DNR reminder: ice is not safe right now

November 25, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Department of Natural Resources said the thin layers of ice that are forming on Minnesota waters right now are not safe.

This reminder comes after a DNR conservation officer helped rescue a man Nov. 15 who was fishing and fell through the ice on Little Rock Lake in Benton County.

“The bottom line is it’s crucial that people do not let their guard down,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist, “because ice is never 100 percent safe. A few days of cold temperatures don’t create ice strong enough to hold a person.”

According to Owens, six people died last winter after falling through the ice.

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

DNR clear ice 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.

For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.

10th anniversary of Crow River Clean-up is another success

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) organized its 10th annual Crow River clean-up day recently, and it was another success.

Totals for the 2013 clean-up include 2.7 tons of trash picked up, over 226 volunteers, 40.5 miles of shoreline cleaned, 17 communities were involved, and the event had 56 sponsors.

Some of those 17 communities included Hutchinson, Watertown, and Delano.

Firearms deer harvest down 6 percent from 2012
From the DNR

Minnesota hunters harvested 128,814 deer through the second weekend of the 2013 firearms season, according to preliminary numbers announced Nov. 20 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The season ended Sunday, Nov. 17, for all but 100-series permit areas in the northeastern part of the state, where the season concludes on Sunday, Nov. 24.

A late 3B firearm season in southeastern Minnesota begins Saturday, Nov. 23, and concludes Sunday, Dec. 1.

Firearm harvest to date is down 6 percent from last year at this time.

Overall, antlered buck harvest is down 7 percent and antlerless harvest is down 5 percent.

“Based on our population estimates, the decrease in buck harvest was not anticipated and may reflect hunting conditions more than population,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “Based on the preliminary numbers, our opening and second weekend harvests from Saturday to Monday were down 4 and 13 percent, respectively, and we experienced windy conditions the first weekend and both wind and rain the second weekend.”

Weekend harvests, particularly opening weekend, drive the total harvest numbers. McInenly stressed that these numbers are preliminary.

Much of the change in statewide antlerless harvest can be attributed to decreased harvest in the northeastern portion of the state, where antlerless harvest is currently down 25 percent.

Much of northern Minnesota experienced an extended, moderate-to-severe 2012-2013 winter, likely impacting overwinter survival and fawn numbers this summer.

In response, the DNR reduced bag limits and the number of either-sex permits available in many northern permit areas.

Also, antlerless harvest continues to be reduced around the former bovine tuberculosis management zone in far northwestern Minnesota to allow the deer population in that area to rebuild.

Ample hunting opportunities remain. In addition to the continuing firearms season in northeastern Minnesota and the late firearms season in southeastern Minnesota, the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Saturday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 15.

The archery season closes on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Hunters are reminded that deer must be registered online, via telephone or through an in-person visit to a big game registration station within 48 hours of harvest.

For more information on the firearms deer season, visit www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

Mille Lacs walleye regulation to remain the same this winter
From the DNR

Walleye anglers who fish Mille Lacs Lake this winter will do so under the same bag and slot limit that has been in effect since May, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Following fish population assessments this fall, the DNR determined that maintaining the existing regulation was appropriate.

That regulation allows anglers to harvest walleye between 18- and 20-inches, except one over 28 inches may be harvested. The possession limit is two.

The walleye fishing season runs through Feb. 23 and reopens May 10.

The walleye regulation for the 2014 open water season will be announced in late winter following an evaluation of harvest data.

DNR conservation officers’ actions save man’s life
From the DNR

Training, determination, and the right equipment helped a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources save the life of a man who fell through the ice on a central Minnesota lake.

Acting Lt. Tony Musatov of Sauk Rapids responded to Little Rock Lake near Rice, Minn., on Friday, Nov. 15, after a report of an ice angler breaking through the ice.

On arrival, Musatov asked two volunteer firefighters to assist him in pushing a small boat out across the ice.

The ice was too thick near shore to break through so the group pushed the boat across the ice until they were able to break through.

Musatov broke through the ice as well but was able to make his way into the boat and continue to the victim.

Progress was very slow due to ice.

When the rescuers were about 35 yards away, the angler, Joshua Johnson, 30, of Sartell, went under water and never resurfaced.

Musatov and the others continued to break ice until they reached the area where Johnson was last seen.

Musatov threw a grappling hook and eventually hooked the leg of the victim.

CPR was started and Johnson was rushed to the hospital.

Even though Johnson was under water for about 45 minutes, doctors were able to warm his body and get a heartbeat.

Johnson was in a coma until early Monday morning, but is now able to communicate with doctors.

Also assisting were DNR conservation officers Mike Martin and Dave Schottenbauer.

Four men arrested for violating a variety of hunting laws
From the DNR

A vehicle pursuit and a foot race related to illegally shining deer landed four men in the Otter Tail County Jail, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Charged in Otter Tail County Court with a variety of charges ranging from felony fleeing a law enforcement officer to shining with a firearm to transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle were Carl S. Moench, 29; Trevor J. Krinkie, 22; Cory L. Uselmann, 19 and Branden L. Biksen, 18; all of Browerville.

Two juveniles involved in the incident were not charged.

DNR Conservation Officer Al Peterson of Osage received a call Saturday, Nov. 16, from an off-duty Becker County deputy of possible trespass and shots fired near the Becker/Otter Tail county line.

There were several incidents of the suspects eluding the officers while shining and shooting at deer.

Once a traffic stop was initiated the driver failed to stop and a pursuit ensued.

The vehicle eventually came to a stop and a passenger exited the vehicle and ran across the road into a ditch before being apprehended by Peterson.

The deputy stayed with the vehicle and prevented another passenger from his attempt to flee on foot.

The suspects were transported to the Otter Tail County Jail.

Moench later said three untagged deer were at a residence in Browerville.

One, from the night before the incident, was illegally taken by shining.

Another was a legal kill, and the third was shot after shooting hours.

None of the deer had a DNR site validation tag attached.

All were seized by the DNR, along with a motor vehicle, three rifles, three knives, and a spotlight.

Assisting were officers from the Becker and Otter Tail county sheriffs’ departments, Menahga and New York Mills police departments, and the Minnesota State Patrol.

People who come across something they think is a violation, should call the Turn In Poachers, 24-hour hotline, 800-652-9093 or #TIP on cell phones. Callers can remain anonymous.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked deer hunters, trappers and waterfowl hunters.
Deer hunting success seemed to be down in the area.
As for the waterfowl hunters, earlier in the week the hunters were doing very well until the cold temps iced up many of the small lakes in the area and sent the birds out of the area.
This year trappers are finding more competition for muskrats and raccoons with the higher fur prices.
With that came more reports of trap tampering in the area.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting deer over bait, deer hunting without a license, transport illegally taken deer, failure to tag and register deer.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked deer and waterfowl hunters.
He took enforcement action on number of violations.
He finished up on a four year big game investigation with charges filed.
He assisted deer hunters with the recovery of a deer.
He continues following up on a number of baiting TIP calls.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked deer and waterfowl hunters having mixed success.
Telephone calls on hunting questions were returned daily.
Enforcement action was taken for over limit of waterfowl, unsigned federal duck stamp and no federal duck stamps.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) worked a TIP call with a neighboring officer dealing with the lending/borrowing of deer licenses and illegal party hunting.
She continued investigating trespassing complaints from the previous week.
Mueller assisted McLeod County with warrant arrests of two individuals in a wooded rural area.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports the majority of the officer’s time was spent dealing with individuals that were hunting deer over bait.
However, even those baiting deer found it hard to get a deer within range.
Oberg reports the deer harvest seemed to drop off dramatically from opening weekend.
Follow up will be done on a few active cases.