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Ice shelters need to be off lakes before midnight tonight (Monday)

March 3, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking cooperation from anglers who need to act now to remove their fish shelters in the southern two-thirds of the state by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 3.

For structures on lakes in the northern third of the state, the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 17.

Shelters are required to be removed by the deadline and conservation officers will enforce that deadline except where shelter owners have made all reasonable efforts to remove the shelter but are not successful because of inaccessible travel conditions.

“We hope anglers understand they are going to face difficult conditions when they remove their fish houses this year,” said Col. Ken Soring, director of the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “We’ll work with anglers who show due diligence to get their shelters off the lakes but we are urging everyone to take responsibility.”

According to the DNR, there are some responsible options for removing shelters like enlisting the help of friends and locating equipment to make the job easier.

This requires hard work and tenacity to remove or dismantle a stubbornly frozen fish shelter.

Some people are also offering shelter removal for a fee.

At a minimum, shelter owners must ensure that unretrievable shelters are prepared for removal by raising and blocking the shelter up to prevent the bottom portion from becoming frozen in the ice.

Once lake travel is possible, the entire structure and all other materials must be cleaned up to prevent littering and potentially ending up on someone’s beach when the ice melts.

DNR conservation officers see everything from furniture and appliances, to tires and auto parts discarded on lakes at the end of the ice fishing season.

Failure to remove the house may result in a fine of $125 plus court costs.

If shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated or destroyed by a conservation officer.

If the shelter is left on the ice for an extended period, a mandatory court appearance is required.

The DNR is diligent about ticketing owners who fail to remove shelters or debris, and officers use GPS and photos to mark fish house locations.

Annual youth wood duck building day March 15

The 15th annual youth wood duck building day is scheduled for Saturday, March 15 and will take place at Burns Excavating Shop located in Hollywood Township in Mayer from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

A laser shoot, duck identification, and archery range will be available for children, along with refreshments for everyone.

For additional information, call Chip Hentges a call at (952) 200-3176.

Sponsors for the event are Waconia Lions, Carver County Pheasants Forever, Watertown Lions, New Germany Fire Department; Ducks Unlimited, Carver County Committee members; Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota River Valley Chapter; Mayer Baseball Club, Cologne Lions, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Watertown Rod and Gun Club, Hamburg Hunt and Fish Club, Lester Prairie’s Sportsman Club, and Bob Roepke Memorial Fund.

McLeod County 28th annual Pheasants Forever Spring Banquet March 22

The 28th annual McLeod County Pheasants Forever chapter spring banquet will take place Saturday, March 22 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

The program begins at 4 p.m. and will include a prime rib dinner at 6 p.m., and special events at 7 p.m.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, March 11.

To register, call (320) 587-0052. If there is no answer, leave a name and phone number.

For additional information, go to www.McLeodPF.org.

LPSC to offer firearm’s safety training this spring

The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will be offering firearms’ safety training this spring, every Tuesday and Thursday in April.

The first class and registration night is Tuesday, April 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club.

Classes, which are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will be April 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, and 28.

The test will be Tuesday, May 6. The test for the online course is Saturday, May 3.

All classes begin at 6:30 p.m.

For additional information, contact Doug Minnick at (320) 395-2143.

Fundraising clay shoot set for March 22

Minnesota Lady Slippers Pheasants Forever, and Bird Bustin’ Babes sporting clay teams are hosting a fundraiser event Tuesday, March 22 at the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club, located at 3300 220th Street East in Prior Lake.

The sponsoring women’s groups are accepting donations until the day of the event.

All proceeds go to help purchase a 600-acre parcel of land destined to be the publicly-owned Veterans Memorial WMA in Wright County.

Check in starts at 9 a.m. Admission is $60 for adults; $35 for children ages 12 to 18; and $200 for a team of four shooters (includes 50-target shoot and lunch).

“This is a fun sporting clay shoot for all experience levels,” explained Kristi Backer Palmer, one of the event’s organizers. “We’ll award prizes to the winners of the shoot, share lunch, and accept bids on silent auction items that have been donated by generous businesses and individuals.”

The Minnesota Lady Slippers Pheasants Forever, and the Bird Bustin’ Babes sporting clay teams are a group of women who enjoy shooting, hunting, and fishing together. They are passionate about the outdoors and preserving access for these activities.

For more information and to get tickets, email birdbustinbabes@hotmail.com, or call (612) 423-4402.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers this last week.
CO Mies also talked at the firearms class in Cokato.
CO Mies also checked sleds and worked on an ATV complaint.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) attended a snowmobile work crew in Stearns County.
The snowmobile trails in the area had so much drifting from the storm that some portions of the trail system were impassable due to drifts over 8 feet high.
Anglers that have left shelters out on area lakes have been busy digging out shelters this past weekend before they need to be off by March 3.
Enforcement action was taken for angling with extra lines, snowmobile registration and trail sticker violations and operating a snowmobile without a safety certificate.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen and snowmobilers and took enforcement action on a number of violations.
He assisted with an injured swan.
He assisted with a number of snowmobile registration questions.
CO Sladek wants to remind everyone who buys or sells a snowmobile to make sure the paperwork is processed and has the owner of the snowmobile on all the paperwork.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) assisted with the VIP detail at Fort Snelling State Park.
A firearms safety presentation was given to a class in Waconia.
Area lakes were checked for stranded motorists and anglers after the snow storm.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) investigated snowmobile complaints of trespassing and driving thru WMA/WPAs in the Buffalo Lake area.
Anglers and area lakes were checked for activity, including lakes that were opened to liberalized fishing.
Coyote hunters were also checked.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked the increase in snowmobiling activity with continued emphasis on speed.
Time was also spent on following up on small game cases.
Trapping enforcement was also worked.

2013 fishing licenses expired Fri., Feb. 28
From the DNR

Anglers are reminded that 2013 fishing licenses expired Friday, Feb. 28, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

Fishing licenses for 2014 now are available from DNR license agents, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236.

All 2014 fishing licenses become effective Saturday, March 1.

Customers who purchase online via smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license.

Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

Ice shelter permits for 2013 remain effective through Wednesday, April 30.

MN’s moose population trend shows no significant change
From the DNR

Aerial moose survey results for 2014 show no significant change in Minnesota’s moose population even though more animals were seen than last year.

Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2014 statewide moose population estimate at 4,350.

The 2013 estimate was 2,760 but due to variability in the estimates, this year’s estimate does not represent a statistically significant change.

“The higher estimate this winter likely is related to ideal survey conditions rather than any actual increase in the population,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “This year’s heavy snows across northeastern Minnesota made it comparatively easy to spot dark-bodied moose against an unbroken background of white.”
Cornicelli said this year’s estimate is very close to the 2012 estimate of 4,230, which suggests that last year’s estimate may have under-counted the population.

“All wildlife population surveys have inherent degrees of uncertainty,” he said. “Long-term trend and population estimates are more informative and significant than annual estimates.”

That long-term trend shows Minnesota’s moose population is continuing a significant downward trend.

Even with this year’s higher population estimate, the number of moose is about half of 2006’s estimate of 8,840.

DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research also is providing important information on population status.

“Mortality rates of 21 percent among adult moose and 74 percent for calves in the first year of the studies illustrate the complexity of Minnesota’s moose population problem,” Cornicelli said. “Even though we counted more moose on this year’s survey than last year, the radio-collar data and overall population trend over time indicate a continuing population decline.”

The adult and calf moose mortality studies are in their second year.

Researchers just completed collaring an additional 36 adult moose to replace those that died in 2013.

Another 50 newborn calves will be collared this spring.

Researchers hope information and insights gathered during the study will help identify potential management and habitat options that may stop or slow the long-term population decline.

No final decision about moose hunting will be made until after the DNR consults with the affected Chippewa bands in the 1854 Treaty ceded territory of northeastern Minnesota.

The DNR suspended the season in 2013 because of last year’s low population estimate.

The DNR has conducted aerial moose population surveys in northeastern Minnesota since 1960.

The survey involves flying a helicopter across 52 randomly selected areas of northeastern Minnesota to count moose.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority contribute funding and provide personnel for the annual survey.

A copy of the 2014 aerial survey is available online at www.mndnr.gov/moose, a Web page that also provides information on the DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research project.

Group with diverse interests to consider southeastern MN deer goals
From the DNR

A broad cross-section of interests will be represented on the 21-member advisory team that will help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources set deer population goals in southeastern Minnesota.

“Team members were selected from an open call for nominations to represent both the diversity of interests in deer management as well as for their collective familiarity with individual deer permit areas that will be discussed,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader.

More than 90 individuals applied to participate on the teams.

Specific emphasis in choosing the 21 members was placed on identifying individuals with a personal connection to deer management in southeastern Minnesota.

Team members represent archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters as well as nonhunters; area residents and landowners; farmers; orchard owners and operators; land managers; local government staff and appointed officials; local business owners; and members of hunting, conservation and agricultural organizations.

Advisory team members are: Mark Bauman, Rochester; Cynthie Christensen, Rushford; Ken Fetterly, Spring Valley; Larry Gates, Kellogg; Collin Johnson, St. Charles; Chris Kolbert, St. Charles; Kyle Kolbet, Rochester; Vong Lee, Roseville; Quintin Lohse, Chatfield; Melinda Miller, Stewartville; Anne Morse, Dakota; Mark Popovich, Welch; Ron Rosenthal, Red Wing; Tom Ryan, Byron; Jim Siewert, Lake City; Michael Simons, Cottage Grove; Terry Spaeth, Rochester; Len Strapp, Rushford; Marty Stubstad, Rochester; Mark Timm, Altura and Jim Vogen, Chatfield.

The advisory team will consider and discuss citizen input from two public meetings on deer population management as well as information from an online questionnaire and written comments.

The analysis will help define the social, economic and recreational contexts for a biological discussion of the area’s deer population and development of goal recommendations.

The DNR began revisiting deer population goals in 2012, when similar area teams helped set new goals for some permit areas in the Windom, Floodwood and Tower areas.

The current round of goal-setting focuses on the nine deer permit areas that comprise southeastern Minnesota.

Those permit areas are 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349.

The DNR plans to have new goals established in all of Minnesota’s deer permit areas before the 2016 firearms deer season begins.

More information about the goal-setting process and deer management is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR catalog of women, outdoor family programs available
From the DNR

Women who want to learn how to hunt, fish or develop other outdoor skills can find a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities in the 2014 Becoming An Outdoors Woman (BOW) catalog.

“The catalog offers a wide array of opportunities for women and families,” said Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Our skill-building classes focus on learning by doing in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.”

Program offerings this year include a sturgeon fishing trip, grouse and pheasant hunts, kayaking and canoeing.

Classes are designed for women age 14 and older; they range from beginner to advanced level.

For more information about upcoming classes, visit www.mndnr.gov/bow or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 to request a copy of the BOW 2014 spring, summer and fall catalog of events.

Learn how to make maple syrup at MN state parks
From the DNR

Tap into a sweet Minnesota tradition by learning how to make maple syrup at Minnesota state parks this spring.

Naturalists will demonstrate the process at free programs in March and early April, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ll teach you how to identify the right kind of tree, drill a hole for a spile, collect sap in a bucket and then boil it until it’s tasty enough to pour on your pancakes,” said Kao Thao, naturalist at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul, where maple-syrup-making demonstrations will take place on four of the five weekends in March. “Once you see how it’s done, it’s easy to do it yourself in your own backyard.”

Generally, sap runs best from about March 15 to April 20, when temperatures are in the high 30s to mid-40s during the day and below freezing at night.

It usually takes 30 to 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to get a gallon of pure maple syrup.

The maple syrup programs at Minnesota state parks are free, but vehicle permits are required to enter the parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit).

Some parks encourage dropping by any time to watch ongoing demonstrations, others offer more structured, step-by-step instruction.

Due to space limitations, some programs also require advance registration.

For more information, including the complete 2014 maple syrup program schedule, visit www.mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/maple_syruping.html) or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Now is the time of year when Minnesota residents can contribute to the DNR’s nongame wildlife checkoff fund.
What is this money used for and how does it help wildlife?

A: Donations made to this fund are used by the DNR’s nongame wildlife program to help protect and manage the state’s “nongame” wildlife species, which includes more than 800 kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and selected invertebrates that are not traditionally hunted or harvested.

This also includes conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species.

Specifically, the species that have benefited from these efforts are loons, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, eastern bluebirds, Blanding’s turtles, bats, timber rattlesnakes, great blue herons and other waterbirds like egrets and grebes.

The money raised also helps acquire land and easements to protect habitat, manage prairies, forests and wetlands, create buffer zones along lakeshores, assist to private landowners and local governments with habitat management, and fund nature educational programs.

Contributions to the nongame wildlife checkoff fund can be made on the 2014 Minnesota tax form, or online at www.mndnr.gov/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.