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Last Updated: Dec 2012
Preliminary 2012 firearm deer harvest numbers released
Minnesota hunters harvested 151,400 deer so far during the 2012 early firearm season (as of Nov. 21), according to preliminary numbers announced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The late 3B season in southeastern Minnesota remains open through Sunday, Nov. 25.
Overall, antlered buck harvest increased 9 percent and antlerless deer harvest decreased 21 percent compared to 2011. In total, firearm harvest was off 7 percent, which was expected given the conservative allocation of antlerless deer permits.
“The increase in buck harvest and decrease in antlerless deer harvest is a reflection of slightly higher deer populations statewide, yet a more conservative harvest philosophy this year,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “What drives total harvest is how we manage antlerless deer.”
This year, DNR increased the number of lottery areas where hunters could only take an antlerless deer by permit.
Opening weekend weather, which drives much of the statewide deer harvest, was nearly ideal with clear skies, cool temperatures, and a near total crop harvest.
Ample hunting opportunities remain as the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Saturday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 9. The archery season closes on Monday, Dec. 31.
The deer harvest number is calculated using data provided by hunters when they register a deer. A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available on the DNR website at the end of January.
Early wolf season concludes
Hunters registered 147 wolves during the early portion of Minnesota’s first wolf season that ended Nov. 18; 53 fewer than the statewide harvest target, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The wolf harvest trend closely mirrored the deer harvest trend.
“The harvest was highest at the beginning of the season then declined as fewer hunters returned afield,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “It’s been a smooth start to the state’s first regulated wolf season. Interest was strong. Harvest is well within expectations.”
Wolf hunting in the east-central zone closed Nov. 5 with hunters registering eight wolves. The northeast zone closed Nov. 15, with hunters registering 61 wolves. Hunting in the northwest zone closed with the season on Nov. 18, with hunters registering 78 wolves.
Hunters registered three more wolves in the northeast zone than the target of 58. In the east-central zone, hunters registered one fewer wolf than the target harvest of nine. The agency anticipated slight overages or underages in its management planning. Stark said targets were established as guidelines not absolute quotas and that late season targets will be adjusted based on the early season harvest. He said that actual zone harvest numbers may change slightly as exact harvest location data is verified during wolf inspection.
Minnesota’s late hunting and trapping season begins Saturday, Nov. 24. It will conclude Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, provided late season harvest targets in each of Minnesota’s three wolf zones are not met.
Hunters and trappers are encouraged to monitor the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/wolf/index.html daily to ensure their season is open.
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Bighead carp caught by commercial fishermen in Lake Pepin
A 47-pound bighead carp was caught in a seine net by commercial fishermen on Nov. 16, in Lake Pepin near Frontenac, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Bighead carp, members of the Asian carp family, are nonnative species that can cause serious ecological problems as they spread into new waters.
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DNR hires new big game program leader
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has hired Leslie McInenly as big game program leader. She will have the lead responsibility for managing deer, elk and moose seasons and populations.
For the past six years, McInenly has been on the staff of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, a state board charged with providing forest resource policy advice to the governor and Legislature, coordinating cross-ownership landscape-level forest management planning, and developing best management practices for forest management. Prior to that, she spent four years in Alberta working as a collaborator on the Central East Slopes Elk Study, a project established to evaluate elk translocation efforts and habitat use. As part of the study, McInenly also worked with provincial biologists to improve elk population estimates in Alberta.
“We are excited to have Leslie join our wildlife management team,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife population and regulation program manager. “Her knowledge of Minnesota’s forests and forest management is particularly relevant, as maintaining and strengthening the link between population management and habitat management is a real focus of the section of wildlife.”
The primary responsibilities of the big game program leader are to manage deer, moose, and elk seasons, and work with stakeholders to modify and improve seasons and regulations to address the expectations of a diverse public.
McInenly earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, majoring in wildlife management and biology. Her master’s degree thesis focused on the influence of changing elk migratory patterns on native prairie biodiversity and nutrient cycling. She also worked on range of game and nongame species projects in several states before working in Alberta.
Through her experience working in private, public, and nonprofit sectors, McInenly has demonstrated the ability to work and communicate with a diversity of stakeholders, colleagues and clients, Merchant said.
McInenly assumes her new duties on Nov. 15. She grew up in the St. Croix River Valley and resides with her family in Stillwater.
The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000 acre reservation.
Wet weather challenges hunters during first Camp Ripley hunt
Archers took a two-day total of 208 deer during the first bow hunt Oct. 18-19 at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The second two-day hunt is scheduled for Oct. 27-28.
“Wet weather greeted hunters and made it challenging for them to maximize their time in the field, with most of the hunters leaving by midday on Friday,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager. ”Nevertheless, hunters still did well, resulting in the ninth highest harvest for the first hunt.
“For the ninth year in a row hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer,” Liddell said. “Harvest was above average. We are pleased that fawns and does comprised 61 percent of the harvest.”
The total harvest of 208 deer thus far is 14 percent above the long-term average harvest of 182 deer for the first hunt. “Unless we get poor weather, we’re on pace to register another top 10 harvest for both hunts combined,” Liddell said.
There were 2,502 permits issued for the first hunt, with 2,059 hunters participating, for a participation rate of 82 percent (down from 84 percent last year). Hunter success was 10 percent (identical to the long-term average for the first hunt). Seven hunters took their bag limit of two deer.
“With 14 consecutive mild winters in this part of the state and strong harvests since 2000, Camp Ripley’s deer herd is in good condition,” Liddell said. “Many hunters who provided comments indicated they saw numerous deer.”
Five adult bucks tipped the scales at or above 200 pounds. The largest buck registered weighed 215 pounds, taken by James Higgins of South Haven, Minn. Of adult does registered, the largest weighed in at 142 pounds, taken by Gerald Hartung of Clear Lake.
The DNR coordinates the hunts with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.
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New penalties for deer baitingParticipants in Minnesota’s firearm deer season will be greeted with new penalties for baiting violations when they go afield Nov. 3.
The fine for illegal baiting is $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized. Guns may be confiscated as well.
Smith said he is hopeful the new penalties, in addition to fines, restitution and confiscation of guns sends a message that Minnesota values it natural resources and there is a price for engaging in this illegal activity.
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Court of Appeals rules that wolf season can continue
The Minnesota Court of Appeals today rejected a request for a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the state’s inaugural wolf hunting and trapping season.
That means the planned wolf hunting and trapping seasons will go as planned this fall and winter.
Consistent with state law, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will issue 6,000 licenses, and the first season will start with the beginning of firearms deer hunting on Saturday, Nov. 3.
The late hunting and trapping season will begin on Nov. 24.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the petitioners, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Howling for Wolves, did not meet their burden of proving irreparable harm for an injunction to be issued.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “It resolves any uncertainty that hunters and trappers might have had about the upcoming season.”
The petitioner’s lawsuit to challenge the way the season was established is still before the Court of
Appeals and will proceed on its merits. A decision is not expected until next year.
The DNR has taken a conservative approach to the state’s first wolf season by establishing a total target harvest of 400 wolves and a mechanism to close seasons when target harvests are reached.
Minnesota has a robust population of about 3,000 wolves, and the season will not have any significant impact on the population.
Consistent with the state’s wolf plan, the DNR is committed to the long-term survival of wolves in the state and resolving conflicts between humans and wolves.
To learn more, go to www.mndnr.gov/wolves.
The results of recent fall test netting on Leech Lake conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show the walleye population remains strong and anglers who visit the lake should continue to expect quality fishing. According to the results, the walleye catch rates remain above the long-term average for the sixth consecutive year.
“September gill nets showed good numbers of both juvenile and adult walleye,” said Matt Ward, large lake specialist in Walker. “It is encouraging to have a balanced walleye population within and outside the protected slot limit of 18 and 26 inches.”
Strong 2010 and 2011 year-classes are present and the DNR expects these year-classes will start providing harvest opportunities this coming winter. Additionally, 35 percent of walleye sampled were within the slot limit, which will provide anglers the opportunity to catch a large fish.
The number of young-of-the-year walleye (those hatched during the spring of 2012) sampled with both trawling and electrofishing were above the long-term average for each gear type. The average size for this year-class was good, at 6.1 inches during the mid-September electrofishing assessment. Larger sizes in the fall usually translate to higher winter survival.
Other game fish species targeted with test nets include yellow perch and northern pike. Yellow perch abundance declined for the fifth consecutive year, while northern pike abundance continues to remain stable. The primary species of nongame fish assessed with the test nets is cisco. Despite a minor cisco summer kill caused by warm temperatures in 2012, fall test netting indicated adequate numbers of cisco continue to be present.
Lake-wide, walleye counts in DNR test nets averaged 9.42 walleye per net lift, which was similar to results from the past four years and was above the long-term average of 7.7 walleye per net lift. Walleye numbers indicate that management actions implemented under the 2011-2015 Management Plan are succeeding. Key elements of the plan include special fishing regulations, walleye fry stocking, cormorant management and an increased emphasis on aquatic habitat protection.
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© 2012 Outdoors Weekly