Gov. Mark Dayton has declared April 19-25 as Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota to increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards.
In Minnesota, most wildfires occur in the spring between snow melt and vegetation green up because last year’s dry vegetation can quickly catch fire. So far this year, more than 800 fires have burned over 15,000 acres. The DNR has already responded to almost twice as many fires as the agency did in the entire last year.
On average, fire agencies in Minnesota annually respond to 1,200 wildfires that burn over 38,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
“With last year’s drought, lack of winter snow fall and early spring, wildland firefighters and rural fire departments are already battling wildfires this spring,” said Linda Gormanson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildfire prevention coordinator.
Most wildfires fires are human-caused, and the number-one cause is escaped debris from burning fires. Finding alternatives to burning such as mulching or composting can go a long way to avoiding these fires in the first place.
A burning permit is required to burn vegetative material unless there is at least 3 inches of snow on the ground. The DNR or local governments may also restrict burning if weather conditions warrant.
Current information on statewide fire danger and burning restrictions is available at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire. Burning permits are available online, from local fire wardens or DNR forestry offices.
Campfires, defined as a fire no larger than 3 feet in diameter and height, and surrounded by a cleared area, may be used without a permit. Be safe with fire. Keep a shovel and water at hand, never leave the fire unattended, and make sure fires are completely out before leaving.
Upcoming events at Waverly Gun Club
The Waverly Gun Club is offering a variety of opportunities this spring and summer. More information is available online at waverlygunclub.org
Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 21 - Conceal and carry class, 6 pm., spring special $75.
Monday, April 27 - Youth trap league, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 3 - Merchandise shoot, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, May 6 - Handgun league, 5 pm, four weeks
Thursday, May 7 - Summer trap league, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 9 - Youth ATA shoot
Tuesday, May 12 - Ladies only night, 6:30 pm, second Tuesday of the month
Mayer firearms safety registration April 23 in Mayer
A Firearms Safety Course has been scheduled to be held at the Mayer Community Center in April and May.
Registration is April 23 at 6:30 p.m. Classes will be held Monday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 on the following dates: April 27 and 30, and May 4, 7, 11, and 14.
Students must be at least 12 years old.
With any questions, call Stan Heldt at 952-657-2169.
Now is the good old days for trout
From the DNR
If waiting until Saturday, May 9, for the walleye opener seems like an exercise in extreme patience, an entirely different type of fishing can be found after a short hike to the bank of a southeastern Minnesota trout stream.
“The Minnesota stream trout opener is Saturday, April 18, and the southeastern part of the state is an angler’s paradise for anyone willing to park the boat and do some walking and wading,” said Vaughn Snook, Lanesboro assistant area fisheries manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The area has more than 700 miles of designated trout streams.”
Anglers can find all three of Minnesota’s trout species in southeastern streams: brook trout, the only native species; brown trout, the most abundant, with reports of 30-inch monsters caught each year; and rainbow trout, stocked in catchable sizes where angling pressure is high.
Places to fish in the southeast also are ample. With 221 miles of angler easements land along streams that’s privately owned but open for fishing access to trout streams is readily available. State parks such as Whitewater, Forestville Mystery Cave and Beaver Creek Valley also provide quality cold-water angling opportunities.
The DNR publishes a booklet of maps highlighting where to access streams in the southeast. The maps also are available at www.mndnr.gov/fishing/trout_streams by clicking on southern Minnesota maps.
“With this year’s early spring, anglers should find conditions favorable for an excellent opener,” Snook said. “The absence of a late snowmelt or heavy rains means waters should be clear and easy to wade.”
Warmer temperatures will likely mean more active fish. There are even reports of some early insect hatches, adding an element of interest for fly-fishing anglers who may try to “match the hatch.” Anglers can check with DNR area fisheries offices in Lanesboro or Lake City for current conditions.
The southeast’s prominence as a cold-water destination is largely the result of the area’s unique geology. Fractured limestone bedrock or karst gives rise to numerous underground streams that bubble up as springs, providing the cold, clean water needed by trout. A wet cycle over the past few decades has helped recharge those springs.
Better land use practices within the largely agricultural watersheds of southeastern Minnesota streams also have benefitted water quality. And in-stream improvement projects undertaken by the DNR in partnership with Trout Unlimited have helped provide more trout habitat. The result is some of the best trout fishing anywhere in the upper Midwest.
“These streams represent a real success story,” Snook said. “With twice as many fish per mile now as back in the 1970s and 1980s, these are the good old days when it comes to trout fishing in southeastern Minnesota.”
Anglers need a trout stamp when fishing in designated trout lakes and streams, unless they are 65 or older, or younger than 18, or are fishing with a valid 24- or 72-hour license, or are otherwise exempt from fishing license requirements.
Anglers fishing a nondesignated trout lake or stream do not need a trout stamp unless they are trying to catch trout or decide to keep one. Anglers 65 or older, or younger than 18, or fishing with a valid 24- or 72-hour license, do not need a trout stamp to fish for or keep trout anywhere. The stamp adds $10 to the cost of a fishing license, and for an additional 75 cents anglers can have the pictorial stamp mailed to them.
Delano Sportsman’s Club receives large trap range grant
From the DNR
The Delano Sportsman’s Club has received a $30,000 trap trange grant from The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The club was one of only three facilities statewide to receive the large grants. Twenty-six facilities received “small” grants from $2,500-$25,000.
A total of $823,359 in a second round of trap range grants to 29 facilities across the state as part of a statewide effort to promote the development and enhancement of trap-shooting facilities.
The 26 small trap range grants approved for funding totaled $323,627. Three grants larger than $25,000 were also approved for funding totaling $499,732. That compares to 41 small trap range grants totaling $400,000 last year.
The Minnesota Legislature last year authorized more than $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing or rehabilitating trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities.
“We funded a lot of worthy projects from the first two rounds of grants,” said Chuck Niska, DNR shooting range program coordinator. “We still have approximately $1 million remaining for round three as well.”
Development of the grants program follows a significant rise in youth trap shooting, especially by high school students who are part of a statewide league. Existing trap ranges sometimes struggle to meet demand.
“This program aims to increase opportunities for youth trap shooters, youth trap teams and adult shooters,” said Niska.
The next round of grant applications will be announced this summer. Here is a list of the latest awarded grants:
Small trap range grants
• Agate Bay Gun Club, $4,206
• Albany Sportsmen’s Club, $7,510
• Becker County Sportsmen’s Club, $3,435
• Cripple Creek Outdoors, $25,000
• Evavold Investments Dalton Outdoors, $18,695
• Forest Lake Sportsmen’s Club, $4,899
• Fosston Sportsmen’s Club, $25,000
• Hardwood County Sportsmen’s Club, $6,650
• Hasty Silver Creek, $2,500
• Head of the Red Trap Club, $3,129
• Henning Range, $25,000
• Montgomery Sportsmen’s Club, $3,099
• Morristown Gun Club, $24,648
• Northland Range & Gun Club, $10,560
• Owatonna Gun Club, $18,277
• Pelican River Shooting Club, $4,893
• Pine Island White Pine SC, $8,381
• Plummer Area Sportsmen’s Club, $12,000
• Shooters Sporting Clays, $24,622
• Silver Beaver Rifle and Pistol Club, $5,184
• Tri-County Sportsmen’s Club, $25,000
• Warroad Lost River Sportsmen’s Complex, $12,497
• Wells Rifle and Pistol Club, $15,435
• Wild Rice Conservation Club, $6,500
• Willmar Trap Club, $11,500
• Winona Sportsmen’s Club, $15,007
Large trap range grants:
• Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park, $419,732
• Delano Sportsman’s Club, $30,000
• Minneapolis Gun Club, $50,000
Fishing questions answered at Fish Minnesota
From the DNR
Where on Lake Vermilion is Wakemup Bay? When can I fish for bass? How can I buy a license? Find answers to these and other questions at Fish Minnesota, the easy-to-use Department of Natural Resources fishing website at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.
“At Fish Minnesota you can find fishing information and regulations in a user-friendly format,” said Al Stevens, DNR fisheries lake and stream survey program consultant. “It’s a good place to get your fishing questions answered.”
The DNR created Fish Minnesota last year as part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Plain Language Executive Order that directed state agencies to make information easier to access and understand.
“We didn’t stop at Fish Minnesota. We also reworked the new fishing regulations booklet this year to include similar question-and-answer formats, and DNR-wide we are doing more to communicate in plain language,” Stevens said.
Fish Minnesota wraps in the DNR’s popular LakeFinder site that lets users search for information on more than 4,500 lakes and rivers throughout the state. Smartphone or tablet users can open LakeFinder Mobile and find nearby places to fish using GPS-enabled devices. They can even buy a license with their device.
Customers who purchase online via smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.
Besides LakeFinder, Fish Minnesota includes fishing regulations, definitions of common fishing terms, locations of fishing piers, and answers to basic fishing questions.
“Learning what you need to know to go fishing shouldn’t be complicated,” Stevens said. “This site provides that information and gives anglers details about lakes and regulations.”
DNR offers guidance for turkey hunters regarding avian flu
From the DNR
While avian influenza has not yet been found in wild turkeys, hunters are nonetheless reminded of ways to avoid potentially spreading the virus.
To date, highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been found in Cottonwood, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, Meeker, Nobles, Pope, Stearns and Watonwan counties. So far, it has only been confirmed in domestic turkey farms. Waterfowl are the natural reservoirs for the virus.
Wild turkeys are presumed to be susceptible to HPAI. Raptors are known to be susceptible.The virus presents a low risk to humans but it is important to avoid contact with sick birds.
“Turkey hunters can take steps to minimize the risk of spreading HPAI, and they can be excellent scouts in helping identify wild birds like raptors or turkeys that could have been affected,” said Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The USDA makes the following recommendations for turkey hunters to protect themselves and their birds from avian influenza.
In the field
• Do not harvest or handle wild birds that are obviously sick or found dead.
• Dress your game birds in the field whenever possible.
• Use dedicated tools for cleaning game, whether in the field or at home. Do not use those tools around your poultry or pet birds.
• Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning game.
• Double bag the internal organs and feathers. Tie the inner bag, and be sure to take off your rubber gloves and leave them in the outer bag before tying it closed. Place the bag in a trash can that poultry and pet birds cannot access. This trash can should also be secure against access by children, pets, or other animals.
• Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling game. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol wipes.
• Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while cleaning game.
• If you clean a bird at home, keep a separate pair of shoes to wear only in your game cleaning area. If this is not possible, wear rubber footwear and clean/disinfect your shoes before entering or leaving the area.
• Wash all tools and work surfaces with soap and water. Then, disinfect them.
• Avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked game in a separate container, away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
• You should always cook game meat thoroughly; poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill disease organisms and parasites.
• The risk to the public is very low, and there is no food safety concern, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The DNR also advises hunters that if they see any birds that have died in the field or appear sick (ruffled feathers, swollen wattles, discoloration of the feet and impaired balance) notify DNR staff as soon as possible and don’t touch or attempt to move the birds.
If you see a dead or sick wild turkey or raptor, mark the location by GPS if possible and contact DNR with the coordinates. Contacts are:
Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Michelle Carstensen at 612-390-9979;
Wildlife Health Specialist Erik Hildebrand at 612-597-8141; or
Contact your local area wildlife manager by finding their information at www.mndnr.gov/wildlife and clicking on the area contact map.
From the DNR
CO Brian Mies (Annandale) last week checked anglers. CO Mies worked on checking trappers. Mies dealt with animal nuisances calls.
CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) said the cooler weather last week has slowed down the angling activity in the area. Reller gave a presentation to 110 students attending a Firearms Safety Class in St. Michael this past weekend. Several nuisance animal calls were handled and checking on a possible wanton waste case.
CO Jeff Denz (Willmar) attended a snowmobile club meeting and presented one of the members with a framed print in recognition of 30 years as a volunteer snowmobile safety instructor. He picked up incidental otter that were trapped out of season by spring beaver trappers. Denz also checked anglers and boater who were having some success with panfish.
CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week working fishing activity along with boat and water safety. There were also a few fires in the area that were checked on. A call was taken and responded to about a dead eagle on the road that turned out to be a turkey vulture. Time was also spent talking to a firearms safety class at the Darwin Rod and Gun Club.
CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) picked up a car kill otter near Stewart. She checked lakes for spring fishing activity. Mueller attended a sportsman banquet in Hutchinson and discussed concerns with its members. She also focused on a background investigation.
CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time checking shore anglers in the area. Oberg also answered questions on the upcoming wild turkey season. Additional time was spent conducting commercial inspections. ATV enforcement and burning enforcement was also worked.