Zebra mussels confirmed in two metro lakes

October 6, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Two metro lakes will be designated as infested after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in them this week, underscoring the need for ongoing vigilance against aquatic invasive species in the state’s waters.

DNR biologists found three of the invasive mussels in Lake Waconia in Carver County, and three in White Bear Lake, which is in Ramsey and Washington counties.

Both lakes were investigated after reports from the public.

Last weekend, a local high school science teacher found three zebra mussels while snorkeling around the southeast shore of White Bear, and reported them to DNR aquatic invasive species staff.

DNR biologists confirmed the find on Thursday after an extensive search of the area.

The confirmation of zebra mussels in Lake Waconia followed two reports from the public.

On Sept. 15, a boater reported one zebra mussel attached to his vessel, which was moored at a private marina on the south end of the lake.

On Aug. 30, an angler exiting the lake found zebra mussels attached to aquatic plants on his trailer.

DNR biologists subsequently investigating the Waconia reports found no additional mussels at the private marina, but they did find three at the public access on the eastern shore.

In both Waconia and White Bear, the size and location of the zebra mussels found may suggest natural reproduction could be occurring, Lund said.

In such cases, control efforts such as the chemical treatment recently tried on Christmas Lake in Shorewood would likely be ineffective.

Zebra mussels are non-native species that can crowd out native mussels and compete for food with other aquatic animals such as larval fish.

They attach to boat hulls and other water-related equipment and their sharp shells can create a hazard for swimmers.

Preventing the spread of invasive species takes personal responsibility.

Before leaving any water access or shoreland, boaters must remove all aquatic vegetation, dispose of bait, drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

Failure to comply with aquatic invasive species laws can result in stiff fines.

The DNR will post signs about the infestation at both Lake Waconia and White Bear Lake.

People should watch for aquatic invasive species when removing docks, boat lifts, swim rafts and other equipment from the water.

If a new infestation of zebra mussels is suspected, the exact location should be noted, a photo taken and a specimen should be kept for positive identification.

Call 888-646-6367 or contact a local DNR aquatic invasive species specialist or a fisheries office.

Responding quickly to new infestations is critical to curbing the spread into other water bodies.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

Rifle sight in at Waverly Gun Club set

Waverly Gun Club have scheduled two weekends for rifle sight-ins in October. Sight ins begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 19 and Oct. 25 and 26.

Worthington to host 2014 MN Governor’s Pheasant Opener
From the DNR

The southwestern Minnesota city of Worthington will host the 2014 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener on Friday, Oct. 10 and Saturday, Oct. 11.

“This event will showcase the Worthington area as a hunting community,” said Scott Rall, a member of the event committee. “We appreciate the impact hunters have on our economy and have worked hard to build great public hunting in the area.”

Rall pointed out that there are 12,900 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of Worthington. “We are very hunter friendly,” he said. “It’s part of who we are and what we do.”

This is the fourth annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011. Previous host communities were Montevideo, Marshall and Madelia. Dayton will lead the event, which highlights the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors. The public is also invited to take part in some of the activities throughout the weekend.

The event is being coordinated by Explore Minnesota Tourism, the Department of Natural Resources, the Worthington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Nobles County Pheasants Forever.

Worthington has a population of 12,764. It is located at the intersection of Interstate 90 and state Highway 60. For more information, visit www.worthingtonmnchamber.com/area-hunting-fishing or https://www.facebook.com/events/336598136498771/.

DNR urges motorists to be alert for deer in the fall
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges motorists to be especially alert this autumn to avoid vehicle/deer accidents.

“Fall is an extremely active time for wildlife, especially deer,” said Colonel Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director. “Drivers need to remain alert and drive with particular caution this time of year.”

In the fall, deer population numbers are at a peak.

Consequently, the potential for drivers to encounter them on the roadways is greatly increased.

In addition, autumn is the breeding season for white-tailed deer and reproductive urges cause the animals to become increasingly mobile throughout October and November.

“When you see deer along the roadside, reduce your speed and be wary of any sudden movement,” said Soring. “If a deer crosses the road, others may follow in its path.”

While deer may be seen crossing roadways at any time of day, they are most active at dawn and dusk.

These are the same hours most people are traveling to and from work.

Drivers can avoid hitting deer by slowing down during these hours and being particularly alert in areas where deer typically cross.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What should I do if I find zebra mussels while removing my dock or boat lift from the water this fall?

A: If you find zebra mussels or other aquatic invasive species that have not been sighted on the lake before, note the exact location, take a photo and keep a sample for positive identification.

Then, call 888-646-6367 or contact a local aquatic invasive species specialist or DNR fisheries office immediately.

You may place the dock or lift on the adjacent shoreline, but you must remove all aquatic plants and animals before transporting it to another location for storage, cleaning or repair.

A boat lift, dock, swim raft, or associated equipment that has been removed from any body of water may not be placed in another water body until a minimum of 21 days have passed.

If you are hiring a service provider to transport your equipment, make sure they are permitted by the DNR.

Find a list of permitted lake services providers on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/lsp.

High interest in latest round of Conservation Partners Legacy grants
From the DNR

Seventy-one applications totaling more than $8.9 million were received for the first round of the Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant program, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Compared to last year’s Round 1 application cycle, this is nearly twice the amount requested and twice the number of applications received.

The grant program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 to conservation nonprofit organizations and governmental units to help fund projects to restore, enhance, or protect fish and wildlife habitat in Minnesota.

Up to $8 million was designated for this year’s program; it is funded through the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Round 1 included the traditional grant cycle, the new metro grant cycle, and the expedited grant cycle.

The expedited cycle is open continuously and will have up to five rounds depending on available funds.

More information on these grant cycles can be found at www.mndnr.gov/cpl.

Applications for the traditional and metro grant cycles will now be scored and ranked by a technical review committee of habitat experts from around the state.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will determine final funding. Awarded projects will be announced by Monday, Nov. 24.
If funding remains, the second round of applications will open Monday, Dec. 15.

In its first five years of funding, more than $21 million in conservation projects has been awarded through the CPL grant program.

Changes greet hunters at Lac qui Parle controlled goose hunt
From the DNR

A number of new changes will greet goose hunters at the Lac qui Parle Refuge controlled hunt this year, including elimination of the need to register for blinds in advance, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The key changes are that hunters will no longer need to apply for blinds in advance, register at the main office or pay the $3 blind fee.

There will be no morning or afternoon drawings.

And the controlled hunt area boundaries will be smaller.

The 2014 goose season within the Lac qui Parle Refuge runs from Thursday, Oct. 16, through Tuesday, Dec. 30.

Refuge Manager Dave Trauba said he believes hunters will welcome a shift away from the 40-year tradition of registering for goose blinds.

“As Canada goose numbers have increased around the state, the number of hunters at the refuge has gone down,” Trauba said. “We now have more blinds available than there is demand for them, even on weekends.”

This year, hunters will use blinds on a first-come first-served basis.

“We are also making changes to blinds to improve the quality of the hunt,” Trauba said. “Blinds with a poor success history are being removed and we are adding other blinds which will only be available on certain days, to help prevent geese from developing flying patterns around hunters.”

Trauba emphasizes that the area will remain a controlled hunting zone.

In short, this means that hunters must use designated blinds within the refuge, must possess no more than 12 shells, and must unload and case their guns when more than 10 feet from their blind.

These and other regulations are explained in the 2014 Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Handbook.

It can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

While the refuge will remain a controlled hunting zone, the controlled hunt area will be smaller.

The land east of Chippewa County 32 and north of County Road 33 is being removed from the controlled hunt area, as will be the Watson Sag area.

These will now be part of the wildlife management area.

This means hunters can still use the area, but won’t be restricted to certain blinds or be limited in the number of shells they carry.

DNR staff will continue to be available seven days a week during the season to answer hunting questions and offer advice.

An informational guide further explaining changes in the controlled hunt area will be available at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl by early October. Hunters may also call the Lac qui Parle headquarters at 320-734-4451.

“We look at these changes as being good ones for hunters,” Trauba said. “We’re optimistic about continued hunter success at the refuge.”

DNR seeks citizen volunteers to join fish species work groups
From the DNR

Volunteers are being sought to join five citizen-agency work groups that will discuss how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages fish.

There will be individual work groups for bass, catfish, panfish and walleye, and one that will focus on both northern pike and muskellunge.

Volunteers may apply to one of the five groups.

The application period is open from Wednesday, Oct. 1, to Wednesday, Nov. 19.

“Citizens can nominate themselves,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief. “These groups are about enhancing communication and discussion between citizens and the agency. In recent years these work groups have addressed angler concerns in detail.”

Work groups of 10 to 15 people each include volunteers and DNR staff who meet two to three times per year to discuss new research, population and harvest trends, and fisheries management.

Participants will be selected by the DNR and can choose to serve a term of either two or three years.

Meetings average four to six hours including travel time.

The groups are advisory and do not make decisions on policy or fish management.

“The work groups support effective management of the state’s fisheries,” Pereira said. “We are seeking members who will reflect a range of public interests in fish management including recreation, effects on local economies, water quality, habitat and more.”

For more information or to find an application form, see www.mndnr.gov/fisheries/management.

DNR seeks designs for MN’s 2015 walleye stamp
From the DNR

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2015 Minnesota walleye stamp from Monday, Oct. 6, through Friday, Oct. 17, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced.

The walleye stamp is sold along with hunting and fishing licenses or as a collectable.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to purchasing fish for stocking.

The contest offers no prizes and is open to Minnesota residents only.

The walleye must be the primary focus of the design, though other fish species may be included in the design if they are used to depict common interaction between species or are common inhabitants of Minnesota lakes and rivers.

Artists are not allowed to use any photographic product as part of their finished entries.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Judging will take place 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

Artists who want to submit entries should closely read contest criteria and guidelines for submitting work, available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, by calling the Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, and online at www.mndnr.gov/contests/stamps.html.

Temporary off-highway vehicle trail closures begin in November
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in some areas during the upcoming firearms deer hunting season.

Vehicles affected by the restrictions include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and registered off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel drive trucks that are not being used in conjunction with deer hunting by a licensed deer hunter.

The restrictions, which apply to state forest trails and access routes but not to state forest roads, aim to protect recreational riders from potentially unsafe riding conditions and to minimize conflicts between deer hunters and recreational riders who may inadvertently disturb them.

Licensed deer hunters may still use these routes in conjunction with their hunting activity:

• Before legal shooting time.
• From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• After legal shooting hours.

Effective dates of the recreational riding restrictions will be:
• Nov. 8 – 23 for the northeastern Minnesota 100 Series deer season.
• Nov. 8 – 16 for the Minnesota 200 Series deer season.

Because recreational OHV trails located in southeastern Minnesota close Nov. 1 each year, no additional OHV riding restrictions are necessary in that part of the state.

While many recreational OHV riders have voluntarily opted not to ride forest trails during deer hunting and small-game seasons, recreational OHV riding has become a year-round sport for many.

DNR officials remind everyone who visits Minnesota’s state forests this fall to put safety first.

For more information, see the 2014 deer season map online at www.mndnr.gov (http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/hunting/2014/deer_map.pdf) or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers during the past week.
CO Mies gave a law talk at the South Haven Firearms safety class.
CO Mies checked waterfowl hunters this weekend.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked the duck opener with CO Grewe in Scott, Carver and Hennepin counties.
Hunter success was fair to poor.
Watercraft operators were checked all week for AIS violations.
Many calls were returned on hunting questions.
Nuisance animal calls were handled on beaver damage, fox killing chickens, and coyotes.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) had a busy and warm waterfowl weekend.
Blue wing teal, mallards and wood ducks made up the majority of the mixed bags taken.
Trespassing complaints were addressed as well as stamp and license issues.
AIS and OHM was also worked during the week.
Mueller also issued three cease and decease orders on a possible wetland violation.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) had the privilege to attend the Wildlife Management Area dedication to Conservationist Virgil Voigt D.V.M. in McLeod County this past week.
Oberg also spent time working waterfowl opener where most hunters seem to bag a couple ducks.
Ducks included pintail, redheads, hooded mergansers, blue wing teal, mallards, wood duck, and northern shovelers.
Oberg encountered issues related to licenses, stamps and motorized devices.