DNR: Trappers, waterfowl hunters should avoid spreading AIS

ST. PAUL -- With hunting season underway, the Department of Natural Resources reminds waterfowl hunters to take precautions against spreading aquatic invasive species.

Without the proper precautions, invasive species such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails can be transported in boats, decoys or blind material.

Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and can even cause waterfowl die-offs. For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that can kill thousands of ducks.

"After hunting, take a few minutes to clean plants and mud and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles," said Eric Katzenmeyer, DNR invasive species specialist, in a release. "It's the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat."

The DNR has the following recommendations to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Use elliptical or bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors.

  • Drain water and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment.

  • Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials.

  • Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t used the rest of the year.

  • Waterfowl hunters should also remember that they must cut cattails or other plants above the water line when using them as camouflage for boats or blinds, if they want to move them from lake to lake.

The DNR is also reminding trappers to clean equipment before moving to another body of water.

To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse before launching into another water body (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds). Air drying can also be effective but may require more time due to cooler weather.

Annual Hike for Hope set for Oct. 6

BEMIDJI -- The 19th Annual Hike for Hope is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the North Country National Scenic Trailhead at Nelson Lake access, Paul Bunyan Game Refuge.

Attendees can enjoy the vibrant colors of fall, “while remembering world events and offering silent tribute for wisdom for our elected leaders,” a release said. The initial hike was in response to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.Hikers are advised to wear appropriate footgear, dress for the weather, and carry water and snacks. Children and pets are welcome with responsible adult.

Co-hosts of the Hike for Hope are Florence and Carter Hedeen, Park Rapids, fbhedeen@gmail.com or (218) 732-9226.

Peterson, Stauber introduce wolf bill

WASHINGTON -- Two Minnesota congressmen have introduced bipartisan legislation to return management of gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan back to the states.

Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Pete Stauber, R-Minn., introduced the Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2019 on Thursday, Sept. 26.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2011 issued a final rule to delist Western Great Lakes wolves from federal protection and return management to the states. That decision was reversed in 2014, after two federal court decisions restored federal protection for Western Great Lakes wolves under the Endangered Species Act.

The return to federal protection meant farmers and ranchers in the three states no longer could act to protect their livestock from problem wolves. Instead, they must contact a federal animal control expert from USDA Wildlife Services when problems occur.

“Choosing between protecting their livelihood or complying with a federal judicial decision is a choice no farmer should have to make,” Peterson said in a statement. “The gray wolf population should be managed by the states, where it belongs. This is practical, bipartisan legislation that balances safety with gray wolf population management and urges states to consult with tribes early and often when crafting management plans.”

Stauber said “Minnesotans know better than Washington bureaucrats” how to manage wolves, and that’s why he joined Peterson in introducing the legislation.

“Despite its evident recovery, the gray wolf remains listed due to arbitrary judicial decisions made thousands of miles away from gray wolf territory,” Stauber said. “In Minnesota, keeping the gray wolf on the Endangered Species List threatens our very way of life, as the animal cannot be deterred while attacks on family owned livestock and pets increase.”

Ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association praised the proposal, as did the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

State Park muzzleloader permits available

BEMIDJI -- Lake Bemidji State Park will host its annual muzzleloader deer hunt Dec. 6-8.

The hunt is either-sex with a bag limit of two. A number of permits are still available; if interested call the park office at (218) 308-2300.

Lake Bemidji State Park Youth Hunt openings

BEMIDJI -- Several permits are available for this fall’s Youth Hunt at Lake Bemidji State Park. This firearms deer hunt is open to youth ages 12-15. Each youth hunter must have completed the Firearms Safety Certificate and have a valid deer license. An adult mentor must accompany the youth at all times and may not carry firearms themselves. The hunt is either-sex with a bag limit of two. Hunt dates are Oct. 18-20, with a mandatory orientation at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the park visitor center. To register or for more information, call the park office at (218) 308-2300.

Statewide youth deer season opens Oct. 17

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota offers mentors an ideal way to share hunting knowledge and traditions with youth ages 10-17 during its inaugural statewide youth deer season.

The four-day season begins Thursday, Oct. 17, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 20. It coincides with statewide teacher workshops, so many Minnesota students don’t have school during the youth season’s first two days, according to a release.

“This is a hunting season just for kids,” said Barb Keller, big game program leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a chance for parents, relatives and trusted adults to discover, explore and practice hunting with youth in Minnesota’s fields and forests.”

Minnesota’s youth deer season began in 2004 in northwest Minnesota. Over the years, it expanded to 28 deer permit areas in parts of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area where deer were most abundant.

A 2018 statewide survey of hunters showed support for a statewide youth deer season. Deer management interest groups supported the concept, too.

Typically, temperatures in the middle of October are warmer than those during the regular November firearm deer season, snow has yet to set in for winter, and deer are moving more during the daylight hours. Those factors create an ideal opportunity for youth deer hunters.

To participate, youth must be 10-17 years old and have a deer license. An adult parent, guardian, or mentor must accompany youth ages 10-13. All youth hunters and mentors must follow blaze orange/pink clothing requirements. Adults may not hunt, unless they are in an area open during the early antlerless season.

Complete youth season details are available on the DNR website on the youth deer hunting page.