Small presence of invasive carp found in Mississippi

Jan. 12, 2015

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Water samples from southeastern Minnesota pools of the Mississippi River that were collected in August and analyzed in December indicate only a small presence of bighead carp eDNA, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in consultation with the DNR, conducted the environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling and analyzing for invasive carp.

A total of 500 samples were tested for both bighead and silver carp DNA in Pool 5a near Winona, Pool 6 in Winona and pools 8 and 9 near the Iowa border. One sample in Pool 8 tested positive for bighead carp, while none of the samples tested positive for silver carp. Results can be viewed on the USFWS Web page: www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA.html.

“The lone positive bighead result appears to support historical, physical catch evidence of low numbers of invasive carp in this stretch of the Mississippi River,” said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. “Individual captures of adult bighead and silver carp have occurred since 2008 but none were captured in these pools in 2014.”

Environmental DNA is a surveillance tool used to monitor for the genetic presence of an aquatic species. The presence of eDNA does not provide physical proof of the presence of live or dead carp, but indicates the presence of genetic material in the water body. This genetic material may be the result of live carp, or transport of only the genetic material via boats or other means.

This is the first time samples were collected in the southeastern Minnesota pools.

Given the low population size at this time, the DNR and USFWS sampled these pools to help guide future traditional sampling efforts and establish a baseline to begin a time series that will help detect population changes. The plan is to collect samples at these and potentially other pools farther north each year.

“It’s important to remember that eDNA is still a new technology and cannot be used to estimate population size at this time,” Frohnauer said. “But the DNR hopes to use this technology to inform field monitoring efforts.”

The USFWS and the DNR will review eDNA results and advancements along with other 2014 monitoring results in planning 2015 sampling.

DNR to fly deer an elk surveys

From the DNR

Low-flying helicopters will be used for white-tailed deer population surveys planned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for January through March in central and southeastern Minnesota, if suitable snow conditions develop.

“We use aerial surveys to help monitor deer populations in portions of Minnesota,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These flights provide data to improve our understanding of how deer populations respond to management, which helps us to make decisions about future deer hunting season regulations.”

Deer will be counted during daylight hours at an altitude of about 200 feet. These counts are used to estimate deer numbers in deer permit areas. A representative sampling of 1 square mile areas within the permit areas are flown that allows for a statistically valid representation of the population in a given area.

“The goal is to complete deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 223, 224, 229, 241, and 248 in Becker, Benton, Cass, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin, and Wright counties; and deer permit areas 341, 343, 345, 347, and 348 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties,” D’Angelo said. “Successful completion of the surveys requires continuous snow conditions over the survey areas in order to complete them all.”

Aerial elk surveys are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota.

Questions about survey flights should be directed to the DNR’s Farmland Wildlife Research office in Madelia at 507-642-8478, the central regional wildlife office in St. Paul at 651-259-5756, or the northwest regional wildlife office in Bemidji at 218-308-2651.

Spring wild turkey permit application deadline Friday

From the DNR

The deadline to apply for early season spring wild turkey hunting permits is Friday, Jan. 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The spring season, which runs from April 15 to May 28, is divided into eight time periods. Only people age 18 and older who want to hunt during the first three time periods (A-C) need to apply for a spring turkey permit. Permits for the remaining time periods (D-H) can be purchased over-the-counter.

Permits for the last five time periods and youth licenses for any time period are sold over-the-counter starting March 1. Surplus adult licenses from the first three time periods, if available, are sold starting around mid-March.

For more information, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

No CWD detected among sampled deer in SE Minnesota

From the DNR

No chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in hunter-harvested deer in southeastern Minnesota during the 2014 firearms season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The discovery of the disease in a wild deer earlier this year in Allamakee County, Iowa, triggered the Minnesota DNR’s surveillance effort. The Iowa county borders Houston County in southeastern Minnesota.

During the Minnesota firearms deer season, hunters voluntarily brought deer to be sampled for CWD at eight registration stations throughout deer permit areas 348 and 349. In total, the DNR sampled 411 deer within the two permit areas.

“We thank Minnesota’s deer hunters for their cooperation,” said Erik Hildebrand, wildlife health specialist. “By voluntarily allowing us to take samples from their deer, hunters are helping us keep our state’s deer herd healthy.”

This latest sampling effort suggests that CWD does not exist in Minnesota’s wild deer herd, or is at a level so low that it has not been detected during many years of surveillance.

The DNR does respond to reports of suspect deer across the state and tests them according to symptoms exhibited. Statewide, the DNR tests about 75 sick deer each year.

Detailed information on management, surveillance and a full version of the DNR’s response plan can be found at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.

Carver Co. PF annual bankquet 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 this event, contact Randy Wendland or go to https://pheasantforeverevents.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 Agribution 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 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.

DNR announces two high level appointments

From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced two high-level appointments today.

Sarah Strommen, acting deputy director at the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), was appointed DNR assistant commissioner. Luke Skinner, deputy director for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, was promoted to director of the Ecological and Water Resources Division, replacing Steve Hirsch who retired.

“I am delighted Sarah and Luke have agreed to take these positions,” Landwehr said. “We have developed a very strong senior management team, and the combination of experience and skills Sarah and Luke bring will serve Minnesotans very well.”

As assistant commissioner, Strommen will oversee two divisions for the commissioner’s office, Parks and Trails and Fish and Wildlife, and the agency’s strategic direction with land management and the Legacy amendment. She fills the position vacated by Assistant Commissioner Mike Carroll, who retires Jan. 13.

Strommen brings 20 years of experience integrating the field of biological science with citizen education and engagement and with public policy-making. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College, where she majored in biology and Latin American studies, and a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University.

She previously served as policy director for Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and as associate director of the Minnesota Land Trust. She joined the state of Minnesota in 2012 as an assistant director at BWSR before becoming acting deputy director.

After serving several terms on the Ramsey City Council, Strommen was elected mayor in 2012.

Skinner has 24 years of DNR experience in roles ranging from natural resources specialist to supervisor. Most of his DNR career has been spent in the Ecological and Water Resources Division working in the invasive species program, including six years as unit supervisor.

For the last 2 1⁄2 years, he has been deputy director of the Parks and Trails Division, managing strategic direction, operations, policy, and a $110 million annual budget. In his new position, Skinner will oversee land use and water permitting programs; environmental inventories and monitoring programs; environmental review and dam safety; the nongame wildlife, invasive species and scientific and natural areas programs; and several other units.

Skinner earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota, where he has been an adjunct assistant professor since 2006.

Strommen begins her DNR job the first week of February. Skinner begins his new position Jan. 14.

DNR, Red Lake Nation renew lakes fishery agreement

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Red Lake Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a new five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) today that outlines continued cooperative management of the walleye population in the Upper and Lower Red lakes. The signing took place during a brief ceremony in Red Lake.

“Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized,” said Darrell Seki, chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. “We are committed to ensuring that Red Lake walleye are managed sustainably in the future.”

Renewing this agreement will enable the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee to continue its work to help protect this valuable resource, added Seki.

The new MOU closely parallels previous 1999-2014 agreements that facilitated restoration of high-quality walleye fishing to Minnesota’s largest inland body of water. The agreement states that each entity will support the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee, a joint panel of experts that recommends policies and practices to maintain a healthy fishery.

“We’ve come a long way in the past 15 years,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, noting that the combined state and tribal harvest approached 1 million pounds in 2014. “By renewing this agreement, we are reaffirming our commitment to a successful process that has delivered excellent results.”

Historically, Upper and Lower Red lakes were outstanding walleye fisheries, but they collapsed in the mid-1990s due to over harvest. The technical committee was formed in 1997. Since then, the regulations, policies and other actions this joint body has recommended have led to a healthy walleye population and a resurgent walleye fishing economy.

Reservations due soon for seasonal and monthly camping

From the DNR

Those who want to stay longer than a week or two at a Minnesota state park should act now to nab one of the few campsites available for longer stays, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

At a limited number of state park campsites, visitors can stay for a whole month or even a full season. Reservations for these opportunities in 2015 are due by Saturday, Jan. 31.

For pricing and other park-specific information, or to submit a request to reserve a site, prospective visitors can call the phone numbers listed below or check the DNR website at


Nine Minnesota state parks have monthly and seasonal openings for camping in 2015.

Big Stone Lake State Park (320-839-3663) in Ortonville will offer monthly and seasonal camping from May 1 to Sept. 6 at two sites with an electric hookup.

Hayes Lake State Park (218-754-2200) south of Roseau will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 8 to Sept. 6 at seven sites with electric hookups.

Kilen Woods State Park will offer monthly and seasonal camping from May 22 to Sept. 6 at three sites with electric hookups. Call Phil Nasby at 507-831-2900, ext. 225, for information.

Lac qui Parle State Park (320-734-4450) in Montevideo will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 1 to Sept. 6 at three electric campsites and one with a full hookup to water, sewer and electricity.

Lake Bronson State Park (218-754-2200) near Hallock will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 8 to Sept. 6 at five electric sites.

Myre-Big Island State Park (507-379-3403) in Albert Lea will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 1 to Sept. 6 at four campsites, three of which have electric hook-ups.

Old Mill State Park (218-754-2200) near Thief River Falls will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 22 to Sept. 6 at seven sites with electricity and water.

Rice Lake State Park (507-455-5871) in Owatonna will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 1 to Sept. 6 at three campsites, two of which have electric hook-ups.

Upper Sioux Agency State Park (320-564-4777) in Granite Falls will offer monthly or seasonal camping from May 1 to Sept. 6 at two campsites, both of which have electric hook-ups.

If demand exceeds availability at a particular park, a lottery will be held on Monday, Feb. 2, and the park will notify applicants whether or not they were selected. If sites are available after this date, they will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. No preference will be given to monthly or seasonal campers from prior years.

For monthly campsite reservations, the entire monthly fee is due by Friday, April 17. For seasonal campsite reservations, a one-month down payment is due by Friday, April 17, and the remainder of the seasonal fee is due when visitors arrive to check-in. If a lottery is not necessary and sites are available after Jan. 31, the monthly fee must be paid at the time of reservation to hold the site.

CO Weekly Reports

From the DNR

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) reports taking calls concerning trespass to access area lakes, injured deer calls and questions concerning AIS trailer training. The officer worked area lakes for fishing activity. The pheasant season came to a close with a few out on Saturday but Sunday’s weather deterred many people.

CO Chad Thesing (Albany) worked anglers, ATVs, and bow hunters. A TIP call was investigated and an individual was found to have shot a deer with his bow over a corn pile. It was also found that he did a lend/borrow deer tag with his wife earlier in the season making him over limit. Enforcement action for the week included no registration on ATV, drive ATV with passengers under 18 with no helmet, angling with extra lines, deer over limit, and hunting deer over bait. One lakeshore owner was found to have cut bull rush along his shore to get rid of the weeds for the summer.

CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers last week. CO Mies also worked on a trap theft complaint. CO Mies also assisted Stearns County Sheriff’s Office and worked a tip call.

CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a snowmobile safety presentation at Hasty/Silver Creek Sportsman Club. Reller also checked anglers, a few snowmobilers and ATVers. A few walleyes are biting in the evening on several lakes, but the crappies seem to be the best bite. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and ATV registration violations, operating a snowmobile without safety certification and no ice shelter license.

CO Steve Walter (Waconia) responded to a dead trumpeter swan call near Patterson Lake. Aeration inspections were done on area lakes. State parks and trails were patrolled for snowmobile activity. Anglers were checked on special regulation lakes. Pheasant hunters were out trying their luck the last few days of the season. Enforcement action was taken for fish houses left on public access sites, angling without license in possession, angling without first procuring a license and shoot pheasants within 500 feet of an occupied residence.

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking fishermen, monitoring trail activity and investigating complaints. CO Grewe reminds people venturing out on metro lakes to check ice conditions before traveling out. Violations included expired registration on both ATVs and snowmobiles, license issues with permanent fish houses and fishermen.

CO Thephong Le (ELCOP) checked anglers in the Bloomington station and patrolled Fort Snelling State Park. He spent time on getting a newly issued snowmobile ready for the season and arranged schedules for several upcoming speaking engagements in his assigned areas. Administrative work was also performed as well as returning calls on ice fishing regulations.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week taking phone calls, answering questions about licensing fish houses, coyote hunting, and fur registration. Time was also spent checking pheasant hunters during the final weekend of the season. Ice fishing in the area has picked up with some fishermen having luck and some are still reminded that they can only fish with two lines through the ice.

CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) followed up on a report of dumped deer carcasses and a possible bait pile. She checked ice anglers and ATVs during the week. Mueller also checked state park vehicle passes. A trespass complaint with a pheasant hunter was also dealt with.

CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked some snowmobile and ice angling enforcement this past week. Oberg also worked trapping and predator enforcement in the area. Time was also spent setting up snowmobile safety talks.

Question of the week

From the DNR

Q: What options are available for staying overnight at Minnesota state parks in the winter?

A Most state parks have at least some campsites available for winter camping, often with electrical hookup. If you’re looking for warmer accommodations, heated camper cabins are available year-round at 20 different state parks and recreation areas. Camper cabins have bunk beds and mattresses provided – just bring your own sleeping bags or blankets. Some locations also offer all-season guest houses or modern suites like those at Itasca State Park. For more information, or to make reservations, visit www.mndnr.gov/state_parks.