FROM THE DNR: Mille Lacs tagging, aerial goose survey, new license options and more.

*There is a lot here courtesy of the DNR.  Mille Lacs walleye tagging, goose population surveying, new fishing regs for different lakes and some new license options.  There has been a  rumor about an August goose season and liberal bag limits.  This 7 day survey will help determine what eventually happens in a few months. 


Resident geese will be targeted for an early goose season again this fall.
Resident geese will be targeted for an early goose season again this fall.


Fishing opener is on; planning and caution urged

Ice or no ice, Minnesota’s walleye and northern pike fishing opener is Saturday, May 11.

Anglers who have traditionally headed north for the first weekend of the season should check ice conditions and the availability of public water accesses and roads leading to them. Good sources of information are bait shops, resorts and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) area offices at

Even if the ice is out, some waters traditionally open may be closed to fishing to protect fish spawning areas. Information on seasonal closures is available by following the seasonal closures link at

Water temperatures will be colder than normal even if ice is out. Frigid water can affect more than the bite; it can have dangerous and potentially fatal impacts. Anglers should exercise extra caution and wear life vests. Hypothermia occurs quickly in cold water and the shock of falling into icy water also can cause cardiac arrest, even for people in good health.

For information about this year’s walleye and northern pike opener, visit


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        May 6, 2013

DNR tagging walleyes at Mille Lacs; return tag and get a lure

Anglers who catch a Mille Lacs Lake walleye with an orange tag on its body can receive a free fishing lure if they return that tag to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The offer is part of a broad effort to better understand the lake’s walleye population. DNR fisheries biologists are in the process of tagging and releasing 20,000 walleye. A new walleye population estimate will be based on the number of tagged fish captured in survey nets after spawning is completed. A selectivity estimate – an estimate of the sex and sizes of walleye anglers are most likely to catch – will be based on tag returns from anglers.

“To maximize tag returns and thereby the accuracy of our estimates, we are offering an incentive for the actual return of orange tags,” said Tom Jones, DNR regional treaty fisheries coordinator. “We are taking this additional step because we want the best data possible for future management decisions on Mille Lacs.”

Jones said the orange tags are labeled “REWARD.” Anglers that catch a fish with such a tag should remove it from the fish, even if the fish is released. Tags should be returned to DNR Fisheries, 1200 Minnesota Ave. S., Aitkin, MN 56431. A fishing lure will be mailed in return.

Tag return boxes will also be available at several businesses around the lake, or anglers can simply mail them to the address on “REWARD” signs posted at the boat accesses.

Incentives will not be rewarded for older yellow tags, but anglers are encouraged to return information on fish with these tags. Anglers are encouraged to leave yellow tags in the fish if they are released. These related projects will enable biologists to determine what proportion of the lake’s walleye are harvested, and will help refine population models.

“The anglers who drop their tags in the mail are doing all Mille Lacs anglers a favor,” Jones said. “The higher the tag returns the higher the data reliability . . . and that’s what you want when managing an asset as valuable as Mille Lacs.”



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      May 6, 2013

DNR reminds boaters to take precautions against aquatic invaders

While many Minnesota lakes are still covered by a thick layer of ice, the open water fishing season is just around the corner and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is already gearing up for this year’s fight against zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas and other aquatic invasive species (AIS).

“Each year we take a new look at how to educate the public about the serious work of protecting our lakes and rivers,” said Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit supervisor.” There are more than 11,000 lakes in Minnesota and the majority of them are not infested with aquatic invasive species. We are collaborating with citizens and organizations around the state to help keep it that way.”

The program focuses heavily on training and education as two important ways help stop aquatic invaders. Boater surveys have shown boaters will take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species if they understand what to do.

The DNR urges all boaters to follow the law and make sure they are not moving invasive species from one lake to another. “Aquatic invaders cannot swim across the land, but if you give them a lift they can travel for miles,” said Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species prevention coordinator. “Boaters and anglers need to be accountable and take personal responsibility to prevent the further spread of invasive species. Our lakes and rivers are too important to take for granted.”

Because of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign, and other educational efforts, most Minnesota boaters understand the steps they must take before and after visiting state waters. Reminders about AIS laws and necessary precautions are a valuable start to each fishing season for new anglers and those who visit the state for boating, fishing and hunting.

State law requires boaters to:

  • Clean: Remove visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and prohibited invasive species off watercraft, trailers, and equipment before leaving a water access or lakeshore property.
  • Drain: Remove the drain plug from boat, livewell, bilge, motor, ballast tank and other water-related equipment. Keep the drain plug out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
  • Drain portable bait containers before leaving a water access.
  • Dispose: Place unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, worms and fish parts in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into the water or to release worms on the ground.

Recommended actions for boaters
Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see. For example, zebra mussels can be the size of a fingernail and their larvae are microscopic, making them difficult to find. To remove or kill all invasive species before transporting a watercraft to other waters, the DNR recommends one or more of the following actions:

  • Rinse boats, trailers and recreational equipment with very hot tap water.
  • Spray with high pressure.
  • Dry for five days or more.
  • Anglers can keep unused live bait when leaving an access if they refill the bait container with water brought from home.

These laws and recommendations are intended to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas. These species are easily spread to new waters if citizens, businesses and visitors don’t take the necessary steps to contain them. Each person must take responsibility to help stop the spread of zebra mussels in lakes and streams and protect the state’s aquatic ecosystems. The DNR can’t do it alone.

For more information about AIS, visit
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  May 6, 2013

New fishing license options cater to angler interests

Minnesota anglers who fish a lot or a little can hook newly created licenses tailored to their desires.

The new license options include a 72-hour fishing license, a three-year license and a reduced price annual license for youth ages 16 and 17, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Based on feedback from our customers we created new options that reflect their interests,”
said Jenifer Wical, customer enhancement manager for the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division. “Customers now have more choices for convenience and value.”

Wical said the new $12, 72-hour license is likely to be popular among once-a-year weekend anglers, including those who have never fished and those who have lapsed. It does not require a trout stamp or spearing validation. The $63 three-year fishing license provides a $3 price break and is valid until 2016, a convenience. The $5 license for youth ages 16 and 17 is roughly a quarter of the cost of an annual resident fishing license, which is $22. Until this year youth ages 16 and 17 paid full price for a fishing license.

“If you love fishing, then share the passion with friends and family,” Wical said. “The new license options make it easier to recruit those who haven’t fished, retain those who do and reactivate those who have dropped out.”

She said license revenue is used to manage 5,400 fishing lakes and support 150-plus field conservation officers. Moreover, the license itself is a ticket to some of the best fishing in America. “Minnesota ranks third in the nation as an inland fishing destination,” Wical said. “Wherever you are in this state, you’re close to great fishing.”

Also new are individual and combination (married couple) super sports licenses that combine a variety of hunting and fishing opportunities into one license. The DNR is working with the Legislature to readjust the cost of this license as its current price exceeds that sum of its individual components.

Licenses can be purchased and printed online anytime at and details of new license types can be found at


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        May 6, 2013

New DNR video showcases black bear research

A new video showcasing the DNR’s black bear population research and a visit to a bear den is now featured on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website at or on YouTube at

The five-minute video features DNR bear researcher Dr. Dave Garshelis as he travels with a group of University of Minnesota students to a remote den in the winter to collect information on a female bear and her two new cubs.

“The video highlights our research in the area of bear population,” Garshelis said. “We go to each collared bear’s den every year to assess their health and reproduction, which we can then relate to the habitats in which they live. This research informs our decisions for managing habitat and hunting in a way that ensures a healthy and sustainable population of bears.”

DNR researchers are currently studying 30 radio-collared bears located throughout bear range in northern and central Minnesota. These bears, which were initially captured in traps or collared in winter dens, are assessed at least once each winter for as long as they survive. One such bear, number 56, is now 39 years old and is the world’s oldest known black bear. That is the only collared bear not subject to annual examinations, as the researchers are cautious about drugging her.

The new video shows Garshelis, a 30-year veteran DNR researcher, visiting a den to check on the health of a female black bear and her eight-week old cubs. His work includes exchanging the female bear’s collar with a new GPS collar, collecting hair and blood samples, and performing a general health assessment with the assistance of university wildlife and veterinary students.

Like other forms of research, long-term data are needed to identify trends in the factors affecting bear populations. But collecting long-term data on specific individuals of a wild species can be challenging.

“Study bears are not legally excluded from hunting, and research has shown us that eighty percent of Minnesota’s bears die from hunting,” Garshelis said. “Recently, we have asked hunters to voluntarily refrain from shooting collared bears, and they have cooperated in this request, understanding that the research is closely tied to better bear management in the future.”

DNR bear researchers have collaborated with researchers from other disciplines, especially in the medical field. Medical researchers have long been intrigued by the bear’s unique ability to go without any food or water for up to seven months of the year, without suffering any significant loss of muscle or bone mass. Blood collected from hibernating bears in the DNR study has been used in medical trials attempting to reduce tissue damage of human organs for transplant.

While Garshelis noted that major scientific breakthroughs are rare, the long-term dataset that DNR researchers have collected has provided many insights about bears and has yielded a solid foundation for managing Minnesota’s bear population.

Homeowners can experience conflicts with bears in the spring when they emerge from their dens and are foraging for food. Removing sources of food such as bird feeders, feeding pets indoors, storing trash in bear-proof containers and keeping barbeque grills clean can help avoid attracting bears.

For more information about black bears in Minnesota and to view the video, visit the DNR website


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 May 6, 2013

DNR to conduct statewide aerial Canada goose survey

A statewide aerial Canada goose survey began Sunday, May 5.

Weather permitting, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) survey will run about seven days, starting in the southern portion of the state and moving northward as the snow and ice melt.

The Minnesota Canada goose population has increased dramatically in recent years. Results of this statewide population estimate will be used to set the 2013 bag limits and season lengths in hopes of keeping the population in check.

The survey will cover 160 quarter mile random plots. Because the geese are difficult to see in thick nesting cover, researchers will use the DNR aviation program helicopter, which allows them to fly at a low level.

“Initially, folks will see the helicopter flying high over the plot as we check for hazards and livestock,” said Dave Rave, DNR goose research biologist. “To get an accurate count, we need to fly low, but we take every precaution to avoid livestock.”

This aerial survey began in 2001 and is conducted annually in the spring.

For more information on Canada geese, visit


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    May 6, 2013

 DNR places burning restrictions on additional counties

Statewide fire conditions have led the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to place burning restrictions on additional counties.

Burning restrictions take effect Monday, May 13, at 8 a.m. in the following counties: Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Pennington, Roseau, and parts of Cass, Polk and St. Louis counties.

The portion of Polk County is south and east of County Road 6 from the Manhomen County line to state Highway 92 east to the Clearwater County line. In Cass County, the restrictions affect that portion of the county south of Highway 200.  In St. Louis County, the restrictions affect the area south of a line running from Silica on the west to Central Lakes and Brimson on the east. The exact line is a township line between 55 and 56 north and includes all of township 56.

The following counties are already under burning restrictions:  Aitkin, Anoka, Benton, Chisago, Crow Wing, Dakota, Douglas, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pine, Ramsey, Sherburne, Pope, Stearns, Todd, Wadena Washington and Wright  and southern Cass (that portion south of Highway 200).

Restrictions are likely soon in Koochiching, Lake, Cook and northern St. Louis counties.

With the return to normal temperatures expected after the weekend, increased wind, and lower relative humidity, the remaining snow will melt rapidly. Exposed dry grass and brush creates a potential for wildfires.  Minnesota has had numerous wildfires so far this spring. To date, most of these have been small.

The DNR urges extreme caution when burning.  Never leave the fire unattended, have a water source available, and make sure the fire is completely out before leaving. This spring a small debris fire got away from a homeowner and destroyed the person’s home. Last year, a woman burning debris died from injuries sustained when she tried to contain an escaped fire.  Anyone conducting an open fire is responsible for suppression costs when the fire escapes control.

The DNR encourages composting, recycling, and chipping as alternatives to burning.

While debris burning will be curtailed, campfires smaller than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height are allowed.

Fire conditions may change quickly. If conditions warrant, DNR foresters have the ability to restrict local burning on short notice. For more information and maps, and to check fire conditions, see:

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     May 6, 2013

DNR angling regulation changes for Otter Tail County lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fergus Falls area fisheries office advises anglers of some recently reviewed and modified special angling regulations on several Otter Tail County lakes. The new regulations are effective for 2013.

Norway Lake – modified bass and crappie regulations.

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass: All bass 14- to 20-inches must be immediately released. One over 20 inches allowed in possession.
  • Crappie: Minimum size limit: 10 inches. Possession limit: five.
  • Sunfish: Possession limit: five.
  • Walleye and yellow perch: statewide regulations apply.

North and South Ten Mile lakes – modified bass regulations.

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass: All bass 14- to 20-inches must be immediately released. One over 20 inches allowed in possession.

Annie Battle Lake – modified crappie and bass regulations.

  • Sunfish and crappie: Possession limit: five; no size restrictions.
  • Northern pike and largemouth and small mouth bass: Catch-and-release only.

Big and Little Pine lakes, including the portion of Otter Tail River between Big and Little Pine lakes – no change in the current walleye regulation.

  •  Walleye: All walleye 18- to 26-inches must be immediately released. One over 26 inches in possession.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   May 6, 2013

Grants available for events celebrating 
50th anniversary of Minnesota state water trails

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Minnesota’s state water trails system, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging communities and outfitters to apply for grants to plan and implement special events throughout the state.

“Contrary to national declines in outdoor recreation participation, canoe and kayak registrations in Minnesota have continued to increase,” said Erik Wrede, state water trails program coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “In fact, kayak registrations increased 56 percent from 2008 to 2012. However, many canoe and kayak owners have either never heard of or do not know much about the Minnesota state water trails system. This anniversary is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness about the state water trails system and increase participation in water recreation.”

A total of $15,000 is available for the grants, which are new this year and made possible by funding from watercraft registration. Individual grant amounts will depend on the number and nature of the applications received. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 20.

Eligible applicants include local units of government, nonprofit organizations and watercraft outfitters. Grant-funded events could include public canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and boating events; and Adopt-a-River cleanups. Events must include an educational purpose, such as paddling safety, trip-planning skills and resources, stewardship or prevention of aquatic invasive species.

A working group of DNR’s citizen water trails advisory committee will review proposals and make funding recommendations to the DNR, which will announce funding decisions on Monday, June 3. The DNR will support grant recipients by providing materials to help them meet the outreach and education goals of their events.

For more information about the local grants, visit or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Established in 1963, Minnesota’s state water trail system is the oldest and largest in the United States. State water trails are recreational routes on waterways that are managed by the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division for canoeing, kayaking, motor boating and camping. They include a network of public water accesses, campsites and rest areas. They thrive on the support of local units of government, paddling clubs, nonprofits and outfitters. Over the years, the system has expanded to include more than 4,500 miles along 32 rivers and Lake Superior.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  MAY 6, 2013

Minnesota state parks offer Mother’s Day wildflower walks and more

As the air warms and the landscape turns green, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages people to visit one of the state’s 76 state parks and recreation areas. On Mother’s Day weekend, state parks will host guided wildflower walks, birding and stargazing workshops, a bluebell flower festival and more. These programs are free with a valid state park vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round):

The schedule:

Saturday, May 11

  • “Birding at Bear Head Lake,” Bear Head Lake State Park (Ely), 8-10 a.m.
  • “Bird Watching Walk,” Sibley State Park (New London), 8:30-10 a.m.
  • “Birding for Beginners,” all ages, Interstate State Park (Taylors Falls), 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • “Big Woods Natural History and Ecology Hike,” Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park (near Northfield),10-11 a.m.
  • “Bluebell Festival,” Carley State Park (Altura), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • “Morels and Wildflowers,” Whitewater State Park (Altura), 10-11 a.m.
  • “Is This Poisonous? A Plant Walk for the Curious,” Interstate State Park (Taylors Falls), 2-3 p.m.
  •  “Astronomy and Stargazing,” Glacial Lakes State Park (Starbuck), sundown.

Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day)

  •  “Intro to Mushrooms,” Great River Bluffs at Great River Bluffs State Park (Winona), 10-11 a.m.
  •  “Wildflower Walk,” Wild River State Park (Center City), noon-1:30 p.m.
  •  “Bird-banding Demonstrations,” Whitewater State Park (Altura), 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  •  “Wildflower Walk,” Great River Bluffs State Park (Winona), 2-3 p.m.
  •  “Spring Wildflower Stroll,” at Interstate State Park (Taylors Falls), 2-3 p.m.
  •  “Fishing for Fun,” Fort Snelling State Park (St. Paul), 1-3 p.m.

For more information, including directions to the parks, visit or call the DNR Information Center 651-296-6517 or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Can’t get to a program on Mother’s Day weekend because of the fishing opener or some other conflict? Consider giving mom a Minnesota state parks gift card. Gift cards can be redeemed for camping, overnight getaways at camper cabins or modern suites, vehicle permits and to rent equipment such as canoes and kayaks. They also can be redeemed for apparel, outdoor-related books and other gear sold at Minnesota state parks.

Gift cards can be purchased any of three ways:
• By phone (651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 toll-free).
• Online (
• In person at Minnesota state parks or at the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.


Q: How important is the spring snowmelt to Minnesota’s groundwater supply?

A: Snowmelt and rainfall during the spring months are the sources of major replenishment for the entire hydrologic system in Minnesota, including groundwater. While a great deal of the spring runoff melts into lakes and rivers, some of it infiltrates the soil into two principal zones: saturated and unsaturated. The saturated zone is where aquifers are found. Water stored as groundwater flows into rivers and lakes through springs and seeps, helping to maintain their levels. Most of the summer precipitation is taken up by growing vegetation or evaporates. Groundwater pumped from aquifers supplies more than 75 percent of Minnesota’s drinking water and nearly 90 percent of the water used for agricultural irrigation.

– Jay Frischman, P.G., groundwater technical analysis unit supervisor

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