2017 fish, game and trapping licenses expire Feb. 28

Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2017 expire Wednesday, Feb. 28, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Licenses for 2018 are now available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2018 fishing licenses become effective Thursday, March 1. New licenses are required for 2017 hunting and fishing seasons that continue past Feb. 28.
This year license fees increase by $3 for a resident individual angling license, and fees also increase for other license types including deer hunting licenses, sports licenses and lifetime licenses.
License fees support the ongoing work of DNR fish, wildlife and enforcement staff to conserve, enhance and protect our waters, fields and forests.
“Thank you to all who purchase a license. License fees pay for the work we do and the dollars go directly toward improving fishing and hunting opportunities in Minnesota,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director.
Customers who purchase online via a smartphone 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. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license.
Customers are encouraged to update their customer record online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Adding an email, while not required, allows the DNR to send important hunting and fishing information, and gather input through surveys.
More information about how the DNR spends license dollars can be found at mndnr.gov/LicenseDollarsAtWork.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Minnesota moose population remains low, but stable

Results of the 2018 moose survey indicate the moose population in northeastern Minnesota remains stable, but relatively low for the seventh year in a row, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“While the population appears stable, low numbers of moose are still a major concern for the DNR,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We continue to pursue the best science, research and management tools available to us to help Minnesota’s moose.”
The 2018 aerial moose survey estimated 3,030 moose in northeastern Minnesota, statistically unchanged from last year’s estimate of 3,710. The survey is statistically sound, but there is inherent uncertainty associated with such surveys, because researchers will never see and count all of the animals across the 6,000 square mile survey area. Statistically, the DNR is 90 percent certain that the population is between 4,140 and 2,320 moose.  
“The stability of moose numbers in recent years provides a reason for some optimism – after all, we’re not facing a significant decline,” said Glenn DelGiudice, DNR moose and deer project leader. “But this year’s results would be more palatable had they reflected the beginning of a turnaround in the population trend.”
Each year the population estimate is compared to 2006, because the state’s highest moose population estimate of 8,840 occurred that year. Currently, northeastern Minnesota’s moose population is estimated to be 65 percent lower than the peak estimate of 2006.
“While the trend of stability is encouraging, it does not allow us to forecast the future trajectory of the population,” DelGiudice said.
Reproductive success and adult survival have the greatest impact on the annual performance and dynamics of the moose population over time.
“Our field research has shown that annual pregnancy rates of adult females in this population have been robust,” DelGiudice said. “But it is a challenge to maintain a high number of adult females that can become pregnant, produce calves and rear them to 1 year of age.”
Survey results also indicate that calf survival to January has been relatively stable, but consistently low. Field studies have indicated that it is even lower by spring, translating to low numbers of moose calves living through their first year. Importantly, the DNR’s detailed investigations have shown that wolf predation has consistently accounted for about two-thirds of the calf mortality compared to one-third of the adult mortality.   
Annual aerial moose surveys have been conducted each year since 1960 in the northeast. Adjustments were made in 2005 to make the survey more accurate and annual results more comparable.
This year’s survey involved flying in 52 survey plots distributed across northeastern Minnesota’s moose range from Jan. 3 to Jan. 13. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and provided personnel for the annual moose survey.
More information about moose is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/moose.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Fourth annual Northland Fat Bike Rally slated

Riders can gear up and get ready for the Fourth Annual Northland Fat Bike Rally at Lake Bemidji State Park on Saturday, March 3.
The main event begins at 11 a.m. with a mass start on Lake Bemidji and then heads into Lake Bemidji State Park and up the Rocky Point Trail. Riders can choose from a 10K or 28K route.The rally is not just for experienced riders. Anyone interested in this new winter sport will have the opportunity to ride the course, check out various fat bikes, learn about the sport by talking with experts and take a short spin in the snow on one of the “big fatties.” The Friends of Lake Bemidji State Park will offer food and refreshments at the visitor center.The course will be closed until the official start time. After the event, the course will be open to biking until 4 p.m. The park will also be open to fat biking on Sunday, March 4.Schedule
9:30 a.m. - Registration, Lake Bemidji State Park Visitor Center.
10:15 a.m. - Mandatory rules meeting, Lake Bemidji State Park Visitor Center.
11 a.m. - Event start on Lake Bemidji.
2 p.m. - After-event social with awards and raffle at C.K. Dudley’s, 6405 Bemidji Ave. NW, Bemidji.
Participants must have 3.8-inch tires and wear a helmet.
The event and activities are free, but participants are encouraged to make a freewill donation to the Trek North Middle and High School Mountain Bike Teams.
A Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ($7/one-day or $35/year-round) is required to enter the park.
For more information on the bike rally, contact Lake Bemidji State Park at 218-308-2300 or visit the Bemidji Area Mountain Bikers Facebook page. The event is sponsored by Lake Bemidji State Park, C.K. Dudley’s, Bemidji Brewing, Super 8 Bemidji and the Bemidji Area Mountain Bikers. For more information about fat bike opportunities at Minnesota state parks and trails, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/fatbike.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Cougar sighting verified in Washington County

MADISON, WI - Video footage of a large cat submitted by landowners in Washington County in northeastern Wisconsin has been verified by Department of Natural Resources biologists as a cougar.
The animal was recorded on a security camera during the early morning hours of Feb. 7, as it crossed a walkway in front of the residence. While there is no evidence of a breeding population in Wisconsin, individual cougars do move through Wisconsin periodically.
"A cougar's ability to cover ground is very impressive," said Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore specialist. "As an example of their range, DNR staff collected genetic samples from a cougar in Oconto County in 2010, and this cat was subsequently killed by a vehicle in Connecticut, roughly 70 miles from New York City, after traveling over 1,100 miles."
A cougar was confirmed Jan. 8, on a trail camera photo in Fond du Lac County, while four photos taken in Lincoln and Langlade counties in mid-December 2017 were also confirmed to feature a cougar. Without genetic samples, it is impossible to determine if this is the same animal confirmed in Washington County. Dispersing cougars are known to travel significant distances and it is possible these confirmed photos recorded a single cougar.
It is likely that the cougar recently confirmed in Washington County is passing through the area, and is now out of the area.
While a handful of cougar sightings were confirmed in Wisconsin in recent years, cougar sightings as a whole are uncommon. The nearest established cougar population is in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, and animals dispersing through Wisconsin are believed to originate from this population.
DNR staff rely almost exclusively on the public for reports of cougars and other rare mammals. Anyone with an unusual sighting or trail camera photo are encouraged to fill out the Large Mammal Observation Form so DNR biologists can work to identify the animal.
The Large Mammal Observation Form, a current list of confirmed cougar sightings, identification tips and more can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "cougar."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

George named Minnesota's Conservation Officer of Year

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Phil George has been named the 2018 DNR Conservation Officer of the Year, an annual award given to an officer who’s recognized as a leader among natural resource enforcement peers.
Enforcement Division Director Rodmen Smith presented the award to George in January at the division’s annual awards ceremony and training at Camp Ripley.
George, who has been a conservation officer since 2006, patrols the Rochester area and is one of the Enforcement Division’s acting regional training officers. He’s also a use of force instructor. The award is based upon overall career performance with an emphasis on the officer’s most recent job evaluation period.
“Officer George is heavily involved in educational efforts throughout his area, emphasizing it – along with enforcement and outreach – to gain voluntary compliance among users of the outdoors,” Smith said. “He’s a go-to officer in his district and has a no-quit attitude. His hard work and dedication are apparent when you talk with people who work with Officer George.”
Other members of the Enforcement Division who were honored were:
Boat & Water Safety Officer of the Year - Scott Fitzgerald, who patrols Crow Wing County, was recognized for his leadership and outstanding achievement in boating safety education, boating while intoxicated enforcement and service to other law enforcement agencies.
Education Achievement Award - Matthew Frericks, who patrols the Virginia area, received the award for his commitment to the Enforcement Division’s educational programs.
Waterfowl Enforcement Achievement Award - Thor Nelson, who patrols the New Ulm area, received the award for his dedication to protecting natural resources, specifically those vital to waterfowl. The award also recognizes his commitment to preserving Minnesota’s waterfowl heritage.
Willard Munger Water Resources Protection Award - Named after the longtime advocate for conservation and the environment Willard Munger, who served 43 years in the state House of Representatives, the award recognizes an officer who’s particularly devoted to the protection of water resources.
CO Keith Bertram, who patrols the Long Prairie area, is this year’s recipient.
Meritorious Service Award - Mike Scott, a water resources enforcement officer, is this year’s Meritorious Service Award winner for his leadership on a project to honor officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. In the Enforcement Division’s 130-year history, 19 officers have been killed in the line of duty, and others have died as a result of accidents or drowning.
Appreciation and Recognition Award - Caralee Bjerkness has worked for the Division of Enforcement since 1975 and is an office and administrative specialist. She works closely with the Enforcement Division’s Aviation Unit as well as the division’s water resources protection officers.
“Caralee’s can-do attitude is infectious and she sets a great example for everyone else in the division,” Smith said.
Airborne Law Enforcement Association Safety Award – The Airborne Law Enforcement Association advances, promotes and supports safe and effective use of aircraft by governmental agencies. Natural Resources Pilot Brad Maas was honored for the significant number of accident- and violation-free mission flight hours he’s flown for the Enforcement Division.
Lifesaving Awards - Joel Heyn, Thephong Le and Rick Reller
Three officers were honored for their lifesaving roles. Officers Heyn and Le, who patrol the Plainview and metro areas, respectively, worked with other law enforcement agencies and thermal imaging equipment mounted to a drone to locate an 84-year-old hunter in Olmsted County on the opening day of the deer season. The hunter was stuck in the mud and unresponsive when the officers located him. They helped remove him from the mud and load him for transport to the hospital.
Officer Rick Reller, who patrols the Buffalo area, received the award for responding to a December incident in which a vehicle went off the road and into a holding pond. Reller helped the 17-year-old driver out of the vehicle, which soon went under the water, and then kept her warm in his truck until paramedics arrived.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Warnke named Wisconsin DNR R3 Team Supervisor

MADISON, WI - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has named Keith Warnke as the state's new R3 Team supervisor.
Warnke will oversee the development and coordination of a specialized team dedicated to recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers and trappers - a priority within the DNR and conservation agencies nationwide.
Warnke will remain in the Madison DNR office, where he has served as the hunting and shooting sports coordinator since 2011. Warnke also guided the state's big game program for seven years. His first full-time job with the DNR included hunter recruitment programs during the 1990s.
Warnke's previous work experience includes common loon research, farmland wildlife research legislative aide and leading the state's upland wildlife program.
Warnke graduated from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota.
"As a Wisconsin native, I respect and believe in the state's outdoor traditions and believe these can touch every citizen - either directly or enjoying the outdoors with family and friends," Warnke said. "And that direct connection can be through sustainable natural resources to be enjoyed generation after generation, and eating healthy foods harvested from the state's landscape and waters."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund proposals due April 6

MADISON, WI - A new Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund will provide $1 million to improve wildlife habitat and increase the amount of land accessible to the public for hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing.
Eligible projects include habitat restoration, enhancement, or management activities that benefit priority wildlife habitat and enhance the public experience in the outdoors. Eligible applicants include local units of government, tribes and qualified 501(c)(3) conservation organizations.
Project proposals are due April 6. Projects will be selected for funding in late April and awards will be issued mid-June. For more information, including an application, search the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund."
"The Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund is a great opportunity to partner with Wisconsin DNR to improve habitat for wildlife and provide for recreational opportunities," said Eddie Shea, DNR assistant wetland habitat specialist. "This program provides a mechanism to assist all of the great conservation partners who are working in innovative ways to address wildlife habitat needs across the state."
To receive funding, respondents must provide public access for hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing for a period based on the amount of funds awarded. The respondent or other project partners are responsible for 25 percent of the total project cost.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR