Burning restrictions to take effect today (Monday) in central Minnesota

April 14, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will place burning restrictions over the central part of the state beginning April 14 because fire danger is expected to rapidly increase as winds pick up and snow continues to melt.

These counties will be included in the initial burning restrictions: Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Hennepin, Isanti, Otter Tail, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Washington and Wright.

The burning restrictions mean the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste.

Spring fire restrictions limit open burning until summer green up occurs.

Traditionally, most wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.

More than 95 percent of these fires are caused by human error.

“Because of the high fire incidence during this time period, the DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this annual fire season,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator.

On April 21, these counties will also be under restrictions: Aitkin, Becker, Cass (that portion south of the Chippewa National Forest boundary), Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mahnomen, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Polk (that portion south and east of County Road 6 from the Mahnomen County line to state Highway 92 east to the Clearwater County line), and Wadena.

More counties will be added as conditions warrant.

The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

Spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires, Himanga said.

Campfires are still allowed. Be sure to watch the fire continuously and make sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving.

Fire conditions may change quickly over the next few weeks.

For more information and maps, and to check fire conditions, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.

Waverly Gun Club to host hand gun league

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting a hand gun league at the club.

The league will run for four nights in May, starting Wed., May 7, and continuing May 14, May 21, and May 28.

Shooting starts at 5 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m.

For additional information go to www.waverlygunclub.org, or contact Gary at either (612) 210-5356 or gary51@charter.net.

Youth trap league starts at Waverly Gun Club April 28

Youth trap league will begin at 6:30 pm Monday, April 28 at Waverly Gun Club. The league runs Mondays through June 30.

CRDU banquet set for Mon., April 14

The annual Crow River Ducks Unlimited banquet will take place Monday, April 14 at 5 p.m. at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.

Long winter prompts temporary beaver season extension
From the DNR

Due to prolonged ice cover, the beaver trapping season in the northern third of Minnesota will be extended through Thursday, May 15.

The season was scheduled to close statewide on Wednesday, April 30, but a second consecutive winter of persistently frozen lakes and rivers in the north prompted the Department of Natural Resources to temporarily extend the 2013-14 season.

Beaver trapping will close as scheduled in the southern two-thirds of the state.

Trappers who participate in the season extension will be required to take the following modifications to prevent incidental otter catch:

• Foothold traps must be set in at least 8 inches of water.

• Body-gripping traps must be completely submerged. Those with a jaw opening greater than 7 1⁄2 inches must be set with the trigger wires moved all the way to one side of the trap. The wires must point straight down.

• Snares must be set with stops affixed to the cable to ensure that the portion of the snare that makes up the noose loop may not be less than 4 inches in diameter when fully closed.

The season will be extended north of state Highway 200, east of state Highway 73 and north of the Pine-Carlton county line.

A map of the open area (the north mink/muskrat/beaver/otter zone) can be found on page 48 of the 2013 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, which is available online www.mndr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Bear hunt applications available; deadline is May 2
From the DNR

Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are being accepted now through Friday, May 2, at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agent, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236.

A total of 3,750 licenses are available in 11 permit areas, the same number of licenses available last year.

Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

The season opens Monday, Sept. 1, and closes Sunday, Oct. 12.

Notification to successful lottery winners will be made in mid- to late May.

The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1.

Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to those eligible starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

An unlimited number of bear licenses will be sold over-the-counter for no-quota areas in east-central and far northwestern Minnesota.

No-quota licenses are valid only in a no-quota area.

Hunters with a no-quota license can harvest one bear.

By offering the same number of licenses as last year, the DNR continues to work toward its goal of gradually increasing Minnesota’s bear population.

The state’s bear population was estimated at 17,000 in 2008.

Trends since then suggest that today’s population is 10,000-15,000.

Reducing the number of bear licenses results in hunters harvesting fewer bears, allowing the population to gradually increase.

Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.

DNR adds two miles metro trout fishing opportunities along Vermillion
From the DNR

Metro anglers who want to stick close to home for the April 12 stream trout opener will have nearly two additional miles of shoreline to explore as a result of acquisitions made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Dakota County.

Half a mile north of Dakota County Road 66 along County 79, the DNR has acquired a 52-acre aquatic management area that straddles the main branch of the Vermillion River, protecting 4,100 feet of shoreline.

Upland areas of the property include five acres of grasslands and 25 acres of woods.

Further east, a 62-acre acquisition now affords access to the south branch of the Vermillion River just south of County Road 66 and west of state Highway 52.

That parcel includes 6,900 feet of shoreline, 25 acres of grassland and 20 acres of woodland.

The south branch is a coldwater tributary to the Vermillion that provides rearing areas and offers refuge for trout, especially during hot summer weather.

Both properties provide habitat for pheasants, turkeys, ducks, doves, deer and other wildlife; they also will be open to hunting, trapping and wildlife watching.

The DNR’s Fisheries section will continue to work with the DNR Wildlife section to manage upland areas.

“These properties are a great addition to the region’s outdoor recreation system, especially for busy metro anglers and hunters who may not always have time for a several-hour drive,” said T.J. DeBates, DNR’s east metro fisheries supervisor. “Acquisitions like these not only protect habitat, they also provide much needed public access.”

The two properties cost $384,200. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Money for the properties also came from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent.

The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife.

Dakota County also contributed to the acquisitions.

The Vermillion River has gained notoriety over the past 10 years as a trophy brown trout stream within 45 minutes of a major urban area.

As recently as 1960, though, the stream was considered unfit for any game fish due to poor water quality from industrial wastes and land use practices.

The river’s comeback has been the result of local, regional and state efforts to improve water quality.

Since 2005, the DNR has acquired land protecting nearly 10 miles of shoreline along the Vermillion for habitat and public access for fishing and hunting.

The DNR also has worked with local government and nonprofit conservation organizations on several stream restoration projects along the Vermillion.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Last night I heard and saw what I believe was a flock of cranes. It was a dark night, with bright stars shining, but only a little moonlight. Is it common for cranes to migrate at night?

A: Sandhill cranes normally migrate during the day, but in some circumstances they have been observed migrating after dark, especially if there is a bright starlit or moonlit night sky.

A Florida field naturalist reported migratory sandhill cranes flying overhead at 10:30 p.m. and another two flocks flying overhead at 3 a.m. on the same night near Gainesville, FL on Nov. 25-26, 1984.

Sandhill cranes from eastern Minnesota winter in Florida and would be migrating to Florida in November.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) gave a law talk at the Howard Lake firearms class.
CO Mies checked anglers. CO Mies checked ATVs and worked on commercial inspections.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area rivers.
He took enforcement action on a number of illegal burning violations.
CO Sladek followed up on a number of animal calls.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked a few anglers that were out trying their luck with a slow pan fish bite on the area lakes.
ATV enforcement was also worked.
Several calls were taken on wildlife complaints in the area.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked anglers all week having very good success.
He gave a firearms safety presentation to a class in Mayer.
Animal calls were handled all week including nuisance turkeys, coyotes and beaver.
Litter dumped at public access sites were investigated.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) attended in-service training at Camp Ripley.
She worked at a booth at a sportsman’s banquet in Hutchinson.
Mueller also addressed issues of dogs chasing deer around the Star Lake area.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) helped train new Use of Force instructors at Camp Ripley.
Oberg also attended instructor in-service training at Camp Ripley.
At Camp Ripley Oberg trained instructors on the patrol rifle.