Week of April 12 , 2004

 

National

Regional

General

Lake Erie

Lake Michigan

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

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National

Evidence Against Earthworms Mounting

In the Midwest and much of the northern U.S., earthworms are invasive species. The Washington Post reports any indigenous earthworms were wiped out by the glaciers that covered the area 10,000 years ago. The invaders, mostly from Europe and also from Asia and South America, arrived over the past century or so in  the root balls of imported plants, and even through batches of worms imported for fishing bait.

 

They are often considered gardeners' friends, slimy do-gooders that aerate and enrich the soil. But in many parts of the world, including the midwestern United States, earthworms are actually the bad guys.  Professsors from  DePaul University in Chicago say the chewing and churning of the soil for which earthworms are famous actually degrades the layer of leaf litter and mulch covering the forest floor, which is essential to healthy woodland ecosystems. An interconnected community of insects and microorganisms, mites and collembolans, make their home in this leaf litter.

Compared with the more leisurely feeding rate of these smaller organisms, earthworms gobble up the leaf litter 24 hours a day. They digest it so quickly that whole populations of microorganisms are at risk of being wiped out in some areas. Higher up the food chain, birds and small mammals could be affected by the disappearance of these species. And below the surface, earthworms gobble up a fungus that serves a crucial symbiotic function helping the roots of oak trees, ferns and other plants absorb nutrients.

 

For two years scientists have been studying the effects of worms in Illinois woodlands, where the night crawler is pervasive. Studies elsewhere in North America have found earthworms harming a variety of ecosystems. In Minnesota, ecologists found the worms have had a significant effect in the Chippewa National Forest, and have reduced populations of native insects, small mammals such as voles and shrews, ground-nesting birds such as the oven bird and sugar maples.


Illinois, feds clash on gun records

The Illinois State Police have collected computerized records of 2.15 million firearms transactions since 1992, when the state launched instant background checks of gun buyers, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich is trying to fend off federal efforts to scrap this statewide database of gun purchases that he believes is key to the fight against terrorism and street crime.  

 

Blagojevich is concerned about a law Congress passed in January requiring the FBI to destroy records of instant background checks within 24 hours. The U.S. Justice Department has warned Illinois it must comply with the law -- which would mean getting rid of the state's gun-purchase database.


Blagojevich sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to repeal the 24-hour limit. Illinois requires residents to obtain a FOID –Firearm Owners Identification

card before they may buy or possess a firearm. There is a 24-hour waiting period to buy rifles and a 72-hour wait for handguns.

 

In 1992, Illinois required dealers to call a State Police hotline before a buyer could take possession of a gun. The hotline was designed to weed out criminals and the mentally ill by combing the computer files of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and state mental health records.

 

Since 1998, the FBI was required to destroy records of background checks within 90 days, but in January, Congress reduced that window to 24 hours.  Illinois was never told it needed to comply with the 90-day record retention limit, said Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for the governor. But when Congress passed the 24-hour limit, the feds told Illinois it must destroy the records just as the FBI does, Ottenhoff said.


Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for April 9, 2004

Current Lake Levels: 

Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are 7, 18, 5, 4 and 1 inches, respectively, below their long-term average.  All of the Great Lakes are above last year’s water levels.  Lake Superior is 3 inches above, while the remaining lakes are 5-6 inches above last year’s levels

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be below average during the month of April.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are also expected to be below average during April, while Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows are expected to be near and above average, respectively.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

Cooler than average temperatures will move into the basin  

this weekend and persist into the workweek.  The chance for precipitation returns by early next week as a storm system slides into the region, bringing snow showers to the northern part of the basin and rain to the rest of the region. 

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes are into their normal seasonal rise.  Levels are expected to increase 3-4 inches on Lakes Superior, Lakes Michigan-Huron, Erie, and Ontario over the next month.  Lake St. Clair is expected to rise two inches in the next four weeks.

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.


Coastwatch Returns

As most of you know, Coastwatch has been down since last fall due to a server failure coupled with a need to re-construct the program due to a change in file protocol at NOAA.  As of April 7, 2004, the totally re-written program is being posted again at the same old address.  While the program has been designed to appear more or less exactly the same as the old , you will notice some changes, including  a better shoreline definition, and a page print option  at the top right.

Jim Fenner, CW team member and President, Ludington Area Charterboat Association says they expect there will be some glitches and problems which they hope to identify and correct over the next few weeks.  "Some additional improvements may be implemented as we gain experience with the new program.  Please check it out, and bear with us as we work out the wrinkles."

 


Ontario, Michigan research networks sign agreement

TORONTO, April 6 — ORION and Merit Network, the Ontario and Michigan Research and Education networks respectively, have signed an agreement to collaborate on advanced networking technologies to facilitate research in the Great Lakes region.

 

The two networks plan to connect across the Canada-US border at Windsor and Detroit later in 2004, and at Sault Ste. Marie at a later date.

 

The Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network

(ORION) is owned and operated by the Optical Regional Advanced Network of Ontario (ORANO). ORION is a high-speed, optical network that brings broadband access and connectivity to research and educational institutions in Ontario.

 

Merit Network, Inc., a non-profit corporation governed by Michigan's public universities, owns and operates the first regional research and education network in the United States. Founded in 1966, Merit supports the high-performance networking needs of Michigan's universities, colleges, K-12 schools, libraries, state government, health care and other non-profit organizations.


General

Guidelines to follow for catch-and-release

•  Set hook quickly. This should set hook in fish's mouth, where it does little damage

•  Play fish quickly to reduce fish's physical exhaustion

•  Use needle-nosed pliers, hook remover or hook/barb cutting tool to remove imbedded hooks.

•  If hook is too deep, cut line so at least an inch hangs out of mouth

•  Use active fishing methods, which result in mouth hook-ups rather than gut hooking.

•  Artificial baits are often fished actively, live baits are often fished passively

•  Be prepared to take photos.

•  Minimize the time out of water.           

•  Revive fish by cradling under belly, gently move it forward in the water until it swims away

•  Do not place fish you plan to release on a stringer or in live well

•  Wet hands before touching fish to prevent removal of protective slime coat

•  Do not release fish that can be legally kept if it is bleeding heavily, or can't right itself

•  Unhook and release fish while still in water, support weight with both hands or net when removed from water.

•  Never lift fish vertically from the water

•  Always release fish in the calm part of a stream

•  Never release fish by tossing back in water

•  Switch to barb-less hooks, pinch barbs down with pliers, or use circle hooks      

•  Hold fish firmly but gently. Don't drop it!

•  Don't hold fish by the eyes

•  Fish in shallower water if you plan to practice catch and release

 

The DNR will continue the walleye hooking mortality study on Mille Lacs this summer. Reeves said there are still some unanswered questions and many other ways to catch and handle fish that need to be understood.  "The more we know about catch-and-release, the better informed anglers will be the next time they go fishing," Reeves said.

 

The DNR also encourages anglers to practice restraint when the fish are really biting, especially during the summer. By adjusting their fishing patterns, and not targeting a single species, anglers can help to conserve the resource by minimizing the loss of un-harvested fish.

 


Reel Maintenance Tips from Reel Saver

SPRING, 2004 -- Maintaining your fishing reels doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  With the help of a mini-screwdriver set, you can disassemble the basic components of  your reel without creating an impossible jigsaw puzzle. For a baitcaster, for example,  removing the main cover plate will expose the main gear and bearing.  

           

Once there, clean off pre-existing buildup, which includes lubricant and organic  material like salt crystals and marine life residue. Use a cleaner to free material from  metal surfaces.  Soap and water is popular, but it will not get out heavy buildup, and it  can leave a residue.  Reel Saver cleaner emulsifies organics very well, and is safe to use.

 

Then, apply a small bead of oil or grease to moving parts.  An oil viscosity is  better for the bearing, and a light grease is

more ideal for joints and other friction- vulnerable surfaces.

 

Depending on configurations, other parts like the anti-reverse and clutch bearings  require a lubricant like Reel Saver AR, which has a tackier consistency.  And the drag is  often treated with an oil viscosity.  Some offshore conventional reels work better with a  thicker grease consistency, like Reel Saver HG.

 

A good lubricant protectant can also provide exterior protection for the reel. Of course, use the manual provided by the reel manufacturer for specific  disassembly and assembly instructions.

 

For more information on the full-line of Reel Saver products, visit them on the web at www.reelsaver.com, or call Mil-Comm Products Co. at 888-947-3273.


Lake Erie

Lake Erie – 2004 Catch Limits Set for Walleye & Perch

Yellow Perch Increased; Walleye Reduced

GRAND ISLAND, NY – Lake Erie fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania agreed during last week’s annual meeting to an 11 percent increase in the yellow perch catch limit and a 30 percent reduction in the walleye catch limit for the 2004 fishing season. The committee expressed optimism over the future of the fishery, as it is anticipated that strong spawning success in 2003 in both the walleye and yellow perch fisheries will lead to improvements in 2005.

 

WALLEYE

The international total allowable catch of walleye will be reduced by 1 million fish, for a total allowable catch in 2004 of 2.4 million fish. The Committee’s Walleye Task Group – comprising scientists and field biologists – reported that walleye spawning had been poor in 2000 and 2002, and, based on these reports, the committee recommended this 30 percent reduction in the walleye limits in 2004. This reduction reflects the belief of the committee that the scare two-year-old walleye population needs to be protected from harvest to maintain a balanced age structure in the lake. This protection is designed to help walleye rebuild. Actual harvest in 2003 was approximately 2.7 million fish.

 

All agencies have been closely monitoring the status of walleye spawning during the previous years and have, until 2004, held harvest constant over the previous 3 years. Very strong walleye spawning in 2003 – the best spawning in more than 20 years – has generated optimism among the committee members that walleye survival and growth will be sustained and contribute to a more robust, stable walleye fishery, starting in 2005.

 

“Members of the Lake Erie committee have had a challenging year managing the walleye fishery,” said Lake Erie Committee Chairman Rick Hoopes, PFBC fish chief. “While we are very optimistic because of the strong spawning in 2003, we all agree that we must take steps this year to protect the future of the fishery. We are very pleased with the cooperation among the jurisdictions on the lake and with the dialogue that has

taken place between the management agencies and the affected stakeholders.”

 

The annual total allowable catch (TAC), established by the LEC is allocated to Ohio, Michigan and Ontario by an area-based sharing formula of walleye habitat within each jurisdiction in the western and central basin of the lake. The walleye fisheries of eastern Lake Erie remain outside the quota management area.

 

YELLOW PERCH

Yellow perch was strong in 2003 – and looks strong in 2004 – such that the Committee agreed to an 11 % increase in the total allowable catch, from 9.9 million lbs in 2003 to 11 million lbs this year. An area-based sharing formula determines the allocation of these fish among the five jurisdictions on the lake. For 2004, Ontario’s share is about 5.2 million lbs and Ohio’s allocation is 5.1 million lbs. Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania share the remaining allocation. In 2003, all jurisdictions experienced excellent sport and commercial yellow perch fishing. As with walleye, the yellow perch spawning in 2003 was one of the best on record.

 

LAKE ERIE COMMITTEE

The lake Erie Committee is made up of fishery managers representing Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania. The committee’s work is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian and U.S. agency on the Great Lakes. Each year the Committee sets the total allowable catch for walleye and yellow perch, which represents the number of fish that can be caught by sport and commercial fishers without putting the stocks at risk.

 

The committee heard that, like the other Great Lakes, many species on Lake Erie had excellent spawning success in 2003. These species include smelt, emerald shiners, and other forage fish. This bodes well for future fishing opportunities in Lake Erie, as larger sport and commercial fish depend on a healthy, abundant forage base.

 

For more information, visit the Lake Erie Committee online at www.glfc.org/lec


 

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Perch still in critical condition

Task Group releases annual report on Yellow Perch status

Yellow perch assessment activity is occurring throughout the lake, with numerous agency and university personnel sampling perch utilizing various gear types in different seasons, reports the Yellow Perch Task Group in their annual report.

 

The data collected with either gill nets or bottom trawls shows a long-term decline in adult yellow perch abundance. The longer data series show a peak abundance in the mid- 1980s to early 1990s, followed by significant declines through the early 2000s.

 

Age 1 and older yellow perch trawl abundance increased in 2003 from observed 2002 levels in Green Bay, WI and Indiana water of Lake Michigan (Figure 1). Gill net assessment showed an increase in abundance for the southern jurisdictions, Illinois and Indiana, while Michigan and Wisconsin reported decreases in abundance from 2002 to 2003. A lake-wide representation of the 2003 gill net catch shows a slight increase in abundance from 2002. However, current abundance remains well below the historically observed abundance of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

 

Since the mid 1990s there has been a general upward trend in the frequency of females within the adult assessments (Figures 2 & 3). Percent females of the trawl catch in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan have fluctuated around 60% for the past six years. Females comprised near 50% of the gill net catch in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, while Indiana’s catch exceeded 90% in 2003.

 

The yellow perch adult population age structure was determined by assessing otoliths, opercules, or spines by Lake Michigan management agency personnel and researchers. The 1998 class (age 5) continued to dominate the adult population in 2003 (Figure 5). Age 5 fish comprised from 73% to 96% of the total gill net catch as reported from the different jurisdictions.

Bottom trawl assessment of the yellow perch population in Wisconsin waters of Green Bay showed a dominance of the 2002 year class (age 1) which comprised 79% of the total catch in 2003 (Figure 4). In addition, the prominence of the 2002 year class was observed in the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan which accounted for over 50% of the catch, while the 1998 and 2001 year classes (age 5 and age 2) comprised 23% and 11%, respectively in 2003.

 

Recruitment of young-of-the-year YOY (age-0) yellow perch in 2003 were at there highest level recorded in Green Bay, Wisconsin since 1978 and abundance levels in Indiana were similar to 2002 (Figure 6). Catch rates of YOY in Wisconsin and Illinois were minimal in 2003.

 

2004 Yellow Perch Harvest Restrictions

Sportfishing regulations:

 Illinois

 July closed to sportfishing for yellow perch,  Daily bag limit 15 fish

 Indiana

 No closed season for yellow perch,  Daily bag limit 15 fish

 Michigan

 No closed season for yellow perch,  Daily bag limit 35 fish (south of the 45th parallel)

 Wisconsin (Lake Michigan)

 May 1 through June 15; closed to sportfishing for yellow perch,  Daily bag limit 5 fish

 Wisconsin (Green Bay)

 March 16 through May 15; closed to sportfishing for yellow perch,  Daily bag limit 10 fish

 

Commercial regulations:

 Illinois perch fishery remained closed

 Indiana perch fishery remained closed

 Michigan does not allow a commercial harvest (outside of 1836 Treaty waters)

 Wisconsin perch fishery remained closed (outside of Green Bay, where quota is 20,000 lbs)


 

Illinois

How Can Anyone Oppose Letting Retired Police Carry Guns?
John R. Lott.com
Chicago continues to have more murders than any other U.S. city--a murder rate greater than any of the 10 largest cities in the country. Only five states have a higher murder rate than Illinois. Yet Gov. Blagojevich, who faces a large state budget deficit, threatens to veto a bill letting retired police officers help patrol neighborhoods for free.

 

Illinois is one of only four states that do not trust retired police officers to carry guns. In fact, Illinois is one of only four states that ban every single citizen from carrying concealed handguns. The state Senate wants to change this situation, if only for police. By an overwhelming 40-12 vote, the Illinois

Senate last week passed such a bill, though it still contained among the most stringent requirements anywhere.

 

To get a permit a person must:

*have 10 years of experience as a police officer or as a military police officer

*have graduated from a police academy or training institute

*hold a valid firearm-owner's card.

 

But how can anyone oppose letting retired police carry guns? We trust police when they are on the job. Research, including my own, shows that police are the single most important factor for reducing crime. But somehow, an officer we trusted for 10 years is no longer trusted the day he retires.


Clinic for shotgun beginners May 1-2

The Illinois DNR, the Tri-County Quail Unlimited, and the Montgomery County Pheasants Forever are sponsoring a wingshooting clinic for beginning shotgunners at the Cranfill Hunting Preserve near Hillsboro on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2. Clinic hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The Saturday session is for young wingshooters ages 10-15. The Sunday session is for girls and women and is open to those ages 10 and older.

 

The clinics will feature a brief classroom session each day on basic firearm safety and handling, nomenclature and hunter

safety, followed by extensive live fire at clay targets. This is a free workshop, though a refundable $10 registration fee is required to hold a spot in the class. All instructors are certified by the National Sporting Clays Association. All supplies are provided, including shotguns, ammunition, clay targets, eye and ear protection. Lunch will also be provided free of charge for all participants. This is a great opportunity for young people and women to learn proper shotgun shooting techniques in a safe and fun environment.

 

To register or for more information, contact Alan Justice at 217/782-2457 or email at ajustice@dnrmail.state.il.us


Hunter Wingshooting Clinics at Jim Edgar Panther Creek April 24-25

Reservations are available for Illinois DNR wingshooting clinics for hunters at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in Cass County on April 24-25. Sportsmen and women ages 16 and older interested in improving their wingshooting skills are encouraged to attend. Four-hour sessions are scheduled for the morning and afternoon both days, with each session limited to 20 participants.

 

The clinics will be taught by National Sporting Clays

Association (NSCA) certified wingshooting instructors, each working with a squad of four hunters of similar skills. Hunters with wingshooting skills from beginner to advanced are welcome. The clinics will include instruction on range safety and shotgun handling, followed by extensive live fire at a variety of clay target presentations. The cost of the clinics is $25 per person. Advance registration is required. For more information, call the site office at Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA at 217/452-7741.

 


Indiana

DNR to host meeting on boating idle zones for Brookville Reservoir April 19     

Officials from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will host a meeting concerning idle zones in Brookville Reservoir Monday, April 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the main office in Mounds State Recreation Area.

           

The DNR is in the process of reviewing the current idle speed zones on the lake. Boaters who use Brookville Reservoir have

requested the idle zone south of the Quakerstown recreation  

area boat ramp on the northwest side of the lake to be shortened to allow greater speeds sooner as boaters travel south into the body of the lake. 

 

DNR staff will be available at the office to meet with interested people to answer questions about the proposal and take comments. A final decision about changing the idle zones will be made later this spring.  For further information about the meeting, call the Mounds State Recreation Area at 765-647-2657.


Michigan

Ludington barrier net installed

The barrier net at the Ludington Pumped Storage plant is now in place. The 2.5-mile long barrier net is designed to keep fish from being drawn into the reservoir. It was ordered to be put in place as part of a 1994 settlement between the state of Michigan, conservation groups, tribes and the utilities that own the project, Consumer’s Energy and Detroit Edison.

Under the settlement agreement, the net must keep 85 % of all fish over 5" in length that approach the net from getting near the plant.  The plant is required to sample the waters in the area around the project to determine how many fish are being excluded. The net, which is made of Spectra brand fiber, is designed to exclude fish over 4" in length. It is installed every April, removed in the fall and stored indoors over the winter.


BOW summer workshop set for the UP June 4-6

The Department of Natural Resources Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program announced the 7th annual Upper Peninsula BOW summer workshop, set for June 4-6, in Big Bay, 30 miles north of Marquette. The program once again will be held at Bay Cliff Health Camp, a universally accessible facility, located in a wooded setting overlooking Lake Superior.

 

Classes are offered in more than two dozen kinds of outdoor activities, including kayaking, canoeing, various types of fishing, hiking, mountain biking, archery, birding, ORV/ATV use, GPS, map and compass, and several styles of shooting sports. Instructors provide basic and advanced instruction tailored to the participant’s individual ability.

 

The program also offers extra activities, such as morning bird walks, special evening programs, group bonfires and more. Participants are housed in dorm-style facilities with numerous amenities, including a pool, sauna, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, and easy access to Lake Superior.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is an award-winning program, designed to offer outdoor skills instruction to women, 18 and older, in a relaxed atmosphere. Registration for the U.P. BOW summer workshop is $145, which includes all meals, snacks, dorm-style lodging and equipment, including firearms, ammunition and supplies. Those taking the mountain biking course are asked to bring their own bike and helmet. Early registration is highly recommended, since this program fills quickly. The registration form, daily schedule, class descriptions and other workshop information are available by clicking here.

 

For more information, contact Ann Wilson or Sharon Pitz at the DNR Operations Service Center in Marquette, 906-228-6561, or e-mail wilsoann@michigan.gov or pitzs@michigan.gov . Across Michigan, numerous BOW programs will be offered this year. To see the current calendar of events, visit the DNR Web site or contact Lynn Marla, DNR BOW Coordinator, at marlal@michigan.gov .

 


Minnesota

DNR expands walleye slot limit for Lake Mille Lacs

Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs will be allowed to keep more walleye under a less restrictive slot limit announced by the Minnesota DNR. The season will open May 15 with a regulation that will allow anglers to keep walleye up to 20", or one trophy over 28" in a four fish limit.

 

Anglers must release all walleye from 20 to 28". The new slot

limit will also allow more opportunities for angling harvest in mid-summer, when the bite on Mille Lacs traditionally slows. Starting July 15, anglers will be allowed to keep walleye up to 22" or one trophy over 28" in a four fish limit. All walleye from 22 to 28" must be released. The slot will revert to walleye up to 20" with one over 28" in a four fish limit on Dec. 1.

 


New catch and release tips will help protect the resource

Fishing pressure on Minnesota's lakes and streams has increased since the 1950s. More anglers are spending more time pursuing their quarry with increasingly effective gear and methods. Anglers also have better access to more fishing information, which boosts their fishing know-how.

 

However, fish populations are not increasing at the same rate as the demand for more good fishing holes. There was a time when the only walleyes released by anglers were small ones or those that broke the line or shook off the hook. Today, many anglers are choosing to release fish on purpose. By following good catch-and-release techniques and releasing medium- and large-sized fish, anglers can recycle the resource. This allows them to continually enjoy their sport and reduce impacts to the fishery, while ensuring similar opportunities and experiences for those that follow.

 

Releasing fish may be required by regulations or it may be voluntary. Either way proper catch-and-release techniques will help protect and preserve the resource. The Minnesota DNR studied catch-and-release fishing practices last summer on

Mille Lacs Lake to find out how many walleye die after being released and why. "Our study is confirming what we and many anglers already understood intuitively," said Keith Reeves, DNR fisheries research biologist, "Which is that most walleye will survive when handled properly."

 

Reeves noted that less than one out of every 40 walleye died when caught in the spring or fall compared to about out of every seven caught during the summer months. The size of the fish caught was also a factor in the results of the study. Although most fish died after suffering damage to internal organs caused by hooks, medium-sized walleye (17-21") did appear more resilient to being caught and released than smaller or larger fish.

 

"Smaller fish appeared to be more vulnerable to hook damage, and large walleye were more vulnerable to stress and exhaustion," Reeves said. When it comes to catch-and-release, Reeves said there are several things anglers should do to minimize the number of fish that die from stress or hooking injuries.

 


Wildfire arsonists each ordered to pay $7,000 penalty

Two central Minnesota men convicted of wildfire arson were recently ordered to pay $7,000 each in penalties and serve jail time in connection with a blaze that destroyed 265 acres in Morrison County last year. Dewayne R. Tretter, 61, of Onamia and Jason J. Kruschek, 38, of Hillman received the sentence after an investigation by county and state officials.

 

On March 26, 2003, Minnesota DNR Forestry personnel were dispatched to Richardson Township to suppress a grass fire. While there, several other grass fires started within the vicinity. A citizen told the foresters they had witnessed a male subject start one of the fires and then climb into a vehicle and leave the area. Later, a DNR firefighter saw a vehicle parked at a nearby construction company that matched the description of the vehicle reported by the witness.

 

A Morrison County deputy responded to the scene and started a preliminary investigation at the construction company. Also, the Little Falls DNR forestry office brought a special arson

investigation team to the area. The case was turned over to Conservation Officer Paul Kuske of Pierz, who assisted by Brainerd area conservation officers Randy Posner and Jim Tischler. They met with the owner of the construction company and several employees.

 

An initial interview of the three employees provided information that two were involved with the fires. Further investigation placed the suspects in the location where the fires had been started and where the witness had seen the construction company's vehicle.  Tretter and Kruschek then provided statements that they were indeed the individuals responsible for starting the fires on the day in question.

 

Tretter and  Kruschek were sentenced on March 19 in Morrison County Court before Judge Thomas Godzala. Each received a fine of $3,000 and together must pay restitution of $3,770 for fire suppression and property damage. They were also sentenced to 45 days incarceration with sentence to begin April 2.


Helicopters, new techniques boost accuracy of northeast moose count

Wildlife biologists say a report that shows northeast Minnesota's troubled moose population more than doubled this year should be attributed to improved aerial survey techniques rather than a population increase.

 

This year's survey found between 8,500 to as many as 11,000 moose in the Arrowhead region. Since 1997, the aerial survey has indicated that the moose population was stable at approximately 4,000 moose. An ongoing research project has continued to identify significant unexplained mortality in this population.

 

Aerial surveys have been conducted each year since 1960, and are based on flying transects in 30 randomly selected plots spread across the Arrowhead. This year's survey was conducted by the DNR, the 1854 Authority and the Fond du Lac

band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

This year for the first time, biologists used a survey technique that takes into account difficulty seeing moose in heavily forested areas. Another factor in the higher estimate was the use of helicopters rather than fixed-wing aircraft. Helicopters provide a slower, more stable platform for counting.

 

The new survey technique, pioneered in Idaho for counting elk in heavily forested areas, is better suited to the coniferous forests of Minnesota's northeastern moose range. Each observation of moose is corrected based on the amount of visual obstruction where the moose is sighted.

 

Moose hunting license quotas and regs will remain similar to previous years. Further details on the 2004 moose season will be announced in late April and the application deadline for the moose hunting license lottery will be June 18.

 

 


Volunteers needed to spruce up state parks on May 1

Citizens throughout Minnesota are invited to help the DNR with it's "spring cleaning" of state parks on GreenTouch Day, Saturday, May 1. 

 

In its fifth year, GreenTouch Day encourages volunteers to paint, repair and brush trails, plant trees and prairie, remove exotic species and just have a day of fun with family and friends. The event is part of a long-term commitment by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives to care for Minnesota state parks. All the GreenTouch projects are listed on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us . Volunteers interested in helping should call the contact number listed there.

 

With rakes, clippers, trash bags and paint brushes in hand, park visitors, volunteers from electric cooperatives throughout Minnesota and local residents will help to get state parks ready for the spring/summer season.

 

"This day is perfect for families and friends to do some work in Minnesota's great outdoors, enjoy a free picnic lunch and feel good about their contribution to the environment," said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division. The lunch is compliments of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

"During the past four years, Touchstone Energy has organized more than 1,600 volunteers who have donated nearly 6,000 hours to take care of Minnesota's finest resources - their state parks," Nelson said. "This volunteer help is really appreciated as we prepare for the 8.1 million visitors who use our state parks each year." 

 

Minnesota's Touchstone Energy Cooperatives that participate in project GreenTouch are part of a group of 20 rural electric cooperatives throughout the state. Touchstone Energy is a co-brand used by cooperatives all over the nation to market what local electric cooperatives stand for: Integrity, Accountability, Community Involvement and Innovation. This year marks the fifth year of  a six-year partnership between the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and Minnesota state parks. In addition to volunteer time, which last year totaled more than $30,000, the sponsorship also gives the DNR $40,000 each year to help fund the State Park Guide and the Junior Park Naturalist program.

 

"We appreciate the ongoing dedication and support of Minnesota's Touchstone Energy Cooperative," Nelson said.  The park projects are all scheduled for May 1 with one exception: Cuyuna Country State Recreation's project is slotted for May 5.


Bear hunt application deadline May 7

The Minnesota DNR is accepting applications for the 2004 Minnesota black bear hunting season. This year, 16,450 licenses will be available in 11 permit areas in northern and central Minnesota. The deadline for bear applications is Friday, May 7.

             

Application information is now available at license agents throughout the state. Applications can be made at any Electronic Licensing System (ELS) agent or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul. Applications can also be made by calling 1-888-MNLicense, or through the Internet at www.dnr.state.mn.us . There is a $3.50 convenience charge for telephone or Internet transactions.

 

Licenses for the no-quota area, which is the area outside of

the 11 permit areas, can be purchased directly at any ELS agent beginning July 1. No previous application is necessary to buy a no-quota area license.  The 2004 bear hunting season will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 17.  In 2003, there were 16,431 applicants for the available 20,110 permit area licenses. Seven of the 11 permit areas were under-subscribed. Hunters harvested a total of 3,598 bears, including 3,128 in the permit areas and 470 in the no-quota area.

            

Bear licenses cost $39 for residents and $196 for nonresidents (including the $1 issuing fee). The bag limit in 2004 will remain at one bear in all quota permit areas and two bears in the no-quota area.

 


New York

Gander Mountain to Open New Superstore in Middletown, N.Y.

Grand Opening Ceremonies Set for April 16-18, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS Gander Mountain will celebrate the grand opening of its newest and largest store, located in Crystal Run Plaza in Middletown, N.Y., the weekend of April 16-18.  The new 120,000-sq ft big-box store will open its doors at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 16, and Irlene Mandrell, Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars inductee, will be on hand on Sunday, April 18, to sign autographs and greet guests.

 

Other grand opening activities will include free seminars, such as a fishing seminar hosted by Al Lindner, National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Famer, on Saturday, April 17.  In addition, guests can register to win prizes including a $1,000 Gander Mountain shopping spree, a new ATV and other Gander Mountain merchandise.

 

Middletown Superstore Features:

•  ATV sales and services

•  Full archery technical shop and range

•  Gunsmith service

•  Professional fish line winding

•  Live bait shop

•  New cabin décor department

•  Gander lodge meeting space

 

To show its commitment to the many outdoor groups focused on conservation throughout the Middletown area, Gander  Mountain hosted a “Partner Night” on March 25, 2004.  Members of these partner organizations got a sneak peak at the new superstore, and Gander Mountain donated 10 % of each purchase made on that evening back to an organization of the customer’s choice. 

 

In conjunction with the grand opening celebration of the new superstore, Gander Mountain employees will host a “Small Fry Fishing Clinic” in early May.  The event will give New York-area Boys & Girls Club members the opportunity to learn fishing basics from the experts. 

 

Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, Gander Mountain is an outdoor retailer that specializes in hunting, fishing and camping gear. Gander Mountain currently owns and operates 65 stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Illinois and New York, with plans for more expansion and new store openings throughout the coming years.

 

Upcoming store openings include:

Novi, Mich. – May 2004

Middletown, N.Y. – April 2004

 

For the nearest Gander Mountain store location, call 800-282-5993 or visit www.GanderMountain.com


Governor Announces Funding for Alice Brook Snowmobile Trail

Work to Begin on Important Connector Trail in the North Country     

Governor George E. Pataki announced funding for construction of the Alice Brook Snowmobile Trail in the Town of Fine in southeastern St. Lawrence County.  The trail will provide an important connector route to existing trails in the North Country and help boost winter tourism.

           

The State will contribute $150,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund to fund the trail work.  An additional $100,000 is being provided through a grant from State Senator Raymond Meier.

           

The Alice Brook Trail has been described as a “missing link” in the current network of New York State Snowmobile Corridor Trails, which provide registered snowmobiles thousands of miles of trails to ride.  Long distance trail riding is a very popular winter recreation and a through trail will help sustain tourism in the North Country.

The new Alice Brook Trail will provide a legal route for snowmobiles to use to travel from trail networks in Lewis County to trails in the northern parts of the Adirondacks. In addition, the opening of the trail connector will keep snowmobiles off busy State Route 3 and help promote public safety.

 

The 3.1-mile snowmobile trail is located in a specially designated corridor in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. The trail will be cut to eight feet in width, consistent with the State Land Master Plan.

           

“Investing in the Alice Brook Snowmobile Trail will provide outdoor recreational benefits and economic benefits for the communities it connects,” DEC Commissioner Erin M. Crotty said.  “New Yorkers and visitors to our State experience unmatched opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the continued protection and stewardship of our resources is vitally important to ensure the long-term protection and use of our resources.”


DEC announces record bear take during '03 seasons

Total Take Statewide Reaches 1,864 Black Bears

New York DEC Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced the record harvest results of the 2003 black bear hunting seasons. A total of 1,864 black bears were harvested statewide during the 2003 bear hunting seasons.  This figure eclipses the previous state record of 1,070, harvested in 2000, and is more than double the previous 10-year average harvest of 734.

                                   

New York’s black bear population occupies three distinct geographic areas or ‘ranges’ in New York State: the Adirondack, Catskill and Allegany ranges.  Although bear populations, hunter and harvest vary significantly across these ranges, during the 2003 season, hunters harvested the largest numbers of black bears in the history of New York  for all of the three bear ranges.  Northern Zone hunters harvested 1,370 bears in the Adirondack range, with the 10-year average take of bears totaling 499.  Southern Zone hunters were also very successful, harvesting 399 bears in the Catskills where the 10-year average is 188.  In the Allegany range, 95 bears were harvested where the previous 10-year average is 44.

           

Among the bears taken, several were impressive animals with live weights of just over the 600 lb mark.  These bears were reported harvested in the counties of Franklin (1), Lewis (1), Orange (1), Sullivan (2), and Warren (1).

During the fall and winter of 2003-04 DEC sponsored its first black bear stakeholder input group meetings in the Catskill region and western NY.  Stakeholder groups, including home owners, businesses, campground staff, hunters, farmers, hikers and backpackers, were invited to participate in a series of meetings to assist in the formulation, direction and priority of future bear management initiatives in these regions.

 

Some of the recommendations of these groups included: increased hunting in the form of expanded bear hunting areas and/or season changes and a need for increased public education about preventing negative bear interactions by improperly storing food and garbage.  More detailed summaries of the meetings will be available online later this spring. DEC’s bear management plan: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/wildgame/

bearplan.html  .

 

Human and bear conflicts have been on the rise across NY.  The higher harvest numbers achieved in 2003 and the future implementation of some of the Stakeholder recommendations may help to slow down this escalation and curb the frequency of bear problems in the future and thus achieve a better balance between bear populations and people.

 

 


Pennsylvania

Trout Season  just days away

Although the 2004 Pennsylvania Trout Season is just days away, some anglers are still deciding on where to stake their claim for the 8 a.m. opener April 17.  To assist those anglers still mulling over their last-minute options, the field staff of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has compiled trout .

fishing previews containing the most recent stocking change information, general overviews and a few tips on waters with good trout fishing opportunities, but relatively little early-season pressure.  The reports are posted on the Commission web site at www.fish.state.pa.us


Hunters/trappers asked to participate in surveys

HARRISBURG -- A random selection of Pennsylvania hunters and trappers soon will be receiving the Pennsylvania Game Commission's annual hunter and furtaker surveys, which they are encouraged to complete and return to the agency as soon as possible.

 

"These surveys are used to estimate number of species-specific hunters and furtakers, amount of hunting and trapping effort, and size of harvest for a variety of small game, furbearer and waterfowl species," said Cal DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director.

 

DuBrock stressed that responses are confidential, and only summary data are provided to the public in the form of an annual article in Pennsylvania Game News, the agency's official monthly publication; news releases; and harvest information presented on the agency's website

www.pgc.state.pa.us .

 

Game-Take Survey information previously compiled can be reviewed on the agency's website by clicking on "Hunting & Trapping," then choosing "Harvest Maps" in the information box on the right-hand side of the page, and then scrolling down to "Other Information."  Informational charts include: harvest by species; harvest of furbearers; harvest by 100 hunter-days per species; number of hunters by species; and numbers of hunters and trappers of furbearers.

 

"We rely on hunters and trappers to complete and return surveys, said DuBrock. "With their cooperation, we can objectively estimate harvests, hunting and trapping effort, and hunter and trapper numbers.  The more surveys we have returned, the more individual hunter and trapper input is included in our estimates, which translates into better information for making management decisions."


Spring Hunting news shorts

Good spring Gobbler hunting expected in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG - Reports from Pennsylvania Game Commission field officers and biologists suggest that state hunters should have enjoyable hunting opportunities when the state's four-week spring gobbler season opens May 1.

 

New one-day youth spring gobbler season April 24

Junior hunting license holders will get the chance to participate in Pennsylvania's first youth spring gobbler season on April 24. This special one-day season will open one week before the May 1 opener of the statewide general spring

gobbler season.

 

Turkey hunting safety must overshadow season

There should be nothing more important to wild turkey hunters when they head afield than following the time-proven safety precautions the Pennsylvania Game Commission publishes annually.

 

For more info visit: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/cwp/view.asp?a=11&Q=161374


Yardley Access area now open

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced that the Yardley Access Area in Bucks County has reopened. The access area, which provides a public boat launch to the Delaware River, has been temporarily closed for site improvements.  A PFBC construction crew removed and replaced the existing boat launch ramp at the site.

The Yardley Access is located on River Road, Route 32, at the north end of Yardley Borough. This and other area launch sites can be located by visiting the “County Guides” section of the PFBC’s web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .

 

 


Wisconsin

Court Upholds Dove Season

Madison - The Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 6 ruled that the Wisconsin DNR has the “express authority” to set a dove season.  The ruling ends a nearly four-year fight to gain a hunting season for doves.

   

In its ruling, the Supreme Court sided with sportsmen on three key points that had been the framework of the case by the anti-hunting plaintiffs. First, the court ruled that the DNR has, by power of the legislature, the authority to set seasons for all game.  Second, the court reaffirmed the DNR position by ruling that mourning doves “fall within the unambiguous definition of game.”  Third, it clearly defined the meaning of “take” under the definition of hunting as including “killing and shooting.”

   

The dove issue began in May, 1999 when the results of a Wisconsin Conservation Congress questionnaire revealed that the state’s citizens overwhelmingly supported the establishment of a mourning dove season.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance then worked with local, state and national sportsmen’s organizations to urge the establishment of a dove season.  The work paid off in 2000 as the Natural Resources Board and the legislature approved the state’s first dove hunt making Wisconsin the 39th state with a hunting season.

 

A series of court battles ensued that pitted the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and the DNR against the anti-hunters.  The Alliance’s Sportsmen’s Legal Defense Fund was permitted by the courts to intervene as a party defendant to ensure that hunters were directly represented in the cases.  This delayed the first hunt until September 2003.

   

In 2001, anti-hunters were successful in getting a lower court to suspend the season while deliberating the case.  The anti's won the ruling in 2002 only to have an appeals court reverse that decision in 2003.  This paved the way for the state’s first dove hunt in September 2003.  The anti-hunters then took their case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


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