DNR News Release


Walleye stocking: By the numbers
Breeding mallard numbers down, other species up from last year
DNR plans to sell nonferrous mineral leases
DNR aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal repealed; affirmation passed
Protecting forests helps protect tullibee in cold, clear lakes
Meeker County OHV Park to celebrate grand opening June 27
Question of the week: wildlife in caves


Anglers are never far from a lake where they can catch walleye in Minnesota. Fish stocking keeps it that way.

Stocking walleyes involves taking eggs from waters that have reproducing walleye populations and releasing newly hatched fry or small walleye fingerlings into lakes that don’t have reproducing populations.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pays for its stocking effort with fishing license and walleye stamp dollars. This year, the process started April 8 in the Pike River near Tower, used eight egg-take sites and ended April 26 in Fergus Falls.

Curious about walleye stocking? Here’s a snapshot, by the numbers.

2015 stocking effort

Eggs taken: 4,655 quarts of eggs, or 582 million eggs, close to the 10-year average.
2015 stocking plan: 286 rearing ponds get 115 million fry and 272 lakes get 296 million fry. The goal for fingerling stocking is about 140,000 pounds.
General walleye stocking stats

Length of a walleye fry: about 1/3-inch.
Length of a walleye fingerling: 4- to 6-inches.
Lakes stocked with walleye (each lake usually every other year): about 1,050, all over the state.
Lakes where, without any stocking, anglers could still catch walleye: 260, mostly in the northern half of the state.
Estimated percentage of walleye harvested that result from natural reproduction: 85 percent, with about half from popular walleye lakes like Lake of the Woods, Leech, Red and Winnibigoshish.
Cost of an easy way to support walleye stocking: $5, to buy a walleye stamp, sold wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
Stocking other fish
The DNR also rears and stocks catfish, muskellunge, lake sturgeon and northern pike using 11 warm-water hatcheries; and stream trout, lake trout and splake in five cold-water hatcheries. To provide youth fishing opportunities in numerous Twin Cities metro area lakes, the agency stocks bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, perch and walleye.

For stocking information about individual lakes, enter the lake name on LakeFinder at the DNR Fish Minnesota page, http://www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               June 22, 2015

Breeding mallard numbers down, other species up from last year

Minnesota’s breeding mallard population counts are down from last year while other species saw increases, according to the results of the annual Minnesota Department of Natural Resources spring waterfowl surveys.

This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 206,000, which is 20 percent below last year’s estimate of 257,000 breeding mallards, 17 percent below the recent 10-year average and 10 percent above the long-term average measured since 1968.

The blue-winged teal population is 169,000 this year, 66 percent above the 2014 estimate of 102,000, but the population remains 21 percent below the long-term average of 212,000 blue-winged teal.

The combined populations of other ducks, such as ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads was 149,000, which is 29 percent higher than last year and 16 percent below the long-term average.

The estimate of total duck abundance (excluding scaup) was 524,000, similar to last year’s estimate of 474,000 ducks.

The estimated number of wetlands was 220,000, down 36 percent from last year, and 13 percent below the long-term average. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.

“We generally expect to see lower duck numbers during dry years. We did see lower mallard numbers this year, but blue-winged teal and other duck numbers were improved from last year,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “In addition to our counts, the continental waterfowl population estimates will be released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later this summer and they provide an indicator of what hunters can expect this fall.”

The same waterfowl survey has been conducted each year since 1968 to provide an annual index of breeding duck abundance. The survey covers 40 percent of the state that includes much of the best remaining duck breeding habitat in Minnesota.

A DNR waterfowl biologist and pilot count all waterfowl and wetlands along established survey routes by flying low-level aerial surveys from a fixed-wing plane. The survey is timed to begin in early May to coincide with peak nesting activity of mallards. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides ground crews who also count waterfowl along some of the same survey routes. These data are then used to correct for birds not seen by the aerial crew.

This year’s Canada goose population was estimated at 250,000 geese, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 244,000 geese. This doesn’t include an additional estimated 17,500 breeding Canada geese in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“The number of Canada geese in Minnesota remains high but the population has been very stable for many years. With the early spring this year, we should see a good hatch of goslings as well,” Cordts said.

The number of breeding Canada geese in the state is estimated via a helicopter survey of nesting Canada geese in April. The survey, which includes most of the state except for the Twin Cities metropolitan area, counts Canada geese on randomly selected plots located in prairie, transition and forested areas.

The DNR will announce this fall’s waterfowl hunting regulations later this summer. The Minnesota waterfowl report is at http://www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   June 22, 2015

DNR plans to sell nonferrous mineral leases

The Department of Natural Resources plans to hold a sale of state-owned metallic mineral leases for sites in northern Minnesota in fall 2015.

The DNR invites public input on the areas under consideration, which include sites in Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching and St. Louis counties, totaling 103,000 acres.

The “Notice of Intent to Hold State Metallic Minerals Lease Sale” was published in the EQB Monitor and State Register Monday, June 22 and is available on the DNR’s website at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/leasesale/index.html.

This will be the state’s 34th metallic minerals lease sale and the first using a new process designed to increase transparency, provide better access to information and afford an opportunity for public input.

The website includes screening criteria used by the DNR in its review of potential areas for lease as well as an interactive web map showing the areas under consideration in relation to outdoor recreation areas and natural features. The public is invited to provide written input about the sites to the DNR. Information about how to submit input is posted on the website.

The lease sale involves nonferrous minerals, which are all metals except iron ore and taconite.  Examples of nonferrous metallic minerals are: copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold, silver, cobalt, chromium, zinc, lead, bismuth, tin, tungsten, tantalum and niobium.

Under Minnesota statute, the DNR is charged with managing state-owned minerals for exploration and development. Revenue generated from state metallic mineral leases benefits the schools, the university, and local taxing districts. On average, the DNR holds a metallic mineral lease sale about every one to two years.

Following the receipt of bids, the state’s Executive Council, comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor will make final decisions about whether to approve new state metallic minerals leases.

A lease does not automatically grant the leaseholder permission to mine. Before a state-owned parcel can be mined, the leaseholder must comply with all legal requirements for environmental review and permitting. Most state metallic minerals leases end within five years. Historically, about 2 percent of areas under state metallic minerals leases have one or more exploratory borings.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   June 22, 2015

DNR aquatic invasive species training and
trailer decal repealed; affirmation passed

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species (AIS) training and trailer decal program, which was due to launch this year, was repealed by the Minnesota Legislature during its recently completed special session.

In its place, the Legislature added an AIS affirmation provision to some licenses The affirmation will be added to new watercraft and nonresident fishing licenses beginning in 2016, so no immediate actions are required under the new law.

“We appreciate the aquatic invasive species affirmation passed by the Legislature,” said Ann Pierce, section manager, for the DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division. “We will continue to use all educational and outreach tools available to reach out to Minnesotans and visitors to help keep our lakes and rivers healthy.”

Starting in 2016, all newly issued watercraft licenses will have an AIS affirmation section. All nonresident fishing licenses will also include the AIS affirmation section beginning in March 2016. License applicants after these dates will receive a summary of AIS laws and will be required to affirm that they have read and understand the summary in order to receive their license. No fees are associated with the affirmation.

The repealed law applied to anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment, such as docks and lifts, in Minnesota. It would have required these individuals to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer starting July 15.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  June 22, 2015

Protecting forests helps protect tullibee in cold, clear lakes

A favorite prey species for walleye, northern pike, lake trout and muskellunge is facing an uncertain future in northern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Tullibee, also called cisco, could be in trouble.

“Tullibee need deep, cold water with high oxygen levels,” said Pete Jacobson, DNR fisheries scientist. “These habitat requirements make them vulnerable to both a warming climate and conversion of forestland surrounding lakes.”

An initiative, now in its second year, aims to safeguard the clean, cold water that tullibee require by protecting 75 percent of the forests in watersheds surrounding clear-water fishing lakes from development or agriculture use. Landowners are working with conservation groups including the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation (LLAWF), with local governments and the DNR to protect this land.

Forests anchor land and keep it from eroding into lakes. Erosion-added phosphorous aids the growth of algae that depletes oxygen in the deepest waters of a lake, where tullibee live.

“Protecting forests to protect fish is a tactic we could employ on hundreds of lakes here in Minnesota. We have more tullibee lakes here than any other state in the lower 48,” Jacobson said.

Foundation and DNR awarded funding
A $1.13 million Outdoor Heritage Fund grant will go to the LLAWF and the Minnesota Land Trust for efforts to help landowners through an easement program in the watersheds of 33 high quality lakes in north-central Minnesota. In the program, landowners put property in conservation easements that permanently preserve land’s natural or scenic features.

“With strategic investment we can protect some of the highest quality fisheries habitat in Minnesota, and perhaps in the nation,” said Lindsey Ketchel, LLAWF executive director. “This will ensure healthy and resilient fish populations and enjoyment of these lakes for future generations.”

In an Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant, the DNR received $936,000 for Forest for the Future easements to protect forests near five of the state’s best tullibee lakes: Ten Mile in Cass County; Big Trout and Pelican in Crow Wing County; and Big Sand and Kabekona lakes in Hubbard County. Forest for the Future easements allow sustainable timber harvest without allowing the land to be developed or cleared for agriculture use. More about the Forests for the Future program is at http://www.mndnr.gov/forestlegacy/mff.

Landowners who sell easements to protect their land help counteract the trend of private land being split up and sold for development or agriculture use.

Also included in the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant is $290,000 for aquatic management area acquisition around tullibee lakes.

“It takes the combined efforts of citizens and local, state and non-governmental agencies to protect forests,” said Martin Jennings, DNR aquatic habitat program manager. “It’s gratifying to see this diverse set of partners putting money and effort into protecting our best waters and our future fishing opportunities.”

Funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund must be recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and approved by the state legislature. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of several created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the constitution in 2008.

For more information about the LLAWF, see http://www.leechlakewatershed.org.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    June 22, 2015

Meeker County OHV Park to celebrate grand opening June 27

A grand opening celebration for the new Meeker County Off-highway Vehicle Park will take place Saturday, June 27, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Amenities of the 40-acre wooded park include 5 miles of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails and 6 miles of off-highway motorcycle (OHM) trails, a picnic shelter with tables, a wheelchair-accessible portable toilet, parking, a youth ATV training area and a mudding area. OHVs must have current registration to ride in the park.

The Crow River Wheelers Club will demonstrate the basics of ATV safety with a simulator that allows kids and other beginners to experience what it feels like to ride an ATV. Club members also will serve complimentary hot dogs at noon and lead trail rides throughout the day to help familiarize visitors with the park.

The club was established in 1993 to promote ATV riding by educating its members and the public about the positive aspects of ATV use. Part of its mission has been to provide an area where people could ride their ATVs and off-highway motorcycles.

To raise funds for such an area, the club has been hosting annual motocross races at the McLeod County Fair since 1995. In 2001, the club purchased land in Meeker County, where members have been building and riding on trails ever since.

By 2009, the club started the process of opening the trails to the public so that club members could share their passion for the sport of ATV riding with more people. They submitted a project proposal to the DNR.

“With the DNR’s help and the help of Meeker County, this park is now open for everyone to enjoy,” said Kerry Hansen, president of the Crow River Wheelers Club. “The club would like to extend its sincere appreciation to everyone that has helped make this day possible.”

The OHV park is located south of Darwin and north of Hutchinson at 18738 CSAH 9 Darwin, MN 55324. From Darwin, go west on Highway 12, then turn south onto County Road 9 and continue for approximately 6 miles. The entrance to the park is on the east side of the road.

For information about the condition of Meeker County OHV Park and other public off-highway vehicle trails, visit http://www.mndnr.gov and click “Current Conditions.” Updates are also available by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157, 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Question of the week

Q: Other than bats, what types of wildlife are found in Minnesota caves?

A: Minnesota caves don’t have as many wildlife species as caves in southern states. That’s because when glaciers covered this region 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, our caves experienced freezing temperatures that would have caused most cave-adapted species to die out.

Still, we do have some wildlife like bats that use caves – especially in the winter months. This is because caves maintain a constant temperature that reflects the yearly average temperature of the surrounding area, which is 48 degrees Fahrenheit here at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota. Racoons are famous for using caves, and they will travel for miles underground when the weather gets cold outside. We can follow raccoon tracks from one hole in the bedrock to another during winter, and the lower levels of the cave are like a raccoon highway.

During summer months, cave wildlife here is limited mainly to beetles and springtails, which are small insects that live in some of the pools on the surface of the water. We’ll often see salamanders near cave entrances, and mice make their way into caves as well. Most bats leave the cave from May until August to feed and roost in the forest.

Even when wildlife in caves is scarce, there’s still a lot to see including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils and beautiful underground pools. Plus, caves provide a nice break from the summer heat.

Warren Netherton, cave specialist, Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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