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MN DNR announces fall duck and goose seasons

August 12, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota’s waterfowl season will open a half-hour before sunrise on Sept. 21 and continue for 60 days under a north, central and southern zone structure with different season dates for each zone, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This is the same structure the DNR used for the first time last year.

The opener is one day earlier than last year and the earliest since 1945.

“Hunters had a good waterfowl season last year,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “We heard positive reports so we maintained the same season structure.”

The daily bag limit remains at six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains at four per day, including two hen mallards.

The wood duck bag limit will remain at three per day.

The only bag limit changes from last year are the daily limit for scaup which drops from four to three per day and the canvasback limit increases from one to two per day.

Telander said the other notable change is possession limits have increased from two times the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit for all migratory birds.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service offered the increase to all states.

Telander also noted this year’s opening date is based on a federal framework that enables Mississippi Flyway states to open their season on the Saturday nearest Sept. 24 each year. Next year’s season could open no earlier than Sept. 27.

Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey, including Minnesota, is used to determine overall duck season length.

This year’s estimate was 10.4 million mallards, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 10.6 million mallards and 36 percent above the long-term average.

Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, said breeding duck numbers were good for mallards and all other duck species this year and wetland conditions in the major waterfowl breeding areas were also favorable.

“In Minnesota, the population index of resident breeding mallards was also good, with an estimated 293,000 mallards in our survey area, Cordts said. “That’s 30 percent above the long-term average.”

Duck harvest in Minnesota last fall was up 19 percent from 2011, from 621,000 ducks in 2011 to 749,000 ducks in 2012.
Most of the increase was due to increased harvest of blue-winged teal and wood ducks.

“We’ve made some changes with duck hunting regulations the past few years to increase harvest opportunity, particularly early in the season,” Cordts said. “These changes seem to have worked as we have seen increased harvest of early migrating species like teal and wood ducks.”

Duck Season

In the North Duck Zone (north of Highway 210), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Tuesday, Nov. 19.

In the Central Duck Zone, duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Nov. 24.

In the South Duck Zone (south of Highway 212), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Dec. 1.

Youth Waterfowl Day

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 7. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required).

Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.

Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide.

Open Water Hunting

A small number of lakes will be open to open water hunting this fall.

These new opportunities are an outcome of a DNR-led waterfowl hunter focus group and citizen input process.

Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs Lake, and Lake Pepin will be open to open water hunting as long as boats remain at anchor.

On the Mississippi River south of Hastings, with the exception of Lake Pepin, hunters must remain within 100 feet of shoreline, including islands.

This matches the Wisconsin regulations on this portion of the river.

Hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Regulations for additional information.

Maj. Phil Meier, DNR enforcement operations manager, said these new open water hunting opportunities will require extra safety precautions.

“Hunters should wear their life jackets not just have them aboard,” Meier advised, noting this type of hunting involves small shallow boats and some of Minnesota’s largest and most windswept lakes. “They’ll also have to be on the lookout for recreational boaters, large waves from barges and other commercial traffic and unfavorable changes in the weather. It’s a different type of hunting; it takes a different safety mindset.”

Goose Seasons

• August Canada goose:

An August Canada goose management take will open Saturday, Aug. 10 and run through Sunday, Aug. 25, in the Intensive Harvest Zone only.

Bag limit is 10 Canada geese per day. A $4 permit t is required.

This is the first year Canada goose hunting has been allowed during August due to high populations of Canada geese and agricultural crop depredation.

Goose hunters should consult the DNR Web page for additional information at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/waterfowl/index.html.

• Early September Goose Season

The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Sunday, Sept. 1 and run through Friday, Sept. 20.

Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the Intensive Harvest Zone and five per day in the remainder of the state.

A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during September season.

The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the Northwest Goose Zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County.

Early season goose hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.

• Regular goose season

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a bag limit of three Canada geese per day the entire season.

Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed.

In the North Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Monday, Dec.16.

In the Central Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 5, through Saturday, Dec. 21.

In the South Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 12 through Friday, Dec. 28.

Sandhill Crane Season

The season for sandhill cranes will run from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 20 in the Northwest Goose and Sandhill Crane Zone only.

The daily bag limit will be two sandhill cranes per day.

A sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license. Cost is $3.

Additional details on the duck, goose, sandhill crane, and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2013 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August on online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Friends of NRA banquet Aug. 24

The Friends of NRA Banquet is Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Crow River Golf Club in Hutchinson.

The cost to attend is $40 per person, or $60 per couple.

The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with gun drawings and a social hour, followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Raffle tickets can be purchased at the event. For additional information, e-mail Nate Johnson at nate@phcraig.com.

Application deadline approaching for 2013 Camp Ripley archery hunts
From the DNR

Hunters interested in the 2013 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls are reminded that this year’s Aug. 16 application deadline is fast approaching, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Because of military training needs, the dates for this year’s hunts are being held about a week later than usual.

Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons, Oct. 26-27 (Sat.-Sun., code 668) or Nov. 2-3 (Sat.-Sun., code 669).

A total of 5,000 permits, 2,500 per two-day hunt, will be made available.

Successful applicants must purchase a valid archery license at least two days before their hunt to participate.

The bag limit is two, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer.

Rules and instructions for this year’s hunt can be found on DNR’s deer hunting Web page.

Hunters may choose from four options to apply for the Camp Ripley archery hunts:

• Through the DNR’s computerized electronic licensing system (ELS) at any one of 1,500 ELS agents located throughout Minnesota.

• By telephone at 888-665-4236.

• Through the DNR’s Internet licensing link at www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/index.html.

• At the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $12 per applicant.

Those who apply by phone or Internet will be charged an additional convenience fee of 3 percent ($0.36) per transaction.

To apply, resident hunters 21 and older must provide a valid state driver’s license or public safety identification number.

Residents under 21 may also provide a DNR firearms safety training number to apply.

Nonresident hunters must apply using a valid driver’s license number, public safety identification number, or MDNR customer number from a recent Minnesota hunting or fishing license.

All applicants must be at least 10 years old prior to the hunt they apply for.

In addition, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course to obtain a license to hunt or trap in Minnesota.

Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group, up to four individuals.

Group members may only apply for the same two-day season.

The first group applicant must specify “Create New Group” when asked, and will receive a group number.

Subsequent group applicants must specify they want to “Join an Existing Group” and must use the same group number supplied to the first group applicant.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event.

The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

Spruce needle rust appearing in northern Minnesota
From the DNR

Homeowners in northern Minnesota are noticing their spruce trees turning tan, yellow, orange or sometimes, pink. Most likely these trees are infected with the spruce needle rust fungus, which presents an aesthetic problem but seldom a tree health problem, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Spruce needle rust infects current-year needles of blue spruce but can also be found on white and black spruce.

Infected needles will turn yellow and then shed in the fall.

However, healthy buds on the ends of the branches will produce new needles the following year.

“Seeing favorite ornamental trees turn a rusty color and appear to be dying can cause concern, but homeowners shouldn’t rush to cut them down,” said Mike Albers, DNR forest health specialist. “The fungus only infects the current year’s needles, and does not spread from tree to tree.”

In some years, like this one, spruce needle rust is very common; but in most years it is difficult to find because it requires other plants and specific growing conditions to complete its life cycle.

In early summer, the rust fungus produces spores on the leaves of Labrador tea or leather leaf, which grow in peatlands, bogs and swamps.

Winds can blow these spores onto current-year spruce needles.

If the weather is wet and cool, needles can become infected.

Rust fungus produced by the infected tree can reinfect and overwinter on alternate host plants, but this is generally interrupted by changing weather conditions.

A widespread infection one year can be undetectable the next.

Chemical control with a fungicide is usually not helpful and cannot cure the infected needles.

Albers recommends keeping spruce trees healthy during a spruce needle rust outbreak by:

Watering trees during dry times; avoid using sprinklers because the needles will stay wet and can lead to additional infections.

Mowing weeds and grass around small trees to keep needles dry and prevent infection.

Mulching around trees to maintain soil moisture and discourage weed and grass growth. Keep the mulch off the tree’s trunk.

Homeowners and other landowners can find information about tree care and tree diseases on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/backyard.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What causes many lakes, rivers and ponds to turn green by mid-summer? Some even have an odor.

A: By mid-summer many waterbodies turn green due to the growth of small microscopic plants in the water called algae.

Algae grow in all bodies of water when light and nutrients levels are sufficient.

In many lakes, algae abundance is determined by the amount of phosphorus dissolved in the water.

The more phosphorus present, the more abundant algae become and the greener the water gets.

There are many different types of algae.

During mid-summer one particular group of algae, called blue-green algae, are often particularly abundant.

When this algal group becomes abundant, a strong musty or earthy odor many occur.

Algae that have died and are decomposing cause the odor.

Because algae abundance strongly depends on the amount of phosphorus available, the best long-term strategy is to improve land-use practices to prevent phosphorus and other nutrients from getting into our lakes and ponds.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers.
CO Mies assisted with an AIS check.
CO Mies checked boaters and ATVs.
CO Mies also gave a law talk at the Kimball Firearms class.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked area anglers and boaters on area lakes.
It seems the angling activity has slowed down with a slow fishing bite.
Reller also assisted at a wetlands complaint and at an AIS road check in Chisago County.
A day was also worked at the Stillwater Bridge construction site.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked AIS enforcement most of the week.
Anglers and boaters were checked all week on area lakes.
A complaint of dogs chasing deer was handled.
Calls were returned all week on the early August goose season.
Violations documented were angling with extra lines, fail to remove drain plug from watercraft and transporting aquatic vegetation on watercraft trailer.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) participated in an AIS check station on the St. Croix River with Metro COs.
She worked a boat and water detail on Lake Minnetonka with Officer Block.
She gave a law presentation to a FAS class in Chanhassen, attended a boat and water meeting in St. Paul, attended court, and testified in an AIS hearing.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) attended taxidermy training at Camp Ripley.
Time was spent on monitoring fishing activity and turtle trapping.
Mueller also completed a commercial check on a game farm and conducted roadside surveys.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time working angling and ATV activity, and worked on August roadside counts.
Oberg also spoke at a firearms safety class in St. George and completed a game farm inspection.