Hunters and other recreationists asked to report bear den locations near Grand Rapids

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Hunters and other recreationists spending time outdoors this fall are asked to report the locations of occupied bear dens they encounter in and around the Chippewa National Forest, north of Grand Rapids. Bear researchers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are studying bears in this area using GPS tracking collars and would like to add more animals to the study, to replace those killed in the hunt.

The study area is bounded by Lake Wabana on the south, Turtle Lake on the north, Little Bowstring Lake on the west, and Balsam Lake on the east. “If someone comes across a bear in a den in this general area this fall or winter, we’d like to collar it,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear project leader. “We also may be potentially interested in an occupied bear den found close to Bemidji.”

The purpose of the study is to examine how bears have responded to changes in the forest since the 1980s. Bear research provides a better understanding of factors that cause populations to change, and in this way enables the DNR to better manage and conserve this species.

Anyone finding a den within the study area is asked to call Andy Tri in Grand Rapids at 218-328-8879, or Laura Gilbert at 218-328-8872.

Source: Mn DNR

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Popular expanded service hours make DNR info just a phone call away: 888-MINNDNR

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Have a question for the Department of Natural Resources in the evening or on Saturday?

The DNR has permanently extended its phone hours so the nearly half-million firearms deer hunters in Minnesota and other outdoor enthusiasts can call the Information Center until 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“It’s important to help our customers when it’s convenient for them,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Being a hunter myself, I appreciate being able to make calls after work or on the weekend, and now we know others do too.”

The DNR began a pilot project last fall to compare the popularity of its previous business hours (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) with the new extended hours. The results are in, and the longer hours are a hit with customers.

From November 2016 through Oct. 28, the Information Center received more than 12,000 calls during the extended hours. This is an increase of more than 16 percent from the number of calls received during the same period in previous years.

“We discovered there were quite a few folks who liked the convenience of calling us after 4:30 p.m.,” said Ann McBurney, Information Center day supervisor. “Late Saturday morning is a popular time as well.”

The Information Center now also offers phone interpreter services that make it easy for non-English-speakers to get the information they need. They simply request an interpreter and staff create a three-way conversation with specialists who speak more than 220 languages.

“We want to break down barriers so all Minnesotans feel comfortable getting the information they need, whether in English or in their native language,” Landwehr said.

Customer service improvements have accompanied the rollout of longer hours.

“We’ve implemented changes that allow us to answer calls quickly and transfer them to any other DNR staffer around the state if we can’t answer their question,” McBurney said. “That’s much friendlier than asking people to make another call, or to wait for a call back.”

Frequent in-house training classes on a changing variety of natural resource topics mean the 11 customer service specialists have the most updated information available for callers.

To reach the Information Center, call 888-MINNDNR (888-646-6367) or send email to info.dnr@state.mn.us.

For more information and to see a new video promoting extended hours, go to www.mndnr.gov/info.

Source: Mn DNR

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Zebra mussels confirmed in lakes in Crow Wing, Itasca counties

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed zebra mussels in Serpent Lake in Crow Wing County, and in Dora Lake and connected waters in Itasca County. 

A lake service provider business removing a dock from Serpent Lake contacted the DNR after finding several suspected zebra mussels. DNR invasive species specialists confirmed zebra mussels attached to vegetation hanging from a removed dock at a second location, at the Highway 6/210 public access, approximately 1.3 miles away from the originally reported location.

Itasca County aquatic invasive species staff found zebra mussels downstream of Sand Lake, where zebra mussels were confirmed in 2013. The DNR confirmed zebra mussels at the Shogren Dam; Dora Lake, a small, shallow lake downstream of Sand Lake; and in the Big Fork River, seven miles downstream from Dora Lake at the Itasca County Road 31 crossing near Wirt.

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.

Contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if you think you have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that the DNR has not already confirmed in your lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

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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Proposed late season deer hunt in southeastern Minnesota will not occur  

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A late-season antlerless only deer hunt proposed for three southeastern Minnesota permit areas with deer populations significantly above goal levels will not be conducted in January 2018. 

Public input collected at two meetings and online showed no clear consensus either for or against the hunt, said Paul Telander, wildlife section chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Deer populations remain chronically above goals in these areas but there is more work to be done to engage hunters, recreational landowners and farmers ahead of any late season hunt,” Telander said.

The DNR had proposed that the hunt be conducted from Saturday, Jan. 6, to Sunday, Jan. 14, in deer permit areas 346, 348 and 349. This special hunt would have run concurrently with the late-season chronic wasting disease hunt in deer permit area 603.

Deer populations in the three permit areas have been over the population goals established in 2014 for multiple seasons. The proposed hunt would have helped move deer populations closer to goal and provided additional hunting opportunity.

“There’s little room for additional hunting opportunities in the current season,” Telander said. “To prepare for next year, the DNR is committed to working with hunters, recreational landowners and farmers to formulate an approach that provides additional antlerless deer harvest and brings deer populations in line with goals in these three permit areas.”

After assessing this year’s deer hunting seasons in southeastern Minnesota, the DNR will organize and announce public input meetings and other input opportunities for area residents and hunters ahead of next year’s hunting season.

Source: Mn DNR

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Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open on Tower area lakes

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Recreational netting dates for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) have been set on several Schedule I Lakes in the Tower fisheries work area, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Schedule I Lakes, which are more susceptible to sudden changes that impact water temperatures, will be 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)

The following Tower Area lakes will be open Saturday, Oct 28 – Friday Nov. 17:

  • Vermilion (all except Pike Bay, south and west of a north-south line at narrowest portion between Echo Point and Punchers Point) – 3.5 inch mesh.
  • Fall – 1.75 inch mesh
  • Basswood – 1.75 inch mesh
  • Newton – 3.5 inch mesh

These lakes all are designated infested with spiny waterflea so netters are encouraged to review rules that help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Other Tower area lakes will be announced in November.

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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Hunters reminded about importance of registering deer

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Hunters are reminded to register deer before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

“Deer registration provides information that is essential to our ability to manage deer populations,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Hunters are required to register deer and it’s a fairly simple process.”

Hunters register deer with a phone call, online or in person. Before registering a deer, hunters must validate their site tag. The validated tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation.

Phone registration
Register deer via phone by calling 888-706-6367. Directions are printed on each deer hunting license. Have a pen or permanent marker ready. A confirmation number will be given; it must be written on the license and site tag.

Internet registration
Register deer via internet at mndnr.gov/gameregistration. Directions will be similar to phone registration, and a confirmation number must be written on the license and site tag.

In-person registration
When phone or internet registration is not possible, hunters must take their deer to a big-game registration station. The person whose name appears on the license must be present at the registration station with their deer. They will receive a big-game possession tag that must be attached to the hind leg, ear or antler where the site tag was attached. A list of all stations organized by city and county is available at any DNR wildlife office or at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

During registration, the hunter must use the permit area number where the deer was harvested; using the wrong deer permit area for registration is illegal. Registration instructions for all methods are available at mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp.

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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Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open on select Grand Rapids area lakes

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Recreational netting for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) is anticipated to open on several Schedule I Lakes in the Grand Rapids fisheries work area beginning in late October, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Schedule I Lakes, which are more susceptible to sudden changes that impact water temperatures, will be opened and closed on a 48-hour notice posted at lake accesses, other public places, and the DNR website. Schedule II Lakes, will open Nov. 3.

Schedule I Lakes (48 hour notice)

Anticipated opening dates are as follows:

  • Friday, Oct. 27 through Sunday, Dec.3, for Deer (near Deer River), and Turtle (3.5 inch mesh).
  • Friday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 10, for Side and South Sturgeon (1.75 inch mesh).
  • Friday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 10, for Big Balsam and Nashwauk (1.75 inch mesh).

Schedule II Lakes

Lakes open to whitefish and cisco sport netting Friday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 10:

  • Bass (north basin).
  • Ball Club.
  • Bowstring*.
  • Little Bowstring.
  • Cut Foot Sioux*.
  • Deer (near Effie).
  • Grave.
  • Jessie.
  • Maple.
  • Pokegama.
  • Round (near Squaw Lake –1.75 inch mesh).
  • Rush Island.
  • Sand (near Max)*.
  • Swan.  (1.75 inch mesh)
  • Twin Lakes (near Marble).
  • Winnibigoshish* and
  • Little Winnibigoshish* (1.75 inch mesh).

*Bowstring, Cut Foot Sioux, Sand, Winnibigoshish and Little Winnibigoshish are designated infested waters because of the presence of faucet snails or zebra mussels. Nets and equipment used in infested waters may not be used in any other waterbody unless they have been dried for ten days or frozen for two days.

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 Grand Rapids area office at 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744, or call 218-328-8836.

Source: Mn DNR

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