Surplus Prairie Chicken licenses, changes to deer regs, Mille Lacs walleye violations, and the world’s oldest bear dies.

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Here is the latest, courtesy of the MN DNR. 

World’s oldest-known wild black bear dies at 39
DNR asks bear hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears
Top exhibition shooters coming to Madelia during Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener
   for a tournament
Mille Lacs Lake area anglers face heavy fines
No ATV registration or trail pass needed to ride on state and grant-in-aid trails over
   Labor Day Weekend
DNR begins recruiting process for new officers
Deadline is Sept. 5 for firearm, muzzleloader deer lottery applications
Funding available for shoreland vegetation projects
Surplus prairie chicken licenses on sale Sept. 9
Question of the Week: Scientific and natural areas 

World’s oldest-known wild black bear dies at 39

The world’s oldest-known wild bear has died of old age in northern Minnesota at the age of 39½, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Known to DNR researchers as Bear No. 56, the female American black bear was first captured and radio-collared in July 1981 by DNR scientists during the first summer of a long-term research project on bear population ecology. The bear was 7 years old at the time and was accompanied by three female cubs.

Bear No. 56 became a significant animal in the DNR research project. During a 32-year study period, she and her many offspring provided an almost uninterrupted record of reproduction, survival, movements and, eventually, senescence (aging), within a single matriarchal lineage. Data from this bear and her offspring have contributed significantly to the scientific literature on black bear biology.

From 1981-1995, Bear No. 56 produced eight litters of cubs and successfully reared a remarkable 21 of the 22 cubs to 1½ years of age. In 1997, at age 23, she uncharacteristically lost two of her three cubs before weaning. In 1999, at age 25, she bore and raised her last cub. In 2001, when she was next expected to give birth, researchers found her healthy in her den and producing milk but without cubs.

Bear No. 56 outlived by 19 years all of the 360 other radio-collared black bears that DNR researchers have followed since 1981. She also outlived any radio-collared bear of any species in the world. Only a very few individual study bears have been reported to reach age 30. The second-oldest was a brown bear that lived to 34.

Researchers suspect Bear No. 56’s longevity probably is best attributed to a combination of factors, including the location of her home range in a forested area with few people or major roads; a more reticent nature than that of many bears, in terms of  her avoidance of people; and luck.

“Getting this information about this bear has taken a lot of effort. This really attests to the value of a long-term study with a large sample of bears,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear project leader. “Had we not studied so many bears, we likely would not have encountered this intriguing outlier. It was not just documenting that she lived to be so old, but understanding how she was able to live to be so much older than other bears that made this incredibly interesting and useful.”

In the last few years of her life, Bear No. 56 began to visit some hunters’ baits, but hunters passed up shooting her, abiding by a DNR request that hunters not shoot collared bears.

When last handled in March 2010, Bear No. 56 was a healthy weight but her teeth showed excessive wear and her eyes were clouding. Since then, her hearing and eyesight continued to deteriorate. Rarely observed through most of her life, Bear No. 56 had been observed by people during the past two summers with increasing frequency, foraging along trails and traveling dirt roads, likely because of the greater ease of travel than in the woods.

Sometime in July, Bear No. 56 left her normal home range, as bears often do in late summer, to explore other areas for rich food sources on which to fatten for winter. After locating her radio signal several miles from her typical home area, DNR bear researcher Karen Noyce found her decomposed body in a secluded wooded location. From all indications, she died a quiet death, with no sign of struggle at the site and no evidence of broken bones or traumatic injury.

“This is the first bear in our study to die of old age, and there is something satisfying in that,” said Noyce, who, along with Ken Soring, DNR’s current enforcement director, conducted the first capture of Bear No. 56 as a rookie biologist in 1981.

“We knew she was getting feeble,” Noyce said. “It would have been sad to find her on the side of the road somewhere, hit by a car. After following her all these years, I’m glad to know she died peacefully. It was a fitting death for a fine old bear.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        Aug. 27, 2013

DNR asks bear hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) asks hunters participating in Minnesota’s bear season, which opens Sept. 1, to avoid shooting radio-collared research bears.

The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.

DNR researchers are monitoring about 30 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.

Bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.

“Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for these valuable research bears,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. “These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state.

“We’re asking that if hunters see ear tags or a collar on a bear, they refrain from shooting it,” Garshelis said. “Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals.”

Many of the collars have GPS units that collect and store data, which is downloaded by DNR researchers when they visit the bears in their dens. Long-term records of individual bears have been the cornerstone of information that helps the DNR monitor and manage the bear population, Garshelis said.

DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations. For this reason, taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.

Photos of some collared research bears are available on the DNR website at

Any hunters who shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research Office in Grand Rapids at 218-327-4146 or218-327-4133.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        Aug. 27, 2013

Top exhibition shooters coming to Madelia during
Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener for a tournament

Four of the top exhibition shooting acts in the world will share the stage for the first time during the weekend of the Third Annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Madelia, Minn., Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12.

Dan Madsen, Madelia city administrator, announced that Scott Robertson of Team Beretta, Tim Bradley of Team Benelli U.S.A., and Aaron and Steve Gould, sponsored by Winchester, have agreed to compete in a friendly exhibition shooting tournament.

“These shooters are the best at what they do,” Madsen said. “We are thrilled they’re going to be part of the festivities during the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.”

The exhibition shooters will perform at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. The event is open to the public. There will be no charge to attend.

“These shooters will bring their best signature shots, and will attempt the best shots of the other shooters in this first-ever friendly tournament,” Madsen said. “Getting them together is something that’s never happened before.”

The weekend will include a Governor’s banquet and reception, performance by singer/songwriter Martin Zellar, and of course, pheasant hunting.

More information and updates can be found at

The Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener will showcase the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that the broader Madelia area has to offer visitors. Gov. Mark Dayton will lead elected officials, dignitaries and celebrity hunters who will participate in the event.

The event is being coordinated by city of Madelia, Madelia Chamber of Commerce, Explore Minnesota Tourism and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Madelia is 20 minutes west of Mankato and just over an hour and one-half southwest of Minneapolis.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           Aug. 27, 2013

Mille Lacs Lake area anglers face heavy fines

Many local residents assume anglers from outside their community commit most of the fishing violations on area lakes, but that’s not always the case, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Recently, three anglers, including a married couple that lives along Mille Lacs Lake, were charged with over-limits of fish and face heavy fines and restitution.

Richard E. Southworth, 70, and Linda J. Southworth, 59, of Isle were recently charged by DNR conservation officers with a gross over-limit of 52 walleye. During a routine check on Mille Lacs Lake, the couple was found with three lines in the water. Later it was discovered that they were in possession of 26 bags of fish. Restitution for the 49 Mille Lacs walleye, in addition to three Red Lake walleye, amounts to $1,560.

The gross over-limit of wild animals penalty totals $1,000. Toss in another $1,000 for a misdemeanor charge of angling with two hooks or a treble hook and the Southworth’s face nearly $6,000 in fines and restitution if convicted. Seized in the investigation were a boat, rods and reels, and their fishing licenses.

Edwin F. Seidl, 65, also of Isle, finds himself in the same boat. DNR conservation officers caught him with an illegal 13-inch walleye while fishing Mille Lacs Lake. Further investigation found Seidl in possession of an additional 16 walleyes and a northern pike from the lake. Seidel was 15 walleye over the legal limit and charged with misdemeanor possession. The possession limit on Mille Lacs Lake is two walleye with a slot restriction of 18-20 inches. Restitution for the fish is $610 along with a $400 fine.

This is Conservation Officer (CO) Chris Tetrault’s first year on the lake after graduating from the CO Academy earlier this year.

“I’m seeing a lot of illegal length fish being taken from Mille Lacs Lake,” the Isle-based officer said. Tetrault noted that he seized 120 illegal fish from anglers in July alone, something long-time Mille Lacs Lake COs had never seen before.

“That may not seem like a lot of fish, but when you can legally keep two walleye from 18 to 20 inches, and violators are taking 49 walleye in one instance, 16 in another instance, five from another person, and the rest illegally taking one or two fish per person, it adds up quickly,” Tetrault said.

In this instance local residents were discovered with gross over-limit and misdemeanor cases within a mile of each other. “With the lake encompassing 120 miles of shoreline we’re likely catching only 2 to 5 percent of the violators who either visit or reside on the lake,” Tetrault said.

The Southworths and Seidl are scheduled to appear in Aitkin County court in October.

Busts that start as routine fish or fishing license checks have proven very effective for DNR conservation officers. A routine patrol earlier this year on Lake Winnibigoshish netted three men with 203 yellow perch or 83 over the legal limit. Fines, restitution, and court costs totaled $3,300.

In 2012, the sharp eye of a conservation officer netted an Otsego man with 413 sunfish and 30 crappies over the legal limit. The gross misdemeanor offense contained a restitution value for the fish of $2,000.

Catching fish poachers is never easy because it’s rare that officers actually see the crime in action. The average Minnesota officer patrols about 650 square miles, so it’s impossible for officers to watch every lake.

“That’s why we need the public’s help,” Tetrault said. “We need all the eyes and ears we can get.”

Anyone witnessing a fish or wildlife violation is encouraged to contact the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   Aug. 27, 2013

No ATV registration or trail pass needed to ride on 
state and grant-in-aid trails over Labor Day Weekend

This Labor Day weekend, Minnesota will host its first “Free Wheeling Weekend,” making it free to ride on state and grant-in-aid trails for two days, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

On Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, Minnesotans whose ATVs are registered only for private or agricultural use can enjoy riding the more than 3,400 miles of state and grant-in-aid trails without paying the additional registration fee to ride on public trails ($53.50 for three calendar years). Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota trails as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($21 for a one-year pass).

“Minnesota has a variety of state and grant-in-aid trail riding opportunities that range from an easy cruise along abandoned railroad grades to more difficult climbs on narrow, twisting trail loops in the woods,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle program consultant for the DNR. “Many trails are provided by counties, townships and cities with assistance from local clubs. We’re excited to help new riders experience our trail system.”

For trail maps and more information on where to ride, visit or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Send questions via email

For more information about the Free Wheeling Weekend or the off-highway vehicle program, contact Mary Straka in Brainerd in 218-833-8713 or 651-259-5644 in St. Paul, or by email to

                                                     – 30 –

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Aug. 27, 2013

DNR begins recruiting process for new officers

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects to hire up to 18 conservation officers for an academy anticipated to start in April 2014. Applications open Aug. 26 and close Sept. 13.

Conservation officers work to ensure public safety and compliance with state game and fish, recreational vehicle, and natural resource commercial operation laws.

Applicants must have a valid Minnesota Peace Officer’s License, or be eligible to be licensed by the Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (POST) prior to the time conditional job offers are made, or complete basic police training and be certified as a full-time peace officer in a state or federal law enforcement agency with which Minnesota has reciprocity, and pass the P.O.S.T. Board reciprocity exam by the time conditional job offers are made.
Candidates must pass the general written exam to be admitted to other portions of the exam/selection process.

Other portions of the process will include oral interviews and completion of a comprehensive background investigation. Final job offers will be based on passing a medical evaluation, functional capacity exam and psychological evaluation.

The written examination will tentatively be held Oct. 5 at the following locations:

  • Bemidji State University.
  • Cloquet Forestry Center.
  • Central Lakes College, Brainerd, Minn.
  • Minneapolis Convention Center.

All communication will be handled electronically. Applicants must have an updated email address on their resume or they may not be contacted by the DNR. .

For more information on becoming a DNR conservation officer and to apply for the position, visit the website at A link near the bottom of the page will take applicants to the job posting.

To ensure consideration for this position, both new and returning applicants need to apply directly to posting number 131743000001 by checking the “apply for this job” box at the bottom of the job announcement.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 Aug. 27, 2013

Deadline is Sept. 5 for firearm, muzzleloader deer lottery applications

Deer hunters who use a firearm or muzzleloader in a lottery area and want to harvest an antlerless deer must apply for an either-sex permit by the Thursday, Sept. 5, deadline established by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Deadlines for firearm and muzzleloader special hunts also are Sept. 5.

Lottery either-sex permits
Hunters can apply for lottery deer areas using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses.  Although a hunter can be selected for both licenses, successful applicants still can only take one deer.

2013 lottery deer areas are 101, 103, 105, 108, 110, 111, 118, 119, 122, 169, 171, 172, 176, 183, 184, 197, 199, 234, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 260, 261, 262, 263, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.

In lottery deer areas, firearms and muzzleloader hunters may only harvest a buck if they apply for and receive an either-sex permit, which allows them to harvest an antlerless deer.

Firearm and muzzleloader special hunts
For special hunts, a person may draw both a firearm and muzzleloader permit, in which case they must adhere to the bag limits established by each special hunt. Information on 2013 special hunts is available online

All lottery winners will receive permits via U.S. mail. Hunters may apply for an either-sex permit through any DNR license agent, online at, or by calling toll-free 888-665-4236.

Changes to deer application and registration for 2013
Hunters are advised by the DNR to review the DNR’s hunting regulations handbook for new 2013 season information.

“Regulations, and many of our management designations, are quite similar to 2012,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “However, there are a few application and registration changes that folks will notice right away.”

This year the DNR will be asking all deer license buyers, including archery hunters, to indicate the deer area they hunt most often.

“While hunters are not obligated to stay in the indicated area, the information helps the DNR assess hunter success,” McInenly said. “Our data indicate that most hunters kill a deer in the area they hunt most often.”

Hunters also should be aware that deer must be registered within 48 hours after harvest and before processing. Telephone and internet registration has been expanded to include series 300 permit areas.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Aug. 27, 2013

Funding available for shoreland vegetation projects

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is making $225,000 available for grant proposals for restoring native aquatic habitat across the state. Individual grant requests can range from $25,000 to $100,000.

This program provides cost-share grants to counties, cities, watershed districts, other local units of government, conservation groups and lake associations to conduct aquatic habitat restoration projects with native plants to improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Projects on private properties will have at least 75 percent of the frontage restored with an adjacent buffer zone that is at least 25 feet deep or wide. The focus of these projects must be on re-establishing vegetation for fish and wildlife habitat. Funds cannot be used for rock riprap stabilization or permanent wave breaks.

Grants recipients will be reimbursed for a maximum of 75 percent of the total project costs. Applicants must be able to fund at least 25 percent of the total project costs from non-state sources. Matching funds may be cash; volunteer labor; and in-kind contributions of materials, equipment and services.

“This is an opportunity for lake associations, local communities and conservation organizations to help enhance native shoreline vegetation and fish habitat in their local lakes, streams and rivers,” said John Hiebert, DNR lake habitat consultant. “Since 1999, more than 350 restoration projects have been funded, restoring more than 136,000 feet of shoreline.”

Applications for grants are available on the DNR website at or by calling the DNR at 888-646-6367. Completed grant applications are due Friday, Nov. 8.

Successful applicants will be notified in February 2014. Funds will be made available after July 1, 2014.

The grants are funded from state lottery proceeds deposited in the Heritage Enhancement Account. Grants are administered through the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division. Projects are selected and designed with guidance from local DNR fisheries managers.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   Aug. 27, 2013

Surplus prairie chicken licenses on sale Sept. 9

Five prairie chicken licenses remain available and will go on sale to unsuccessful prairie chicken lottery applicants atnoon on Monday, Sept. 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Successful applicants should receive their winner notification by Tuesday, Sept. 3. Licenses can be purchased at any DNR license agent, online at and via telephone at 888-665-4236.

Surplus licenses will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. People who purchase these surplus licenses will maintain their preference points for next year’s prairie chicken lottery.

In the unlikely event that any licenses remain, people who did not participate in the prairie chicken lottery may purchase them on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The prairie chicken season runs from Saturday, Sept. 28, to Sunday, Oct. 6. Two prairie chickens may be taken throughout the season. A total of 126 licenses were made available to lottery participants.


Q:  Minnesota has a number of scientific and natural areas (SNAs). What exactly is an SNA and how does it differ from other publicly owned lands?

A:  Scientific and natural areas are special places where anyone can go to see examples of Minnesota’s native plant communities and rare species habitats. There are nearly 160 sites scattered throughout Minnesota’s prairie, coniferous and deciduous forest biomes. The program’s mission is to protect and perpetuate, in an undisturbed natural state, those lands and waters embracing natural features of exceptional scientific and educational value. SNAs are open to the public for hiking, nature photography, bird watching, snowshoeing and other activities that don’t disturb the natural conditions. Some SNAs are open to hunting. SNAs are intended to give people the opportunity to experience undisturbed nature. Thus, signs and parking lots may or may not exist at individual sites. Some sites have interpretive kiosks to help visitors identify key features and processes. These areas don’t have restrooms or other facilities and most don’t have maintained trails.

To learn more about Minnesota’s SNAs, visit:

– Kelly Randall, DNR SNA outreach coordinator


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