Now is the time to take a hunter safety course

July 21, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With the fall hunting seasons just around the corner, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging hunters to sign up now for a hunter education class.

“Though classes are held throughout the year, their numbers peak in the summer and early fall,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Division education program coordinator. “So now is the time to sign up and complete a course, because once the hunting season gets rolling, it might be too late.”

Besides ensuring the ability to hunt this year, taking the class sooner rather than later means more time for scouting hunting locations, sighting-in rifles, practicing shotgun skills and securing permission to hunt on private lands.

Minnesota hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979, must take a DNR hunter education firearms safety training course and receive a certificate of completion before buying a license for big or small game.

Classes are taught by DNR certified volunteers in their local communities. Students, depending on their age, have a few options to become certified. Regardless of which option they choose the course provides them with basic safe firearms handling skills, wildlife identification, outdoor skills and responsibility that accompanies hunting and firearms use.

Classes fill-up fast. Find a class http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/firearms/index.html or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Learn deer hunting basics at Aug. 9 clinic
From the DNR

People can learn the basics of deer hunting at an event being offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Saturday, Aug. 9.

In hands-on stations, participants can learn how to track deer, find hunting land, safely place a deer stand, learn to shoot shotguns, rifles and bows, and about deer habits and habitat.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in learning the basics of deer hunting and getting hands-on experience,” said Linda Bylander, coordinator of the DNR’s Becoming an Outdoors Family program.

The event will be noon to 5 p.m.at the Forest Lake Sportsmen’s Club near Forest Lake. Youth ages 10 and older are welcome to attend accompanied by a guardian.

Instructors will include DNR wildlife staff, DNR conservation officers, volunteers and members of the Forest Lake Sportsmen’s Club. Register by contacting Bylander, 218-833-8628, or linda.bylander@state.mn.us.

Registration is limited and there is a $10 per person or $15 per family fee. To see a list of similar DNR programs, visit www.mndnr.gov/bow.

Night fishing on Mille Lacs Lake opens today (Mon., July 21)
From the DNR

Mille Lacs Lake anglers may fish at night beginning Monday, July 21 at 10 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re pleased we can open the lake to night fishing,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries manager for the DNR. “Evening and night launches can resume operation, and boats can travel and fish at night. In addition to walleye, anglers can again seek muskellunge and bow fish during prime nighttime hours.”

In past years, the Mille Lacs Lake night closure, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., began the Monday after the May opener and continued through mid-June.

This year’s regulations extended the closure to Dec. 1 to help ensure state-licensed anglers did not catch more walleye than the lake’s safe harvest limit allowed.

If that limit was reached, anglers would have had to release all walleye instead of being allowed to keep two. The possession limit is two fish 18- to 20-inches. One fish may be longer than 28 inches.

“So far, anglers have caught about 10,000 pounds of walleye,” Parsons said. “That number will increase once night fishing resumes, but catch rates have been low enough to alleviate concerns that anglers will catch more than the 42,900 pounds of walleye the harvest limit allows.”

Anglers have caught fewer walleye because walleye are feeding on an abundance of perch in Mille Lacs this year and reduced fishing pressure. Cool temperatures and rain have kept the water temperatures down, which lowers mortality of released fish. Fish are more likely to die after being released in warmer water even if properly handled.

“The DNR is not removing the night closure because Mille Lacs Lake has recovered,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief. “More young walleye still need to survive their first year and keep growing from year to year into larger walleye. Conditions this year combined for a slow bite, allowing DNR to re-open an activity that helps the Mille Lacs area economy and is a tradition among many fishing families.”

For more information, visit the Mille Lacs Lake Web page at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake. People interested in receiving email updates about Mille Lacs Lake can subscribe to the Hooked On Mille Lacs Update list at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslakenews.

10 new conservation officers join the DNR
From the DNR

In a ceremony marking the culmination of 12 weeks of intensive training, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources welcomed 10 conservation officers to its ranks during a ceremony Tuesday, July 15, at Camp Ripley.

“When our recruits finish our academy, we know that they have received the best training available anywhere,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement chief. “We pride ourselves on selecting the best people available and giving them the best training in order to provide the highest quality service possible to the people of Minnesota who depend on us for natural resources protection.”

Training sessions at the academy included youth outreach/education programs, warrant requirements, emergency vehicle operation, self-defense, watercraft laws, recreational vehicle safety and regulations, game identification and enforcement, crime scene management and evidence collection.

Each graduating officer was chosen from among hundreds of applicants who underwent a rigorous written practical examination to qualify for the academy, as well as a division interview, pre-work screening (functional capacity exam), psychological profile and background check.

The new officers will now spend the next 16 weeks field training with experienced conservation officers to gain on-the-job training for natural resources management and law enforcement-related activities before receiving their initial field station.

DNR general permit may help expedite statewide flood repairs
From the DNR

Private landowners, agencies, and political subdivisions throughout the state impacted by flooding who want to repair damaged shorelines, bridges, culverts, roadways, structures, stream channels and other facilities to pre-flood condition may be eligible to quickly acquire the necessary DNR permit by applying online at the Minnesota permitting and reporting system (MPARS) website at www.mndnr.gov/mpars.

When applying online through MPARS, the authorization may be obtained in just days. People without Internet access can obtain a paper permit application from a local DNR or county zoning office.

Before beginning repairs, people working at or below the high water level on lakes, wetlands, and streams need to apply for the permit, pay a small fee (usually $100), and receive authorization. For repairs above the high water level, contact the local governmental unit to obtain permission.

In-kind replacement (i.e. same kind, size and dimension) may be authorized by this permit. Deviations from in-kind replacement can be authorized if specifically identified in the permit authorization.

Expedited authorization is not available for projects that seek approval for unauthorized construction already started or completed, channelize or realign a stream, take place in or impact a designated trout stream, enlarge a drainage ditch, block, divert or appropriate stream water, alter a water level control structure, convert a bridge crossing to a culvert crossing or excavate fill from public waters without consultation and approval of the DNR.

To use MPARS:
• Go to the MPARS website www.mndnr.gov/MPARS.
• Click the “Open MPARS” button.
• Create an account.
• Complete the permit application.
• Pay the fee online for permit.

For questions about the flood repair general permit, contact the county DNR hydrologist. Contact information is at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/area_hydros.pdf.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: How many watercraft inspectors does the DNR hire to check for invasive species?

A: Our goal is to hire 100 Level 1 watercraft inspectors and 46 Level 2 watercraft inspectors each season.

Level 2 inspectors not only inspect boats and equipment for aquatic invasive species, but can decontaminate watercraft using hot high-pressure washers.

DNR watercraft inspectors will work at more than 250 public water access sites this season.

The DNR also partners with local units of government so that they can hire their own watercraft inspectors.

So far this season, we have trained more than 300 of these local inspectors.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week.
CO Mies worked on checking boaters along with AIS.
CO Mies handled animal nuisance calls.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on a license fraud case with assistance from North Dakota Game Warden.
Reller also attended a meeting at Camp Ripley related to the academy.
Local anglers are finding a slow bite in the dog days of summer.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and purchasing a resident license while being a nonresident.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area lakes and rivers.
He assisted on a number of nuisance animal complaints.
He had an AIS detail at Briggs, Julia, Rush, Eagle, Big, and Mitchell lakes with assistance of a number of Officers.
They had very good compliance with very few violations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) assisted with a kids fishing event on Lake Waconia.
Several injured and nuisance animal calls were responded to. Boaters and anglers were checked and AIS inspections done in Scott, Carver and Hennepin counties.
Enforcement action was taken for angling without licenses in possession, angling without first procuring a license, angling with extra lines, watercraft on roadway transporting zebra mussels, aquatic vegetation and failure to remove drain plugs.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week following up with complaints and doing boating enforcement.
CO Grewe worked AIS at several different accesses throughout his station.
Violations included failure to remove boat plug on roadway.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) worked a report of a deer and a pheasant poached out of season.
She also worked AIS, boating and fishing during the week.
Multiple panda awards were given to kids that were found wearing their lifejacket in the boat while on the water.
Assistance was given to two red tails hawks that fell out of a tree during the last wind storm.
A commercial inspection was completed on a new minnow retailer in the area.
Mueller also spent time at Camp Ripley working with the COC’s at the Academy.