Here is the latest from the MN DNR: Spiny Waterflea and more

Spiny Waterflea - Photo courtesy of the MN DNR
Spiny Waterflea – Photo courtesy of the MN DNR

Spiny waterflea has been confirmed in Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota.

Anglers reported suspected spiny waterfleas to Department of Natural Resources staff and supplied a specimen to the DNR fisheries office in Tower, where it was positively identified. DNR aquatic biologists surveyed portions of the lake with plankton nets and weighted lines to confirm the presence of spiny waterflea in the lake. Live specimens were located near J B and Ely islands in the east basin.

Lake Vermilion and the Vermilion River will be designated as infested waters, and signs will be posted at public water access points to alert boaters and other recreationists. Crane Lake, a downstream water, is already designated for spiny waterflea.

“DNR staff are coordinating with the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and U.S. Forest Service to alert boaters and other recreationists of the risk of spread,” said Rich Rezanka, DNR aquatic biologist.

Spiny waterflea is a small crustacean that disrupts the food web and competes with small fish as it forages on animal plankton such as daphnia. Because of its long tail spike, the spiny waterflea is not eaten by small fish.

The species reproduces by a process called parthenogenesis. Most of the year, the species population is entirely female, which allows for rapid population growth. Microscopic spiny waterflea eggs are hardy and capable of overwintering in lakes, and their small size makes them an easy candidate for overland transfer in water or mud. 

When populations are high, anglers can experience frustration with masses of spiny waterfleas clogging fishing and downrigging lines, and other water equipment.

Recreationists on these lakes should look for infested waters signs at public accesses. The signs remind people using the lakes to be aware of the finding and take additional precautions to prevent the spread to other lakes. Bait harvest for any purpose is prohibited in lakes infested with spiny waterflea.

Anglers, boaters and other recreationists are reminded to clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft and trailers, drain water from all water equipment and drain bilges and livewells by removing the drain plug before leaving the boat landing, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

More information about spiny waterfleas, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at

DNR offers advice for dealing with storm damaged trees

Cleanup following a windstorm can be an overwhelming task for homeowners. Knowing which trees to save and which to remove can impact safety and the survival of remaining trees, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Forest health specialist Brian Schwingle offers the following tips.


  • Carefully inspect standing trees for damage and deal with hazardous trees first. If possible, ask a forester or arborist for advice.
  • Trees should be removed if more than 50 percent of the trunk or live branches in the tree crown are damaged, or if the tree is leaning and roots are damaged.
  • Watch for detached branches, loosely hanging branches and split or cracked trunks that can cause injury or further damage.
  • Use proper pruning techniques by cutting just outside the branch collar, but limit pruning to making the tree safe. Too much pruning can damage an already stressed tree.
  • Water stressed and damaged trees weekly to help them repair and rebuild. Be careful not to overwater, especially in heavy clay soils.
  • Monitor damaged trees in upcoming years to make sure they don’t become a hazard.


  • Don’t be rushed by promises of bargains from inexperienced or unqualified tree service providers. Improper pruning or unneeded removal can result in unnecessary costs or loss of healthy trees.
  • Don’t repair a broken branch or fork of a tree with tape, wire, bolts or other wraps. It will not heal, and the split will invite decay and further weaken the tree. Cabling or bracing should only be performed by a certified arborist and inspected annually.
  • Don’t remove the tops of trees. This makes the tree more susceptible to insects and disease, and results in new branches that are weakly attached.
  • Don’t apply paint or dressing to wounds as these materials interfere with the natural wound sealing process.
  • Don’t remove small, leaning trees. Trees less than 15 feet tall may survive if they are gently pulled back into place. Press out air spaces in the loosened soil. The tree can then be staked for up to a year.
  • Don’t fertilize stressed or damaged trees.

Information on tree care, proper pruning techniques and handling damaged trees is available on the DNR website at For more extensive information on tree care, contact a DNR forester, city forester, certified arborist or county extension staff.

Take the right steps to correct damaged trees so they can continue to provide shade, clean air, beauty and increased property value for many years to come.

Designs due Aug. 14 for Minnesota Trout and Salmon Stamp

The current Minnesota Trout and Salmon Stamp features the image from a painting by Stephen Hamrick of Lakeville. 

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2016 Minnesota Trout and Salmon Stamp from Monday, Aug. 3, until 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14.

The trout and salmon stamp validation is sold for $10 along with fishing licenses, and for an extra 75 cents, purchasers can receive the pictorial stamp. It is also sold as a collectible for $10.75. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to trout and salmon management and habitat work.

Trout or salmon must be the primary focus of the design, though other fish species may be included in the design if they are used to depict common interaction between species or are common inhabitants of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Brook trout designs are not eligible this year.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds. Judging will take place Thursday, Aug. 20, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

To see more information on stamp contests, guidelines for submitting work, and to sign up to receive regular email updates on the stamp contests, visit Contest guidelines are also available from the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Free permanent card for small game, deer licenses available to disabled vets

Minnesota resident veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability can apply for a free permanent card that allows them to receive a free small game and either-sex deer hunting license each year.

“Prior to 2014, disabled veterans needed to bring their paperwork to the license agent every year,” said Steve Michaels, licensing program director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Now, they’ll need their paperwork to apply one time. Once the card is issued, disabled veterans can simply present the permanent card to receive a license.”

Obtaining the free permanent card is optional. Veterans may still use their paperwork to obtain the free licenses. Minnesota resident military veterans with 100 percent service-connected permanent disability, as defined by the U.S. Veterans Administration, may obtain an application online at or call toll free 877-348-0498.


DNR seeks comments on Knowlton Creek stream restoration project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Knowlton Creek stream restoration project in Duluth. Knowlton Creek is located upstream of the Lower St. Louis River, within the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area.  

The DNR proposes to restore and enhance habitat for trout and associated cold-water organisms, using natural channel design techniques to stabilize approximately 6,491 linear feet of Knowlton Creek and tributaries in Duluth. This project supports the Lower St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC) Remedial Action Plan.

The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review period from July 20 to Aug. 19.

A copy of the EAW is available online at A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5157.
The EAW is available for public review at:

  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
  • DNR northeast region, 1201 East Highway 2, Grand Rapids.
  • Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.
  • Duluth Public Library, 520 W. Superior St., Duluth.

The EAW notice will be published in the July 20 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Aug. 19, to the attention of Ronald Wieland, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, Ecological and Water Resources Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.  

Electronic or email comments may be sent to with “Knowlton EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.

Lost game warden history found

As part of National Law Enforcement Memorial Week in May, conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources placed wreaths at cemeteries across the state to honor the 14 Minnesota conservation officers who have died in the line of duty since 1922.

Recently it was discovered that a 15th conservation officer died in the line of duty in 1941.

Charles V. Masoner, a long-time game warden in Bemidji, died of a heart attack at the age of 50 after assisting feeding deer at Itasca State Park. Following a memorial service in Bemidji, Masoner, a World War I veteran, was buried in his hometown of Cache, Oklahoma.

This was discovered by retired conservation officer Jeff Thielen in his capacity as the executive director of the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley while talking to museum board member, Betty Masoner. Masoner, 88, of Bemidji, is the daughter of Charles Masoner.

“When she told me her father was a deceased game warden, the name didn’t ring a bell. I thought she was mistaken,” Thielen said.

Thielen changed his mind once he put Becky Putzke, a retired police officer from Brainerd who volunteers at the military museum, on the case. Putzke put her investigative skills to work and found several old newspaper articles surrounding the game warden’s death.

“I was 12 years old when my father died, so I don’t remember much,” said Betty Masoner. “I haven’t thought about him in a long time, but he was a god as far as I was concerned.”

She said he could fix anything, which led him from Oklahoma to Minnesota fixing farm machinery and then lumber equipment along the way. Masoner liked working outdoors and eventually became a Minnesota game warden.

Masoner’s funeral service in Bemidji was attended by a host of other wardens wearing their new uniforms, which were acquired after the murder of three wardens in 1940. After their deaths, it was decided that game wardens would wear uniforms and carry a firearm for protection.

Betty Masoner graduated from Bemidji State University in three years with degrees in chemistry and music. She taught school for 50 years, eventually ending up in Browerville. 

Thielen said Masoner’s major claim to fame in Browerville was that every Veteran’s Day she put on a special program for local veterans. 

“Talk to anyone in the Browerville area and they all know Betty and her Veteran’s Day programs, and all were because her father was a World War I veteran,” Thielen said.

“His death was very traumatizing to her, so she always remembered him on Veteran’s Day,” Thielen said. 

Seventy plus years later a lost game warden has been found and remembered.

“It was a Saturday when he died. He had gone out there to haul hay and he never came home,” said Masoner. “It was just one of those things that you live with because you have no choice.”

Question of the week

Q: It seems like there are a lot of small hammer-handle pike where I fish. Is this true across Minnesota?

A: DNR sampling and angler catch reports show that northern pike populations differ greatly in various regions of the state. In the northeast, pike are present in relatively low numbers and relatively large sizes. They grow slowly there but can reach trophy sizes due to limited fishing pressure across a large number of lakes.

In southern Minnesota, pike are less abundant and don’t reproduce as well as in the north, but they grow fast. Southern Minnesota has high fishing pressure, though, and pike are often harvested before they can grow to large sizes.

The north-central area is plagued by too many small pike (under 22 inches). There is moderate to high fishing pressure with high harvest of large and medium size pike. Pike grow slowly here, and a lot of small hammer-handles is the result.

DNR fisheries is exploring the idea of a zone concept where northern pike regulations could be customized to best meet the different management objectives for each zone. Such an approach could protect large pike in the northeast, increase pike populations in the south and eventually solve the problem of too many small pike in north-central Minnesota. To learn more, and to comment on the pike zone concept, visit

Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor

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