Top 10 list of MN hunting violations

November 4, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released a list of the top 10 hunting-related violations in 2012.

Most citations and warnings were written for trespass. According to the DNR, a person may not enter legally posted land or agricultural land for outdoor recreation purposes without permission.

Other common violations include not having a hunting license in possession, or none at all; having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, failure to tag an animal upon harvest and not wearing the required amount of blaze orange.

Below is the top 10 violations, followed by the number of citations/warnings iussed in 2012:

1) Trespass – 337

2) License/registration/permit not in possession/displayed – 245

3) No valid license registration/permit – 239

4) Hunting over bait – 225

5) Transporting uncased/loaded firearm in a motor vehicle – 222

6) Unplugged shotguns – 161

7) No blaze orange – 139

8) Closed season (take/possession) – 126

9) Untagged (deer, fur, traps, nets) – 124

10) No federal waterfowl stamps – 122.

“Only a small percentage of Minnesota hunters run afoul of the law,” explained Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director, “a majority of hunters in our state abide by wildlife rules and regulations.”

The 2013 Minnesota Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook is available online http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/hunting/2013/full_regs.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=bookmarks or can be obtained from any hunting and fishing license vendor, as well as many outdoor retailers.

The DNR’s mission is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.

A major part of that mission involves monitoring hunters to ensure they hunt safely, ethically and abide by the state’s wildlife laws and regulations.

With 24 of 155 conservation officer field stations vacant this becomes an overwhelming job.

These officers spend endless hours hiking through the woods and traveling rural roads attempting to protect and preserve Minnesota’s natural resources.

Hunters are also encouraged to be on the lookout for wildlife violations and report such violations to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093.

Cell phone users can dial #TIP.

Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

New computer modeling aimed at watershed cleanup
From the DNR

In west-central Minnesota, the Shakopee Creek headwaters chain of lakes has long attracted tourists, cabin owners and recreationists to its picturesque shores.

But runoff from agricultural drainage on the surrounding land is carrying excessive pollutants to some of these prized Kandiyohi County lakes, such as West Norway Lake, where nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and sediment levels are now too high.

The pollution threatens to spread through connecting waterways to other lakes further down the chain including Norway, Games, Andrew and Florida.

“There have been a lot of improvements made in the watershed but not enough to improve the conditions of West Norway Lake,” said Skip Wright, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) district manager in Spicer. “If more isn’t done to reduce runoff rates and pollutant loads then that condition will eventually cascade down to the other lakes in this very important lake chain.”

As part of a larger effort to identify and target key actions necessary to reduce the flow of pollutants that threaten the lakes, streams, and wetlands that make up the Shakopee Creek headwaters watershed, the DNR is developing a computer model that can be used to track water flow through the 70-square mile area.

“It’s a much more advanced way of trying to characterize the hydrology of a watershed than tools we’ve had available in the past,” said Wright, who works for the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division.

Shakopee Creek is just one example of how money from the Clean Water Fund is being used to restore the state’s waters.

In the past four years, the DNR has received $640,000 to develop computer models to address hydrologic change.

Using this creek as a case study, researchers are integrating detailed elevation information into the new computer model to create an accurate picture of how water and pollutants are moving from the land into the water.

With the watershed model, the movement of a raindrop can be traced from the point it falls, routing it through features on the land like wetlands – accounting for nutrients and sediment – and following its path to streams or ditches.

Watershed physics can be studied down to scales of one acre or less and researchers will be better able to track how changes in land use and climate have contributed to stress on the state’s bodies of water.

Equally important, scientists can use watershed physics to understand where wetland restorations, modified drainage practices, and other agricultural best management practices should be targeted to most effectively address identified pollution problems.

They will use that knowledge to develop a strategy for cleaning up West Norway Lake and reducing the flow of pollutants to the chain of lakes below.

“There is no other model I am aware of that can do what this model does,” said Greg Eggers, the DNR drainage engineer who is working on applying this physically-based computer model to the Shakopee Creek watershed. “It is a paradigm shift in the way we look at watersheds.”

The traditional computer models lump soils, land use and elevation traits into one unit, regardless of the variations in particular plots of land.

With these less sophisticated models, unique land characteristics such as vegetation, slopes and surface roughness are lumped into an empirical relationship that approximates how these characteristics relate to each other.

The new model creates a series of maps of the watershed over time.

Scientists will be able to use the model to visually explain an outcome or series of outcomes from some certain change in land use, such as putting in controls to stop water flow out of farmland drain tiles at certain periods of the year.

Scientists will be able to see the effect of that one change and other changes like that on the entire watershed.

“The more we study these systems, we’re finding that the volume of water and the rate of water coming off the land is causing erosive conditions in rivers, lakes and streams,” Wright said. “This model will help show where the best areas are to moderate the runoff and improve water quality.”

Through a cooperative effort with watershed residents, government, and conservation groups, much has been done to clean up the watershed in the past two decades.

In the northwestern part of the watershed, many wetlands and some grassland habitats previously converted to row crops have been restored.

Also much has been done to address failing individual wastewater treatment systems and animal feedlot runoff, throughout the watershed.

Riparian buffers adjacent to streams and ditches have been installed to help slow down the water run-off and act as a filter.

Monitoring shows water quality has improved in these areas.

But now, the focus is on the southwestern part of the watershed that enters West Norway Lake, where less has been done to improve water quality.

The Shakopee Creek study is part of a larger effort to develop water quality strategies specifically tailored for the Minnesota River Basin.

“This case study is one of several across a diverse Minnesota River watershed that will help us figure out where to strategically target restoration measures and conservation practices so we can put the limited resources we have to best use in the clean up our lakes, river and streams,” Eggers said.

The watershed modeling efforts are part of a long-term partnership with federal agencies, local government, conservation groups and agriculture to restore and protect the state’s water resources through better, more sustainable resource management.

The modeling portion of the Shakopee Creek case study will be completed by the end of December.

A 2014 report will be part of the larger Minnesota River clean-up and reporting effort.

The Clean Water Fund receives 33 percent of the sales tax revenue from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, approved by voters in November 2008.

The Clean Water Fund’s purpose is to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.

For more information on the Legacy Amendment, visit www.mndnr.gov/legacy.

Conservation Corps Minnesota accepting applications for 2014
From the DNR

Young adults, ages 18 to 25, are encouraged to apply for one of 160 positions available with Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa.

Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications for AmeriCorps field crew leader and member positions for the 2014 program year.

Positions are available statewide, including northern, central and southern Minnesota, as well as central Iowa.

Priority application deadline is Dec. 4.

All projects are completed on public land in cooperation with nonprofit organizations and government agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

These opportunities provide technical field experience and professional certifications for future natural resource careers.

Many DNR employees got their start in natural resources with the Conservation Corps (formerly MCC), where they learned a strong work ethic and a first-hand appreciation of the environment.

Corps members receive on-the-job training in natural resource management and put those skills into practice working on habitat restoration projects throughout the Midwest.

Typical project work includes exotic species management, prairie and oak-savanna restoration, stream bank stabilization, trail building and maintenance, prescribed burning and wildland fire suppression.

Crew members receive a living stipend of $1,210 a month (crew leaders: $1,565 a month), health insurance, student loan forbearance during the service term and a post-service AmeriCorps Education Award that may be used for college expenses or to repay qualified student loans.

A crew member or leader position with the Conservation Corps involves physically challenging, team-oriented work to accomplish habitat restoration and emergency response projects.

Projects are usually completed outdoors and about 70 percent involve camping near the project location.

Applicants should have an interest in working outdoors in a team setting, giving back to their community and exploring professional development opportunities.

To apply for the field crew program, and to view other AmeriCorps positions with Conservation Corps, visit www.conservationcorps.org/apply or contact Mark van der Linden, recruitment coordinator for more information at mark@conservationcorps.org or 651-209-9900, ext. 31.

Cold and wind greet hunters during first Camp Ripley hunt
From the DNR

Archers took a two-day total of 181 deer during the first two-day bow hunt Oct. 26-27 at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

“Breezy and colder than normal conditions greeted hunters and made it challenging for hunters to maximize their time in the field, with most of the hunters leaving by early-afternoon on Sunday. Nevertheless, hunters still did pretty well,” said Beau Liddell, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Little Falls area wildlife manager.

“For the tenth year in a row hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer,” he said. “Harvest is down about 13 percent from last year, but was similar to the harvest of 2009 when archers took 172 deer during the first hunt, and we are pleased that does and fawns comprised 68 percent of this year’s harvest.”

The total harvest thus far is similar to the long-term average harvest of 182 deer for the first hunt.

“Unless we get poor weather, we’re on pace to register another above average harvest for both hunts combined,” Liddell said.

There were 2,500 permits issued for the first hunt, with 2,193 hunters participating, for a participation rate of 88 percent (up from 82 percent last year).

Hunter success was 8 percent (slightly below the long-term average of 10 percent for the first hunt), and four hunters took their bag limit of two deer.

“With fifteen consecutive mild winters in this part of the state and strong harvests since 2000, Camp Ripley’s deer herd is in good condition. The weights of most fawns and yearling deer that were registered this weekend were heavier than they have been in recent years,” Liddell said.

The largest buck registered weighed 223 pounds, taken by Nicholas Witte of St. Peter.

Of adult does registered, the largest weighed in at 138 pounds, taken by Michael Haubenschild of Austin.

The second two-day hunt is scheduled for this past weekend, Nov. 2-3.

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

Hunter apprentice validation an option for new hunters
From the DNR

New hunters who have missed the opportunity to take a firearms safety class, may still deer hunt under supervision this fall by purchasing a hunter apprentice validation, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Now that hunting season is quickly approaching, many prospective youth hunters and their parents are realizing the remaining hunter safety and education classes are full.

The hunter apprentice validation allows a new hunter the opportunity to hunt one season under the direct supervision of an adult licensed hunter without completing a formal firearms safety hunter education class (FAS).

The hunter apprentice must first purchase the validation for $3.50 at an electronic licensing system vendor, and then purchase the appropriate hunting license.

The validation is usable for one hunting season and apprentice hunters are allowed to purchase only two validations in a lifetime.

Apprentice hunters are then required to get their FAS certificates to continue hunting.

Firearms safety hunter education classes are offered throughout the year by DNR certified volunteer instructors.

New hunters are encouraged to take a FAS class as early in the year as possible when many classes have openings, rather than waiting until demand is high and seats fill.

“Safe hunting is not just a result of passing a firearms safety class,” said Shelly Patton, DNR northeastern regional training officer. “Equally important is the role of a parent or mentor to model the safe practices of firearms handling and ensure the new hunter is safe, responsible and ethical while hunting. Actual field experience is one of the greatest teaching tools.”

Anyone born after 1979 is required to have a FAS certificate to hunt with a firearm, except youth age 12 and under may hunt without a FAS certificate as long as a parent or guardian accompanies them.

New, adult hunters (age 18 or older) may choose to take an approved FAS classroom training, an online study course with virtual field day, an independent study course from an approved instructor, or utilize the same hunter apprentice validation option under the same rules.

Even though FAS certification field days may no longer be available this season, a new hunter may still benefit from reviewing the firearms safety course online at www.huntercourse.com before hunting.

By completing the online portion of the course prior to hunting, the student will be eligible to quickly register for the next available field day to complete their certificate.

For more information about the apprentice hunter validation, firearms safety hunter education class, or to learn how to become a volunteer firearms safety instructor, see www.mndnr.gov/safety /index.html.