Hunters register 161,057 deer through third weekend of season

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Harvest climbs 16 percent from 2016

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 161,057 deer through the third weekend of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

Preliminary results through the third weekend show that the number of deer registered was up 16 percent from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 53 percent were bucks, compared to 63 percent during the same period in 2016.

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In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 36 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 10 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 5 percent.

“The conditions were generally good for hunters participating in the last week of the Zone 1 season and for the start of the 3B season in the southeast,” said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader, “which provided a boost to the statewide firearms harvest.”

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 and to date firearms and archery hunters have harvested about 180,000 deer this year.

In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Nov. 12, and the northern rifle zone season ended Nov. 19. The late southeast firearms deer season is open through Sunday, Nov. 26. The muzzleloader season 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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7 deer test presumptive positive in southeast’s CWD management zone

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Final results for area 603 expected this week

Preliminary tests show that seven deer harvested in southeastern Minnesota’s disease management zone during the first firearms deer season may be infected with chronic wasting disease. 

Hunters harvested three of the seven suspect deer near Preston in deer permit area 603, where 11 other deer tested positive during last year’s CWD surveillance efforts. Three others were harvested in Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park, which is still within area 603 but west of the core disease area. The remaining deer was harvested east of Wykoff and north of the park.

Test results from deer permit areas surrounding 603 aren’t yet available and must be analyzed to assess the full extent of the disease and whether or not it has spread outside of the disease management zone.

Once all sampling is completed and test results received, the Department of Natural Resources will follow its CWD response plan and determine next steps, which may include boundary changes to area 603 and additional deer hunting opportunities for the public or landowners.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said it isn’t clear whether the additional positives indicate a westward expansion of the disease or individual deer movements, given all the presumptive positive deer were adult males.

Testing continues on suspect deer and in 603

CWD testing is a two-step process.  The initial tissue sample is analyzed to determine if the animal is presumptive positive.  A final test is completed on all presumptive positive samples to confirm if the animal is infected with the disease.

The DNR expects final test results and disease confirmations for all seven deer soon. Those results and any future positives in area 603 will be posted on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.

Since the archery deer season began in mid-September, 700 samples have been collected in area 603. Hunters brought in 499 of those samples during the first firearms deer season, which began Nov. 4 and concluded Nov. 12. Results are pending on 40 of those deer.

“The DNR wants to thank hunters who submitted samples over opening weekend,” said Jim Leach, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “Compliance was very high, suggesting hunters view this as a very important issue.”

Hunters are reminded that mandatory testing of all adult deer harvested in area 603 continues throughout the 3B season (which starts Saturday, Nov. 18 and concludes Sunday, Nov. 26), as well during the remaining archery, muzzleloader and late seasons. Check stations are located in Preston and Chatfield.

The DNR also will open voluntary surveillance stations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 18-19 in Rushford and Houston.  The DNR encourages hunters who harvest deer around the disease management zone, in deer permit areas 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349, to participate in voluntary sampling at these locations in order to collect as many samples as possible.

Check the DNR’s website, mndnr.gov/cwd, for specific information on check station locations, additional CWD information and DNR efforts to keep Minnesota deer healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, to date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the CDC advises people not to eat meat from animals known to have CWD. Go to www.cdc.gov for more information.

Source: Mn DNR

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Hunters register 145,054 deer through second weekend of season

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Harvest up 10 percent

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 145,054 deer through the second weekend of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

Preliminary results through the second weekend show that the number of deer registered was up 10 percent from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 54 percent were bucks, compared to 63 percent during the same period in 2016.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 25 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 6 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 12 percent.

“It appears as though deer harvest improved substantially since the first weekend,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Getting more corn out of the fields and a bit drier weather likely helped.”

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 firearms deer season ended 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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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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Duluth artist wins walleye stamp contest

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Duluth artist Dean Kegler won the Minnesota Walleye Stamp contest. His painting was selected by judges from among 11 entries for the annual contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

Kegler’s painting of a walleye about to strike a crankbait will be featured on the 2018 walleye stamp. This is the third stamp contest win for Kegler. He also has won the 2016 trout and salmon and 2009 pheasant stamp contests.

The voluntary walleye stamp validation costs $5 but is not required to fish for or keep walleye. For an extra 75 cents, purchasers will be mailed the pictorial stamp. A pictorial collectable stamp without the validation is available for $5.75. Walleye stamps are available year-round and are need not be purchased at the same time as fishing licenses.

Three entries advanced as finalists and were selected Oct. 26 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work.

Revenue from stamp sales is used to purchase walleyes for stocking in Minnesota’s lakes. The 2017 walleye stamp is still available for purchase at all license vendors. More information about stamps is available at mndnr.gov/stamps.

Source: Mn DNR

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Hunters asked to report banded roosters as part of pheasant research project

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Pheasants banded in Nobles and Redwood counties

Pheasant hunters can voluntarily report roosters that were banded as part of a study being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

DNR Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group workers captured and banded roosters during a research project. The two study areas involved in the project are the Lamberton Wildlife Management Area complex in Redwood County and the Worthington Wells Project Area south of Worthington, located in Nobles County.

Although the study is focused on hen pheasants and their broods, roosters were also opportunistically captured in an attempt to collect survival information on males. A plain metal leg band with a unique identifying number was placed on the right leg of each rooster.

Hunters are asked to contact the Farmland Wildlife Research Group to report harvest information. The band number, date of harvest, and location information (WMA name or GPS coordinates preferred) are requested. If hunters want information on when and where the bird was initially captured, they may also provide their contact information so that researchers can return their call. GPS locations and personal data will not be made public.

Although Minnesota has a rooster-only hunting season, hunters who come across a dead radio-collared and/or banded hen are also asked to call with information so that researchers can refine their hen data.

To voluntarily report birds marked as part of this study, contact Lindsey Messinger, 507-642-8478, ext. 224. Alternatively, people may contact Lindsey by email at Lindsey.Messinger@state.mn.us.

This work is funded in part through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.

Additional details about pheasant hunting are available at mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasant.

Source: Mn DNR

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DNR urges caution while burning fall yard debris

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Northwestern and central Minnesota have elevated fire danger due to sparse rain, high winds and lack of humidity. This means that open burning may be restricted in certain counties. The Department of Natural Resources urges Minnesotans to use caution while burning yard waste or leaf piles outdoors and to check the burning permit website for information. 

“During fall, we know that residents and property owners will be taking care of leaf and brush piles,” said Casey McCoy, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor. “Piles can smolder undetected for several weeks under the right conditions. Windy, fall days can reignite these piles.”

On average, Minnesota issues approximately 43,250 burn permits annually. When weather conditions warrant it, state fire team leaders may turn burning permits on or off. To determine whether burning is allowed, Minnesotans should regularly check their county burning restrictions. Residents may need to find alternatives to burning such as composting or hauling brush to a collection site or wait until it is safer to burn.

“If you do decide to burn yard waste or leaf piles, do so when there is less wind,” said Linda Gormanson, burning permit coordinator. “Instead of burning your yard waste and potentially causing a wildfire, compost or chip your yard waste or bring it to a collection site.”

Burning restrictions do not apply to campfires; they are still allowed. Clear an area around the campfire, watch it continuously and make sure it is out cold to the touch before leaving.

Fire danger can change quickly. Check the Minnesota Incident Command System site https://goo.gl/W686km for fire behavior conditions. For questions about burning restrictions, check the DNR page at mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions or call your local Forestry office.

Source: Mn DNR

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Voyageur Country ATV

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Bruce Beste bruce@cabinsoncrane.com

We started a new ATV club – Voyageur Country ATV – in late April.  We had 66 people at an organizational meeting on April 25 where all 66 joined the new club.  We have had tremendous support and interest from the local ATV community.  To date we have over 500 adult members.  We are in the process to add approximately 60 children of family memberships to our member count.  Children between 12 and 16 who have ATV Safety Certificates will become family members (we also want to know children of members between 12 and 16 who are interested in a safety course because our club will sponsor classes).

One of the instructors

Our membership includes folks from Orr, Leiding Township, Camp 5 Township, Crane Lake, Portage Township, Beatty Township, and Cook (plus other places).   Our mission is foremost to create an ATV trails system in Voyageur Country and promoting local business and commerce.  Then (secondly) to promote responsible riding on the system, and instruction for youth.

While there are many miles of ATV trails in the forests between Cook, Lake Vermillion, Crane Lake, Elephant Lake, Myrtle Lake,  Pelican Lake, and Orr, there is not a connecting system of roads open to ATV use.  Thereby, making it difficult to go from one trail to the other without trailering or loading machines onto trucks and trailers.  This method also creates a situation of several trucks and trailers parked along the forested roads. Read more »

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Zebra mussels confirmed in Kandiyohi County’s George Lake

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Found on dock being removed from water

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in George Lake, near Spicer in Kandiyohi County. 

A lake property owner contacted the DNR when he found two zebra mussels on a dock he was removing from the lake. A neighbor reported a single zebra mussel on another dock nearby.

DNR invasive species specialists did not find any other zebra mussels during a search of that section of the lake. The DNR will consider whether to also add Nest Lake to the infested waters list, because it is connected to George Lake.

Zebra mussels are frequently confirmed when docks and 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 boats, pontoons and rafts 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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