DNR: Warning, ice is not strong enough for vehicles

December 23, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With recent reports of vehicles breaking through the ice from Douglas to Beltrami counties, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is cautioning everyone about driving on the ice.

“Ice is never 100 percent safe,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement manager. “Winter recreationists need to think twice before driving out on the ice because the ice in many places is still not strong enough to support vehicles.
“No fish is worth your life,” he added.

Last winter (November to April), six people died in Minnesota from breaking through the ice. All the deaths involved either a snowmobile or vehicle.

If a vehicle breaks through the ice, the owner is responsible for removal and must report it to the county sheriff.

If the vehicle is not removed within 30 days, the owner is subject to fines.

The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should check with a local bait shop or resort – ask about ice conditions – and measure the ice.

The 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.

When the temperature rises above freezing for six of the last 24 hours, double the recommended minimum thickness.

And remember, if it stays above freezing for 24 hours or more, stay off the ice – it is not safe.

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

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner

Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Tuesday, Dec. 31 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 Monday, Dec. 30 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.

Carver County Pheasants Forever annual banquet Sat., Jan. 18

The Carver County Pheasants Forever 28th annual banquet will be Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Hamburg Community Hall starting at 5 p.m.

If you are interested in attending, contact Randy Wendland at (612) 270-8583 or at bwendland@bevcomm.net to purchase tickets.

DNR closes wolf season in NE Minnesota
From the DNR

The 2014 wolf hunting and trapping season in northeastern Minnesota closed at the end of shooting hours on Wednesday, Dec. 18, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Notice of the season closing was posted Tuesday evening, Dec. 17, when hunters and trappers had harvested 30 wolves.

By Wednesday, wolf harvest in the northeast had reached the target of 33.

Wolf hunting and trapping continues in the northwest and east-central wolf zones to anyone with a valid license.

The late season in those zones is scheduled to end on Friday, Jan. 31 or whenever the target harvest is expected to be met, whichever comes first.

As of Dec. 18, hunters and trappers had harvested 51 wolves in the northwest zone and two in the east-central zone during the late season.

During the early hunting season, which concluded Nov. 25, hunters harvested 32 of 33 wolves in the northeast; 56 of 73 wolves in the northwest and no wolves in the east-central zone.

Complete wolf hunting information, including a map of the wolf zones, is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/wolf.

Information about wolf management is available online at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.

Get a Great Minnesota Ski Pass for access to more than 2,000 miles of cross-country ski trails
From the DNR

Now that winter has unofficially arrived along with lots of fresh snow, the Department of Natural Resources encourages people to dust off their cross-country skis and purchase the Great Minnesota Ski Pass.

The ski pass is a ticket to more than 2,000 miles of grant-in-aid and state-designated cross-country ski trails.

Many of these trails are in state parks and state forests.

“Skiing is a great way to experience nature and the outdoors during the winter,” said Andrew Korsberg, state trail coordinator for the DNR. “The money collected from the ski pass goes directly to support grooming and maintenance of ski trails statewide.”

State law requires skiers 16 years of age and older to purchase and possess a daily ($6), annual ($20) or three-year ($55) ski pass before using any grant-in-aid or state-designated cross-country ski trails.

A map of locations where the Great Minnesota Ski Pass can be used and a statewide snow depth map (updated every Thursday) are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/skiing.

Skiers may purchase passes at any one of about 1,500 electronic licensing agents throughout Minnesota and at most state parks that have ski trails.

Annual and three-year passes may also be bought online at http://licenses.dnr.state.mn.us/ or by calling 888-665-4236.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or call (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Turkey stamp contest entries accepted through Fri., Dec. 27
From the DNR

Artists wishing to enter the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 2015 wild turkey stamp contest may submit their entries now through 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27.

The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) must be the primary focus of the design.

A panel consisting of members with expertise in art, ornithology, hunting, conservation and printing will judge all entries.

Judging will take place on Friday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Minnesota DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to wild turkey habitat and management. Extirpated from Minnesota around 1900, wild turkeys now thrive throughout the non-boreal forest portion of the state.

The stamp art contest is open only to Minnesota residents and offers no prizes.

Winning artists may issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain the proceeds.

A reproduction rights agreement, granting the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other purposes, must be signed and submitted with the design to be considered eligible.

Complete contest rules are available online. Information also is available by contacting the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040. People can also call (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646 6367.

People should think twice before reporting swans that appear in trouble
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking citizens to consider the situation carefully before reporting swans (or other waterfowl) that appear to be trapped in ice or rapidly freezing water.

Just like people, animals behave differently during various seasons and some wildlife enthusiasts are not prepared to see changes in behavior.

It is easy for people to mistake an animal doing something they’ve never seen before for an animal in distress.

Careful observation over a short period of time (a few days to a week) may reveal a healthy animal that is just behaving differently than expected.

People should stop and closely observe before attempting to find help.

“Trumpeter swans are a classic example of this,” said Erica Hoaglund, central region nongame wildlife specialist. “Citizens see them this time of year resting on frozen water or swimming about in small pockets of open water within ice. People assume they are trapped when most of the time they are not and move on in either a few days or a few weeks; it is frequently not the emergency it can first appear to be.”

Here are reminders for people concerned about the fate of swans they see in or near water during the early parts of winter.

• Often birds that seem trapped in ice or in a shrinking area of open water turn out to be fine, not trapped and just hanging out in the area. When it’s cold, animals move around less just like people.

• On the rare occasion that an animal is actually in distress, it is often physically impossible to reach them safely across thin ice and open frigid water. Often the animals have been unable to leave the area for some underlying reason such as illness or injury and it is impossible to rehabilitate the animal even after its rescue. Do not risk a human life to safe a wild animal.

• In the case of swans in Minnesota, the DNR nongame wildlife program is happy to report that after years of restoration efforts, swan populations in the state are now stable and large enough that occasional mortality, while sometimes sad, is not cause for alarm for an entire population.

• Animals that die outside in the winter are an important part of the food chain. Their carcasses will provide crucial winter food sources to a wide range of wildlife, including invertebrates, mice and even bald eagles.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Where does the balsam fir boughs used to make holiday wreaths and garland come from?

A: The specialty forest products industry uses many of the natural resources found in Minnesota’s forests, such as pinecones, mosses and birch twigs, to make everything from decorative items to medicinal and herbal products.

One of the most important specialty products is the balsam bough.

About 1,700 tons of boughs are harvested annually from Minnesota forests, and each ton makes roughly 400 wreathes.

However, the number made per ton varies depending on the size of each item.

The main products, which consist of wreathes, garlands, and swags are 95 percent balsam fir based.

Pine and white cedar are also used to create holiday decorations.

Most of the boughs used by Minnesota’s special forest products industry are harvested from public and private lands across the northern part of the state. Itasca, St. Louis, Aitkin and Cass counties support more than one-half of the bough harvest in Minnesota.

The state’s balsam bough industry has annual retail sales topping $30 million.

When the 9 million pine cones and other decorative items are added in, the economic impact is much bigger.

CO weekly reportrs
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies worked on a tip call on deer hunting.
CO Mies checked sleds in Stearns and Wright counties.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area lakes.
He assisted with an injured swan and owl.
He assisted with a big game interview on a lend and borrow case.
He checked a number of snowmobiles in the Sand Dunes State Forest.
He continues investigating a couple of TIP calls.
He answered a number of hunting and fishing questions.
He took enforcement action on deer hunters in the Sand Dunes State Forest.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) spent time finishing up on an over limit deer investigation.
CO Reller also checked snowmobilers and ice anglers who were coming out in full force last week.
Enforcement action was taken for taking over limit deer, illegal lending and borrow deer license, and illegal transport of deer.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) patrolled trails for snowmobiles and illegal ATV use.
Motor vehicle trespass and reckless operation of motor vehicles on Lake Waconia were responded to.
Anglers were checked all week having very good success.
Enforcement action was taken for failure to display snowmobile registration, operate unregistered ATV, careless operation of motor vehicles on Lake Waconia, no angling license in possession, set lines in fish houses and take over limit of fish.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) checked ice anglers and muzzleloaders though out the week.
Mueller worked night time hunting activity and checked snowmobilers during the week.
She also spoke at a youth snowmobile safety class in Fairfax.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports an area walleye bite is still going strong.
Oberg would like to remind anglers to count the number of lines they have down and remember the walleye possession limit is 6.
Oberg also worked snowmobile enforcement and spoke at the Glencoe Snowmobile Safety Class.