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DNR reminder: Check Ice Conditions

Feb. 16, 2015

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With recent temperatures varying from below 0 to 40 degrees, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds winter recreationists that they should check local conditions before venturing onto the ice.

“A spell of cooler weather does not mean the ice on a lake, pond or river is safe,” said Stan Linnell, state boating law administrator. “Contact a bait shop and check to see if local ice conditions are thick enough to hold you and your fish house or vehicle and find out what areas to avoid.”

Varying temperatures have created areas of thin ice or open water that may later refreeze, especially in the southern half of the state. Refrozen areas don’t stand out on lakes lacking any snow cover.

Linnell offered these other safety tips:

Don’t drive on ice at night.

Don’t drive through channels or other areas with current.

Don’t drive past thin ice signs or over pressure ridges.

“Sadly, we have seen several incidents where ATV’s and cars have gone through the ice and people were injured, killed or remain missing,” Linnell said. “The bottom line is it‘s crucial that people do not let their guard down and recognize ice is never 100 percent safe.”

Winsted’s Fiecke wins Waconia fish tourney

In Towne Marina in Waconia hosted its second annual Winter Season Pass Holder Fishing Contest Jan. 31 on Lake Waconia, with a big turnout.

Steve Fiecke of Winsted was the winner of the triple combo category (largest sunfish, crappie, and perch). He received a $75 gift certificate. Family members assisting him included Ryan Fiecke, Danielle Ramola, and Brandon and Ashley Fiecke.

Scott Flusemann received second place in the triple combo, and won a rod-and-reel combination of his choice.

Jared Habisch took first place in the crappie category, and won a $50 gift certificate.

Dan Lindholm finished second in the crappie category, and received a rod-and-reel combination of his choice.

Since there were no northern pike that qualified, the $50 gift certificate was split between the first-place winners, Fiecke and Habisch.

Conceal and carry class at Waverly Gun Club

Waverly Gun Club will sponsor a conceal and carry gun class Saturday, Feb. 21 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, call Harry Reynolds at (763) 682-1576.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Sat., March 15

Prairie Archers will have a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, March 15 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Reservations need to be called in before 6 p.m. Friday, March 14 to either Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.

The steak and shrimp combo costs $13; steak only is $11; pork chop is $10; six shrimp is $9; or a ribeye is $15.

Each meal includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, and coffee or milk.

CO Report

From the DNR

CO Steve Walter (Waconia) attended a public deer input meeting in Prior Lake with district officers. Calls were investigated on trap tampering, set lines, trespassing while fishing and hunting and animal nuisance calls. Anglers were checked on area lakes and rivers.

Enforcement action was taken for multiple angling violations.

CO Brent Grewe (Minnetonka) spent the week checking anglers and following up with complaints. CO Grewe attended a meeting at Carlos Avery and did some equipment maintenance. Violations included deer registration issues and other license issues.

CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked ice fishing and snowmobiling activity in the Mound station. He attended a meeting in central office with U.S. Fish & Wildlife and out state game and fish officers on fishing issues. He took calls on animal complaints and answering questions to the Hmong community on the small game season and ice fishing regulations.

CO Thephong Le (ELCOP) patrolled the temporary assigned stations of Bloomington and Fort Snelling State Park for angling and trails usage. He conducted a monthly inspection of aeration permits. With an assistance of CO Johnson, he finished a falconry inspection in Richfield. He attended and assisted DNR Wildlife staff at the public input meeting in Prior Lake.

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar) followed up on a litter complaint. He investigated big game cases. Denz also checked ice anglers.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking ice fishermen. Reports of the fish bite in the area are still slow. Time was also spent following up on liter complaints.

CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) assisted with another TIP complaint stemming from Red Lake.

An aeration inspection was completed. The warm weather brought out a good crowd to the Lake Marion fishing contest. Licenses and ATV registrations were checked. She also assisted with the water confidence class at Camp Ripley for the State Patrol Academy.

CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked mostly angling enforcement. Fishing pressure and success remains low in the area. Time was also spent working ATV and snowmobile enforcement. A use of force meeting was attended at Camp Ripley.

CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) worked a fishing contest at Clear Lake. A few nice crappies and walleyes were caught. He also assisted with the recovery efforts at Lake Benton and gave “Drown proofing” training to the State Patrol Cadet class.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked angling activity in the area. The officer followed up with closed cases, including paper work and prepping confiscated items for transfer to St. Paul. The officer brought a display of furs to the local preschoolers and 1st graders.

Register for first-timer turkey hunt by Feb. 23

From the DNR

Those who want to hunt turkeys for the first time this spring have until Monday, Feb. 23, to apply to hunt under the guidance of experienced National Wild Turkey Federation volunteers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

Applications are available at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

This year there are hunts designed for both youth and adult hunters. Youth ages 12 to 17 will hunt Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19. Adults will hunt Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17.

To be eligible, a youth hunter must be age 12 to 17 on or before Saturday, April 18; have a valid firearms safety certificate; and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If there are more applications than available mentors, participants will be selected in a random lottery. For more information see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

Public gets more time for deer comments

From the DNR

The opportunity to email or mail comments on deer populations in large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota has been extended until Friday, Feb. 20.

“We are giving people more time to mail or email comments on deer populations during the 2015 deer goal-setting process,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “However, the last day to take the online questionnaire remains Thursday, Feb. 12.”

Deer population goals will be set for 40 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas in 2015. View a map of the goal-setting areas and take the questionnaire at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR offers lake service provider training

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering a series of lake service provider trainings to help curb the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

There are 25 more training sessions statewide, most in the next three months.

The next trainings include:

Feb. 10, 1 – 4 p.m., Blue Earth County Library, Mankato.

Feb. 11, 1 – 4 p.m., Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Detroit Lakes.

Feb. 12, 1 – 4 p.m., Afton State Park Visitor Center, Hastings.

Feb. 18, 11, 1 – 4 p.m., MnDOT Conference Center, St. Cloud.

Feb. 19, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Carver.

Feb. 24, 1 – 4 p.m., St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, Park Rapids.

In an effort to help stop the spread of AIS, Minnesota laws require lake service providers to attend a training session and obtain a permit prior to working in state waters. Lake service providers are individuals or businesses that get paid to install, decontaminate, lease, rent or remove water-related equipment in or from public waters.

This training is for commercial lake service providers such as dock and lift companies, marinas, resorts, boat hauling and storage companies, outfitters and irrigators – not the public.

“Although about 550 businesses have registered for training, there are at least 350 that still haven’t registered,” said April Rust, AIS training coordinator. “I want to make sure they register soon, so they don’t miss out on trainings in their part of the state.”

Anyone interested in attending the training will need to register for an account online, apply for a service provider permit and submit payment of $50 at www.mndnr.gov/lsp/.

Before a permit is issued, a lake service provider must apply for a permit, pay the application fee, attend a training session and pass a written exam. The permit is valid for three years and service providers must have the permit in their possession while providing services. Employees working under the supervision of a permitted lake service provider only need to complete a free, online lake service provider employee training course.

For more information on lake service provider training, permits and scheduled training sessions throughout the state, visit the DNR lake service provider website at www.mndnr.gov/lsp.

DNR reminds anglers to remove debris

From the DNR

Recent weekly activity reports from conservation officers (COs) with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are full of evidence of various types of refuse being discarded along frozen waterways.

“Once again, the most common complaint dealt with while on patrol involved anglers leaving their trash behind,” said CO Bret Grundmeier of Hinckley. Grundmeier spends hours each ice fishing season checking anglers and encouraging them to clean up after themselves and remove garbage from lakes. “It is disappointing to find so much trash left on our lakes,”

Grundmeier said. “Anglers are urged to police themselves and others.” Minnesota’s fish house removal deadlines are March 2 in the southern part of the state and March 16 in the north.

Conservation officers make a concerted effort this time of the year to monitor and identify possible problem areas.

“I’ve already warned a couple of fish house owners about the litter accumulating outside of their house, which they agreed to clean up,” said Paul Kuske, a conservation officer based in Pierz. “I always tell people the area outside their fish house is not their front yard, it is public waters,” he said. Conservation officers see everything from wooden fish house blocking materials on lakes to empty propane cylinders, plastic bottles, pop cans, and even bags of human waste. All of these materials constitute litter. Littering is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.

Used materials should be disposed of with local refuse haulers or at a local landfill. Litter tarnishes nature’s beauty, destroys wildlife habitats and ruins many opportunities for recreation.

Conservation officers also use technology to catch litterbugs, including digital pictures and GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates.

Excuses like, “I was going to go get that later,” will not work and anyone who leaves garbage on the ice will receive a citation for littering.

Conservation officers also have solid waste civil citation authority. These civil citations are “by the pound” or “by the cubic foot” penalties, and since they are not criminal charges, they don’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The person suspected of littering must pay the penalty and clean up the mess.

The DNR offers the following tips to keep Minnesota waterways clean:

• Set an example for others, especially children, by not littering.

• Properly dispose of any materials that could trap or injure wildlife.

• Check with a local refuse provider or landfill for disposal of items.

• Keep a litter bag or trash container with you when traveling or outdoors.

• Secure trash container covers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter.

• Cover and secure any vehicle, truck, or trailer carrying refuse.

• When visiting any recreation area, make sure to leave the area clean for the next person to enjoy.

Question of the week

From the DNR

Q: Do hibernating bears ever leave their den during winter if the weather gets unusually warm?

A: Hibernating bears are prompted to come out of their den both by warming temperatures and by increasing day length (normally late March to early April). Thus, a January thaw typically will not fool a bear into coming out early. However, some bears may find themselves in a wet den when temperatures get warm, with snow melting around their den, and this could force them out.

Bears also may be more prone to disturbance from humans during warm spells when they are not hibernating as soundly, and this could cause them to vacate their den. After abandoning their den, they will typically find another suitable site that they already know about. However, any new den would not have the bedding material that bears rake in during the fall when they are preparing for hibernation.