From the DNR
Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing without purchasing an angling license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend on Saturday, Feb. 19, through Monday, Feb. 21.
“This is an opportunity to get outdoors with friends and family and connect with nature,” said Mike Kurre, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mentoring program coordinator. “And there are a number of opportunities for people to learn how.”
Several Minnesota state parks are offering Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing opportunities during this special weekend.
The clinics offer an indoor presentation on ice fishing safety, gear and techniques.
Participants should dress for the weather because ice fishing will be part of the fun at most clinics.
Kids also will make their own jiggle sticks, which they can take home with them.
Clinics are being offered Saturday, Feb. 19, at Lake Carlos near Alexandria and Bear Head Lake near Ely.
Lake Bemidji State Park offers a Berrrmidji Kids’ Ice Fishing event on Sunday, Feb. 20.
Kids ages 8-15 can join the Lake Bemidji State Park naturalist for an afternoon of perch fishing on Lake Bemidji.
Participants must register for events by contacting the appropriate state park.
A daily or annual vehicle permit is required to enter state parks.
Unlike summertime shore fishing, ice fishing presents some unique challenges.
The DNR’s MinnAqua program, which is designed to teach angling recreation and stewardship as well as the ecology and conservation of aquatic habitats, offers ice fishing tips.
Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with winter’s icy chill.
Layers keep people warm by creating pockets of warm air and helping moisture evaporate.
Plopping an ice shelter down in the middle of ice shack city doesn’t guarantee success because noise and traffic often spook fish, so find a private hole.
If that’s not an option, keep to the outside ring of these “cities on ice.” Try different jigging styles.
If a slow, methodical jigging motion isn’t working, try an aggressive one, or try a lift-and-drop technique.
More tips are available online at www.mndnr.gov/minnaqua.
The MinnAqua program also works with the “Ice Team,” a group of manufactures who help educate anglers by providing expert volunteers, hands-on activities, and equipment for schools, events and mentoring organizations.
They also provide ice fishing tips, helpful links, basic ice safety information and fun stuff for kids to keep them busy on the ice.
“There’s no better time to introduce somebody to the world of ice fishing than the long holiday weekend,” Kurre said. “Help a youngster enjoy the beauty of a Minnesota winter and make a lasting memory.”
Kurre and Mike “Smitty” Smith from the “Ice Team” share insights and information about kids, mentoring and ice fishing in an online podcast audio program available on the DNR website at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/news/podcasts/KidsAndIceFishing.mp3
Additional resources are available:
• Ice Fishing Tips http://mndnr.gov/minnaqua/icefishing
• Kids & Ice Angling Podcast: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/news/podcasts/KidsAndIceFishing.mp3
Wright County PF corn giveaway Feb. 19
The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever and Centra Sota have partnered to provide a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Feb. 19, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. #6.
Please bring your own containers. Quantities will be limited due to demand.
For additional information call (320) 274-CORN (2676).
If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.
Waverly Gun Club to have concealed carry classes coming up
The Waverly Gun Club will be offering concealed carry classes in each of the next four months.
Each class takes place for two nights, and is offered once a month through April.
The classes in January begin at 6 p.m., and there is a $100 fee for the eight-hour class, spread over two nights.
The class dates are:
• Monday, Feb. 14 and Wednesday, Feb. 16.
• Monday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 16.
• Tuesday, April 19 and Wednesday, April 20.
For more information or to register, call Kevin at (763) 242-4553.
Watertown firearms safety training
Registration for Watertown firearms safety training will be Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club.
Classes will be March 24, 25, 29, 31, and April 4 and 7, with a field day being Saturday, April 9 at 8 a.m.
All classes will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For additional information go to www.watertownFST@yahoo.com, or contact Cory (763) 218-3228 or Patrick (612) 709-1243.
Minnesota Deer Hunter’s banquet
The Minnesota River Valley Chapter of the MDHA is having its 28th annual banquet Saturday, Feb. 19. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Social hour starts at 5 p.m., dinner is at 7 p.m., and the program starts at 8 p.m.
Cost for the banquet is $25 for adults, and $15 for youth.
It will be held at the KC Hall in Shakopee, which is located at 1760 East 4th Avenue.
For tickets or more details, please contact Barb Breeggemann at (952) 445-4396.
Conservation officers reports from area
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers in Stearns, Meeker, and Wright counties.
CO Mies checked sleds and fish houses. He also did follow up investigations.
• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) checked anglers and snowmobile activity in Wright County.
Several complaints of litter left on the lakes were followed up on.
Snowmobile activity was high with the warmer temp.
Enforcement action was taken for leaving lines unattended in fish houses, snowmobile speed and registration and trail permit violations.
• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) handled several deer doing damage to property complaints.
Grant-in-aid snowmobile trails were patrolled for snowmobile trespass complaints onto private property.
Anglers were checked on area lakes all week with mixed success.
• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) patrolled the Luce Line State Trail for snowmobile activity.
She checked fishermen and shelters on area lakes.
Fishermen not displaying any shelter identification continues to be a problem.
Other violations included snowmobile speed, no trail sticker, failure to display snowmobile registration, no safety certificate, unattended lines, and overlimit of crappies.
• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling and spearing activity.
Additional time was spent checking predator hunting and trapping activity, as well as small game hunting activity.
Hatlestad also enforced ATV laws, handled fish shelter issues, and assisted other agencies.
• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) saw a decrease in angling activity with the new snow limiting travel on lakes.
CO Oberg spent time working predator enforcement and patrolling WMAs and WPAs.
CO Oberg also spent time armoring division firearms.
• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) reports that angling and snowmobiling activity was high this past week with the warmer weather.
Officer Graham attended a safety committee meeting, took complaint calls of trespassing, nuisance animals, and car-killed deer.
Enforcement action was taken on fail to display registration, no license in possession, over limit of fish, and angling with extra lines.
DNR reports very good or excellent conditions at more than 100 ski and snowmobile trails statewide
From the DNR
The latest Minnesota snow condition reports should please winter sports enthusiasts, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which compiles the information.
Very good to excellent conditions were reported at 104 cross-country ski and snowmobile trails in state parks and recreation areas, state trails, and state forests across Minnesota.
Of those trails, six are in the metro area, 44 are in northeastern Minnesota, 29 are in the northwest, 15 are in southeast, and 10 are in the southwest.
With about three feet of snow on the ground in many parts of the state, excellent snowshoeing opportunities are available as well.
Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere except on groomed trails.
Many state parks and recreation areas rent snowshoes for $6/day.
For those locations and more information, check the winter activities guide at mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/winter_guide/index.html).
Statewide trail condition reports are updated by noon every Thursday at mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/trails.html?facility_id=4102).
Also online to help with trip-planning, the DNR has new interactive maps and downloadable GPS files for snowmobiles.
For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 (Twin Cities) or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
DNR, NWTF mentored youth turkey applications due today
From the DNR
First-time youth turkey hunters ages 12 to 17 have until midnight Monday, Feb. 14, to apply for this year’s hunt.
Applications, maps and general information for the wild turkey hunt are available online at www.mndnr.gov/youthturkey.
Youth selected in the lottery go afield with a parent or guardian and learn from an experienced National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) volunteer.
Hunts will occur Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17, which is the first weekend of the regular wild turkey season.
Nearly all youth will hunt on private land thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permission.
To be eligible, a youth hunter must be age 12 to 17 on or before Saturday, April 16, have a valid firearms safety certificate, and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The program is for first-time turkey hunters only.
Any youth who has ever purchased or been selected by lottery for a Minnesota turkey license of any type is not eligible.
Hunters and their mentors will be assigned a NWTF volunteer guide, who must accompany both the youth and the parent or guardian throughout the entire hunt.
Deer feeding ban effective Feb. 14 in four MN counties
From the DNR
A ban that prohibits the feeding of wild deer in Dodge, Goodhue, Olmsted and Wabasha counties will go into effect (today) Monday, Feb. 14.
This is part of a comprehensive, long-term strategy to contain or eliminate Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“The purpose of the ban is to reduce the potential for the disease to spread from deer-to-deer by reducing the number of deer concentration sites,” said Dr. Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator and CWD incident commander. “The disease can spread from one deer to another following nose-to-nose contact, contact with saliva, or other body fluids. By eliminating deer feeding sites we are reducing the potential for the disease to spread.”
The emergency rule makes it illegal to place or have out food capable of attracting wild deer.
Those who feed birds or small mammals must do so in a manner that precludes deer access or place the food at least six feet above ground level.
Food placed as a result of normal agricultural practices is generally exempted from this rule; however, cattle operators are advised to take steps that minimize contact between deer and cattle.
The rule can be viewed online at mndnr.gov/cwd.
CWD is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose, but not cattle or humans.
The disease was confirmed in Minnesota’s first wild deer Jan. 25.
That discovery has led to implementation of the DNR’s disease response plan, which includes cooperative efforts with landowners to sample 900 deer within a roughly 10-mile radius of Pine Island.
This is where the infected deer was harvested by an archer last hunting season.
DNR Commissioner Landweher announces leadership team
From the DNR
Three new assistant commissioners, a legendary conservationist and a veteran journalist feature in Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr’s leadership team.
The team will usher in a new era of openness and customer responsiveness at the DNR.
“We went out and found the very best people we could to lead us into the future,” said Landwehr. “I’m very excited about leveraging their skill and experience to better reach out to the people of Minnesota and represent their needs and concerns.”
DNR assistant commissioners include: Assistant Commissioner for Legal and Government Affairs Mary McConnell. She formerly served as vice president and general counsel of Polaris Industries Inc. and previously held a similar role at Genmar; Assistant Commissioner for Customer Relations and Outreach Erika Rivers, a seven-year DNR employee who was most recently project manager for the Lake Vermilion State Park development; and Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations and Community Outreach Mike Carroll, previously director of the Northwest Region and former director of the Division of Forestry.
Regional directors include: Southern Region Director Dennis Fredrickson, a 30-year state senator with extensive experience in natural resource legislation; Central Region Director Keith Parker, a media and community relations professional formerly with Twin Cities Public Television as director of Minnesota Partnerships; and Northeast Region Director Craig Engwall, who has held that position since 2006.
The Northwest Region directorship is currently vacant.
DNR’s new communications director is Chris Niskanen, who served as outdoors editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the past 17 years.
Niskanen is an award-winning journalist, the author of a new book on state parks, and an advocate of social media who previously wrote a popular blog on the Pioneer Press website.
In Commissioner’s Office appointments, Bob Meier is named special assistant to the commissioner for legislative affairs.
Bob Lessard, a 26-year veteran of the Capitol and a long-time champion of the outdoors, also will become a special assistant to the commissioner for community outreach.
The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council takes part of its name from Lessard, who was among the first legislators to suggest using the state’s sales tax to fund to fish and wildlife conservation.
He will work with conservation organizations and other groups around the state to ensure that the agency is listening and responding to their ideas and concerns.
Divisional leadership includes: Laurie Martinson, director of the new Division of Operations Services; Larry Kramka, director of the Division of Lands and Minerals; Ed Boggess, formerly acting director and now director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Courtland Nelson remains director of the Parks and Trails Division; Jim Konrad remains director of the Enforcement Division; Steve Hirsch remains director of the division of Ecological and Water Resources; and Dave Epperly continues as director of the Division of Forestry.
“We’ll see a few new faces and a few new positions, but ultimately these changes will enable us to become a leaner, more efficient, more responsive agency,” said Landwehr.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: How are Minnesota’s pheasants faring with all the snow and below-zero temperatures we’ve had this winter?
A: Although we survey pheasant populations only once per year in August, we know from past experience that winter mortality is greater during winters with persistent deep snow.
Most of Minnesota’s pheasant range has been buried under deep snow since early December.
If these conditions persist, we can expect below-average survival of hens this winter.
Conditions appear worse in southern Minnesota where heavy September rains flooded cattail marshes, an important winter cover for pheasants and other resident wildlife.