Too many boaters not following aquatic invasive species laws

July 14, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

This summer, the Department of Natural Resources is finding too many boaters and other water users taking unacceptable and illegal risks by transporting aquatic invasive species (AIS).

So far this season, watercraft inspectors have found more than 1,300 boaters at public water accesses with aquatic plants, invasive animals or water in or on their boats and equipment. If not stopped, these boaters could have infested other lakes.

In addition, DNR conservation officers have issued 169 citations and 375 warning tickets to boaters for AIS violations at enforcement check stations and public accesses. Fines range from $100 to $500.

“Far too many people are still not following the law,” said Greg Salo, DNR central region enforcement manager. “Some of these laws have been on the books for more than 15 years and yet we’re still seeing a 26 percent violation rate at enforcement check stations. That’s unacceptable. Violators should know better by now.”

Minnesota currently has 175 water bodies infested with zebra mussels.

“Every new infestation is extremely serious,” said Ann Pierce, DNR section manager for Ecological and Water Resources. “This means that it’s important for people to take responsibility, follow the laws, and protect the remaining more than 10,000 Minnesota waters. It’s still well worth the effort to protect the uncontaminated water bodies.”

In Minnesota is it illegal to:
• Transport watercraft without the drain plug removed.
• Arrive at lake access with drain plug in place.
• Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species, whether dead or alive.
• Launch watercraft with prohibited species attached.
• Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.
• Release live bait into the water.

All DNR-trained watercraft inspectors stationed around the state are authorized to help ensure boats and trailers are clean and free of AIS before entering or leaving a lake, river or other body of water.

Whether they work for the DNR, or for a county or other local unit of government, inspectors are there to help make sure boaters are not in violation of AIS laws and protect our lakes and rivers.

The DNR has 23 decontamination units at various bodies of water in Minnesota. The agency concentrates inspectors and decontamination efforts at high-use bodies of water that are currently infested with AIS.

More information, including a 25 minute video titled “Aquatic Invasive Species, Minnesota Waters at Risk,” is available at: www.mndnr/AIS.

Emergency winter deer feeding final report
Press release

In response to a severe Winter Severity Index for 2014 an Emergency Winter Deer Feeding Program was approved by the MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and conducted by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association during the winter of 2014 (March-April).

The program was funded by the DNR through a MN taxpayer based account funded by the 50 cent per deer hunting license allotment initiated in 1996. (MN Statute 97A.075)

These funds, paired with in kind and/or monetary contributions from MDHA, MDHA Chapters, and MDHA volunteers, made the deer feeding effort possible.

A total of 1,056,000 pounds of feed, or 528 tons, was purchased and distributed across a total of 12,190.95 square miles during the six week initiative.

There were a total of 969 individuals who obtained feed through the program.

These volunteers put feed out to 1,123 documented sites across the 13 DNR approved Deer Permit Areas in Northeastern MN.

A total of $200, 225.69 was spent on feed procurement and shipping/handling.

Under the terms of the grant, MDHA paid the feed procurement expenses as they in incurred, and subsequently requested reimbursement from DNR.

DNR reimbursed MDHA for appropriate expenses from the “Emergency Winter Deer Feeding/Wild Cervid Health” account.

Considerable volunteer help was provided to help with feed distribution both at the eight distribution locations, and by the volunteer feeders themselves.

A minimum of 72 volunteers handed out feed on a weekly basis at the eight distribution points (avg of 9 volunteers/site/week) for a total of 288 volunteer hours/week, 1728 total volunteer hours for the six week duration.

Using the DNR’s standard volunteer labor rate of $13.00/hr, the total in-kind volunteer labor amount provided by MDHA is $22,464.00.

A total of 885 hours of MDHA Staff time was used to support the feeding program.

The cost of this staff time was $32,990.48 (including fringe benefits).

For more information and to see the complete report go to: http://mndeerhunters.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Deer-Feeding-Final-Report.pdf

Colorful poster has tips for helping bees and butterflies
From the DNR

In a one-half acre plot in his backyard, prairie enthusiast Mike Halverson has seen many benefits of planting over 125 different species during the last 15 years.

“I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in bees, butterflies, dragonflies and birds using my yard,” said Halverson, a retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee.

Images taken by Halverson in his yard grace a new poster that highlights the importance of bees and butterflies, and points out ways in which people can enhance pollinator habitat.

The poster is now available at no charge by contacting the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157, 888-646-6367 or by visiting www.mndnr.gov/roadsidesforwildlife and clicking on “Pollinators and Roadsides.”

Pollinators are critically important to ecosystems and human food production.

Although the poster highlights roadside habitats, the principles can be applied almost anywhere, including shorelines, yards, schools or other public areas.

The poster offers tips anyone can use for helping bees and butterflies by improving bee nesting habitat and selecting appropriate nectar and pollen-producing plants.

“Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators from the environment,” said Carmelita Nelson, DNR Roadsides for Wildlife coordinator. “For example, the number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest number ever last year, but we’ve also seen declines in the number of honey bees, native bees, birds, bats and other butterflies.”

Pollinator insects rely on plants for nectar and pollen for food and many plants rely on these pollinator insects for pollination in something called a symbiotic relationship – a relationship in which both the plant and the pollinator insect benefit from each other.

Many of the foods we enjoy depend on pollinator insects. Foods like tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, apples, melons, sunflowers, pumpkins, plums, squash and canola all depend on pollinating insects to produce.

Some native species of bumblebees are excellent pollinators and can even increase size and abundance of fruit compared to pollination by honeybees.

To illustrate the importance of the roll of pollinators, 87 of the world’s 124 most commonly cultivated crops are pollinated by insects and other animals.

More than 80 percent of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants depend on animals for pollination.

Unfortunately, these important workers in the environment are on decline.

Habitat loss, pesticide use, diseases, parasites and the spread of invasive species are the major causes of pollinator decline.

Threats to pollinator communities affect not only pollinators themselves but also natural ecosystems, agricultural productivity, and ultimately food on our tables.

Anyone can help pollinators. Practices to enhance bee habitat around farms, gardens and roadsides include:

• Increasing flower diversity.
• Using native wildflowers and grasses, with high densities of flowers.
• Planting a minimum of three plant species that bloom during spring, summer and fall.
• Aiming for season-long blooming plants, with early and late season blooming plants being especially important.
• Planting a range of wildflowers of varying colors and shapes.
• Providing warm season, clump-forming grasses for bumblebee nest sites.
• Delaying mowing or haying entire grassy meadows or roadsides, leaving some habitat for pollinators.
• Reducing tillage and avoiding plastic ground cover sheeting for ground nesting bees.
• Avoiding or minimizing the use of insecticides.

For more information about the Roadsides for Wildlife program, visit www.mndnr.gov/roadsidesforwildlife or contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Apply for mentored youth waterfowl hunts by Aug. 11
From the DNR

Youth ages 12 to 15 can apply for the chance to hunt waterfowl under the guidance of experienced mentors on Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day, Saturday, Sept. 13.

“Mentored hunts teach youth about waterfowl habitat and techniques for safe and enjoyable hunting,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. National Wildlife Service, Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club and the DNR have teamed up to offer the hunts, which will take place in five areas:

• Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes.
• Southern Twin Cities metro area locations.
• Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris.
• Sherburne County private land between Fairmont and Windom.
• Private land in Fergus Falls.

Application forms must be received at the DNR central office by midnight on Monday, Aug. 11.

Applicants will be drawn in a lottery, with preference given to novice hunters.

Applicants will be notified within two weeks of the hunt. Successful applicants must attend an orientation on Friday, Sept. 12.

More information and the application form can be found at www.mndnr.gov/discover by clicking on mentored youth waterfowl hunt.

MN Sporting Journal subscriptions half-price for hunting and fishing license buyers
From the DNR

Anyone with a 2014 Minnesota hunting or fishing license can get a 50 percent discount on an annual print subscription of the Minnesota Sporting Journal when they purchase online through www.mndnr.gov/mnsportingjournal, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

An annual subscription includes a spring, summer, fall and winter publication on hunting, fishing and the rest of the outdoors, and regularly costs $18 but with this offer is half-off for a purchase price of only $9. To subscribe, go to www.mndnr.gov/mnsportingjournal, note the password provided and use it after following the subscription link.

The promotion is available only through the DNR Minnesota Sporting Journal Web page and is limited to the first 3,000 customers or until Sunday, Nov. 30, whichever occurs first.

Minnesota fishing and hunting licenses can be purchased and printed online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or from any DNR license agent.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers all week.
CO Mies held an AIS work crew in Stearns and Wright counties.
CO Mies assisted Annandale PD on the 4th and held a boating work crew in Wright County.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area lakes and rivers and took enforcement action on a number of violations.
CO Sladek assisted a local PD with a 4th of July fireworks celebration.
Officer Sladek followed up on a case of illegal pumping of water for irrigation of a field; a Cease and Desist Order was issued.
He inspected a nuisance beaver problem on an area creek and also assisted with an interview on a ATV operating on a state highway/county road, with a summons being issued.
CO Sladek worked AIS at a number of lake accesses and took enforcement action on several violations.
He also handed out a number of coupons to young kids that were wearing life jackets in the boat and took enforcement action on a number of PWC violation.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) reports lakes in the area are finally starting to recede a little this last week, but several lakes still have wake restrictions in effect.
Most anglers are finding a fair pan fish bite on several lake in the area.
One angler caught her first walleye which happened to be a 30 incher.
The walleye was released after a few photos.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and watercraft violations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) responded to a swan that flew into a power line.
Anglers were checked on special regulation lakes.
Boating activity has slowed down with most lakes having slow no wake restrictions on the entire lake.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking anglers and monitoring boating activity.
CO Grewe assisted Hennepin County Water Patrol with a boat chase over the weekend on Lake Minnetonka.
Violations included boating while intoxicated, minor consumption and no lifejackets.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) reports hot and sunny weather proved good boating weather for many during the holiday weekend.
Time was spent educating boaters on boat safety and AIS issues.
A pair of shore anglers was reminded in Minnesota it is only legal to fish with two lines in the winter.
A question regarding turtle possession was addressed.
Time was also spent at Camp Ripley assisting with the academy.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports checking on the status of a juvenile bald eagle that fell out of a nest that has a live camera on it.
Oberg reports the eaglet is alive and even flew a short distance.
Oberg also spent time working recreational vehicle enforcement.
Riders were contacted regarding issues with; registration, juvenile passengers, and operating on roadways.
Angling enforcement was also worked with some anglers having to be reminded to bring their licenses with them.