate to the wildlife checkoff on their state income tax returns, the DNR nongame wildlife program will be able to perform surveys and research studies like this that will help keep Minnesota a state rich in wildlife resources.

To listen to Minnesota frog and toad calls, go online to www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/living-green/living-green-citizen/for-kids/frogs-for-kids.html.

New funding proposal will provide more sustainable water supplies to MN
From the DNR

Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a new funding structure to help ensure that Minnesota’s growing economy has reliable supplies of high quality water.

The proposal is expected to be introduced in the Legislature early next week.

Seventy-five percent of Minnesotans get their drinking water from groundwater, but some aquifers are on a long-term downward trend that is not sustainable.

The drought has raised the profile of chronic water problems around the state.

At the current rate of use, surface water and groundwater supplies may be at risk.

The state needs more reliable information on water sources and how they are being used.

The additional funding would increase the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) ability to obtain information on water supplies and water users’ needs so local communities and the state make more informed decisions about water appropriations.

“As aquifers and other water supplies are drawn down, we need the best information in order to continue to provide high-quality water supplies,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “This alone won’t solve our water sustainability issues, but it is a good start.”

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said, “Minnesotans are blessed to have this valuable water resource. I believe the long-term benefit of better water monitoring will help farmers protect their initial investment, and ensure adequate water resources for future generations.”

The funding proposal helps reverse a long-term decline in state general fund support for the DNR’s water management programs.

During the past 10 years, the DNR has experienced a 32 percent reduction in its general fund budget for water management activities, while water appropriation permit applications have increased by 67 percent.

The proposed funding increase would help the DNR collect and analyze groundwater supplies and the demands on those supplies and address sustainability concerns with new and existing water permits.

The initiative would provide the means to increase compliance with water permit requirements and continues the development of a sophisticated electronic permitting system for water users.

The funding also would help advance groundwater management areas.

These management areas are intended to bring all water users to the table to develop a plan and prioritize use of a limited resource where there is heavy water use and conflicts.

The plan changes the current fee structure and raises some of the fees on the more than 7,000 water permit holders statewide that each use more than 1 million gallons of water annually.

For residential water supplied by municipal, community or private water suppliers, the increase raises the rate from an average of about $7.50 per million gallons of water used to $15 per million gallons of water used.

Put another way, the proposal raises the price of water from 0.00075 of a penny per gallon to 0.0015 of a penny per gallon.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: When I think of spring, I think of making maple syrup. What conditions produce the best sap output?

A: During March, I watch the long-range weather forecast.

When an extended period of warm daytime temperatures are predicted to reach the upper 40s or higher, and nighttime temperatures fall below freezing each night, the trees will break dormancy and sap will flow.

Then I need to have my equipment ready to start tapping.

In northern Minnesota we rarely get steady weather patterns, so we may get a few days of sap flow followed by none.

Warm mild days with little wind that reach well above freezing in the morning and nights that dip into the mid-20s will produce the strongest prolonged flow.

If that pattern holds for a week or more that’s great sap flow weather.

In northern Minnesota this weather traditionally comes at the end of March into mid-April.

But since it is so weather dependent every sugaring season is unique.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies also gave a talk to the youth Turkey Clinic in Kimball.
CO Mies gave a firearms law talk at the Darwin firearms safety class, along with checking sleds.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) assisted all week with waterfowl enforcement training.
Reller also gave a presentation to a Firearm Safety class in Hanover and did a game farm inspection.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) spent the week at White Water State Park and the Mississippi River teaching waterfowl school to new Conservation Officers.
He also gave a firearms safety presentation at the Mayer Community Center and returned several telephone calls.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Metro Water Resource Enforcement Officer) worked an AIS booth at the Northwest Sportshow in Minneapolis.
She also attended a Lake Service Provider training session and followed up on a littering case.
Mueller attended the Tri-State Meeting in Brandon, SD.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) completed more commercial inspections with good compliance overall.
Oberg answered ATV questions related to operation along public roadways.
Oberg also attended training at the St. Paul Police Department.
Oberg has been noticing a lot of pheasant activity.