DNR NEWS: Comments Sought on Proposed Deer Population Goals, Spring Burning Restrictions, and More.

MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #21                                                                                      March 23, 2015
Media contact: Julie Forster, DNR information officer, 651-259-5356, julie.forster@state.mn.us.
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr.

Comments sought on proposed Minnesota deer population goals
Spring burning restrictions take effect this week in much of Minnesota
New well provides fresh, safe water at Blue Mounds State Park
Nongame Wildlife Program seeks to understand piping plover peril
Question of the week: volunteers

Media contact: Leslie McInenly, big game program leader, 651-259-5198,leslie.mcnenly@state.mn.us.

Comments sought on proposed Minnesota deer population goals

Comments on proposed deer population goals recommended by citizen advisory teams in 40 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas will be accepted Thursday, April 2, through Wednesday, April 15, on the Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

The DNR will evaluate advisory team recommendations and public comments on those recommendations before determining the final deer population goal for each of five goal-setting blocks. Once goals are established, the DNR will announce those goals, and wildlife managers will implement harvest strategies to meet and maintain them.

“We’ve used a fairly extensive process to revisit deer population goals in large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “To date, the public engagement process has included public meetings, opt-in questionnaires and written comments, and most recently, the assistance of citizen advisory teams to review public input and provide recommendations for revised deer population goals.”

The DNR also conducted statistically representative surveys of hunters and landowners in the five goal-setting blocks to learn about their perceptions and attitudes.

People serving on the advisory committees represent a cross-section of interests including archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters; area residents and landowners; farmers; land managers, local government staff and appointed officials; local business owners; and members of hunting, conservation and agricultural organizations.

Specific population goal recommendations will be posted online, along with the factors advisory team members cited when making recommendations. People should review this supporting information before submitting comments, which will only be accepted online atwww.mndnr.gov/deer.

Revisiting deer population goals began in 2012, when similar area teams helped set new goals for some permit areas in the Windom, Floodwood and Tower areas. Last year, new goals were set for southeastern Minnesota. The DNR plans to have new goals in place for all Minnesota deer permit areas before the 2016 firearms deer season.

More information on the process is available on the DNR’s deer management Web page atwww.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 March 23, 2015
Media contacts: Linda Gormanson, wildfire prevention coordinator, 320-293-8277,
linda.gormanson@state.mn.us; J
ean Goad, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center information officer,
218-327-4564, jean.goad@state.mn.us.

Spring burning restrictions take effect this week in much of Minnesota

The Department of Natural Resources will restrict debris burning in many northwestern, southern and central Minnesota counties this week, beginning Wednesday, March 25, and in other parts of the state beginning in April.

Burning restrictions mean the state will not allow the open burning of brush or yard waste. Debris burning is especially dangerous during April and May when most wildfires occur in Minnesota.

Spring burning restrictions coincide with increasing fire potential throughout much of the state due to the early snow melt and dry fuels like grass and leaves. With the snow gone, exposed dead grass and brush can light easily and fires can spread quickly. Restrictions last until sufficient green vegetation forms, normally from four to six weeks.

“The spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the number and size of accidental fires,” said Ron Stoffel, DNR wildfire suppression supervisor.

Counties can be quickly added to the restrictions list during dry, windy days when fires could easily burn out of control. Therefore, residents are encouraged to visitwww.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html or call their local forestry office to obtain up-to-date information on fire danger and burning restrictions.

In addition, many local counties and municipalities have specific burning regulations or restrictions. Check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

The burning restrictions do not apply to campfires; they are still allowed. Clear an area around the campfire, watch it continuously and make sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving.




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     March 23, 2015
Media contacts: Chris Ingebretsen, Blue Mounds State Park manager, 507-283-6051,
chris.ingebretsen@state.mn.us; Kathy Dummer, regional manager for the southern region,

New well provides fresh, safe water at Blue Mounds State Park

A new well will provide campers with fresh, safe water at Blue Mounds State Park after another well was sealed due to the presence of E.coli, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Park Manager Chris Ingebretsen said that a new 330-foot well has cleared all tests from the Minnesota Department of Health and will provide campers with clean, fresh water.

“The new well was dug last November,” Ingebretsen said. “We have been doing extensive testing since, to be sure the water is free of bacteria. We’ve gotten the green light and are all set for campers when we officially turn the water on May 1.”

In May of last year, routine testing identified a positive sample of E.coli in the water system serving the main campground and office. Although no visitors were affected by the water, all water spigots were signed as unsafe for drinking throughout the system. A number of options were explored, Ingebretsen said, with the best solution being to seal the contaminated well with concrete and dig a new well.

Blue Mounds State Park is 40 minutes east of Sioux Falls off Interstate 90 and 3.5 hours southwest of Minneapolis, near the city of Luverne.

The park is known for its herd of bison roaming a 530-acre prairie, Sioux quartzite cliffs rising 100 feet from the plains, and a sea of prairie grasses and flowers. The park is a favorite for birdwatchers who want to see nesting blue grosbeaks and other birds. Camping and rock climbing are popular activities at the park.

Updates and more information on the park can be found at www.mndnr.gov/bluemounds.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    March 23, 2015
Media contact: Christine Herwig, DNR northwest region nongame specialist, 218-308-2641,

Nongame Wildlife Program seeks to understand piping plover peril

By Kristi Coughlon
DNR information officer

“Peep-lo!” The high-pitched whistle pierced the air at the Pine and Curry Island Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) on Lake of the Woods. Christine Herwig scanned the sandy beach and dunes, squinting to find the source of the cry.

Herwig, a Nongame Wildlife biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, spotted a small, sand-colored shorebird with black eyebrow and necklace as it skittered away. Studying the ground carefully, she found a single nest with four eggs. After installing a wire cage around it to protect the eggs from predators, she stepped back and watched as two adult piping plovers darted through the mesh openings to check on the status of their reproductive efforts.

That encounter in the spring of 2013 was the last time a nesting pair of piping plovers has been seen by Herwig – or anyone else – anywhere in Minnesota. Named for its melodic mating call, the bird has been on both state and federal lists of threatened and endangered species since the mid-1980s due to habitat loss and human disturbance.

Piping plovers are small shorebirds that need wide open and undisturbed sandy beaches with pebbles that camouflage their eggs to protect them from predators. They also need areas high on the shoreline where nests are safe from high water and waves. Twenty years ago, Minnesota had four piping plover breeding locations. Today, Pine and Curry Island, purchased and designated as an SNA to protect piping plovers and common terns, remains their last known nesting location. The Nongame Wildlife Program has been visiting the island each year since 1982 to assess the rare island habitat and look for plover nests, hoping for a comeback.

Last year, Herwig returned to Pine and Curry Island SNA and failed to find even one nest. She’ll go back again this year, but the future for piping plovers in Minnesota doesn’t look hopeful. Despite intensive efforts to protect nests and improve habitat, the number of plovers nesting on the SNA has declined as portions of the island have washed away. Over 1.5 miles of the 4-mile-long island have disappeared since the late 1980s. High water levels, storm events and possibly a change in how the Rainy River flows into Lake of the Woods are contributing factors.

“It’s the nature of working with endangered species,” Herwig said. “We have many successes along with some failures, but we don’t walk away from these species and consider them a lost cause. We make them a priority and hope we can find some way to help them continue to breed in Minnesota.”

Piping plovers are just one of the many animals that the Nongame Wildlife Program studies in order to help them survive, from iconic critters such as eagles and loons, to cricket frogs, rattlesnakes and rare prairie butterflies – more than 800 species that aren’t hunted. The program is supported primarily by donations, most made when people file their state income taxes. Such donations are tax-deductible and are matched dollar-for-dollar by state conservation license plate funds.

“Piping plovers may never make a significant comeback in Minnesota,” Herwig said. “But by trying to understand their habitat needs, we can work toward healthier ecosystems for many other species, those that are hunted as well as those that aren’t.”

To donate to the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program or for more information about it, visitwww.dnr.state.mn.us/nongame/donate.


NOTE TO MEDIA: Images available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “03-23-15 piping plover.”



Question of the week

Q: National Volunteer Week is coming up April 12-18. What sort of volunteer opportunities does the DNR have to offer?

A: Each year thousands of people volunteer their time to help the DNR with a variety of projects. Volunteer opportunities vary across the state from assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair – to name just a few.

Opportunities change depending on the season. Right now, the DNR is looking for volunteers to help radio collar sharp-tailed grouse, count loons and frogs, protect trees, bait hooks at fishing clinics, pull invasive plants, and search for rare wildflowers. Volunteer positions are listed on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/opps/index.html, or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Renée Vail, DNR volunteer programs administrator



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