FROM THE DNR: Wildfire danger, leaping carp and bird harvest numbers

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Carcass of leaping Asian carp found on Mississippi River near Winona

The carcass of a silver carp – the kind that leaps from the water when disturbed – was found recently on a dam abutment just north of Winona, the furthest upstream a silver carp has been discovered in the Mississippi River, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Finding this carp on the sill of the dam suggests that it was attempting to jump over it; it wasn’t just leaping due to a disturbance,” said Nick Frohnauer, DNR invasive fish coordinator. “That confirms our assumption that silver carp may use their leaping ability to attempt to overcome barriers.”

A worker with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first noticed the fish on Aug. 9. The fish was atop a concrete abutment just below Lock and Dam 5, about 20 miles further upstream of the previously northernmost instance of a silver carp. The dam is about 110 miles south of Lock and Dam 1 in St. Paul.

A DNR fisheries biologist investigated, snagged the fish with a treble hook and reeled it up from the abutment, which was otherwise inaccessible. Because the carp had been dead for at least a week, weight, gender and reproductive ability could not be determined, but the carcass measured about 30 inches long.

Silver carp are one of four species of invasive Asian carp threatening the Mississippi River and other native ecosystems. They can grow to 60 pounds, and they impact the base of the food chain by consuming large amounts of plankton that native fish also rely on. Populations of bighead and silver carp are established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries downstream of Pool 16 in Iowa. Bighead carp have been found in Lake Pepin and the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, and as far north as the mouth of the St. Croix in Prescott, Wis. But there is no indication bighead or silver carp are reproducing in the Minnesota waters of the Mississippi or St. Croix rivers.

The DNR continues to take a multi-pronged approach to managing Asian carp including:

  • Monitoring for Asian carp by using targeted surveying and contracted commercial fishing.
  • Partnering with the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, which is researching ways to prevent the spread and to manage populations of Asian carp.
  • Contracting on the design and approval of an electric barrier using new “sweeping” electrical technology at Lock and Dam 1 in St. Paul.
  • Improvements to the Coon Rapids Dam to make it a better fish barrier.

The agency maintains that the best approach to keeping Asian carp out of the upper Mississippi River watershed is to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock. The lock is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it would require an act of Congress to close the lock.

For more information on Asian carp in Minnesota, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/asian-carp/index.html.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Aug. 22, 2013

More small game hunters go afield in 2012; pheasant, duck harvests up

More small game hunters ventured into Minnesota’s fields and forests in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annual small game survey.

The number of pheasant and duck hunters increased 8 percent and corresponded with a slight increase in pheasant and duck stamps sales. In 2012, an estimated 84,000 people hunted pheasants and 90,400 hunted ducks.

Although ruffed grouse are on the downward side of their 10-year population cycle, the number of grouse hunters increased 6 percent in 2012 to 97,200.

Statewide estimates show that hunters harvested 264,000 pheasants, 835,000 ducks and 355,000 ruffed grouse.

Harvest of ducks and pheasants in 2012 was comparable to 2011, with individuals taking an average of 9.2 ducks and 3.1 pheasants per hunter. Harvest averages from 2011 showed the average hunter took 8.8 ducks and 2.6 pheasants.

Hunter harvest of pheasants and ducks likely was higher because an unusually mild winter of 2011-2012 followed by a warm spring allowed for above average winter survival and favorable reproductive conditions.

The harvest rate for ruffed grouse dropped from 4 birds per hunter in 2011 to 2.6 birds in 2012. That decline is consistent with the current downward phase of the grouse population cycle.

DNR annually surveys small game hunters to make estimates of both hunter numbers and harvest trends. For the 2012 season, 7,000 small game license buyers were surveyed of which 3,520 surveys were returned and usable.

The complete report is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/publications/wildlife.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Aug. 22, 2013

Wildfire danger intensifies as fuels dry out in parts of Minnesota

As precipitation over the last 30 days has been at 50 percent of normal over most of Minnesota, fire managers from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are seeing an increase in fire danger and are urging people to use caution when working and recreating in dry areas.

So far this summer, fire occurrence has been low, but a predicted dry spell could change that quickly. DNR forestry areas with the highest fire potential are Bemidji, Park Rapids, Backus, Little Falls, Sandstone, and lands north of Cambridge and south of Cloquet. Continuing warm dry weather could expand the area of concern to the Arrowhead region in northeastern Minnesota where lightning ignitions could become more likely if thunderstorms develop with light rain, fire managers said.

The National Weather Service predicts Minnesota is entering a warm and dry spell for the next week or so. This is the time of year the state sees scattered rainfall where the amounts can vary widely even a few miles apart.  Most of the state is still green, but it can change with the hot weather, especially if it stays rain free.

Once the weather cools off, the possibility of a killing frost increases. A killing frost pulls moisture out of fine fuels such as grasses and brush. A combination of dry weather and dry, dead fuels could lead to another active fall fire season.

Fire starts are more probable in areas exposed to the sun and in areas of light, sandy soil. Open stands of jack pine, especially where there is a higher ratio of dead fuels to live vegetation will have the higher probability of ignition.

This week, the southern third of Minnesota is at low fire danger. The northern third of the state and the metro area at moderate fire danger, meaning fires start easily and spread at a moderate rate.  The central part of the state from Pine County in the east to the North Dakota border and from Marshall County to Lac qui Parle County has a fire danger rating of “high,” increasing the probability that wildfires could occur and spread at a rapid rate.

Burning of vegetative debris is allowed with a burning permit available through local forestry offices, local fire wardens, and online. See www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire for the fire danger ratings and burning permit restrictions.

Small grain harvest and haying operations could be a source of ignition during the coming weeks, as well as recreational vehicles such as ATVs.

DNR fire mangers urge people to use caution with all fire – campfires and burning debris. Campfires are allowed if they are no more than 3 feet high by 3 feet across and in a cleared area. When having a campfire, keep a shovel handy, make sure a water source is available, stay with the fire at all times, and make sure the fire area is cool to the touch before leaving. Think the fire is out? Check again.

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