From the DNR
Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing or spear fishing without purchasing an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend Saturday, Jan. 18 through Monday, Jan. 20, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for family and friends to get those special kids in their life outdoors enjoying the fun and beauty of a Minnesota winter,” said Roland Sigurdson, DNR aquatic education supervisor.
“What better way to celebrate our winter heritage than by passing on the tradition of ice fishing.”
Ice fishing presents some unique challenges, but with basic equipment, a few skills, and good planning, ice fishing can be easy, enjoyable and exciting.
Here are key ice fishing tips from DNR’s MinnAqua program, which provides resources to teach fishing skills, aquatic ecology and conservation stewardship of our lakes and rivers:
• Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with winter’s icy chill. Layers keep you warm in cold conditions by creating pockets of warm air and helping moisture evaporate.
• Portable ice shelters can increase the enjoyment of the experience by keeping kids warmer.
• Plan for a shorter, quality experience that will make a happier memory. Cold, bored kids don’t ask to go again.
• Bring snacks and warm beverages to make a comfortable experience.
• Bring a variety of baits to increase chances of success.
More tips are available online at www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua/icefishing.
Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring coordinator and Mike “Smitty” Smith from the “Ice Team” share insights and information about kids, mentoring and ice fishing in an online podcast audio program available on DNR website at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/news/podcasts/KidsAndIceFishing.mp3.
• Ice fishing tips: www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua/icefishing.
• Ice fishing help: takemefishing.org/fishing/ice-fishing/what-is-ice-fishing.
• Ice fishing podcasts: www.mndnr.gov/news/podcasts/general.html#Ice.
• Let’s Go Ice Fishing: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/education_safety/education/minnaqua/icefishing/icefishingguide.pdf.
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 email@example.com to purchase tickets.
Entries sought for duck stamp contest
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting entries for the 2014 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest, which, in Minnesota, is administered by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
Student artwork will be judged in four grade groups: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh through ninth grade, and 10th through 12th grade.
Submitted artwork must feature a native North American waterfowl species. A full list of permitted species, as well as an entry form and information about the contest is available at www.fws.gov/juniorduck.
Entries must be postmarked by Saturday, March 15, 2014, and mailed to Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, 3815 American Blvd East, Bloomington, MN 55425.
Three first-, three second-, and three third-place, along with 16 honorable mentions will be awarded in each age group.
In addition, the conservation message and special student honors will be awarded.
The artwork will be judged on original design, artistic composition, and suitability for reproduction on a 1-inch-by-11.5-inch stamp.
A Best of Show entry will be selected from the 12 first-place winners and entered in the national contest in April.
The national winner’s artwork is used to create a Junior Duck Stamp each year. The stamp is available for $5, with proceeds used to support conservation education and contest awards.
For more information, contact Mara Koenig at (952) 858-0710, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DNR to fly deer and elk surveys
From the DNR
Pending suitable snow cover, the Department of Natural Resources plans to fly white-tailed deer population surveys from December through March in central and southeastern Minnesota.
“In the transition zone between agricultural and forested lands, which generally stretches from the northwest to southeast across Minnesota, we use aerial surveys to recalibrate the deer population model,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These survey flights help us make decisions on deer permit area designations that achieve our population goals.”
DNR pilots will fly low-level helicopter surveys in 18 deer permit areas during daylight hours at an altitude of approximately 200 feet.
Areas targeted to be flown include:
• Deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 229, 239 and 241 in Becker, Benton, Clay, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Wright counties.
• Deer permit areas 341-343 and 345-349 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Aerial elk surveys using both an airplane and helicopter are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota. The flights are conducted annually during winter.
Questions about survey flights should be directed to the DNR’s farmland wildlife research office in Madelia, (507) 642-8478, the northwest regional wildlife office in Bemidji, (218) 308-2651 or the Rochester area wildlife office, (507) 206-2859.
Minnesota concludes wolf hunting and trapping season
From the DNR
Minnesota concluded its second wolf season when the Department of Natural Resources closed the east-central zone on Saturday, Dec. 28.
A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons. The harvest target was 220 wolves.
“Wolf season target harvest limits are set conservatively to not negatively affect Minnesota’s wolf population long term,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “The targets for each hunting zone are used as triggers to close the season. Hunters and trappers have another full day in the field after a zone’s closure is announced.”
Minnesota’s wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter.
The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population prior to pups being born.
Wolf populations rapidly increase in the spring when pups are born and decline at various rates annually depending on mortality factors in addition to the wolf season.
The DNR will complete an assessment of Minnesota’s wolf population status this winter and summarize data from the 2013 wolf season before setting the 2014 wolf season.
Additional information about wolves is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: Why does the fur coat of a deer change colors depending on the time of year a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall?
A: The deer’s coat is designed to provide both a means for thermoregulation and camouflage.
Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress.
In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons.
The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow.
The new coat is comprised of two layers.
The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about 2 inches longer than the undercoat.
The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow.
Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.
CO weekly report
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked area lakes all week.
CO Mies checked anglers out over the holiday season.
CO Mies checked sleds and ATVs in Stearns and Wright counties.
• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) had a busy weekend with the warm weather.
Every lake in the area was busy with anglers and snowmobilers enjoying the outdoors.
The fishing was pretty good in the area with a lot pike taken on tip-ups and for the snowmobilers, the snowmobiling on the lakes was fair, but the trails were down to dirt by Saturday afternoon.
Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, unattended lines, no shelter license, and snowmobile and ATV registration violations.
• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) checked ice anglers and snowmobilers throughout the week.
She followed up on a case involving a turkey that was shot from the road and left near Fort Ridgely Park.
A shining complaint was also investigated.
CO Mueller spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Buffalo Lake.