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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #84                                                                             Nov. 7, 2013
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
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Hunter charged after shooting Tundra swan
DNR revisiting deer population goals; offers online sign up
Illegal deer baiting on the rise; penalties stressed
Final weekend of Camp Ripley hunt produces harvest of 127 deer
Quick actions rescue 3 waterfowl hunters
Public comment period begins Nov. 12 for draft management plans for Zippel Bay State
   Park, Franz Jevne State Park and Garden Island State Recreation Area

Fish house safety planning; thinking about it now can prevent hazards and injuries


Hunter charged after shooting Tundra swan

A Baudette man faces fines and restitution of $375 for shooting and killing a Tundra swan in Lake of the Woods County Oct. 23. Steven L. Theis, 26, was charged with shooting a nongame migratory bird, a misdemeanor.

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer received a Turn in Poachers (TIP) call that a swan had been shot by two individuals duck hunting in a boat on Four Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods.

When the men returned to shore, they were told by Capt. Jim Dunn that there had been a complaint that they had shot a swan, and he asked them where the swan was located.

Theis admitted to shooting the swan and later throwing it into the weeds when he learned that swans are a federally protected species and not legal to shoot.

“He explained to me that the swan, that he thought was a snow goose, had landed about 100 yards from his duck decoys,” said Dunn. “He honked at it a couple of times on his goose call, and the swan took off from the water and flew directly at him and swung around his end of the boat. As it did so, he shot it.”

Theis said he recovered the swan and asked a person if a snow goose is bigger than a Canada goose. The person replied no, and told him to get rid of it so he threw the bird into the grass. Conservation officers recovered the swan inside a weed bed the following day.

Every fall, DNR officials warn waterfowl hunters to avoid mistakenly shooting federally protected swans. Notices are printed in Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting regulations and warning signs are posted on some lakes frequented by swans.

Despite those admonitions, a handful of swans still are shot each year.

“There’s really no excuse for shooting one,” Dunn said, “because Minnesota hunters won’t encounter any other waterfowl as large as a trumpeter or tundra swan, two of the largest waterfowl in the world.”

Tundra swans weigh 16 to 23 pounds, are 52 to 58 inches long with wingspans up to 5.5 feet and a long neck.

Snow geese, in comparison, are smaller than the familiar Canada geese that populate the state. They average 25 to 31 inches long and weigh only 6 or 7 pounds.

“It’s like comparing a Volkswagen to a Cadillac," Dunn said.

Also, tundra swans are all white with a black bill, while snow geese have distinct jet black tips on their wings and a pink bill.

Anyone witnessing a fish or wildlife violation is encouraged to contact the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Nov. 7, 2013

DNR revisiting deer population goals; offers online sign up

People interested in providing input as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) begins its efforts to set deer population goals for southeastern Minnesota can sign up for regular information updates at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

From 2005-07, the DNR used an extensive public input process to establish deer population goals for all of the state’s deer permit areas. Beginning in 2012, the DNR initiated a public process to re-evaluate population goals. So far, new goals have been established for 23 deer permit areas. 

“In some places, population goals were established nearly ten years ago,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “It is appropriate at this point to evaluate our progress, review new information and check in with citizens to decide whether adjustments should be made.”

McInenly said the DNR will focus on permit areas in southeastern Minnesota during 2014 to test out additional communication tools and input opportunities. Deer permit areas to be evaluated include areas 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349. The DNR hopes to complete goal setting for the rest of the state by 2017. 

Similar to past deer goal setting processes, a citizen advisory team will be convened to develop permit area recommendations.  In addition to recent hunter and landowner surveys conducted in the southeast, members of the public will be asked for input through online and in-person comments prior to the advisory team meetings.

A timeline, with opportunities for public input, is available on the deer management page at www.mndnr.gov/deer. Nominations for advisory team members will be collected through Dec. 31.  Public input will be collected online and through meetings during January and February.

“Our public participation process has been designed to include input from anyone who has an interest in deer management,” McInenly said. “Citizen-team members will also be selected to represent the range of public interests, including hunting, wildlife viewing, natural resource management and local business interests.”

McInenly encouraged stakeholders to start thinking about deer management and factors that should be considered during the upcoming process. 

Minnesota’s deer population has swung significantly during the past 50 years. In 1971, for example, the state closed the deer hunting season because the population was too low. The DNR rebuilt the deer herd through tighter hunting regulations during the following decades. The deer harvest peaked at 290,000 in 2003 as the agency began to reduce deer numbers. Last year’s harvest was about 185,000, down 4 percent from the previous year and 22,000 fewer than the 2010 harvest.

Deer managers set deer density goals based on the broad range of public interest in deer. Deer are capable of achieving high densities so generally are managed at a level of social tolerance rather than managed for the maximum number that habitat can support. This approach involves balancing desires of hunters, wildlife watchers and others who may support higher deer densities with those of farmers, foresters or others who experience conflicts with deer who may favor lower deer densities.

White-tailed deer are an important resource to the state of Minnesota. Nearly 500,000 individuals hunt deer and countless other people enjoy viewing deer in the state.

McInenly said anyone interested in learning more about deer management and public input opportunities can sign up at www.mndnr.gov/deer to receive deer announcements and information via email.



DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Nov. 7, 2013

Illegal deer baiting on the rise; penalties stressed

As the number of citations issued for deer baiting has reached an all-time high, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds Minnesota deer hunters to review regulations before heading to the field this fall.

Changes in the regulations last year affect penalties for deer baiting, which continues to plague the sport. “We’re seeing increased numbers of convictions for deer baiting while at the same time the penalties have increased,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR enforcement director.

Deer baiting is placing food near deer stands or clearings with the intent of luring a deer into close shooting range. It has been illegal to bait deer in Minnesota since 1991.

DNR conservation officers issued 166 citations and 49 warnings while confiscating 135 firearms and bows during the 2012 bow, firearms and muzzleloader big game seasons. It’s the highest number of baiting citations and confiscations issued during the deer hunting seasons since the DNR began tracking these violations in 1991.

“It was apparent that a fine and forfeiture of a firearm or bow was not enough to curtail the activity,” Soring said. “In order to show the seriousness of the offense, hunters are also subject to license revocation when convicted of baiting deer.”

The penalties for baiting include:

  • A person may not obtain any deer license or take deer under a lifetime license 1 year after the person is convicted of hunting deer with the aid or use of bait. The DNR’s Electronic Licensing System (ELS) will also block a person’s ability to buy a license. A second conviction within 3 years would result in a 3-year revocation.
  • The revocation period doubles if the conviction is for a deer that is a trophy deer scoring higher than 170 inches.

Soring reminds hunters it is illegal to take deer with the aid or use of bait and encourages hunters to direct their efforts towards traditional and ethical hunting techniques like scouting for the best hunting locations. Enjoy a safe hunt that includes fair chase as a part of a proud hunting heritage in Minnesota.
Bait includes grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay, or other food capable of attracting or enticing deer and has been placed by an individual.

Liquid scents (example: doe in heat), sprays, salts, and mineral are not bait if they do not contain liquid or solid food products.

“Read the ingredient label on all products prior to use since many products contain food or attractants such as grains, fruits, and sugar derivatives,” Soring said. He added if a salt or mineral product has anything other than salt or mineral in it, it is illegal to use for hunting.

“There are still people who think that just because they can buy an attractant off the shelf, then it must be legal in the state. It is not. Read the label carefully before making your purchase,” Soring said. 


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          Nov. 7, 2013

Final weekend of Camp Ripley hunt produces harvest of 127 deer

Hunters at the second two-day Camp Ripley archery hunt Nov. 2-3 were greeted with excellent weather Saturday and breezy to moderate gale-force winds on Sunday, with archers harvesting 127 deer, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Nov. 2-3 harvest, coupled with the 181 taken during the Oct. 26-27 hunt, ranks 16th best at Camp Ripley. Windy weather resulted in more than half of the participants leaving Camp by mid-day of the second day of each hunt this year. The four-day total of 308 deer is about 5 percent below the long-term average harvest of 323 deer for the two hunts combined, and represents a 28 percent decline from last year’s harvest of 431 deer.
“Although the take is lower than we’ve come to expect in recent years, hunters achieved a harvest at camp that is just below the long-term average, and deer registered this year were in exceptionally good condition,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls area wildlife manager. “Administration of the hunt went well with no major injuries or mishaps during this year’s event.”

A combined total of 5,002 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,488 hunters participating -- the highest participation rate since the hunt began in 1954. Success across both hunts was 7 percent, which is 2 percent below the long-term average of 9 percent, and similar to the success experienced during other hunts at Camp Ripley earlier this fall.

For the 10th year, hunters at Camp Ripley were allowed to use bonus permits to increase harvest of antlerless deer.

“We’re very pleased with the results the past 10 years,” Liddell said. “While Ripley bow hunters are known to be selective for bucks, we have seen increasing proportions of does and fawns taken in recent years to help keep the population in check.”

The proportion of antlerless deer taken at Camp Ripley during both hunts was 4 percent higher than last year, and 7 percent higher than the long-term average (56 percent), with 63 percent of this year’s harvest comprised of does and fawns.

The largest buck taken on the second hunt weighed 220 pounds and was taken by Tony Sutherland of Stanchfield.

Other hunters who harvested large bucks during second hunt include: 

  • Lonny Hutchins, Swanville, 219 pounds.
  • John Ampe, Maple Grove, 202 pounds.
  • Nathan Ruch, North Mankato, 197 pounds.

Many large does were taken, with 16 topping the 120-pound mark. The largest doe taken weighed 147 pounds and was taken by Jacob Zeis of Burtrum.

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.


DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Nov. 7, 2013

Quick actions rescue 3 waterfowl hunters

Quick actions by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer and a lakeshore owner may have saved the lives of three duck hunters recently.

Conservation Officer Rick Reller of Buffalo was on routine patrol checking waterfowl hunters on Swartout Lake in Wright County, Sunday, Nov. 3.

“I observed with my binoculars three duck hunters picking up their decoys getting ready to leave the small island on Swartout Lake they were hunting,” Reller said. “I decided to wait on shore to do a license and game check when they came ashore.”

Reller went to check what was taking the three men so long in getting across the lake.

“Once again I used my binoculars to look out on to the lake and observed the three hunters now in the water and out of their swamped Jon boat holding onto three filled decoy bags,” he said. “The wind was blowing at over 20 miles per hour and with the cold water temps I knew they were in life threatening situation.”

Reller rushed to the residence of Barry Faber, a lakeshore owner who he knew would have a boat on shore. With Faber’s assistance, Reller was able to aid the three hunters in the cold water.

“We were able to pull all three of the hunters on to the boat,” Reller said. “They were very cold and they couldn’t help themselves in to the boat at all. Two of them had chest waders on that were full of water and none of them had a life jacket on. I contacted state patrol dispatch to have an ambulance meet us back on shore.”

The three men went to Faber’s heated garage, had their wet clothes removed, and were given warm blankets. A crew from Maple Lake Fire and Ambulance monitored the men until they were released. The men’s boat and hunting gear were later recovered from the lake.

The actions by Reller and Faber saved three lives.

“It’s very apparent that this event would have turned tragic if Officer Reller and Mr. Faber had not been there,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement central region manager.

“I can guarantee you that there are three waterfowl hunters who have not stopped talking or thinking about their actions since this happened.”

The DNR recommends these safety tips for late season boaters:

  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.
  • Don’t go boating alone; boating safety increases with numbers.
  • Keep an eye on the weather and go to shore if the wind picks up.
  • If a boat becomes swamped or capsizes, try to re-board and stay with the craft if possible and await rescue.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             Nov. 7, 2013

Public comment period begins Nov. 12 for draft management plans for Zippel Bay State Park,
Franz Jevne State Park and Garden Island State Recreation Area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Trails Division is releasing for public review and comment the draft management plans for Zippel Bay State Park, Franz Jevne State Park and Garden Island State Recreation Area (SRA). The plans are available on the DNR website at dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/parks/zippel_franzjevne_gardenisland.html.

The public review period will be open Tuesday, Nov. 12 through Friday, Dec. 13. When approved, the management plans will guide development and operations of these parks.

The DNR developed the draft management plans with the assistance of a citizen advisory committee, which helped identify issues and review potential management actions for the plans. The management plans will set the direction for these three parks for the next 15 to 20 years and include recommendations for managing natural and cultural resources and providing recreational and interpretative opportunities for recreation area visitors.

Following the comment period, final adjustments will be made and the plans will go to the DNR commissioner’s office for approval.

Zippel Bay State Park, north of Baudette, offers recreation such as camping, boating, fishing, swimming and hiking. Its shoreline, forests and wetlands are important resource areas, including undeveloped Lake of the Woods shoreline, which is valuable to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

Garden Island SRA lies 18 miles north of Zippel Bay State Park in Lake of the Woods in Minnesota’s northwest angle. The SRA has 6.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline nesting habitat and a public shore lunch area.

East of Baudette, Franz Jevne State Park sits along the south banks of the Rainy River and is a popular place to fish for walleye, northern, small mouth bass and sturgeon. Its terrain is varied, including both a high rock outcrop south of the campground road and low shoreline areas that are sometimes flooded when the river is high.

Comments can be submitted to Laurie Young, DNR Parks and Trails planning supervisor, 651-259-5638, laures.young@state.mn.us, or 651-297-5475, (fax) by Friday, Dec. 13.



DNR COMMENTARY - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Nov. 7, 2013

Fish house safety planning; thinking
about it now can prevent hazards and injuries

By Maj. Roger Tietz
DNR Enforcement Division

I’ve had the privilege of working the Minnesota ice fishing seasons for more than 30 years and during this time I’ve had a chance to think about fish houses and fish house safety. Here are few things I would like to share as we approach the 2013-14 ice fishing season.

Simply put, now is the time to start thinking about ice fishing safety. Yes, you heard me right, ice fishing safety. And while most of you will think I’m going to focus on the standard DNR safety messaging regarding ice thickness, stay off the ice until, or other safety messages….my experience is leading me in a slightly different direction. You see, I need you to understand that not only do I spend time on the ice out on patrol as a conservation officer, I also spend a fair amount of personal time ice fishing, which happens to be my favorite winter pastime.

What I’ve noticed through the years is no one ever really tackles the topic of managing safety efforts related to actually placing a wheeled fish house on a Minnesota lake, and the rules of the road in getting it there. Here is what I offer as reasonable advice to wheeled fish house owners so they enjoy a safe ice fishing season.

Ice fishing is a booming industry: It’s no secret that Minnesota has a growing ice fishing industry, driven by the advancement in wheel-house design and technology. If you subscribe to any of the outdoor newspapers, you will see plenty of wheeled ice fishing houses for sale, anywhere from
6.5 by 12 feet up to models that are 8.5 by 26 feet or larger. These trailers mirror the design of your basic travel trailer, but with one noticeable difference, they have holes in the floor and can be lowered on the ice and serve as a winter ice fishing getaway. Where is this industry/sport headed? For a moment, let’s look at Red Lake.

Red Lake, after the walleye recovery, has become recognized as a premier winter ice fishing destination. New industry that caters to those of us who have invested into a wheeled ice fishing house is starting to emerge. Simply put, it’s camping on the ice and fishing at the same time. Resorts provide the service of plowing roads and a fishing spot, in return for the purchase of a road pass or an access fee. In essence, a winter campground emerges on the lake. And Red Lake isn’t the only one; Lake of the Woods, Leech Lake, and many others are marketing themselves as ice fishing destination, for wheeled fish house owners. And let’s not forget about lakes like Mille Lacs, that for years enjoyed an ice fishing industry driven by resorts dragging hundreds of permanent rental houses out on to the lake. The resorts around Mille Lacs are also adapting and catering to winter ice fishing. This activity is providing hours of enjoyment during our cold Minnesota winters.

As this industry expands, there has been steady growth in the companies manufacturing multi-purpose trailers designed as ice fishing shelters, as well as ice fishermen who have built their own. Looking at the online fish house sales sites, it’s no secret that wheeled ice fishing houses are being offered for sale around the state and the citizens of Minnesota are starting to discover this winter pastime. While it’s no secret that a well-equipped fish house can include cooking facilities, comfortable sleeping accommodations, as well as satellite TV, have you ever taken the time to think about the safety considerations that are connected to this activity? As this winter sport continues to grow in popularity I’m going to challenge you for a moment to think “safety” as we move toward this year’s ice fishing season.

Here are few things that I’ve learned over the years to keep you safe:

Wheeled fish houses are trailers and need to comply with traffic laws: Through the years there has been an ongoing debate regarding trailered fish houses. For a long time in Minnesota, they were classified as special use trailers and were not required to be licensed as highway vehicles. That led to a confusion regarding which traffic laws applied. To be clear, they are required to be highway licensed and registered with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. With licensing, it’s clear that when wheeled fish houses are trailered on our roadways, they need to be in compliance with all of the (Chapter 169) motor vehicle laws that apply. This includes the provisions related to required equipment such as trailer chains, required lights, as well as ensuring that the trailer doesn’t exceed a maximum width of 102 inches (8.5 feet), and that the trailer is being a towed by properly matched vehicle. Another key safety consideration is trailer weight. Responsible owners need to know the weight of the trailer. Don’t rely on a manufacturer’s recommendation or a guess. As a safety conscious owner, take it to a scale with the ice fishing gear usually carried on board, filled propane tanks, and the towing vehicle to obtain the actual weight. This is an important safeguard, because a wheeled fish house trailer (more than 3,000 lbs.) is required to have brakes. Ultimately the owner can be issued a citation if the trailer they are towing is out of compliance. These are essential safety laws that will keep you and the motoring public safe.  

Tires need to be inspected: Nothing will take the energy out of trip like an unexpected flat tire.

A safety conscious owner will inspect the tires before heading out. Often overlooked, is if a fish house is stored out in the open over summer, the sunlight can impact the life cycle of the exposed tires. A tire can also lose its contour and shape after sitting in one place for an extended period of time.

Other simple things like proper inflation, ensuring the tires have legal tread depth, as well as the proper carrying capacity will help get you to your favorite lake in an efficient manner. 

As a safety conscious person, you also need to respect the highway speeds that trailer tires are designed to operate at. An industry expert told me most trailer tires are designed for a maximum towing speed of 60 miles per hour. Exceeding this speed can diminish the tires’ safety features, so plan adequate time to get to your ice fishing destination. 

This is also the time to think about the tools you will need to change a flat tire. Fish house trailers can be heavy. Without some planning, you may find yourself without the right jack and tools to complete a roadside tire change. I can tell you from experience, don’t rely on the jacking system provided with your vehicle. It’s likely it may not work when you need to lift your fish house. 

Finally, as far as tires go, it’s a good idea to loosen and re-torque the lug nuts in your driveway at the start of the season. It’s no secret that fish house trailers will encounter a fair share of water. Water leads to rust and rusted lug nuts, particularly if the tires haven’t been removed for a few years. If you need to take a tire off alongside the road, it’s comforting to know the lug nuts have recently been re-torqued.
Axels and spindles: The unique thing about a fish house trailer is that it can be lowered to the ice. For this to occur, the trailer is more than likely designed with a spindle system. As a safety-conscious owner, you need to take time to safely crawl under and study the metal used to manage this system, as well as grease any grease zerks that are present. As these things travel down the road there is a reasonable give and take and bouncing that occurs on the trailer frame. Metal fatigue, as well as cracks can occur and if discovered need to be repaired. As offered earlier, it’s easier to be proactive and discover trouble before it finds you. A good metal shop should be able to help with this part of the safety inspection. I highly recommend that you take time to perform this inspection safely in your driveway before heading out for the season.

Propane safety: A common heating source is propane heaters and burners. With these heaters you need to ensure that the heating source is venting exhaust outside. It’s also a good idea to inspect the outside vents to ensure that birds or bees haven’t blocked the vent with a bird nest or hive material.  It’s a simple task that will keep you safe.  

Think about the propane hazards you face inside the fish house. Throughout the season you need to be inspecting fittings and lines connected to gas lights, stoves and heaters. Improperly connected fittings can loosen, leading to gas leaks and serious consequences. Often, when opening the main propane valve, you may get the faint smell of gas. Do some investigating. The smell could be coming from a cooking stove valve that has been bumped to the one position, or a gas light lever left in the “on” position. If you can’t find an obvious source, you need to stay diligent and continue to investigate.

If you smell gas/propane, a simple way to check for a leak is with a spray bottle of soapy water. With no appliances lit, spray the water in the vicinity of the odor and watch for the escaping gas to create bubbles. A heating technician can provide sound and tactical advice on how to identify and repair a leak once it’s located. Likewise, you need to do your research and determine that all of the fittings and lines are designed and authorized for use with propane. In the past, I’ve seen fish houses fitted with copper water lines, (not copper propane fittings), as well as rubber fuel lines. These shortcuts can put you at substantial risk. If you have questions about what lines are safe, contact a plumbing and heating store or a gas company. They will be able to provide you sound advice to prevent an explosion.  

When it comes to heating, you need to be mindful of carbon dioxide. For an enclosed shelter, a carbon monoxide detector, as well as a smoke alarm and fire extinguisher are a must. Ice fishermen also need to respect sunflower heaters. These are a burner attachment linked to a 20 lb. propane tank. The manufacturer clearly provides labeling that states these types of heaters are designed for outdoor use. The owners of these devices need to heed this advice and keep them out of enclosed structures.  

As far as propane, the final point related to safety is an important one. At no time should refillable propane cylinders be stored inside the interior of a fish shelter. Propane has the potential to expand and contract due to temperature. While great strides have been made in propane valve systems, it’s not a risk worth taking. Always leave propane tanks outside. That’s the safest place.

Slips/trips and needless falls: One final safety concept often overlooked is the real possibility of a slip or a fall as you enter or leave your ice fishing house.

The fish house doorway is constantly experiencing extreme temperature changes as it’s opened and closed. That action leads to condensation and dripping water, which is often overlooked. The natural place for it to land is on the ice outside the door. Often, as people exit and enter a fish house they will have wet feet. This leads to more water/moisture in the vicinity that freezes and becomes polished. Before you know it, you have a highly polished, slippery surface just outside the doorway that is destined to take someone down. Any easy way to mitigate this risk is to stop by a metal shop and have them build you a 3 by 3 metal step/platform you can lay on the ice outside your door. The platform should be constructed with four spike style corners to prevent it from slipping.

Another thing that works well is anti-fatigue floor mat material that is designed for industrial settings.   This material can be laid on the ice and is easily removed when it’s time to leave. To prevent it from freezing down, take a moment each day to raise it; this should make it easy to remove and take with you when it’s time to leave.

Ice fishing is a great winter past time. I hope you find these tips useful and that they will lead you to an enjoyable and safe winter season. I will look forward to seeing out on the ice while out on patrol, or while I’m out fishing. Have fun and stay safe.



This email was sent to editor@woodsnews.com on behalf of: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources · 500 Lafayette Road · Saint Paul, MN 55155 · 1-888-MINNDNR  

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