Take steps to prevent deer from becoming winter pests

December 15, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Deer are fun to watch, but can quickly become a nuisance when they are looking for an easy snack near houses.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers tips to discourage deer from becoming pests.

Remove the food source. Temporarily stop feeding seed or grain to birds and clean-up spilled seed. Switch to feeding only suet during this time.

Cover bushes and low woody plants near the house with burlap, plastic snow fence, netting or heavyweight frost protection blankets, made of 2.5- to 4-ounce fabric.

Tarps or clear plastic may make some plants more susceptible to sun scald and fungus so use with caution.

Protect multiple young trees with tree tubes, wrap or bud caps.

Use 6-foot high woven wire cages to protect older or individual trees.

Keep a leashed dog in the area.

Apply deer repellants. There are a variety of commercial and homemade repellants that can be used for deer, before it freezes. These need to be reapplied regularly to discourage deer. See the manufacturer’s recommendations for winter effectiveness and application rates.

Install motion-activated floodlights to startle nocturnal deer in rural areas. Deer may be accustomed to these types of lights in urban areas.

Hang wind chimes or ornaments that create both motion and noise.

Install visual deterrents, such as wind socks, shiny polyester tape, flagging or scarecrows.

Use a radio in combination with lights, activated by a motion-detector for both a sight and auditory deterrent.

Implementing a few of these tips before deer become a problem is the best strategy. Check local ordinances, which may impact some of these practices. Be aware that deer become desensitized to disturbances, so it may be necessary to vary tactics.

For more information on living with deer and other wildlife species, visit www.mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife.

Carver Co. PF annual banquet Jan. 17

The Carver County Pheasants Forever Chapter will host its 29th annual banquet Saturday, Jan. 17.

The banquet will take place at the Hamburg Community Hall starting at 5 p.m. for social hour. The dinner will begin at 7 p.m.

To get tickets to the event, or for more information, contact Randy Wendland or go to https://pheasantsforeverevents.org/event/1117.

Trap league underway at Waverly Gun Club

Winter trap league for teams and individuals started Thursday, Dec. 4 at the Waverly Gun Club. Set-up is 6 to 6:30 p.m. followed by shooting from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The league runs through April. More information is available at www.waverlygunclub.org.

Certain vehicles no longer allowed on snowmobile trails
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds snowmobilers that only snowmobiles can operate on the state’s grant-in-aid trail system.

Due to a change this year in the way a snowmobile is legally defined, certain vehicles are no longer allowed on the trail.

The new definition of a snowmobile no longer includes all-terrain vehicles (ATV) modified with aftermarket ski and track kits, said 1st Lt. Pat Znajda, DNR enforcement district supervisor in Baudette.

“The legal definition of a snowmobile is a self-propelled vehicle originally manufactured and designed for travel on snow or ice steered by skis or runners,” he said.

Snowmobiles do not include vehicles equipped with aftermarket ski and track configurations such as an ATV, an off-highway motorcycle, an off-road vehicle, a mini truck, a utility task vehicle, vans with tracks and skis and some bombardiers.

The grant-in-aid trail program is a cooperative effort between the DNR, local governments, local snowmobile organizations, and private landowners who provide the majority of Minnesota’s 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails.

Funded through snowmobile registration and snowmobile state trail sticker fees and gas taxes, the grant-in-aid program helps local groups and clubs develop and maintain trails.

A snowmobile state trail sticker or a registration/trail sticker combination decal is required when operating on grant-in-aid trails.

Minnesota’s state and grant-in-aid snowmobile trails are open now through the end of March.

For more information, see the snowmobile laws, rules and regulations handbook at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/snowmobile/index.html.

Keep safety in mind when enjoying darkhouse spearing
From the DNR

After sawing a wide rectangle into the ice, a person holds a fish spear at the ready while looking through the water, past a small decoy meant to lure northern pike into range.

A well-placed throw results in a pike on the ice and destined for the frying pan.

Darkhouse spearing has ancient origins, but the activity may be new for many.

It’s become especially popular on the newly-formed ice on Mille Lacs Lake, which opened for darkhouse spearing this year for the first time since the winter of 1982-83.

The current season for darkhouse spearing opened Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 22.

For those new to spearing, there are some additional points of safety to keep in mind while out on the ice, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Once a block of ice is cut, it can be pushed under the ice or pulled out onto the surface.

If removed, the ice should be placed back into the hole and the hole marked when the spearer removes a darkhouse.

If the block of ice is pushed underneath the surface, the hole should be marked, as should any blocks that are left on top of the ice.

“It’s great to see the crowds come out for this new opportunity to spear northern pike on Mille Lacs. We’ve got an abundance of smaller pike which can make for a great day on the ice, and for a great fish fry,” said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR Aitkin area fisheries supervisor. “Along with the popularity of spearing, we’re reminding folks to mark their holes when they leave them. Safety for those spearing and others traveling on the lake is the most important consideration.”

Paul Lundeen, president of the Minnesota Darkhouse & Angling Association, said the organization stresses the importance of putting your block of ice back in and marking that spot with biodegradable markers, preferably in each corner of the hole.

“Push that block back in the ice and make sure you mark that hole,” Lundeen said.

Usually, Lundeen said, the practice of pushing the block of ice under the surface is easiest because the ice bobs after being cut free.

“It’s actually so much easier. Why lift the block on top of the ice? That thing is heavy,” he said.

The spearing association also stresses to make sure spearers know their target, to avoid spearing fish that aren’t northern pike.

“Just like deer hunting, don’t throw your spear unless you’re aware of what your target is,” Lundeen said.

Lundeen also said spearers might consider passing on the large fish.

While small pike have increased in abundance in Mille Lacs in recent years, large pike are limited in numbers and worth conserving.

Also, make sure to pick up any litter from the ice when leaving, he said.

Overall, Lundeen said, spearing can be a thrill, just like hunting.

And there’s the craft of making decoys that attract fish, of living the history of spearing, and of getting kids and grandkids out on the ice to share in the fun.

“It’s just like deer hunting – you can sit there for hours and all of a sudden you can look and there’s a deer. It’s just like that with spearing,” Lundeen said.

Statewide, anglers and spearers can keep three northern pike, and one of those three can be over 30 inches.

On Mille Lacs Lake, anglers and spearers can keep 10 northern pike, and one of those 10 can be over 30 inches.

All spearers and anglers should check for special regulations that may be in effect for individual waters.

For more information on Mille Lacs Lake management, see www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

For darkhouse spearing regulations, see www.mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

10 citizens appointed to Game and Fish Fund oversight commitees
From the DNR

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has appointed 10 Minnesotans to three-year terms on citizen oversight committees that monitor the agency’s fish and wildlife spending.

The appointees are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, prepare reports on their findings.

Appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee by Tom Landwehr are John Haukos, Ortonville; Dave Koppe, Minnetonka; Steven Pedersen, Coon Rapids; and Bonnie Swanson, Willernie.

Appointed to the Wildlife Oversight Committee are Chad Bloom, Mayer; Bill Faber, Brainerd; Steve Okins, Willmar; Mark Popovich, Welch; Scott Springer, Preston; and Jenna Elizabeth Wiese, Ortonville.

Two people were reappointed to the wildlife committee for a second term and the other new members are first-time appointees.

The committees will resume work after the mid-December publication of the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund report for fiscal year 2014.

“We look forward to working with these volunteers,” said Dave Schad, DNR deputy commissioner. “The appointments continue our commitment to share detailed budget information, bring new participants into the oversight process and ensure revenue generated by hunting and fishing license sales is used appropriately.”

The Fisheries Oversight Committee and the Wildlife Oversight Committee continue a citizen oversight function first created in 1994.

Almost 50 people applied for oversight committee positions.

Factors in choosing the new appointees included geographic distribution, demographic diversity, and a mix of experienced and new participants.

In the weeks ahead, committee chairs and four members will be selected by each committee to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee chaired by another appointee, John E. Hunt.

The committee will develop an overall report on expenditures for game and fish activities.

Those recommendations will be delivered to the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing for further consideration.

Though not well known, Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state’s core natural resource management functions.

Upwards of $90 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales, a sales tax on lottery tickets, and other sources of revenue, including a reimbursement based on a federal excise tax on certain hunting, fishing and boating equipment.

The dollars that flow into this fund pay for the fish, wildlife, enforcement and ecological management that support 48,000 jobs in Minnesota’s outdoor recreation and hospitality business.

Past Game and Fish Fund reports and oversight reports are available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/gamefishoversight/reports.html.

DNR awards $5.7 million in habitat grants to conservation groups
From the DNR

The Department of Natural Resources has awarded 46 conservation grants to various organizations and entities for restoring, enhancing and protecting habitat in Minnesota.

This latest round of habitat funding comes from the agency’s Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant program, which in the past six years has awarded more than $27 million to local, state, and federal nonprofit organizations and government entities for conservation projects.

The DNR recently received a record-high $8.9 million in grant requests from 71 applicants during round one of the application cycle. The DNR has funded $5.7 million of these requests.

“It’s rewarding to receive, review and fund so many worthy habitat projects,” said Jessica Lee, DNR conservation grants coordinator. “It’s our hope that conservation groups and others will continue to plan projects in the months ahead so they can apply when funds are available again.”

The DNR’s CPL 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.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended the grant program, which was developed by the 2009 Minnesota Legislature.

Funding has been provided annually from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment and funded by a voter-approved statewide sales tax of three-eighths of 1 percent.

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

The metro grant cycle will open for round two applications beginning Monday, Dec. 15.

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

More information on the program’s grant cycles, and a complete list of the most recent grant applications and past awarded projects are at www.mndnr.gov/cpl.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) last week checked anglers.
CO Mies worked on a deer investigation.
CO Mies gave a law talk at the St. Augusta snowmobile safety class.
CO Mies dealt with several other calls.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked muzzleloaders in the Sandune State Forest.
He followed up on a possible wetlands violation.
He checked waterfowl hunters on the Mississippi River.
He did a snowmobile safety class talk to 60+ kids in Otsego.
He picked up a coyote with an untagged trap on it.
He continued having his trailers inspected to make sure they are safe.
He made a number of calls on nuisance animals.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a presentation in Maple Lake to approximately 40 students of a snowmobile safety class. Reller also monitored muzzleloaders hunters in a permitted hunt in Maria State Park.
A few snowmobilers and anglers were checked, but activity has been slow due to the lack of snow and quality ice.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked anglers on special regulation lakes.
Muzzleloader deer hunters were checked with a few having success.
Pheasant hunters were still out looking for birds but found none.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking anglers and following up with complaints.
CO Grewe presented at a safety day at a local business.
Violations included failing to register an ATV and license issues.

• CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking muzzleloader hunters and dealing with trespass complaints.
There was also a lot of time spent on the ice checking fishermen.
It is still important to check the ice since it is not the same all over on every lake.
Many ice fishermen were reminded that they need to have their license in possession when they go out fishing.
One angler was reminded with a citation that it is important to pull up your lines and not leave them unattended while you
go make a beer run.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) followed up on a TIP call dealing with a removal of a tree from a WMA near Beaver Creek.
Deer hunters and anglers were also checked during the week.
A complaint of three dead deer in the middle of a field was investigated.
Mueller also spoke at a snowmobile safety class in Hutchinson.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) continued to check muzzleloader hunters as well as pheasant hunters.
Ice angling has been slow to get started in the area.
Oberg also reports working a wolf case where enforcement action was taken.
Snowmobiling activity has all but melted away but ATV’s have been active again.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What causes arctic smoke along the North Shore?

A: Arctic smoke occurs when the air is colder than Lake Superior’s water temperature.

Lake Superior surface water is about 40 degrees at this time, but the air above the lake often plummets to well below zero.

On most winter mornings, you can see steam from the warmer water rising and quickly cooling, creating the effect of smoke hanging above the water.

A rarer sight is spiraling columns known as steam devils, which occur when there is a large difference between the air temperature and the lake temperature.

As the air coming off the lake cools rapidly, it creates updrafts that cause the spirals to form.

You need very cold air temperatures and a slight wind to see them, but as we commonly have minus 20-degree days, you can usually catch them a couple times each winter.