FROM THE DNR: Leech Lake Walleye, Poached Animals…

From the DNR2MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #75                                                                                 Oct. 7, 2013

IN THIS ISSUE
Blaze orange safety requirement reduces hunting accidents
Minnesota’s Lake Superior coastal program solicits grant applications
Avoid deer-vehicle crashes while driving this fall
Strong walleye population continues in Leech Lake
DNR designates Lake 14 as the 48th wildlife management lake
Question of the week: Poached animals

 

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Blaze orange safety requirement reduces hunting accidents

With Minnesota’s small game hunting season underway and the firearm deer season set to begin Nov. 9, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says making a blaze orange fashion statement this fall might not get you on the best-dressed list, but it just might save your life.

“Wearing blaze orange clothing is a safety requirement to hunt or trap during Minnesota’s small game season or deer season,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “It’s important to be seen by others.”

Small Game Seasons: At least one visible article of clothing above the waist must be blaze orange when taking small game, except when hunting wild turkeys, migratory birds, raccoons, predators, when hunting by falconry, trapping or while hunting deer by archery while stationary.

Deer Season: The visible portion of a cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, must be blaze orange when hunting or trapping during any open season where deer may be taken by firearms (including special hunts, early antlerless, youth seasons and muzzleloader). Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot. This restriction does not apply to migratory bird hunters on waters or in stationary shooting locations or to trappers on waters.

“The failure to wear to wear blaze orange puts a hunter in jeopardy of not being seen by someone who does not take the time to properly identify their target and what’s beyond it,” Hammer said.

Hammer recommends faded blaze orange garments be replaced.

“Blaze orange, more than any other color, is the most easily seen and recognized bright, unnatural color against a natural background,” Hammer said. “This shade of orange is the only satisfactory color for hunters to wear under all weather and light conditions. The color of the cap, vest, or coat should be plainly visible from all sides while it is being worn.”

From the standpoint of hunter safety, the wearing of this high-visibility color while deer hunting and while small game hunting in heavy cover, such as for grouse and pheasant, is a great communications tool.

“Blaze orange clothing is a tremendous aid in helping hunters maintain visual contact with one another, particularly when moving through dense cover or woods,” Hammer said. “Any hunter who has ever identified someone strictly by seeing blaze orange knows its value in keeping track of other hunters in the field.”

For those that use ground blinds, Hammer said to remember to place some blaze orange on the outside of the blind for others to see. Tent style blinds can fully conceal even the best dressed hunter.

Some safety tips for nonhunters:

  • Wear bright clothing. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Blaze orange vests and hats are advisable.
  • Don’t forget to protect pets. Get an orange vest for an accompanying dog.
  • Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation when walking to alert hunters that someone is in the area. Sound carries well across woods and forests, and hunters should listen for any sounds of animal movement.
  • Be courteous. Don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.
  • Make presence known. If a nonhunter hears shooting, the person should raise their voice and let hunters know they’re in vicinity.
  • Know the dates of hunting seasons. Learn about where and when hunting is taking place.
  • If hunting makes a nonhunter uneasy, the nonhunter should choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          Oct. 7, 2013

Minnesota’s Lake Superior coastal program solicits grant applications

Minnesota’s Lake Superior coastal program is soliciting applications by Nov. 6 for its 2014 annual grant cycle. Up to $450,000 will be available for projects that preserve, restore and enhance Minnesota’s coastal resources, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division administers the coastal program.

Grants are available in four project areas: coastal habitat protection and restoration; public access and historic preservation; community and natural resource planning; and coastal education and training.

Each year the coastal program offers federally-funded grants for projects that address coastal issues. These projects help achieve regional and state goals for managing the land and water resources in the coastal area.

Eligible to apply are local and state governmental entities and nonprofit groups working in the state’s coastal area, which includes portions of the lower St. Louis River, its estuary, Lake Superior and the North Shore.

Applicants are required to match 50 percent of the total project costs. Individual requests can vary, but no more than $100,000 per request will be awarded. Applications for community and natural resources planning and coastal education and training grants with up to $20,000 in total project costs may be eligible for a reduced match amount of 25 percent.

The purpose of the coastal program is to preserve, protect, develop and where possible, restore and enhance coastal resources for present and future generations. The program cooperates with state and federal agencies, local governments and several area organizations to manage the state’s coastal resources.

Grant funding is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.

Application materials are available online at www.mndnr.gov/waters/lakesuperior. Interested applicants can also request information in alternative formats by contacting Karla Sundberg, grants specialist, at 218-834-1447 orkarla.sundberg@state.mn.us.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              Oct. 7, 2013

Avoid deer-vehicle crashes while driving this fall

Nearly one-third of car-deer collisions each year occur between now and November, said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), citing a national report.

Minnesota is ranked eighth when it comes to car-deer crash totals, according to State Farm Insurance, which tracks the trends nationwide. Most states, the company reports, are seeing a decline in their numbers. There are two exceptions: Wyoming and Minnesota.

Though most people would expect these crashes to be more likely in rural areas, motorists in urban regions of the state also need to watch out for these dangerous — and sometimes deadly — accidents involving deer. Minnesota has 3 million drivers and 136,000 miles of roadway.

More than 20,000 deer-vehicle accidents are reported annually, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

While trying to predict when and where a deer and motorist will meet is an impossible task, drivers who understand how deer behave are more likely to avoid a crash. The DNR advises motorists to use these driving tips to help avoid collisions with deer:

  • See the signs. Deer-crossing signs are posted in high-risk areas. Drive with caution, especially in the posted areas.
  • Deer don’t roam alone. Deer often run together. If one deer is near or crossing the road, expect that others will follow.
  • Danger from dusk to dawn. Watch for deer especially at dawn and after sunset. About 20 percent of these crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.
  • Safety begins behind the wheel. Always wear safety belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.

If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, or the Minnesota State Patrol. By following these tips and maximizing one’s situational awareness, it becomes less likely to experience a deer-vehicle crash.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Oct. 7, 2013

Strong walleye population continues in Leech Lake

The results of recent fall test netting on Leech Lake conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show the walleye population remains strong and anglers who visit Leech Lake should continue to expect quality fishing.

Lake-wide, walleye counts in DNR test nets averaged 8.9 walleye per net lift, which was similar to results from the past 5 years and was above the long-term average of 7.7 walleye per net lift.

“September gill nets showed above-average numbers of all sizes of walleye,” said Doug Schultz, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Walker. “Fishing reports have been excellent all season, and this survey confirms that good walleye fishing is expected to continue through the winter and into next year.”

Schultz added that the strong 2010 year class reached harvestable sizes this summer, which “had a lot to do with angling success.” Additionally, 36 percent of walleye sampled were within the current slot limit and have provided anglers the opportunity to catch larger fish.

The DNR is considering relaxing the current 18- to 26-inch protected slot limit on Leech Lake to a 20- to 26-inch protected slot limit. If the proposal is carried forward, the relaxed slot limit would be effective for the 2014 fishing opener.

“The proposed change in the slot limit would allow anglers the opportunity to add 18 and 19-inch walleye to their bag,” said Schultz. “These fish comprise about one-third of walleye currently protected with the existing 18- to 26-inch slot limit.”

Schultz noted this regulation review and potential relaxation of the slot limit was programmed into the current management plan. The management plan detailed that if walleye population objectives were met or exceeded and all metrics indicated the walleye population could sustain increased harvest opportunity, the DNR would consider relaxing the slot limit. Results of this year’s survey indicate the timing of this review is appropriate.

Other game fish species targeted with test nets include yellow perch and northern pike. Yellow perch abundance declined for the sixth consecutive year, while northern pike abundance continues to remain stable. The primary species of nongame fish assessed with the test nets is cisco. Fall test netting indicated cisco continue to be present at moderate levels of abundance.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Oct. 7, 2013

DNR designates Lake 14 as the 48th wildlife management lake

Lake 14 in Big Stone County has officially been designated as Minnesota’s 48th wildlife management lake by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

The lake is a 48-acre shallow basin on the Klages Wildlife Management Area, 9.5 miles east of Ortonville. The basin has a history of high waterfowl use and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities.

The formal designation follows months of planning and public input. It provides the DNR with special authority to manage the lake for waterfowl, wildlife and clean water through the use of periodic, temporary water level drawdowns in addition to other strategies. A drawdown can improve waterfowl, wildlife and water quality conditions by stimulating critical aquatic plant growth and promoting a rough fish die-off.

“This is great news,” said Curt Vacek, DNR area wildlife manager. “The designation status is our assurance we can continue plans to restore the clear water, diverse vegetation and waterfowl use Lake 14 was once known for. I look forward to working with our partners and neighbors to ensure that happens.”

DNR partnered with Ducks Unlimited to survey and design the project, while determining the best solution to address the water and habitat quality problems in the basin. Ducks Unlimited will hire and manage the construction of a new water control structure through a grant from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008.

This project supports the efforts of the DNR long-range duck recovery plan and the shallow lakes program plan as well as Ducks Unlimited’s living lakes initiative.

More information on wildlife lake designations can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/wildlife/shallowlakes/designation.html.

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Question of the week

Q: What does the DNR do with animals that are taken illegally (poached)?

A: For those animals that are taken illegally, the DNR tries to ensure that the animal poached is not wasted. Meat from illegally harvested wild game such as deer is often donated to food shelves and other groups that serve those less fortunate. However, sometimes meat must be thrown away or destroyed. This has been especially true for fish. The DNR has an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health to dispose of meat, such as pre-packaged fish fillets, because it is often hard to tell whether or not the packaging was done properly. In some cases, the animal or bird, or parts of the animal, such as deer antlers, are turned over to schools and other educational institutions for study.

– Maj. Roger Tietz, operations support manager, DNR Enforcement Division

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