FROM THE DNR: Wolf Season Closure, Deer and Elk surveys, Take-A-Kid Fishing, ….

Take a kid fishing!
Take a kid fishing!

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #97                                                                            Dec. 30, 2013
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr.

Mukooda Lake closed to lake trout harvest*REVISED 1/7/14
Wolf Season Closes
Minnesota state parks and trails offer ‘First Day Hikes’ as  part of nationwide
effort to start new year in healthy way
DNR to fly deer and elk surveys
Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Jan. 18-20
DNR seeking comments on Blufflands/Rochester Plateau subsection forestresource management plan
Legacy funds boost effort to restore 150 years of degradation
in the St Louis River estuary
Question of the week: deer coat


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Dec. 31, 2013

Minnesota concludes wolf hunting and trapping season

Minnesota concluded its second wolf season when the Department of Natural Resources closed the east-central zone on Saturday, Dec. 28.

A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons. The harvest target was 220 wolves.

“Wolf season target harvest limits are set conservatively to not negatively affect Minnesota’s wolf population long term,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “The targets for each hunting zone are used as triggers to close the season. Hunters and trappers have another full day in the field after a zone’s closure is announced.”

Minnesota’s wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter. The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population prior to pups being born. Wolf populations rapidly increase in the spring when pups are born and decline at various rates annually depending on mortality factors in addition to the wolf season.

The DNR will complete an assessment of Minnesota’s wolf population status this winter and summarize data from the 2013 wolf season before setting the 2014 wolf season.

Additional information about wolves is available on the DNR website at


NOTE: This is a revised version of a news release sent Dec. 30, clarifying language in the second paragraph.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Jan. 7, 2014

Mukooda Lake closed to lake trout harvest

Mukooda Lake, located in Voyageurs National Park in northern St. Louis County, will be closed to lake trout harvest effective Jan. 15.

While fishing on or in Mukooda Lake, angling for lake trout is limited to catch-and-release only. Any lake trout caught must be immediately returned to the lake. It is unlawful for anyone to have in possession, regardless of where taken, any lake trout while stopping on or fishing in these waters. A person who is in transit and passing through Mukooda Lake, taking the most direct route back to the person’s lodging or docking, and not fishing, may possess lake trout if the species were legally taken from other waters.

Mukooda Lake contains a self-sustaining population of lake trout that have a unique genetic make-up. This unique strain has persisted for decades in spite of DNR stocking efforts and competition from cool-water species such as northern pike, walleye, and bass.

“The decision to close Mukooda Lake to trout harvest is based on creel survey estimates and observations of fishing pressure,” said Kevin Peterson, International Falls area fisheries supervisor. “The lake’s habitat supports slow natural reproduction and efforts to boost the lake trout population through stocking have not been successful. Halting the lake trout harvest will protect the remaining stock and allow us to see how the fishery responds.”

The rule (6262.0575 Subp. 14) will be published in the state register prior to the start of the lake trout angling season opener.

The DNR continues to work with resource managers at Voyageurs National Park to monitor the fish populations and goals for this and several other lakes located within the park.

“We support the DNR’s decision and are ready to assist,” said Voyageurs National Park Superintendent Mike Ward. “We understand anglers enjoy the trout in Mukooda Lake and we appreciate their patience while we take steps to ensure this stock thrives in the future.”

The lake management plan for Mukooda Lake will be updated in 2014, which will provide additional opportunities for information sharing and stakeholder input. This closure is a temporary measure which will be in effect for 18 months. DNR fisheries will hold public meetings in 2014 to consider longer-term measures to protect Mukooda lake trout.



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Dec. 30, 2013

Minnesota state parks and trails offer ‘First Day Hikes’ as
part of nationwide effort to start new year in healthy way

Share adventures on Twitter by using #firstdayhikes

Looking for an invigorating way to kick off the New Year? The Department of Natural Resources encourages people to ring in 2014 with a First Day Hike on Wednesday, Jan. 1, at a state park or trail. All 50 states are participating in the third annual event that invites everyone to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of the natural world with fun, guided hikes.

“We have five First Day Hikes taking place at Minnesota state parks and trails on New Year’s Day,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, “but if you can’t make it to one of those events, remember that Minnesota state parks and trails are open every day, even in winter, so come out and hike whenever and wherever it’s most convenient.”

Check out the maps online or ask a staff person to recommend a route. “They know best, and we want you to have a good time so you come back,” Nelson said.

First Day Hikes will take place in Minnesota on Jan. 1, at:

  • Afton State Park (Hastings) 10-11:30 a.m.: Join naturalist to find one thing that inspires, intrigues or increases awareness of the natural world.
  • Gateway State Trail (St. Paul), 2-3:30 p.m.: This naturalist-led hike will take place on a paved trail through a scenic part of metro area. Meet in the parking lot of the Ramsey County District Court building at 2050 White Bear Ave.
  • Jay Cooke State Park (Carlton), 1-2:30 p.m.: A naturalist will lead a snowshoe hike through the park (child and adult snowshoe rentals are available; call ahead to reserve a pair, 218-384-4610, ext. 229). Meet at the River Inn Interpretive Center.
  • Lake Carlos State Park (Alexandria), 1-2:30 p.m.: A naturalist will guide hikers through the park and talk about its history, natural resources and cultural significance. Bring snowshoes if conditions warrant (rentals are available; call ahead to reserve a pair, 320-852-7200. Meet at the Lake View Group Camp (near the beach).
  • Minneopa State Park (Mankato), 10-11:30 a.m.: Learn natural and historic facts about area on a naturalist-led hike from the group campground to the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River. Meet at picnic shelter on falls side of park.

A vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit). Those who don’t already have a Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ( can purchase one at any of the parks.

Last year, First Day Hikes hosted 22,000 people, who covered nearly 44,000 miles in 700 state parks all across the country, according to Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors.

“These family-friendly outings provide a great chance to get outside and experience the beauty of our parks, stay fit and build lasting traditions with loved ones,” Geigis said.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation — a state park in Milton, Mass.

America’s State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up to promote these hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.

For cold weather hiking tips, visit

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


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Dec. 30, 2013

DNR to fly deer and elk surveys

Pending suitable snow cover, the Department of Natural Resources plans to fly white-tailed deer population surveys from December through March in central and southeastern Minnesota.

“In the transition zone between agricultural and forested lands, which generally stretches from the northwest to southeast across Minnesota, we use aerial surveys to recalibrate the deer population model,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These survey flights help us make decisions on deer permit area designations that achieve our population goals.”

DNR pilots will fly low-level helicopter surveys in 18 deer permit areas during daylight hours at an altitude of approximately 200 feet.

Areas targeted to be flown include:

  • Deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 229, 239 and 241 in Becker, Benton, Clay, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Wright counties.
  • Deer permit areas 341-343 and 345-349 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.

Aerial elk surveys using both an airplane and helicopter are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota. The flights are conducted annually during winter.

Questions about survey flights should be directed to the DNR’s farmland wildlife research office in Madelia,507-642-8478, the northwest regional wildlife office in Bemidji, 218-308-2651 or the Rochester area wildlife office,507-206-2859.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              Dec. 30, 2013

Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Jan. 18-20

Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing or spear fishing without purchasing an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend Saturday, Jan. 18 through Monday, Jan. 20, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for family and friends to get those special kids in their life outdoors enjoying the fun and beauty of a Minnesota winter,” said Roland Sigurdson, DNR aquatic education supervisor. “What better way to celebrate our winter heritage than by passing on the tradition of ice fishing.”

Ice fishing presents some unique challenges, but with basic equipment, a few skills, and good planning, ice fishing can be easy, enjoyable and exciting.

Here are key ice fishing tips from DNR’s MinnAqua program, which provides resources to teach fishing skills, aquatic ecology and conservation stewardship of our lakes and rivers:

  • Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with winter’s icy chill. Layers keep you warm in cold conditions by creating pockets of warm air and helping moisture evaporate.
  • Portable ice shelters can increase the enjoyment of the experience by keeping kids warmer.
  • Plan for a shorter, quality experience that will make a happier memory. Cold, bored kids don’t ask to go again.
  • Bring snacks and warm beverages to make a comfortable experience.
  • Bring a variety of baits to increase chances of success.

More tips are available online at

Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring coordinator and Mike “Smitty” Smith from the “Ice Team” share insights and information about kids, mentoring and ice fishing in an online podcast audio program available on DNR website at

Additional Resources:

NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               Dec. 30, 2013

DNR seeking comments on Blufflands/Rochester Plateau 
subsection forest resource management plan

A draft of the Blufflands/Rochester Plateau subsection forest resource management plan is open for public comment until 4:30 p.m., Feb. 3, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The plan consists of two primary products. The draft document outlines the planning process, forest vegetation management goals and directions, implementation strategies and stand selection criteria used to identify the forest stands to be site-visited by foresters and possibly treated over the next 10-year period, fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2024. The 10-year stand examination list includes 848 stands totaling 16,183 acres that are being considered for site visits and possible treatment over the 10-year plan implementation period.

Stands on the list have received a preliminary prescription (i.e., harvest, thin, site visit to determine management or re-inventory) based on the directions as stated in the draft document. Once the stands are site-visited and evaluated, final treatment will be assigned. Based on past experience, not all stands identified for site visits result in a timber sale and harvest.

The document and exam list are available online at:
Paper copies (170 pages) may be requested at the address below.

Comments on the draft document or individual forest stands placed on the list may be submitted to: Robert Pulford, Forestry Division, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401; phone:218-833-8704; fax: 218-833-8668; or email:

All written comments received will be considered with responses prepared. Comments and responses will be included in the final plan scheduled for adoption by the DNR in March.

The Blufflands/Rochester Plateau are two ecological subsections in southeastern Minnesota that includes approximately 63,000 acres of state forest timberlands (lands capable of producing timber) administered by the DNR divisions of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife. These subsections cover all or parts of 10 counties: Dakota, Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona, Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Olmsted, Dodge and Rice. The majority of lands subject to this plan are located in: Dakota, Wabasha, Winona, Houston and Fillmore counties. The Whitewater Wildlife Management Area and the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest are the primary state administered units within the Blufflands/Rochester Plateau subsections.

The draft plan takes into consideration a broad range of factors that affect forest management, including: increasing forest health and productivity, managing vegetation for rare species and habitat, balancing timber age classes over time, identifying stands to be managed to accommodate diverse wildlife and ecological resources, and limiting impacts to cultural, visual and water resources – all balanced to provide sustainable forest resources. Sustainable forest management is the underlying goal of the management plan planning process.

The DNR prepares management plans consistent with ecological subsection boundaries to ensure that ecological characteristics are considered as forestry management is implemented.  The Blufflands/Rochester Plateau plan is one of 10 ecological subsection planning efforts in the state for the DNR.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Dec. 30, 2013

Legacy funds boost effort to restore 150 years of degradation in the St. Louis River estuary

When the St. Louis River estuary was federally designated in 1987 as Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC) by the Environmental Protection Agency, local citizens and resource agencies knew the task of restoring the estuary would be herculean. What they didn’t know was that 21 years later, Minnesota voters would give the project a boost by approving the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

As Lake Superior’s largest tributary, and home to the world’s busiest freshwater shipping port, the St. Louis River estuary is both an important waterway for commercial trade throughout the upper Midwest and a critical area of habitat. But 150 years of historical actions such as improper municipal and industrial waste disposal and unchecked land use practices, including dredging and filling of aquatic habitat and damaging logging practices, contributed to the complex set of issues at the time it was listed.

Written in 1992, and updated in 2013, a remedial action plan for the estuary identified roadmaps to removing the nine identified beneficial use impairments (BUIs) that have resulted in environmental problems from pollution to habitat loss. BUIs are designated when a body of water has undergone a change to its chemical, physical, or biological integrity to a point that the impairment significantly affects use by humans and wildlife. The plan also includes 58 priority actions to protect and restore the landscape – and, ultimately, delist the AOC.

Since 2010, federal funds have been available from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for priority work in the estuary, but projects still needed state or local sources of money to leverage those federal funds. As the largest and most complex AOC on the Great Lakes, project leaders faced the difficult task of competing for funding with smaller projects that could be completed more quickly.

Fortunately, with the passage of the Legacy Amendment in 2008, a state source of funds was readily available to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency through the Clean Water Fund to address water quality issues, and to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the Outdoor Heritage Fund for projects to restore wetlands and critical habitat.

The Minnesota Land Trust contributed contract management services, and a wide variety of citizen groups, tribal organizations, and others provided continuing support and advocacy.

“Each funding program has a specific set of requirements for the types of work they can perform, so it takes a carefully coordinated effort to balance available funding with complex and multi-phased projects,” said DNR AOC Coordinator John Lindgren. “The progress made to date is a functional example of government and non-government organizations working together to most efficiently apply dollars, time and resources for the best conservation outcomes.”

To date, Legacy dollars are being applied to assist with projects to remove historical logging waste at Radio Tower Bay and Grassy Point, restore trout habitat at Knowlton Creek, restore and enhance historically degraded wild rice beds, and restore critical spawning habitat at Chambers Grove, among other things. Partner agencies are on track to remove five of the BUIs by 2018, and hope to have the remaining four removed by 2025.

In 2011, four young sturgeon were sampled in the estuary; the first evidence of sturgeon reproduction in many decades and a sign of improving habitat and another step toward recovery for fish and other species.

“We have more to do, but it’s clear we wouldn’t be this far along in delisting the estuary (AOC) without the Legacy Amendment dollars. It was the right tool, at the right time,” added Lindgren.

For more information about the DNR’s Legacy Amendment funded projects in Minnesota, visit

View a video about the piling removal at Radio Tower Bay, part of the St. Louis River estuary, and one of the funded projects:



Q: Why does the fur coat of a deer change colors depending on the time of year – a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall?

A: The deer’s coat is designed to provide both a means for thermoregulation and camouflage. Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress. In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons. The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow. The new coat is comprised of two layers. The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about 2 inches longer than the undercoat. The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow. Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.

– Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor


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