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Fawns born in May: Leave them alone

May 26, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Newborn fawns may appear abandoned and fragile but their best chance for survival comes when people leave them alone – especially in spring, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

“While a new fawn may appear helpless, it’s important to keep your distance and not interfere with the doe’s natural instinct for raising its young,” said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR northeast regional wildlife manager. “Leave fawns alone and let wildlife remain wild.”

Deer rear their offspring differently than humans. Most fawns are born in May and within hours of birth the fawn is led to a secluded spot so it can nurse. With a full stomach, the fawn is content to lie down and rest. If the doe has twins, it will hide the second fawn up to 200 feet away. Then the doe leaves to feed and rest herself, out of sight but within earshot.

In four or five hours, the doe will return to feed the fawns and take them to a new hiding place. Deer follow this pattern for two to three weeks, and only then – when fawns are strong enough to outrun predators – do the young travel much with their mother.

Deer have evolved a number of special adaptations that make this approach to fawn rearing successful. Fawns have almost no odor so predators are less likely to smell them. Their white spotted coats provide camouflage when they are lying on the forest floor. For the first week of life, frightened fawns instinctively freeze, making full use of their protective coloration.

Older fawns remain motionless until they think they have been discovered, and then jump and bound away. A deer’s primary protection from predators is its great speed. Newborn fawns are not fast enough to outdistance predators so they must depend on their ability to hide for protection.

Although these adaptations work well against predators, they don’t work very well with people. For the first few weeks, a fawn’s curiosity may entice it to approach a person who comes upon it.

What’s the right way to handle an encounter with a fawn? Never try to catch it. If it’s hiding, admire it for a moment and then quietly walk away. If the fawn tries to follow, gently push on its shoulders until it lies down and then walk away.

“Leaving fawns alone gives them the best chance for survival,” Lightfoot said. “Even most orphaned fawns are best suited to survive without human intervention.”

Never feed or place a collar on a fawn or other wild animal. Collaring a wild animal sets it apart from other wild animals, encourages habituation to people and increases the likelihood for harm to the animal.

Conditioning any wild animal to seek human-provided food can cause it to stop seeking natural food sources. Feeding deer can be a problem. Feeding encourages the transmission of animal disease such as chronic wasting disease, which can be spread through saliva when multiple deer eat from the same food source such as feeders or piles of feed left on the ground. Feeding deer can concentrate animals in feeding areas which makes them more susceptible to predation, vehicle collisions or other unwanted human interactions. What begins as a good intention to help the animal ultimately promotes disease and lessens the animal’s ability to survive independently.

“Not all animals survive, and some mortality is a natural occurrence. If you have a question about an interaction with a wild animal, contact your local DNR area wildlife office for suggestions,” said Lightfoot. “In most cases, letting nature take its course is the best advice.”

Lake Ann Carp Slam Saturday, May 31

The third annual Lake Ann Carp Slam will take place Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Lake Ann.

All participants should meet at the public water access on the west side of the lake, with a maximum of three people to a boat or team.

No boats may leave the dock prior to the shotgun start, and all Minnesota DNR rules must be followed at all times.

Call (320) 296-3078 with questions.

The cost is $15 per person, and there will be a hot dog lunch provided.

Prize money for the top three finishers and biggest carp.

Take a kid fishing and fish free June 6-8
From the DNR

Looking to spend some quality time with a kid? Consider Take a Kid Fishing Weekend.

Minnesotans age 16 or older do not need a fishing license while taking a child age 15 or younger fishing from Friday, June 6 to Sunday, June 8, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“This is an annual opportunity for an adult to introduce a child to fishing without the prior purchase of a fishing license,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “This is a great weekend to get friends and family involved with fishing.”

To start, see the DNR’s Fish Minnesota page at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn, which includes:

• Answers to basic fishing questions.
• Fishing terminology and a beginner’s guide to fishing.
• Metro fishing spots, family-friendly settings, pier locations and places to borrow fishing gear.

Got other plans from June 6-8? Even when it’s not Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state parks without a fishing license if the body of water doesn’t require a trout stamp. For more information, see www.mndnr.gov/state_parks/fishing.html.

For those new to fishing, guidance can sometimes help. Kids fishing classes from the DNR’s I Can Fish! program run throughout the summer at state parks. For details, see www.mndnr.gov/takeakidfishing.

“Not only do kids love fishing, but it’s rewarding for adults to watch a kid who’s all smiles while reeling in a fish, big or small. With school wrapping up for the year, there’s no better time than now to get a kid hooked on fishing,” Kurre said.

DNR: Protect yourself and Minnesota waters
From the DNR

After a long winter, Minnesotans are ready to hit the water for the official start of the boating season — Memorial Day.
The Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to protect themselves and state waters.

“Think zero — zero aquatic invasive species violations, zero new infestations and zero boating deaths,” said Lt. Adam Block, DNR conservation officer.

DNR inspectors working at public accesses around the state have found that most people are following aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws.

But already this year they have stopped over 40 boaters who were entering or leaving lakes with zebra mussels attached to boats or equipment.

And so far this year, one person has died in a boating accident. Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents. If all boaters in Minnesota wore life jackets, 10 lives could be saved each year.

“Minnesota’s lakes and rivers are precious resources and we are asking people to do their part; wear a life jacket every time you step on a boat and always clean and drain your boat, so everyone can continue to enjoy our waters,” Block said.

More than 500 Minnesota — rivers, lakes, wetlands — are designated as infested with AIS. That leaves more than 10,000 bodies of water to protect.

A few simple steps can make a big difference from a good day on the water to a bad day.

Boaters should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Before leaving a water access, boaters are required to:
• Clean off all aquatic plants and animals.
• Drain all water from bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs.
• Leave the drain plug out when transporting.
• Empty bait buckets and dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.

DNR lifted burning restrictions in 18 MN counties
From the DNR

Burning restrictions were lifted May 16 in all or parts of 18 central Minnesota counties due to decreased fire danger because of wet conditions and green up moving northward, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,

Counties include: Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Isanti, Hennepin, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Washington and Wright.

Although the state burning restrictions are lifted in these counties, local areas, counties or municipalities may have specific regulations or restrictions that affect burning operations.

Please check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

Because fire danger can change quickly, DNR foresters are able to turn off burning permits in individual counties whenever conditions warrant.

This could occur if there is a dry, windy day where fires could start easily and burn quickly.

Check the fire restrictions page on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html for information on daily changes to burn permits.

The DNR advises anyone doing burning to keep burn piles small, have a water supply nearby, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.

If the fire escapes, the homeowner is responsible for the damage and suppression costs.

Burning permits are available through state and federal forestry offices, from local fire wardens, or online by paying a $5 fee per calendar year.

Online permits need to be activated on the day of the burn. See http://webapps1.dnr.state.mn.us/burning_permits/.

Burning restrictions remain in place in Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk (part), Roseau, southern St. Louis, and Wadena counties. Restrictions will remain until sufficient green up occurs.

Sturgeon fishing expands under proposed rules
From the DNR

A statewide catch-and-release season for sturgeon is among several rule changes proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Now, there are only a few waters in the state where anglers can legally fish for sturgeon.

New rules would also affect those who fish for trout and bass, among other species.

“This is the first time in a long time that seasons for major angling species have been changed,” said Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR fisheries program manager. “We made the changes based on sound data analysis. They will continue to provide high-quality fishing and additional fishing opportunities.”

The DNR is accepting comments on the proposed rules.

Rulemaking documents are available at www.mndnr.gov/input/rules/fisheries/statewide.html.

The proposed changes include but are not limited to:

• Game fish regulations

New statewide catch-and-release seasons for bass and sturgeon.

Close the taking of flathead catfish during the winter.

• Trout lake regulations

Open trout lakes in Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties to winter trout fishing.

Little Andrus (Snowshoe Lake) in Cass County; Allen and Pleasant lakes in Crow Wing County; and Bad Medicine Lake in Becker County will remain closed to winter fishing.

• Other

Require a barb on arrows used for bowfishing.

Open Spring Lake in Itasca County to whitefish netting.

Restrictions placed on where nets can be placed for smelting on Grindstone Lake.

For border waters, changes simplify, provide additional opportunities, make rules consistent with the Minnesota inland regulations, or make consistent with bordering government regulations, as well as clarify the no-culling rule.

The DNR intends to adopt the rule changes without a public hearing unless 25 signatures requesting a hearing are received.

Submit requests for a hearing in writing by 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 18.

Send comments or questions on the rules or written requests for a public hearing to Linda Erickson-Eastwood, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Where do Minnesota’s loons spend the winter?

A: Minnesota’s loons primarily spend their winters in the Gulf of Mexico offshore from Alabama and the Florida panhandle, and southward along the Florida Gulf Coast.

They feed mainly on the bottom at depths often greater than 100 feet. That is why we are concerned about the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, since petroleum and dispersants from the spill would have likely settled in that region offshore from Alabama and Florida.

We are studying Minnesota’s loons for contaminants with funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers working on tip calls.
CO Mies took part in the Kimball career job shadow program.
CO Mies also checked boaters and ATVs, along with working an AIS work crew.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) had a student from Buffalo High School ride along on a job shadow.
Anglers are still having success with a fair crappie bite on area lakes.
A follow up interview was done on a possible bear hunting violation.
Enforcement action was taken for over limit crappies.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) continues to check anglers on area lakes and rivers.
CO Sladek patrolled wildlife management areas and checked turkey hunters with some success.
Officer Sladek received several calls on “abandoned” young animals.
Please do not try to help these animals or remove them from the wild, the mother is close by and will take care of them when you leave.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) gave a career presentation to students at Norwood Young America High School.
Boaters were checked for AIS violations at lake access sites.
Anglers were checked all week on area lakes and rivers.
Enforcement action was taken for illegal parking at lake access, giving false information to officer, no angling license or trout stamps in possession, angling without first procuring a license, angle in designated trout lake without first procuring a trout stamp and several violations for angling with extra lines.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) focused on boat and water safety and AIS compliance during week.
Fishing in the area is still slow, with a few walleyes being caught. ATV patrol was done during the weekend.
Action was taken on anglers that left garbage at their fishing site.
Mueller also assisted McLeod County with an assault that occurred.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) continued working angling and AIS enforcement.
The fish bite is still waiting to pick up in the area.
A deer investigation was started this past week dealing with wanton waste.
ATV enforcement was worked in the Minnesota River Valley.