DNR seeks designs for Minnesota’s 2019 turkey stamp

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Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2019 Minnesota Wild Turkey Stamp from Monday, Dec. 4, through 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15.

The cost of a turkey stamp is included in a turkey license, but pictorial stamps are sold as collectables. In the contest, the eastern wild turkey must be the primary focus of the design.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic or other electronic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists may issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Final judging is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul. The public is welcome to come and view the winning design 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Dec. 22.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to wild turkey habitat management. Extirpated from Minnesota around 1900, wild turkeys now thrive throughout nearly all of Minnesota but the extreme northern forested portions of the state.

For more information on stamp contests, guidelines for submitting work, and to sign up to receive regular email updates on stamp contests, visit mndnr.gov/stamps. Contest guidelines are also available from the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Source: Mn DNR

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Hunters reminded of whole carcass importation ban

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The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters who harvest deer, elk, moose or caribou outside of Minnesota that whole carcasses cannot be brought into the state. 

The restriction is part of efforts to minimize the opportunity for chronic wasting disease to become established in Minnesota.

Only the following cervid parts may be brought into Minnesota:

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Meat that is boned-out or that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately).
  • Hides and teeth.
  • Antlers or clean (no brain tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Finished taxidermy mounts.

Meat and trophy handling already are part of the trip planning process so taking the additional steps to minimize CWD risk can be added to that process. Another item to consider is the mount itself, and hunters should make those arrangements in the destination state and have the animal caped before leaving.

Alternatively, hunters can view a video at http://bit.ly/capeyourdeer on how to cape a deer. The same technique can be used on elk or moose. The video also includes helpful information on the carcass importation ban.

Nonresidents transporting whole or partial carcasses on a direct route through Minnesota are exempt from this restriction.

Carcass import information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports, in the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook on page 65 and the questions and answers section on the back cover.

Source: Mn DNR

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Zebra mussels confirmed in Medicine Lake in Hennepin County

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Medicine Lake, northwest of Minneapolis in Hennepin County. 

A lakeshore property owner notified the DNR and Three Rivers Park District staff, when a lake service provider business found one adult zebra mussel on a dock they were removing from the lake. DNR invasive species staff confirmed two more adult zebra mussels attached to docks at separate locations, indicating a lake-wide presence.

“After at least six years of reports of zebra mussels on Medicine Lake that turned out to be negative, it’s disappointing to make this confirmation,” said DNR invasive species specialist Keegan Lund. “Most people have been highly vigilant in practicing ‘Clean, Drain, Dispose’ to keep zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species out of this and other lakes.”

“The DNR has had several other reports on Minnesota lakes that turned out to be negative in just the past few weeks,” Lund said. “We appreciate the increased engagement of Minnesotans in not only keeping watercraft clean and drained, but also checking docks and boat lifts and letting us know if they see something suspicious.”

Fall is an important time to check for zebra mussels, when docks and boat lifts are being removed from lakes at the end of the season. Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of watercraft or equipment that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.

Minnesota law requires that docks and lifts be allowed to dry for at least 21 days before being placed in another body of water, whether aquatic invasive species are present or not.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Source: Mn DNR

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Hunters register 70,724 deer during first weekend of season

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Harvest up by less than a percent

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 70,724 deer during the first two days of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered was essentially the same as from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 57 percent were bucks, compared to 67 percent of the first weekend harvest of 2016.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 16 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was down 5 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 20 percent.

“We expected to see an increased harvest this year, and that appears to be so in Zone 1. In the other zones where the first weekend harvest is off, it could be that the amount of standing corn negatively affected deer harvest,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “If that is the case, we should see improved deer harvest as more corn is harvested.”

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be around 200,000. The 2016 total harvest was 173,213.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 12. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.  

Source: Mn DNR

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DNR seeks applications to serve on Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking applications from individuals interested in serving on the statewide Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Advisory Committee.

The committee was established in January 2013 to help guide the department’s AIS activities.

Members provide advice and a diverse perspective to the DNR invasive species program. Responsibilities include reviewing reports, preparing comments and participating in eight meetings a year in a central Minnesota location. Applications are due by Nov. 21.

Aquatic invasive species are one of the state’s most pressing natural resource issues. Preventing the spread of zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, invasive carp, starry stonewort and other invasive plants and animals is of critical environmental, recreational and economic importance.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr seeks to continue building strong relationships with AIS stakeholders. The insights and perspectives of individuals, citizen organizations and local governments have been very helpful in guiding DNR AIS activities.

The DNR AIS Advisory Committee comprises 15 individuals appointed by the commissioner for terms of up to four years. Questions in the brief application reflect the DNR’s desire to have a well-rounded committee. Members have a range of personal and professional experience with AIS issues, including prevention, decontamination, public awareness and control activities. Similarly, the DNR seeks representation from different parts of the state, as well as a diversity of ages, genders, ethnicities, recreational interests and education. The committee also reflects the range of private, nonprofit and public sector organizations that are actively engaged in AIS issues.

The DNR commissioner determines all appointments. Appointees may request mileage reimbursement, but they are not paid or eligible for per diem. They must abide by requirements pertaining to potential conflicts of interest. Advisory committee work can be a significant time commitment. Applicants should be prepared to make a four-year commitment.

HOW TO APPLY

Applications will be accepted online.

Advisory committee data are classified as private under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.601, subd.3, except for what is specifically listed in statute as public.

For more information, contact Heidi Wolf, 651-259-5152, heidi.wolf@state.mn.us; or Ann Pierce, 651-259-5119, ann.pierce@state.mn.us.

Source: Mn DNR

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New benefit helps military personnel, vets combat stress with nature therapy

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Active military personnel in any branch or unit of the United States armed forces and veterans with a service-related disability are now eligible to receive a free year-round vehicle permit, providing unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. 

“If you’re wondering how to say ‘thanks for serving’ to a veteran in your life, consider inviting him or her to spend time outdoors with you,” said Erika Rivers, director the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division. “Visiting a Minnesota state park can provide a healthy dose of nature therapy.”

These new benefits were approved by state lawmakers during the 2017 Minnesota Legislative session (Minnesota statutes, section 85.053, subdivisions 8 and 10).

Studies done by the Warrior Institute, Outward Bound, Sierra Club and others show that outdoor recreation enhances a person’s emotional, physical and physiological well-being.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the leading injury for American veterans. An estimated 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime, and 20 percent of the veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It is estimated that less than 30 percent of veterans with mental health issues, however, will seek help.

“For whatever reason—the stigma, the expense, or something else—people in general find it difficult to seek treatment for mental health issues,” said Kacie Carlson, northeast region naturalist for the Parks and Trails Division. “They may, however, willingly visit a park or trail, which can help combat stress and improve well-being.”

Carlson recently attended a conference on nature-based resiliency-building for members of the armed forces, veterans and their families. She hopes to see more veterans take advantage of the health benefits available to them in the outdoors.

“We as outdoor recreation managers hold the recipe for a very effective prescription for wellness: the outdoors,” she said.

There will be a special program on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Whitewater State Park (near Winona) about the POW camp at the park that was once home to German prisoners of war. (What did they do here? Where did they go? What was life like being a prisoner? Did they cause mischief?)

To see all of the licenses, permits and passes that are available to military personnel and veterans, and the form of identification that an individual needs to show, visit www.mndnr.gov.

The DNR is recognized as a Yellow Ribbon Company for its support of active and retired military personnel and their families.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

Source: Mn DNR

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Mille Lacs winter anglers allowed 1 walleye

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Annual fall surveys support conservative harvest decision

Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishing will open on Friday, Dec. 1, with no bait restrictions and a limit of one walleye 20-22 inches or one longer than 28 inches. 

“We’re glad results of fall population survey show Mille Lacs anglers will be able to keep some walleye during the winter walleye season,” said Don Pereira, fisheries section chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We know this is important to resorts and businesses because the ice fishing season contributes a lot to the local economy.”

The DNR selected the size regulations to protect Mille Lacs’ walleye spawning population, which is largely comprised of walleyes hatched in 2013 (also known as a year class). Those fish currently range from 15 to 19 inches in length and represented about 40 percent of the walleyes sampled during this fall’s population survey.

Since the 2013 year class now is nearly fully mature, the DNR determined anglers could keep older and larger fish, something some anglers have been suggesting and requesting. In recent years, conservative regulations on Mille Lacs have protected the younger spawners to-be so they can replace the older spawners, which is necessary to sustain the population.

The DNR and members of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee did discuss setting the large fish limit at 26 inches. But feedback suggested that keeping those fish in the lake was preferred because the possibility of catching walleye 26 to 28 inches makes Mille Lacs an attractive destination. There also was concern that a 26-inch limit could result in a higher harvest level that would count against the 2018 allocation.

Insights from annual fall surveys
Mille Lacs fall walleye population survey, known as an “assessment,” showed that the 2013 year class continues to dominate the population. The catch of walleye hatched in 2014, 2015 and 2016 was below average. Fish hatched this spring were caught in good numbers but it’s uncertain if those numbers will remain as the 2017 year class progresses through its first, second and third years.

“During the past 15 years, our studies show fewer and fewer young walleye surviving to their third year,” Pereira said. “Young fish not surviving has put Mille Lacs’ walleye population in the unfortunate situation it is now. Whatever is causing that mortality is the root problem.”

The assessment also looks at food abundance and walleye health. Perch 1-2 years old were caught in low numbers and the number of young-of-year perch was above average. The number of young-of-year tullibee caught was near average.

Perch and tullibee are the primary food source for Mille Lacs’ walleye, which are showing negative effects from a lack of adequate food. That shortage may be driving the hot walleye bite anglers have experienced on Mille Lacs.

Complete winter regulation information for Mille Lacs Lake is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

Source: Mn DNR

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Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open on Shagawa, Bear Island, Ojibway lakes

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Dates have been set for recreational netting for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) on Shagawa, Bear Island and Ojibway lakes in the Tower fisheries work area, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

These lakes are Schedule I Lakes, which are more susceptible to sudden changes that impact water temperatures, and are opened and closed on a 48-hour notice posted at lake accesses, other public places, and the DNR website.

Schedule I Lakes (48 hour notice)

  • Shagawa, open to netting Sunday, Nov. 5  through Monday, Nov. 27, 2017  (minimum 3.5 inch mesh size)
  • Bear Island & Ojibway lakes, open to netting Saturday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Dec. 18, 2017 (minimum 1.75 inch mesh size)

Shagawa Lake is designated as infested with spiny waterflea so netters are encouraged to review rules that help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Fishing regulations require that:

  • Netters purchase both a whitefish netting license and angling license.
  • A person may use only one gill net, not exceeding 100 feet in length and 3 feet in width.
  • One end of net must have a pole, stake, or buoy projecting at least two feet above the surface of the water or ice.
  • Nets must have an identification tag attached near the first float of the end that is projecting from the surface of the water or ice.
  • Identification tags must be a minimum of 2 ½ inches by 5/8 inch permanently bearing the name and address of the owner. Identification tags for marking nets are provided by the owner.
  • Nets may not be set after sunset or raised before sunrise.
  • All gill nets must be set and lifted by the licensee only. Anyone assisting in the taking of whitefish or ciscoes must have proper licensing.
  • Nets must be tended at least once every 24 hours and all gamefish and non-target species must be immediately released from the net.
  • A net may not be set in any water deeper than six feet.
  • A net may not be set within 50 feet of another net.
  • Minimum gill net mesh size shall be no less than 1-3/4 or 3-1/2 inch stretch measure depending on the lake (see full list of lake and size regulations online).
  • Nets used in designated infested waters must be dried for a minimum of 10 days or frozen for 2 days before using in a different water body. Nets should be dried for 10 days or frozen for 2 before moving from any lake to another.
  • Nets used in spiny water flea and/or zebra mussel infested waters should be not used in any other waterbody
  • Nets should be transported in sealed container.
  • Whitefish and ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting may not be bought or sold.
  • Whitefish and ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting may not be used as bait.
  • Within the Leech Lake Reservation boundaries, the possession limit for whitefish taken by sport gill-netting is 25, and the possession limit for ciscoes taken by sport gill-netting is 50.
  • Net placement should not inhibit use of the lake by other boaters.

About 700 people obtain special permits to net for whitefish-tullibee each year. The DNR bases netting schedules on expected water temperatures, fish abundance and vulnerability of game fish. As the water temperature cools, game fish head to deeper water and whitefish-tullibee come to shallow water for fall spawning.  Netting is allowed when there is little chance that game fish populations would be negatively impacted by recreational netting in shallow water.

Find information about sport netting by lake, minimum mesh sizes, and fishing regulations at

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/fishing/whitefish-tullibee.pdf or contact the DNR’s Tower area office at 650 Highway 169, Tower, MN 55790, or call 218-300-7802.

Source: Mn DNR

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Zebra mussels confirmed in Stearns County’s Knaus Lake

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Knaus Lake, southwest of St. Cloud in Stearns County. 

DNR invasive species specialists confirmed two adult zebra mussels on a dock and an adjacent water intake pipe in Knaus Lake, and three more attached to docks at the Lions Park public access to the Sauk River, downstream of Knaus Lake in Cold Spring. The DNR will continue monitoring the area next spring and summer.

Fall is an important time to check for zebra mussels, when docks and boat lifts are being removed from lakes at the end of the season. Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of watercraft or equipment that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.

Minnesota law requires that docks and lifts be allowed to dry for at least 21 days before being placed in another body of water, whether aquatic invasive species are present or not.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Source: Mn DNR

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DNR names acting big game program coordinator

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Erik Thorson, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Park Rapids area wildlife supervisor, has accepted a temporary assignment to oversee the agency’s while-tailed deer and other big game programs. 

Thorson officially begins his new position on Wednesday, Nov. 15, but will begin handling some responsibilities, including media contacts, immediately preceding the opening weekend of this year’s deer season on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The big game program leader manages deer and elk populations and harvest seasons, and works with groups and individuals to manage seasons and populations to address the expectations of a diverse public.

He has been a member of the DNR’s Deer Management Committee since 2005. Thorson led the DNR’s deer goal-setting process for north-central Minnesota in 2006 and was a DNR liaison during the 2015 goal-setting process. As a wildlife supervisor and assistant supervisor, he has been involved in deer season setting each year.

He coordinated chronic wasting disease sampling efforts in the DNR’s northwest region in 2004 and has assisted with bovine tuberculosis control and sampling in northwestern Minnesota. Thorson will be overseeing a CWD sampling station during mandatory firearms season testing this coming weekend.

“Eric will be a valuable asset to the big game program given his experience managing deer, his membership on the deer committee and the knowledge gained from his work with DNR,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief.

Thorson began his DNR career in 2001 as a private lands specialist. He served as Park Rapids assistant area wildlife manager from 2001-2006 and regional forest wildlife coordinator from 2006-2014. He has been acting Park Rapids area wildlife supervisor since March 2014.

This is the second time Thorson has served as acting big game coordinator. He also filled the post from February to June 2012.

Source: Mn DNR

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