Think twice before going out on the ice

December 22, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With the recent weather fluctuation and inconsistent ice conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging everyone to think twice before going out on the ice.

“Ice is never 100 percent safe,” said Maj. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement operations manager. “Don’t put yourself in needless danger. Check ice conditions before venturing out. No fish is worth unnecessary risks.”

Anglers and snowmobilers need to be cautious.

Several ATV’s, trucks and fish houses have gone through the ice in recent days.

Ice that is 6 inches thick in one area may only be an inch thick in another location.

So far this year, one person has died after going through the ice.

Last winter, three people died after falling through thin ice.

Salo recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort— ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice.

If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off.

Don’t go on the ice during thaws.

Avoid honeycombed ice, dark snow, and dark ice.

Ice is generally thinner where there is moving water, such as inlets and outlets, bridge abutments, islands, and objects that protrude through the ice.

The DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

Four inches for walking.

Five inches for a snowmobile or ATV.

Eight-12 inches for a car.

12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Wed., Dec. 31

Prairie Archers will have a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Wednesday, Dec. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Reservations need to be called in before 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29 to either Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.

The steak and shrimp combo costs $13; steak only is $11; pork chop is $10; six shrimp is $9; or a ribeye is $15.

Each meal includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, and coffee or milk.

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.

Annual hunting and fishing expo set for March 21

The Christian Deer Hunters Association will host The Big Little Hunting & Fishing Expo & Auction Saturday, March 21 in the Agribition Center at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

This is an event for the entire family. Outdoor-related booths will fill the building, and there will be live and silent auctions, food, and hunting and fishing seminars throughout the day.

Youth will enjoy such things as a live trout pond, marshmallow gun shooting gallery, fishing for prizes, minnow races, hands-on fly-tying, and more.

The Minnesota Official Measurers will score your buck’s rack for free.

For more information, seminar times, auction times, and the exhibitors list, visit www.christiandeerhunters.org, or call (320) 327-2266.

Round 2 now open for metro conservation grant program
From the DNR

Applications will be accepted starting Monday, Dec. 15, for round two of a metro grant program that aims to restore, enhance and protect habitat in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Projects eligible for the Conservation Partners Legacy grant program must be located within the seven-county Twin Cities metro area or within the cities of Duluth, Rochester or St. Cloud.

Applications must be submitted through the online application system at www.mndnr.gov/cpl by Friday, Jan. 30.

The grant program awarded $2.1 million in metro grants in the first application round.

Remaining is $1.6 million for the second round, for grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 to local, state and federal nonprofit organizations and governmental entities for natural resource conservation projects in metro areas.

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 Constitutional Amendment and funded by a voter-approved statewide sales tax of three-eighths of 1 percent.

More information on the grant program and a complete list of the most recent grant applications and past awarded projects can be found at www.mndnr.gov/cpl.

Start a new tradition: late-season pheasant hunting
From the DNR

An abundance of birds, lack of snow and higher late season bag limits are all good reasons why Minnesotans may want to try some late season pheasant hunting.

“Hunters are still flushing a lot of birds,” said Nicole Davros, a wildlife research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The season doesn’t end until Jan. 4 so there’s plenty of time to get outdoors and get into some good hunting.”

Even though December tends to be a busy time of year for many, perspective on the rush of life can be gained by getting away from it all, even briefly, Davros said.

“There are few better ways to take a break from eating cookies at holiday gatherings or buying presents than getting out into the fields to flush some birds,” Davros said. “Do it once and it may well become a welcome tradition around the holidays.”

The birds are out there, especially in the southwest, south-central and west-central regions of Minnesota.

This year’s DNR roadside survey count of pheasants taken in August showed a six percent increase in the state’s pheasant population compared to last year, though long-term the trend in pheasant numbers is down.

“Even though pheasant numbers are down on a long-term scale, it’s important that people get out and experience pheasants in their habitat, and for most people that means hunting them,” Davros said. “Once you see these birds out in the wild, it’s hard not to care about their plight, which represents the plight of all grassland wildlife and the health of their habitat in general.”

A small game license for Minnesota residents age 18 and older is $22, and the required pheasant stamp is $7.50.

Pheasant hunters age 16 to 17 must buy a $5 small game license but need not buy a pheasant stamp, and hunters under age 16 can hunt pheasants without a license.

Minnesota’s 2014 pheasant season started Oct. 11 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 4.

Through the end of the season, the daily bag limit is three roosters and the possession limit is nine roosters. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset.

Additional details are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers.
CO Mies checked deer hunters all week.
CO Mies gave a law talk at training for DNR Forestry Officers.
CO Mies also worked on complaints and tip calls.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) fishing activity has been picking up on area lakes, with that comes individuals that push their luck with ice conditions.
Wright Co. Sheriff’s Department took a call of a car going through the ice on Buffalo Lake on Sunday, luckily no one was injured.
Anglers beware the thawing has changed ice condition especially were runoff comes into the lakes.
Enforcement action was taken for several angling and ATV violations.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) followed up on a trapping complaint.
He continued investigations on a Big Game case with charges pending.
He investigated a dumping complaint with enforcement action taken on the violator.
He assisted with a possible trespassing issue.
He inspected a wetland violation with the assistance of Sherburne County Planning and Zoning; a resource protection notification was issued to the landowner.
A restoration order will be administered in the early spring.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked anglers having good luck on area lakes.
A TIP call was responded to on traps that were not being checked.
Muzzleloader deer hunters and pheasant hunters were checked having little success.

• CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking anglers and monitoring hunting activity.
Violations included license issues.

• CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking ice fishermen with reports of the fishing activity being slow.
Time was also spent following up on lend and borrow cases from the firearms deer season.
Calls were taken about dogs caught in traps and time was spent checking on traps.
A few muzzleloader hunters were out for the final days of the season trying their luck with some having success.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) worked the last weekend of the muzzleloader season.
She investigated a litter case involving multiple deer carcasses and a shoot from the road case.
The unseasonably warm wet weather made ice conditions on the lake less than desirable and fishing activity slowed down over the weekend.
She also helped rescue a bald eagle that was accidentally caught in a snare.
Once it was brought to the Raptor Center it was found to have a high level of lead in its system which might explain why it was on the ground feeding.
Mueller also spoke at youth snowmobile safety classes in Buffalo Lake and Fairfax.
Unfortunately their riding test will have to wait till the snow returns.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked the last week of the balmy muzzleloader season.
A case from the firearms deer season was completed with enforcement action taken for fail to tag, validate, and register deer.
Oberg also worked recreational vehicle and angling enforcement this week.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: When I hiked in the Black Hills of South Dakota recently, I observed the many dying trees related to insect infestation.

We take all these precautions when using firewood, but is there cause for concern with Christmas trees being shipped from various places around the nation?

It seems like a possible way to spread pests and diseases.

A: You are right to be concerned.

According to the lead nursery inspector at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), most of our imported Christmas trees are from Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Fraser fir from the Carolinas.

Gypsy moth is the main concern on trees coming from those states, and regional inspectors visually check Christmas trees as they come into Minnesota in bulk.

The Agriculture Department also conducts spot checks on tree sales lots.

The focus of these inspections is proper certification under all applicable state and federal quarantines.

Mountain pine beetle is the insect responsible for killing pines in the Black Hills and in much of the western United States.

This insect attacks trees that are 5 inches or more in diameter. Most Christmas trees you’ll find on sales lots are smaller than this.

The MDA is considering regulations to prevent the importation of pine wood with bark on it from states where mountain pine beetle occurs.

These regulations would be enforced through a state exterior quarantine tentatively scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Finally, consider buying Christmas trees grown in Minnesota.

That way, you can be sure you won’t be importing an unknown pest.