The 69th annual Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club Fishing Derby will be held Saturday, Feb. 14 from 1-3 p.m. on Howard Lake.
Pre-drilled holes are available and a lunch wagon will be on site. An Ice Chiseling and Power Auger Contest will be held at approximately 3 p.m., and there will be a $20 prize for the biggest fish in each species category.
Raffle prizes include a grand prize of an Ice Castle Fish House on wheels. First prize is a power ice auger, and 2nd and 3rd prizes are framed prints. Other prizes will be available as well.
Raffle tickets are available at Joe’s Sports Shop, The Country Store in Howard Lake, and from Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club members. They will also be available on-site the day of the event.
From the DNR
CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) followed up with incoming calls and emails left for theofficer for road kill deer permits. The officer work angling activity. Officer assisted neighboring officers again with pending deer cases.
CO Brian Mies (Annandale) last week checked anglers. CO Mies also worked on tip callsand assisted neighboring officer. CO Mies worked on trapping case.
CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) experienced high activity on the lakes as the result of the nice weather. Fishermen played their usual games with extra lines and improper fish house identification was addressed with a number of individuals. Northern pike have been biting very well on several lakes. A juvenile was once again found operating an ATV illegally. The behavior has been addressed with the parents, as well as enforcement action on three separate occasions. This time the 17-year-old is looking at violations of operating an ATV while revoked, reckless careless operation, no safety training certificate, no helmet and an unlawful passenger. The matter has been forwarded to the county attorney’s office for resolution.
CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) reported the warm weather has increased the fishing activity, but most anglers are having a hard time finding a good bite on most lakes. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license, angling with extra lines and possession of marijuana.
CO Steve Walter (Waconia) handled several animal calls including owls, swans, coyotes and raccoons. A State Patrol dispatcher was given a ride along to show what Conservation Officers do in the field. The Vintage Snowmobile Event was worked with district and area officers on Lake Waconia. Anglers were checked all week having good success on panfish.
CO Chelsie Leuthardt (Prior Lake) spent the week checking anglers on local lakes and patrolling WMAs for signs of late season small game hunters. Enforcement action was taking on no fishing license in possession and angling with extra lines. She assisted neighboring officers and took several calls from citizens with questions regarding angling and ice house laws. Fishing reports are still slow but Leuthardt spoke to several anglers who were having varying success throughout the week.
CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked ice fishing and snowmobiling activity in the metro area lakes and trails. He responded to a TIP complaint in Medicine Lake and animal complaints. He also worked the vintage snowmobile event at Lake Waconia and returned phone calls on the small game hunting season to the Hmong community.
CO Thephong Le (ELCOP) checked anglers in West Metro area lakes. He provided a ride along to a State Patrol dispatcher. Along with officers in West Metro District, CO Le worked at the Annual Vintage Snowmobile race on Lake Waconia.
CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) followed up on trapping complaints and other tip calls, withsome investigations ongoing. Time was spent checking ice fishermen and it was found that some did not have an angling license and some were using extra lines. Klehr also took time to speak with a snowmobile safety class in Watkins.
CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) continued checking anglers and ice houses during the week, verifying angling licenses and shelter licenses. ATV noise regulations and registration problems were addressed on area lakes. OHM regulations were also addressed. She spoke on the local radio station on Snowmobile safety. She responded to a dryer that was dumped at a DNR parking lot. Mueller also spoke at a Snowmobile Safety class in Arlington.
CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received calls regarding injured wildlife and a possible poached deer. He also gave a snowmobile safety talk. Nelson spent the majority of the week working angling and ATV enforcement. Pan fishing remains lack luster while a few northerns and walleye are being caught.
DNR postpones AIS training
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will postpone the new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month while legislators consider changes to the program.
Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner.
The DNR supports the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.
Since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR wants to remind people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals. The agency will post any updates on trailers at www.trailers.mndnr.gov and alert the media if there are any program changes.
DNR seeking comment on deer population goals
From the DNR
An online questionnaire about deer populations in large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota can be completed on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
The questionnaire is part of the DNR’s deer population goal-setting process, which is underway in 40 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas.
Citizen advisory teams for each of the five goal-setting blocks will consider and discuss questionnaire results when they meet this winter. Information from public meetings in each goal-setting block and written comments will also be factored in. Ultimately, each citizen team considers the social, economic and recreational contexts for a discussion of the permit areas’ deer populations and develops goal recommendations.
People have until Thursday, Feb. 12, to complete the online questionnaire. Written comments can be mailed to: Attention: Deer Goal Setting, Minnesota DNR, Box 20, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155. Comments may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DNR began revisiting deer population goals in 2012, when similar area teams helped set new goals for some permit areas in the Windom, Floodwood and Tower areas, and 2014 in southeastern Minnesota. The DNR plans to have new goals established in all of Minnesota’s deer permit areas before the 2016 firearms deer season.
MN Waterfowl symposium scheduled
From the DNR
Experts in waterfowl and waterfowl habitat from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other organizations will present to the public at the Minnesota Waterfowl Symposium, a one-day conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, in Bloomington.
“This daylong conference is an annual celebration of Minnesota waterfowl and wetlands and a chance for people to hear from waterfowl and wetland biologists,” said Ricky Lien, wetland habitat team supervisor with the DNR. “They can also talk with these state and federal experts about issues surrounding ducks, wetlands and waterfowl hunting.”
The conference, now in its 18th year, is presented through a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Minnesota Waterfowl Association and the DNR. It will be held at the Mall of America Ramada, 2300 E. American Blvd., in Bloomington.
Attendees can visit demonstration and information booths where they can get gun fitting and repair questions answered by a gunsmith, see the junior duck stamp display, learn about cooking and other uses for wild game, and more. They can also check out the Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association Annual Decoy Show hosted across the hall at the same location.
Topics to be covered at the event include:
• Opening remarks by Tom Melius, USFWS Midwest regional director and Paul Telander, DNR wildlife chief.
• Redhead ecology and management in Minnesota by Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
• Shallow lake management and the role of Outdoor Heritage funding in managing shallow lakes for waterfowl by Nicole Hansel-Welch, DNR shallow lakes program supervisor.
• Grass roots conservation by Brian Watson, Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District wetland specialist.
• Antique decoy collecting by Doug Lodermeier, Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association.
• The importance of waterfowl banding by Bruce Davis, DNR Wildlife Research and Dave Fronczak USFWS wildlife biologist.
• American coots by Todd Arnold, University of Minnesota professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.
• Implementation of the Minnesota Prairie Plan, Greg Hoch, DNR prairie habitat ecologist.
• Panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring Dave Zentner, representing the Concerned Duck Hunters Group; Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner; and Jim Kelly, USFWS Mississippi Flyway representative.
This year the redhead duck is the featured species of the conference. Redheads are a fairly common breeding species of diving duck that nests in the prairie portions of western and south central Minnesota and nest almost exclusively over water in larger cattail marshes.
Following the symposium, the Minnesota Waterfowl Association convenes its sixth annual Hall of Fame Banquet to recognize significant contributors to the state’s waterfowl legacy. For more information about the symposium or to register for the banquet, call the Minnesota Waterfowl Association at 763-767-0320 or see www.mnwaterfowl.com.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: Now is the time of year when Minnesota residents can contribute to the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund. What is this money used for and how does it help wildlife?
A: The DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program uses donations to the fund for a number of statewide efforts to help protect and manage the state’s nongame wildlife species. Nongame wildlife species includes more than 700 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and selected invertebrates that are not traditionally hunted or harvested. This also includes conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species.
Specifically, the species that have benefited from these efforts are bald eagles, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, eastern bluebirds, Blanding’s turtles, bats, timber rattlesnakes, great blue herons and other colonial water birds like egrets and grebes. The money also helps with land acquisition and easements to protect habitat, manage prairies, forests and wetlands, create buffer zones along lakeshores, assist private landowners and local governments with habitat management, and fund educational programs.