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DNR reminds boaters to take precautions against aquatic invaders

May 13, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

While many Minnesota lakes are still covered by a thick layer of ice, the open water fishing season is just around the corner and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is already gearing up for this year’s fight against zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas and other aquatic invasive species (AIS).

“Each year we take a new look at how to educate the public about the serious work of protecting our lakes and rivers,” said Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit supervisor.” There are more than 11,000 lakes in Minnesota and the majority of them are not infested with aquatic invasive species. We are collaborating with citizens and organizations around the state to help keep it that way.”

The program focuses heavily on training and education as two important ways help stop aquatic invaders.

Boater surveys have shown boaters will take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species if they understand what to do.

The DNR urges all boaters to follow the law and make sure they are not moving invasive species from one lake to another.

“Aquatic invaders cannot swim across the land, but if you give them a lift they can travel for miles,” said Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species prevention coordinator. “Boaters and anglers need to be accountable and take personal responsibility to prevent the further spread of invasive species. Our lakes and rivers are too important to take for granted.”

Because of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign, and other educational efforts, most Minnesota boaters understand the steps they must take before and after visiting state waters.

Reminders about AIS laws and necessary precautions are a valuable start to each fishing season for new anglers and those who visit the state for boating, fishing and hunting.

State law requires boaters to:

• Clean: Remove visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and prohibited invasive species off watercraft, trailers, and equipment before leaving a water access or lakeshore property.

• Drain: Remove the drain plug from boat, livewell, bilge, motor, ballast tank and other water-related equipment. Keep the drain plug out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

• Drain portable bait containers before leaving a water access.

• Dispose: Place unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, worms and fish parts in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into the water or to release worms on the ground.

Recommended actions for boaters

Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see.

For example, zebra mussels can be the size of a fingernail and their larvae are microscopic, making them difficult to find.
To remove or kill all invasive species before transporting a watercraft to other waters, the DNR recommends one or more of the following actions:

• Rinse boats, trailers and recreational equipment with very hot tap water.

• Spray with high pressure.

• Dry for five days or more.

• Anglers can keep unused live bait when leaving an access if they refill the bait container with water brought from home.

These laws and recommendations are intended to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas.

These species are easily spread to new waters if citizens, businesses and visitors don’t take the necessary steps to contain them.

Each person must take responsibility to help stop the spread of zebra mussels in lakes and streams and protect the state’s aquatic ecosystems. The DNR can’t do it alone.

For more information about AIS, visit www.mndnr.gov/ais.

Wright County engraved rifle

Wright County engraved rifle are available at All Seasons Sports in Delano starting at a cost of $577.99.

Engraved on affordable, American-made, stock Henry rifles, the Wright County Minnesota Historical Editrion Rifle combines meticulous research, original artwork, and finely detailed engraving to celebrate the history of Wright County.

The project is limited to 100 edition numbers. Personalization available for an additional charge.

Contact All Seasons Sports at (763) 972-3112.

Laddies night at Waverly Gun Club is planned

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting Ladies Only Nights for open line shooting this summer and fall.

The events will take place the second Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The dates of the events are: May 14, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, Sept. 10, and Oct. 8.

No membership is required to participate, and ladies may bring their own centerfire handgun and ammunition if they prefer. Participants will shoot from the comfort of a shelter.

A National Rifle Association -certified range safety officer will be present on the shooting line.

The Waverly Gun Club is located just off County Road 9, north of Waverly.

For more information, call Al Moy at (612) 889-4423, Ken Reinert at (612) 308-9259, or Russ Johnson at (763) 218-7376.

Fishing Klinic for Kids set for June 15

All area youth and their parents are welcome to attend the 16th annual Fishing Klinic For Kids Saturday, June 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Sturges Park on Buffalo Lake.

Participants will enjoy fishing, as well as visiting with fishing pros. There will also be demonstrations, vendor booths, food, games, activities, fun, and prizes.

There is something for everyone at this family-friendly event.

This is the largest event of its kind in Minnesota. More than 20,000 youth have participated in this program over the years.

For more information on the organization and events, go to www.fishingklinicforkids.com.

DNR conservation officers using dogs to detect zebra mussels
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be using three zebra mussel-sniffing K-9 teams for the first time this year to help combat the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Minnesota is the second state in the country to use trained dogs to prevent the spread of AIS.

They will be used throughout the state during the open water season.

“The use of K-9s is a progressive enforcement tool that will complement and support our invasive species prevention efforts,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director. “However, they should not overshadow the fact that preventing the spread of AIS is still everyone’s personal responsibility.”

Earlier this year, conservation officers Todd Kanieski and Travis Muyres traveled to California to learn about the country’s first program successfully utilizing mussel trained K-9’s to prevent the spread of AIS.

“A K-9 can find a mussel on a boat much faster than a human inspector,” said Kanieski.

The Minnesota mussel dogs were trained in-house for five weeks by Muyres, an experienced K-9 handler and certified K-9 unit trainer.

Muyres’ K-9 mussel team partner “Laina” is a Belgium Malinois purchased from a domestic breeder. The other teams include water resource enforcement officers Lt. Julie Siems and her K-9 partner “Brady” and Lt. Larry Hanson and his K-9 partner “Digger.” Siems’ and Hanson’s dogs are Labrador retrievers provided by animal shelters and animal rescue organizations.

“It’s very difficult to find a qualified prospective detector dog, but each of the dogs selected from the shelter was healthy, sociable and had a strong search drive,” said Muyres. “That search drive will prove to be invaluable in detecting AIS.”

The mussel detecting K-9s will also be trained in tracking, evidence recovery, firearms detection, and wildlife detection.

“Combining mussel detecting with these additional skills will add muscle to the DNR’s capabilities and efficiency in protecting the state’s natural resources,” said Kanieski.

The DNR Enforcement Division has utilized K-9s to assist in protecting our natural resources since 1995.

The DNR’s two current K-9 units are not trained in mussel detection.

According to the DNR, zebra mussels can multiply out of control and dramatically change the ecosystem of a body of water.

They are often transported from lake to lake by boaters.

The mussels are only about the size of a finger nail, and their larvae microscopic, making them tough to find.

They have been discovered on various lakes across the state.

The DNR will also have between 126 and 146 human watercraft inspectors stationed around the state at various lakes this summer.

Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using Minnesota waters to avoid spreading AIS to new waters.

Boaters are required by law to:

• Remove aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from boats, trailers and equipment before transporting from any water access.

• Drain all water from bilges, livewells, motors, ballast tanks and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property.

• Remove the drain plug, open water draining devices, and drain bilges and livewells; the drain plug must be removed or open when transporting a boat on public roads.

A video of the dogs is available: http://youtu.be/lHk-aVQebhw

DNR to conduct statewide Canada goose survey
From the DNR

A statewide aerial Canada goose survey started Sunday, May 5.

Weather permitting, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) survey will run about seven days, starting in the southern portion of the state and moving northward as the snow and ice melt.

The Minnesota Canada goose population has increased dramatically in recent years.

Results of this statewide population estimate will be used to set the 2013 bag limits and season lengths in hopes of keeping the population in check.

The survey will cover 160 quarter mile random plots.

Because the geese are difficult to see in thick nesting cover, researchers will use the DNR aviation program helicopter, which allows them to fly at a low level.

“Initially, folks will see the helicopter flying high over the plot as we check for hazards and livestock,” said Dave Rave, DNR goose research biologist. “To get an accurate count, we need to fly low, but we take every precaution to avoid livestock.”

This aerial survey began in 2001 and is conducted annually in the spring.

For more information on Canada geese, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/birds/canadagoose.html.

New fishing license options cater to angler interests
From the DNR

Minnesota anglers who fish a lot or a little can hook newly created licenses tailored to their desires.

The new license options include a 72-hour fishing license, a three-year license and a reduced price annual license for youth ages 16 and 17, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Based on feedback from our customers we created new options that reflect their interests,” said Jenifer Wical, customer enhancement manager for the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division. “Customers now have more choices for convenience and value.”

Wical said the new $12, 72-hour license is likely to be popular among once-a-year weekend anglers, including those who have never fished and those who have lapsed.

It does not require a trout stamp or spearing validation.

The $63 three-year fishing license provides a $3 price break and is valid until 2016, a convenience.

The $5 license for youth ages 16 and 17 is roughly a quarter of the cost of an annual resident fishing license, which is $22.

Until this year youth ages 16 and 17 paid full price for a fishing license.

“If you love fishing, then share the passion with friends and family,” Wical said. “The new license options make it easier to recruit those who haven’t fished, retain those who do and reactivate those who have dropped out.”

She said license revenue is used to manage 5,400 fishing lakes and support 150-plus field conservation officers.

Moreover, the license itself is a ticket to some of the best fishing in America.

“Minnesota ranks third in the nation as an inland fishing destination,” Wical said. “Wherever you are in this state, you’re close to great fishing.”

Also new are individual and combination (married couple) super sports licenses that combine a variety of hunting and fishing opportunities into one license.

The DNR is working with the Legislature to readjust the cost of this license as its current price exceeds that sum of its individual components.

Licenses can be purchased and printed online anytime at www.mndnr.gov/BuyALicense and details of new license types can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/heritage/index.html

DNR tagging walleyes at Mille Lacs; return tag and get a lure
From the DNR

Anglers who catch a Mille Lacs Lake walleye with an orange tag on its body can receive a free fishing lure if they return that tag to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The offer is part of a broad effort to better understand the lake’s walleye population.

DNR fisheries biologists are in the process of tagging and releasing 20,000 walleye.

A new walleye population estimate will be based on the number of tagged fish captured in survey nets after spawning is completed.

A selectivity estimate – an estimate of the sex and sizes of walleye anglers are most likely to catch - will be based on tag returns from anglers.

“To maximize tag returns and thereby the accuracy of our estimates, we are offering an incentive for the actual return of orange tags,” said Tom Jones, DNR regional treaty fisheries coordinator. “We are taking this additional step because we want the best data possible for future management decisions on Mille Lacs.”

Jones said the orange tags are labeled “REWARD.”

Anglers that catch a fish with such a tag should remove it from the fish, even if the fish is released.

Tags should be returned to DNR Fisheries, 1200 Minnesota Ave. S., Aitkin, MN 56431. A fishing lure will be mailed in return.

Tag return boxes will also be available at several businesses around the lake, or anglers can simply mail them to the address on “REWARD” signs posted at the boat accesses.

Incentives will not be rewarded for older yellow tags, but anglers are encouraged to return information on fish with these tags.

Anglers are encouraged to leave yellow tags in the fish if they are released.

These related projects will enable biologists to determine what proportion of the lake’s walleye are harvested, and will help refine population models.

“The anglers who drop their tags in the mail are doing all Mille Lacs anglers a favor,” Jones said. “The higher the tag returns the higher the data reliability . . . and that’s what you want when managing an asset as valuable as Mille Lacs.”

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: How important is the spring snowmelt to Minnesota’s groundwater supply?

A: Snowmelt and rainfall during the spring months are the sources of major replenishment for the entire hydrologic system in Minnesota, including groundwater.

While a great deal of the spring runoff melts into lakes and rivers, some of it infiltrates the soil into two principal zones: saturated and unsaturated.

The saturated zone is where aquifers are found.

Water stored as groundwater flows into rivers and lakes through springs and seeps, helping to maintain their levels.

Most of the summer precipitation is taken up by growing vegetation or evaporates.

Groundwater pumped from aquifers supplies more than 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water and nearly 90 percent of the water used for agricultural irrigation.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) attended training at Camp Ripley.
CO Mies also checked anglers last week.
CO Mies also worked on fish run.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on several TIP calls on angling activity, a possible shoreline construction complaint, complaint of possible wetland fill complaint and numerous nuisance animal calls.
Reller also attended in-service training at Camp Ripley.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) continued monitoring spring fishing activity throughout the week.
She investigated the dumping of multiple coyotes and raccoons at a lake access.
Mueller assisted with compliance checks with the area hydrologist and attended in-service training at Camp Ripley.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time instructing conservation officers at the annual in-service training at Camp Ripley.
Oberg also focused his efforts on spring fishing enforcement as well as ATV enforcement.
Oberg also spent time checking turkey hunters.