Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early
With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2016 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 5.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a deer license. There can be long lines of people waiting to buy licenses in the days before deer opener. Last year we sold more than 145,000 licenses the Thursday and Friday before opener,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Buy early and you can spend more time getting ready to hunt and enjoying time with family and friends.”
Deer licenses can be purchased at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. There are additional fees for telephone and internet transactions. Deer licenses and tags ordered by phone and internet take three to five business days to arrive, so hunters who choose these options should allow enough time for delivery. Hunters must have a valid deer license and tag in their possession when hunting deer.
Hunters need to be familiar with deer hunting regulations, which are available at any DNR license agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting. License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.
Maintaining quality habitat to support an appropriate population level is good for deer, deer hunters and the habitats that sustain them. Deer populations, which vary in density from place to place and year to year are influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impact.
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DNR creates new online tool for finding public hunting land
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has created an improved search tool that makes it easier for people to find places to hunt or enjoy the outdoors at wildlife management areas (WMA).
The tool is at www.mndnr.gov/wmas.
“We’ve built a WMA finder application that replaces a web app that was over a decade old,” said Steve Benson, DNR Wildlife MNIT coordinator. “People can now search for WMAs anywhere in the state based on features important to them.”
Acreage in WMAs totals 1.3 million acres, spread among 1,500 WMAs located in 86 of the state’s 87 counties. Using the WMA finder, users can search by:
- Name of WMA (or partial name).
- Game species.
- Wheelchair accessibility.
Once users have found a WMA, interactive maps are available that allow zooming in and toggling between maps and aerial photography, as well as toggling the view to full screen to see other public lands nearby.
“Another important feature with the new WMA finder is providing users with more information about WMAs, contact information for DNR area wildlife offices, and specific rules if they apply to a WMA,” Benson said.
WMA information can now be updated daily, including special announcements if conditions change, such as an access road under construction. In the future, users will also be able to find more information about aquatic management areas in similar formats to the WMA pages.
Funding for the work behind this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.
There are other types of public land available for hunting or other recreation use. Those types of land are displayed both through the WMA finder maps, and through the interactive Recreation Compass tool available on desktop computers at www.mndnr.gov/maps/compass.html and on mobile devices through www.mndnr.gov/mobile.
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Proposed rule changes would improve northern pike fishing
Comment period for new rules opens
New regulations for those who want to help manage northern pike in Minnesota will get another look by the public over the next month, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This follows several years of public outreach that has returned broad support for the proposed changes.
Written comments can be submitted directly to Al Stevens, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 7.
“We’ve had very positive and broad support for new pike fishing regulations since we started discussing this idea with anglers and interested groups in 2013,” said Don Pereira, fisheries section chief. “Now we’re going through the formal and required step of allowing comments on the proposal before moving forward with new regulations.”
Those interested in the proposal can comment on it from Monday, Oct. 3, through Monday, Nov. 7. The comment period is a formal step as part of a rulemaking process, and follows a public outreach process that included in-person meetings, online comments and very positive hearings at the Legislature and meetings with stakeholder groups.
The proposed regulations would divide the state into three zones, each with a set of regulations tailored for the zone. The changes could go into effect in the spring of 2017.
“The zone proposal is meant to address a serious problem in a number of lakes in the central and north-central part of the state plagued with small or ‘hammer-handle’ pike,” Pereira said.
In the northeastern part of the state, regulations will serve to maintain the potential for pike to grow large in many of the Arrowhead region’s waters. In the south, where pike abundance is often low but growth is fast, regulations will allow pike to reach an acceptable size before harvest.
“We heard the desire from darkhouse spearers to be able to take pike without fear of taking the wrong size, so we have accommodated that need after extensive consultation with spearing groups,” Pereira said.
More information about the pike proposal can be found at www.mndnr.gov/pike. People can view details on the proposed rule and how to submit comments or request a formal hearing by following the links on the DNR rulemaking page at www.mndnr.gov/input/rules/rulemaking.html.
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