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Last Updated: April 2012

DNR fisheries marking walleye fry to evaluate stocking levels

DNR reminds anglers of fishing regulation changes for 2012

Governor signs license fee increase bill

Bighead caught in St. Croix underscores urgency around Asian carp

National Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest Winners Chosen
5th Grader from Minnesota wins Grand Prize

Many bears visiting bird feeders

New walleye regulation at Mille Lacs Lake

New state park reservation system fully phased in


DNR fisheries marking walleye fry to evaluate stocking levels

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries biologists began an eight-year study in 2008 to determine the optimum number of walleye fry that should be stocked back into lakes where eggs are removed for stocking purposes.

The first phase of the study focused on marking walleye fry using oxytetracycline (OTC) to differentiate stocked fry from those naturally produced. The last phase will now focus on determining the growth and survival of these marked fish to catchable size.

“This is a cutting edge fisheries research project,” said Dale Logsdon, DNR fisheries research biologist in Waterville. “It uses technology to better understand biology and to help guide management practices that result in the maximum number of walleyes for the public to catch and enjoy.”

Annually, the DNR collects walleye eggs from 13 different spawning runs as part of a statewide walleye production and stocking program. Lakes supporting these spawning runs represent some of the most prolific walleye fisheries in the state. The importance of assuring that hatchery operations do not have negative impacts on these fisheries has long been recognized.

To compensate for possible impacts of these egg removals, the DNR has historically stocked at least 10 percent of the walleye fry hatch back into those lakes where eggs were removed. However, the effects of these compensatory stockings had never been thoroughly evaluated due to the inability to distinguish between natural and stocked fry. DNR fisheries biologists want to ensure that enough fry are returned to the lakes, but are also concerned that stocking too many fry could result in poor growth and survival of both wild and stocked fish, thus resulting in fewer catchable walleye in the population.

Too many young walleye in the system at one time can result in increased competition for food, reduced growth rates, increased foraging times, and greater vulnerability to predation, according to Logsdon. “We want to optimize fry abundance to help ensure that we are maintaining the health of the walleye fisheries in our egg-source lakes.”

With the advent of the OTC technology, fisheries researchers are able to mark newly-hatched walleye fry by immersing them in a solution of OTC for several hours, just before they are stocked. The fry absorb a small amount of this chemical, resulting in a harmless mark left on the fish otolith, or ear bone, that can be detected years later using a microscope and ultraviolet light.

“This new technology enables us to determine how many walleye in a population originate from stocking versus natural reproduction,” Logsdon said. “If a florescent mark is present, we know we are looking at a stocked fish.”

Four egg-source lakes – Woman, Winnibigoshish, Otter Tail and Vermilion – are included in the study. These lakes were chosen because of their ecological characteristics and the availability of historical fisheries data.

The study’s has two main objectives are to better understand the natural reproductive processes in these lakes, and to use this information to identify the optimal number or replacement fry to stock in relation to natural changes in spawner abundance.

Fisheries personnel stocked marked fry at predetermined levels during the first five years. Gill net surveys will continue the next three years to learn what fry densities maximize survival, growth and abundance. Achieving these target fry densities will likely require adjustments of historical stocking rates.

This study continues the DNR’s history of implementing research projects that aim to improve the understanding and management of the state’s fishery resource. Minnesota, one of the nation’s top five angling destinations, continues to provide some of the nation’s best fishing.

For more information on the walleye fry marking research project, contact the local DNR fisheries office nearest the study lake.
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DNR reminds anglers of fishing regulation changes for 2012

Minnesota anglers are reminded of new regulations on various water bodies and other changes for the general 2012 fishing season. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials said the changes are summarized on page 4 of the 2012 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet, which is available at any license agent or online at

New regulations for 2012 are listed below along with the page number in the regulations booklet where anglers can find more detail.

Angling methods

Fish identification

Aquatic Invasive Species

The Minnesota Legislature repealed a requirement that watercraft display an aquatic invasive species (AIS) information sticker to avoid confusion when provisions of a new law go into effect in 2015. Although no longer required, placement of stickers on boats is still encouraged as a reminder about important AIS information.

The new law will require operators of trailers transporting watercraft or water-related equipment to complete an online AIS training course, beginning in 2015. When completed, trailer operators will receive a trailer sticker certifying their completion of the course.

Without repeal of the existing AIS sticker requirement, which was approved by the Legislature in 2011, display of both decals would have been required.

New experimental and special regulations were added or modified on six lakes and one stream with quality walleye, sunfish, crappie, brook trout or bass regulations (pages 34-54). Length-based regulations on northern pike were dropped on 21 lakes.

Lakes with key changes include:

Mille Lacs Lake walleye regulations were tightened. All walleye 17 to 28 inches must be immediately released. The possession limit is four fish, with only one longer than 28 inches.

A night fishing closure on Mille Lacs begins at 10 p.m. on Monday, May 14, and lasts from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily through Sunday, June 10. Night fishing on Mille Lacs begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, June 11.

Anglers are reminded to check online at for the latest additions or corrections.
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Governor signs license fee increase bill

The price of Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses will increase in March 2013 for the first time in 12 years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

On Thursday, May 3, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a House- and Senate-approved bill that, among other things, raises the cost of an annual resident fishing license from $17 to $22 and a resident deer hunting license from $26 to $30. Most resident youth hunting and fishing licenses will be $5 or free. Youth under 16 do not need a fishing or small game hunting license.
License fee increases were widely supported by hunting, fishing and conservation organizations. The last general license fee increase was approved in 2000 and implemented in 2001.

"This action was critical to maintaining the world class fishing and hunting that Minnesota enjoys," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "I appreciate all the efforts of the organized groups and the individual hunters, anglers, trappers and others who supported new license prices. I also thank the Legislature for its bipartisan leadership and support on this important conservation initiative."

Enacting the license fee bill maintains the solvency of the state's Game and Fish Fund for the remainder of this biennium, which ends June 30, 2013. New revenue will begin to come into the game and fish fund in March 2013. The DNR estimates the fees will generate about $5 million in fiscal 2013 and approximately $10 million per year in following years.

"The fishing and hunting community has spoken that they are willing to pay for good conservation," said Landwehr. "We will put these dollars to their highest and best use for game and fish management and enforcement. That means providing the results that hunters, anglers and the conservation community are asking for."

Landwehr said specific uses of new license fee revenues will be proposed in the months ahead as the agency develops a biennial budget proposal that the governor will submit to the Legislature in January 2013

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Bighead caught in St. Croix underscores urgency around Asian carp

The discovery late last week of another Asian carp at the mouth of the St. Croix River underscores the need to move ahead with efforts to stop their spread, according to officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

On Thursday, April 19, commercial fishermen working near Prescott, Wis., netted a 30-pound bighead carp from the St. Croix River where it flows into the Mississippi. One of several nonnative species of Asian carp that can cause serious ecological problems, bighead carp have been working their way north in the Mississippi River.

Thursday’s catch was the second time this year Asian carp have been found by commercial fishermen in Minnesota waters. In March, a bighead and a silver carp were netted on the Mississippi River near Winona. Last April, another bighead was taken from the St. Croix near Prescott. While no established populations of bighead or silver carp are known to exist in Minnesota, environmental DNA (eDNA) testing last year suggests the fish may be more common in Twin Cities segments of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers than either agency or commercial netting have been able to confirm.

“This latest discovery – the third in the last year – underscores the urgency surrounding Asian carp,” said Steve Hirsch, director of DNR’s Division of Ecological and Water Resources. “These invaders have huge potential to wreak havoc on Minnesota’s fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, so we need to do everything we can to stop them from spreading, and we need to do it now.”

Hirsch said the highest priority action now is for Congress to authorize closure of the lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls. Bills to that effect have been introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Keith Ellison, with other members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation as co-sponsors. Those bills also would increase federal support for Asian carp control efforts in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which has until now been limited to the Great Lakes.

As part of an Asian carp control plan, the DNR also is working on several other measures to halt or slow their spread:

Populations of bighead and silver carp are established in the Mississippi River and its tributaries downstream of Dubuque, Iowa. Bighead carp can weigh up to 110 pounds and silver carp, which leap from the water when disturbed, can grow up to 60 pounds. They are voracious eaters, capable of consuming 5 to 20 percent of their body weight each day. They feed on algae and other microscopic organisms, often outcompeting native fish for food. Scientists believe Asian carp could severely disrupt the aquatic ecosystems of Minnesota waters.

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National Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest Winners Chosen
5th Grader from Minnesota Wins Grand Prize

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition, Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans proudly announce the winners of the 2012 Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest. The art contest is an integral part of the seventh annual national Endangered Species Day on May 18, 2012.

“The level of quality and record number of submissions from over 2,100 immensely talented children across the country is inspiring,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Through art, students are using their imaginations and learning about threatened and endangered species. This creates an enthusiasm for wildlife, instilling a love for nature and the desire to learn how to protect it.”

Young artists from throughout the country entered the annual contest, which is an ideal opportunity to learn about and promote the conservation of endangered species through art.

The winners are:

Grand Prize:
Sky Waters (5th grade)
Eagan, MN
Image here (PDF)

First place winners in grade categories:

Grades K-2:
Jasmine Lee
Freemont, CA

Grades 3-5:
Timothy Erwin
Davis, CA

Grades 6-8:
Meilynn Shi
San Diego, CA

Grades 9-12:
Ella Chen Pauline Chen
Quitman, LA Temple City, CA

The winners were chosen by a prestigious panel of artists, photographers, scientists and conservationists, including Wyland, the marine artist; Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild; David Littschwager, a freelance photographer and regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine; Susan Middletown, a photographer who has collaborated with Littschwager and whose own work has been published in four books; and Tom Sachs, whose work can be found in major museums worldwide.

“It is incredible to see children’s innate love of animals paired with their uninhibited artistic talent producing such inspiring works of art,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We congratulate each winner and also thank all students, parents, teachers, artists, and everyone else who was involved in making this contest a success."

The grand prize winner will be honored at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C. on May 9, 2012 and have his/her name engraved on a special trophy. In addition, the winner will receive an art lesson from Wyland, a plaque, and art supplies. First place category winners will receive a plaque and art supplies.

Forty semifinalists were chosen by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans, which will display the artwork in a special exhibit opening June14, 2012. “We reviewed such a variety of excellent entries from talented young artists from throughout the country; it was difficult to choose even the semifinalists,” stated Ellen Balkin, Education Coordinator at the Ogden Museum. Semifinalists will receive a Certificate of Achievement.

Started in 2006 by the United States Senate, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of our nation’s imperiled plants and wildlife and wild places, with an emphasis on success stories of species recovery.

To see the winning artwork, visit

For more information about the art contest, winners and Endangered Species Day, visit

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit: where you can download podcasts and find links to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Many bears visiting bird feeders this spring

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife managers are reporting an increase in nuisance bear complaints at this time of year. Bear sightings are most prevalent in northern Minnesota, but they've also been spotted in the metropolitan suburbs.
"Despite the mild winter, this is a tough time of year for bears," said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids. "After hibernation, they are hungry. When berries and vegetation are scarce, bears are often tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, barbecues, compost or garbage."

In addition, female bears chase away last year's offspring at this time of year. These young bears are inexperienced at finding food and searching for territories of their own. They are the most likely to show up in places where they are not welcome.

Spring is a good time for residents who live close to bear habitat to check their property for food sources that could attract bears. "When human-related food is easy to find, bears stop seeking their natural foods," Lighfoot said. "These bears eventually get into trouble because they return again and again."

Unfortunately, food-conditioned bears often end up dead bears, said Lightfoot. Sometimes a bear causing problems must be trapped and destroyed. Bears that are trapped because they have become a nuisance are destroyed rather than relocated. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.
Research and experience has clearly shown that removing food that attracts bears resolves problems much more effectively than attempting to trap and destroy the bear, Lightfoot said. When it is determined a bear must be killed, the DNR can assign a licensed hunter or issue a special permit to shoot it.

Bears will not be trapped for causing minor property damage, such as tearing down bird feeders or tipping over garbage cans.

"If a bear enters your yard, don't panic and don't approach the bear," said Lightfoot. "Always leave the bear an escape route. Everyone should leave the area and go inside until the bear leaves."

A treed bear should be left alone as well. It will leave once the area is quiet.

According to Lightfoot, bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered. "However, they may defend an area if they are feeding or are with their young," he said. "Never approach or try to pet a bear. They are unpredictable wild animals. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed."

The DNR offers tips for avoiding bear conflicts.



People should always be cautious around bears. If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance.

For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367. The DNR brochure "Learning To Live with Bears" is available online at
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New walleye regulation at Mille Lacs Lake; good fishing expected

Anglers who fish Mille Lacs Lake during the 2012 season will be able to keep walleye less than 17 inches in length, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This is a change from last year's regulation that allowed keeping of walleye less than 18 inches.

The 17- to 28-inch protected slot regulation is designed to keep the walleye harvest by state licensed anglers within the state's allocation of safe harvest. One walleye 28 inches or longer may be included in the four-fish limit. The walleye season is scheduled to open Saturday, May 12.

"We expect anglers to do very well at Mille Lacs," said Dirk Peterson, DNR Fisheries Section chief. "The winter bite was good. The open water bite should be very good, too." He said the new regulation on Mille Lacs is identical to that of Rainy Lake and similar to regulations on several other large walleye lakes.

Mille Lacs Lake is being managed this year for a safe walleye harvest level of 500,000 pounds. The state angler allocation is 357,500 pounds. The tribal allocation is 142,500 pounds. The DNR met with the citizen-comprised Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group twice this past winter to discuss fishing issues.

Peterson reminds anglers that Mille Lacs also offers outstanding muskellunge and smallmouth bass fishing. The muskellunge season opens June 2. The smallmouth bass season on Mille Lacs opens May 26..

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New state park reservation system fully phased in

Camping and lodging reservations now available up to a year in advance

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the phased-in rollout of their state park reservation system is complete. Camping and lodging reservations are once again being accepted up to a year in advance. More than 8,500 reservations have already been made online and through the Minnesota-based call center. 

“Minnesota has a high demand for campsites and cabins at our state parks,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “We are ready to meet that demand and hope everyone’s looking forward to visiting Minnesota state parks and making great memories with family and friends this summer and throughout the year.”

Reservations can be made online at or by calling 866-857-2757 (TTY 952-936-4008) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (except holidays). Up to 30 percent of the campsites at Minnesota state parks cannot be reserved in advance and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The new online reservation website features:

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© 2012 Outdoors Weekly