Bow Hunter Education Field Day March 28

March 16, 2015

by Chris Schultz

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bow Hunter Education Field Day Test will take place Saturday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Grace Bible Church, 300 SW Cleavland Street, Silver Lake.

For more information, contact Jim Richardson, Instructor, at 612-636-7214.

Firearms safety class scheduled for Lester Prairie SC

The DNR Firearms Safety Class will be held at the Lester Prairie Sportsman’s Club from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the following dates: April 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30 and May 5 & 7. You may register at the first class on April 7 and the cost is $7.00. If you have any questions please contact Doug Minnick at 320-395-2143 or 320-224-5942.

USFW Habitat Day April 11 in Litchfield
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a Habitat Day for the public Saturday, April 11 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Litchfield Wetland Management District office.

Area residents are encouraged to come and learn more about the wildlife and habitat of the area in this free event.

Families can construct their own wood duck box or bluebird house, and there will also be wren houses, robin roosts and bird feeders.

There will also be a live bald eagle and other raptors (birds of prey) for visitors to meet.
Tentative schedule of events include:

• Noon-4 p.m.: Build your own bird house, view displays, and meet the Wildlife Wizard! Coloring books, posters and an assortment of wildlife related materials for kids and adults will be available.
• 1-2 p.m.: Presentation by the Raptor Center, St. Paul, with live birds

• 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Open discussion with the Raptor Center with birds on display.

The Litchfield Wetland Management District office is located at 22274 615th Ave., Litchfield, MN. For more information, call 320-693-2849.

Warning: melt means ice is much less safe

From the DNR

With warming temperatures and melting snow, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that ice conditions on bodies of water are deteriorating quickly in the southern half of the state and will soon be deteriorating in the north. Water flowing into lakes and moving in rivers can quickly create areas of thin ice. Flowing water in ditches and creeks is also dangerous to children who can slip in and be swept into a culvert or under the ice.

“Ice is never 100 percent safe,” said Maj. Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement operations manager. “And please keep your children away from moving water.”

Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

If your vehicle breaks through the ice, get out immediately, use your ice picks to help get back up on the ice and roll away from the hole to solid ice. The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should check with a local bait shop or resort – ask about ice conditions before you go.

The DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

• 4 inches for walking.
• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
• 8-12 inches for a car.
• 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

Reminder on spring burning restrictions
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will soon determine when to start spring burning restrictions. This year, with little snowpack and an early start to spring, restrictions are likely to take effect earlier, maybe as soon as next week.

The DNR restricts burning shortly after snow melt when exposed dead grass and brush can ignite easily and burn quickly. The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

“The spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires,” said Ron Stoffel, DNR wildfire suppression supervisor.

Fire danger can vary greatly from one part of the state to another. Locally determining when the restrictions take effect enables the DNR to restrict burning in areas where fire risk is elevated.

Restrictions mean the state will not issue burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. Debris burning is especially dangerous during April and May, when most wildfires occur in Minnesota.

Residents may need to find alternatives to burning or wait until after green-up when it is safer to burn. Prior to burning, the DNR urges people to check the statewide fire danger and burning permit restrictions at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.

Finally, the DNR notes that many local areas, counties or municipalities have specific burning regulations or restrictions. Residents should check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

Surplus spring
turkey hunt licenses on sale
From the DNR

Hunters who applied for a spring wild turkey hunting license but were not selected in the recent lottery are eligible to purchase a surplus license on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 5 p.m., Monday, March 16. A total of 2,789 surplus licenses are available.

People who did not participate in the lottery may purchase any remaining surplus licenses starting noon on Wednesday, March 18, when all remaining licenses are made available to anyone. Unlimited over-the-counter licenses for time periods D-H also go on sale at this time.

Surplus licenses will be available at any statewide Electronic License System agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. A list of hunting dates, permit areas and the number of surplus permits available in each area is available at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

DNR plans to
modernize website
From the DNR

To better-serve the people of Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources this session is requesting the Legislature’s help to meet new and increasing online technology demands from individuals and businesses across Minnesota. The DNR’s Citizen Engagement in Natural Resources initiative, which was recommended in Gov. Mark Dayton’s recently-released budget proposal, would modernize the agency’s website and help develop user-friendly online and mobile tools designed to: help people find the information and services they need to enjoy the state’s great outdoors; and conduct business in Minnesota.

The initiative would provide an investment of $500,000 annually in the DNR’s online technology to make it easier for citizens, hunters, anglers, snowmobilers and others to discover and enjoy state lands, to engage in meaningful ways through their mobile devices, and to quickly locate content through improved navigation and enhanced search capabilities. Website visitors would find it easier to book campsites, buy state park passes, locate hunting land, and get fishing and hunting licenses, to name a few.

“No longer bound by hours of service, mail or paper, Minnesotans and visitors now expect easy, online access when they want it, and in an easy-to-understand format that meets their needs,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our goal in this initiative is to provide Minnesotans, visitors and businesses easy access to DNR information and services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

The initiative is part of the governor’s administration-wide plain language effort and would improve the user experience for more than 2.8 million people who use the DNR website every year for fishing and hunting licenses, camping reservations, and to access other important information and services. An executive order signed by Dayton last year directed state agencies to use plain language to make government information easier to access and easier to understand – an initiative the DNR has made significant progress on over the last 12 months.

The investment would allow the agency to enhance its digital work, engage more citizens in the outdoors and streamline government. It would build a new modernized Web platform, create new digital content, and present information and services in plain language to better engage with citizens.

High-Traffic, High-Value Website

As one of the largest electronic information and license distribution government networks in the Midwest – processing 2.9 million licenses and registrations, and booking more than 95,000 park reservations every year – the DNR needs to modernize its information and online services in a way that best meets citizens’ needs within a secure environment. Doing so would engage even more Minnesotans in outdoor recreation and activities that benefit the state’s environment, economy, and quality of life.

The following is an overview of the Web traffic the DNR experiences on an annual basis:
• 2.8 Million Users – An estimated 2.8 million individual people visited the DNR website from 7.5 million different devices between September 2013 and August 2014.
• 12 Million Mobile Views – Mobile website views exceeded 12 million in 2014, up from only 1.3 illion in 2010. That is a 923 percent increase in mobile traffic in just four years.
• 2 Million Hunters and Anglers – Approximately 1.5 million anglers and 500,000 hunters annually buy their licenses from electronic point-of-sale portals.
• 58 Million Hits – DNR’s website supports approximately 25,000 pages of information and had more than 58 million page views in 2014.
• 95,000 Reservations – DNR’s Parks and Trails Division processes more than 95,000 park reservations annually through its electronic reservation system.
• 114,000 Social Followers – There are more than 114,000 users of the DNR’s social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+.

Building on Recent Successes

The DNR’s Citizen Engagement in Natural Resources initiative would enable the DNR to create mobile applications that improve access to Minnesota’s vast array of outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities. Through these technology enhancements, the DNR would build on recent efforts to make its website more user-friendly, including work similar to what was recently accomplished through the mobile applications, Lake Finder, Fish Minnesota, Park Finder, and Fall Color Finder.

• Park Finder (www.mndnr.gov/parkfinder) – This application, launched in June 2014, makes it easier to plan trips and vacations at Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas. Every year, more than 8.7 million people visit the state parks, contributing $231 million to Minnesota’s economy. Last year alone, Park Finder was used 60,000 times on 30,000 devices to locate a park, learn more about a park, or plan a trip.
• Fish Minnesota (www.mndnr.gov/fishmn) – Fish Minnesota was launched in the Spring of 2014 as a plain language initiative. The site’s innovative design repackaged traditional fishing regulations into easy to find pieces of information, and paired it with the agency’s popular LakeFinder application in both desktop and mobile formats. More than 1.5 million citizens enjoy fishing in Minnesota, resulting in $2.8 billion in economic activity.
• Lake Finder (www.mndnr.gov/lakefind) – LakeFinder contains data for more than 4,500 lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota, including lake surveys, lake depth maps, lake water quality data, lake water clarity data, lake notes, and fish consumption advice. Last year alone, the tool was used 2.2 million times by 764,000 devices. Mobile LakeFinder was used 242,000 times by 80,000 devices.
• Fall Color Finder (www.mndnr.gov/fallcolor) – In 2014, the Fall Color Finder was used 320,000 times on more than 135,000 devices to plan leaf peeping trips at state parks and destinations all over the state. Fall tourism contributes to Minnesota’s $13 billion tourism economy.

Survey: 131 elk, 3 herds in NW Minn.
From the DNR

Three distinct herds totaling 131 animals that roam portions of far northwestern Minnesota comprise the state’s elk population, according to results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial population survey.

Spotters counted 79 elk in the Caribou-Vita herd (also known as the Cross Border or International herd), up from 51 animals counted in 2014. This is Minnesota’s largest herd, which migrates between northern Kittson County and Manitoba.

“We continue to see more elk in this herd on the Minnesota side of its range,” said John Williams, DNR’s northwest regional wildlife manager. “We know animals move between those grouped in Minnesota and those grouped in Manitoba, so our next step is to work with Canadian officials to determine the actual herd size.”

The Caribou-Vita herd’s population goal is 150-200 elk inhabiting both sides of the border.

The Kittson-Central herd is located near Lancaster in Kittson County. Spotters counted 34 elk compared to 37 in 2014. This year’s count remains above the population goal of 20-30 animals.

Grygla’s herd is at 18 elk, down from the 20 counted last year and 28 counted in 2013. Williams said the decline of this herd in Marshall County is troubling because it hasn’t been hunted since 2012. The population goal for the Grygla herd is 30-38.

Elk are managed to maintain a free-ranging, wild population in far northwestern Minnesota. These herds afford recreational and economic opportunities, including wildlife watching and hunting seasons when their populations can sustain a hunt.

CO Report
From the DNR

CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers all week. CO Mies gave a law talk at the Kimball firearms safety class. CO Mies did commercial checks and aeration checks.
CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave presentations to Firearms Safety classes in Buffalo and Hanover.

Reller also followed up on several fish houses left out past the deadline. Enforcement action was taken for leaving fish house out past the deadline, litter, angling without a license and underage consumption of alcohol.

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar) educated ice anglers about needing a new angling license as of March 1st. He checked the area lakes and addressed fish house removal issues. Denz also followed up on commercial license inspections.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) checked aeration systems in the area and is checking all the lakes for litter left behind after the fish houses were removed. Some time was spent on the snowmobile before all the snow disappeared. Time was also spent checking anglers out enjoying the nice weather and answering questions that the public had.

CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) checked area lakes and the neighboring vacant station for ice shelters removed by the deadline. All houses were removed in time. She conducted an aeration inspection. ATV and snowmobilers were also checked during the week with the last snowfall.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls regarding injured wildlife and coyote hunting regulations. He spent time following up on deer cases from last season. Nelson also worked angling, snowmobile and ATV enforcement.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Which fish species are the first to spawn in Minnesota lakes during the spring?

A: Northern pike usually spawn first when water temperatures are in the low 40s. There is often still ice on the main lakes when pike run into tributary streams, rivers or wetlands to spawn. Walleye spawn a bit later, followed by yellow perch, muskellunge, bass and crappie/bluegill.