Back to News Archive
Last updated: Sept 2013
A gray wolf that wildlife experts suspect bit a 16-year-old boy during the early hours of Aug. 24 at the U.S. Forest Service West Winnie Campground at Lake Winnibigoshish has tested negative for rabies.
The confirmation was made Wednesday, Aug. 28 by the Minnesota Department of Health laboratory, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The wolf that was tested had been trapped Monday at the campground and sent to the lab for rabies testing.
The agency also reported:
The agency maintains that the best approach to keeping Asian carp out of the upper Mississippi River watershed is to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock. The lock is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it would require an act of Congress to close the lock.
For more information on Asian carp in Minnesota, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/asian-carp/index.html
YOUTH WATERFOWL DAY
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 7. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required). Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from a half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide.
OPEN WATER HUNTING
A small number of lakes will be open to open water hunting this fall. These new opportunities are an outcome of a DNR-led waterfowl hunter focus group and citizen input process. Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs Lake, and Lake Pepin will be open to open water hunting as long as boats remain at anchor. On the Mississippi River south of Hastings, with the exception of Lake Pepin, hunters must remain within 100 feet of shoreline, including islands. This matches the Wisconsin regulations on this portion of the river. Hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Regulations for additional information.
Maj. Phil Meier, DNR enforcement operations manager, said these new open water hunting opportunities will require extra safety precautions. “Hunters should wear their life jackets not just have them aboard,” Meier advised, noting this type of hunting involves small shallow boats and some of Minnesota’s largest and most windswept lakes. “They’ll also have to be on the lookout for recreational boaters, large waves from barges and other commercial traffic and unfavorable changes in the weather. It’s a different type of hunting; it takes a different safety mindset.”
August Canada goose:
An August Canada goose management take will open Saturday, Aug. 10 and run through Sunday, Aug. 25, in the Intensive Harvest Zone only. Bag limit is 10 Canada geese per day. A $4 permit t is required. This is the first year Canada goose hunting has been allowed during August due to high populations of Canada geese and agricultural crop depredation. Goose hunters should consult the DNR Web page for additional information at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/waterfowl/index.html.
Early September Goose Season
The early September Canada goose season will open statewide on Sunday, Sept. 1 and run through Friday, Sept. 20. Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the Intensive Harvest Zone and five per day in the remainder of the state.
A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during September season. The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the Northwest Goose Zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.
Regular goose season
Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a bag limit of three Canada geese per day the entire season. Goose season will be closed in the central and south duck zones when duck season is closed.
In the North Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Monday, Dec.16. In the Central Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 5, through Saturday, Dec. 21. In the South Duck zone, goose season will run from Saturday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 12 through Friday, Dec. 28.
Sandhill Crane Season
The season for sandhill cranes will run from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 20 in the Northwest Goose and Sandhill Crane Zone only. The daily bag limit will be two sandhill cranes per day. A sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license. Cost is $3.
Additional details on the duck, goose, sandhill crane, and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2013 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August on online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Forgot to buy your license? Then connect to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mobile licensing page to purchase select fishing and hunting licenses via your smartphone.
“This service is a convenience for people who need a license when they’re on the go,” said Steve Michaels, DNR license program director. “Not every type of license is offered but the mobile purchase site is ideal for people who have yet to purchase a fishing, small game or state stamp validation and suddenly discover that they need one.”
Customers who purchase off the mobile site won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.
More than 1,100 sales of electronic licenses have been logged since the mobile site’s soft launch in late June.
“The site isn’t, as yet, full service,” Michaels said. “There are features and products in the works. Even so, mobile license purchasing is a convenience DNR has not offered before and the sales numbers show our customers are responding.”
License types available for purchase on the mobile site include short-term angling, individual angling, resident combination angling, resident individual sports, resident combination sports, small game and state stamp validations. Any license that requires a site tag such as deer or turkey is not available for mobile purchase.
Once a customer purchases and receives mobile license information by text, email or both, he or she must be able to provide the email or text information to a DNR enforcement officer upon request as proof of a valid license.
Mobile device users will automatically be identified when visiting the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense and selecting the “Purchase” button at the bottom of the page.
Minnesota residents 21 and older who never have purchased a hunting or fishing license can’t purchase a license electronically. They should initially purchase from a license agent or call DNR at 888-646-6367 and provide their driver’s license number so electronic purchasing can be enabled.
The mobile site is for purchasing only. It is not a mobile version of the complete DNR website.
All licensing information such as seasons, dates, times, eligibility or restrictions should be reviewed before a mobile purchase is completed.
Similar to the licenses purchased via the DNR website or by phone, a 3 percent convenience fee will be added to the customer’s order total.
License dollars are the fiscal foundation of fish and wildlife management in Minnesota. License revenue is dedicated to managing 5,400 fishing lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, 1,400 wildlife management areas and more than 150 field conservation officers. Buying a license means lakes are stocked and managed, fish and game laws are enforced and conservation efforts happen on the ground.
Minnesota will conduct its first August Canada goose season from Saturday, Aug. 10 to Sunday, Aug. 25, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
“The state’s Canada goose population is very high and exceeds our statewide goal,” said Steve Cordts, the DNR’s waterfowl specialist. “We have continued agricultural depredation concerns in the western portion of the state with large numbers of Canada geese. This is one more option for us to try and increase our harvest of Canada geese.”
Hunting will be restricted to an intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota. The daily bag limit will be 10 Canada geese with no possession limit. Shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. A small game hunting license, special goose permit and state waterfowl stamp are required.
“It’s hard to gauge what hunter participation will be since this is the first time we have had August goose hunting,” Cordts said. “But for those who are interested, there should be ample opportunity.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the hunt as a management option for states dealing with overabundant populations of resident Canada geese. Additional details are on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/waterfowl.
The DNR will announce details of fall waterfowl seasons, including the September Canada goose hunt, in early August.
Despite lingering winter weather that included record late ice-out in 2013, Minnesota’s breeding duck populations improved from last year, according to the results of the annual Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) spring waterfowl surveys.
The state’s estimated breeding duck population was 683,000 compared with last year’s estimate of 469,000. This year’s estimate is 10 percent above the long-term average of 620,000 breeding ducks.
This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 293,000, 30 percent above last year’s estimate of 225,000 breeding mallards, 14 percent above the recent 10-year average and 30 percent above the long-term average.
The blue-winged teal population was 144,000 compared with 109,000 in 2012 but remained 33 percent below the long-term average of 216,000.
The combined populations of other ducks, such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads was 246,000, This was 82 percent higher than last year and 39 percent above the long-term average.
The estimated number of wetlands (Types II-V) was 258,000, up 13 percent from last year, and 2 percent above the long-term average. “Although wetland numbers were average, conditions changed from extremely dry before May 1 to fairly wet by the end of May in most of the state,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
“Also, in a normal year, ducks begin arriving back to Minnesota in April or early May to begin the nesting season,” Cordts said. “But with record late ice-out and significant snow cover present in some areas until early May, the spring migration and nesting season were delayed so we had to delay the survey about two weeks.”
The DNR’s 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 provide ground crews that also count waterfowl along some of the same survey routes. This data is then used to correct for birds not seen by the aerial crew.
This year’s Canada goose population was estimated at 250,000, which was considerably less than last year’s estimate of 416,000. 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.
Although this year’s estimate was lower than recent years, much of that change could be the result of the spring weather conditions that may have impacted goose distribution and abundance in the state. Cold temperatures and April snowfall combined with a late ice-out reduced nesting success and effort, reducing the number of goslings. During the past 10 years, the Canada goose population’s average has ranged from 275,000 to 350,000.
“While that should not impact the population in the future, fewer young geese in the early fall usually makes goose hunting more difficult for hunters,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “The bottom line is our Canada goose population remains higher than we’d like it to be and we’ll continue to maximize hunting opportunities this fall.”
The Minnesota waterfowl report can be viewed online at www.mndnr.gov/waterfowl.
The DNR will announce this fall’s waterfowl hunting regulations later this summer.
Ruffed grouse drumming counts were down across most of the bird’s range, according to the annual survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“This decrease was not unexpected because the ruffed grouse population is still in the declining phase of its 10-year cycle,” said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse biologist. “Drum counts peaked most recently in 2009.”
Drumming counts dropped from 1.1 to 0.9 per stop in the northeast, which is the forest bird’s core range in Minnesota. Counts in the northwest declined from 0.9 in 2012 to 0.7 drums per stop in 2013. Drumming counts did not change significantly in the central hardwoods or southeast, with an average of 0.9 and 0.4 drums per stop, respectively.
Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population.
This year, observers recorded 0.9 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2011 and 2012 were 1.7 and 1.0 drums per stop, respectively. Counts vary from about 0.8 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 1.9 during years of high abundance.
The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer. Drumming did occur later this year because of the late spring, suggesting that nesting likely occurred later than normal.
“Later nesting would have pushed the hatch out a bit, hopefully beyond the spring rains,” Roy said. “Time will tell if that occurred and the impact on production.”
Minnesota frequently is the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. On average, 115,000 hunters harvest 545,000 ruffed grouse in the state each year, making it the state's most popular game bird. During the peak years of 1971 and 1989, hunters harvested more than 1 million ruffed grouse. Michigan and Wisconsin – which frequently field more hunters than Minnesota – round out the top three states in ruffed grouse harvest.
One reason for the Minnesota’s status as a top grouse producer is an abundance of aspen and other ruffed grouse habitat, much of it located on county, state and national forests where public hunting is allowed. An estimated 11.5 million of the state's 16.3 million acres of forest are grouse habitat.
For the past 64 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year,
DNR staff and cooperators from 14 organizations surveyed 117 routes across the state.
Sharp-tailed grouse counts decrease slightly
Sharp-tailed grouse counts in the northwest, the bird’s primary range in Minnesota, were similar to 2012. Counts in the east-central region declined significantly.
Observers look for male sharptails displaying on traditional mating areas, called leks or dancing grounds.
Despite several years of declining numbers, this year’s statewide average of 9.2 grouse counted per dancing ground was similar to the long-term average since 1980. The 2009 average of 13.6 was as high as during any year since 1980. During the last 25 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been as low as seven birds counted per dancing ground.
Overall, sharptail populations appear to have declined over the long term as a result of habitat deterioration. In recent years, the DNR has increased prescribed burning and shearing that keep trees from overtaking the open brush lands that sharp-tailed grouse need to thrive.
The DNR’s 2013 grouse survey report, which contains information on ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse, is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/grouse.
© 2013 Outdoors Weekly