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Minnesota News
Minnesota News


From the Minnesota DNR:

Hunters register 161,057 deer through third weekend of season

Fish houses and wheelhouses require license purchase for ice fishing

Hunters register 145,054 deer through second weekend of season

Hunters register 70,724 deer during first weekend of season

Upper Red Lake winter walleye regulations announced

Mille Lacs winter anglers allowed 1 walleye

 

Hunters register 161,057 deer through third weekend of season

Harvest climbs 16 percent from 2016

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 161,057 deer through the third weekend of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Preliminary results through the third weekend show that the number of deer registered was up 16 percent from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 53 percent were bucks, compared to 63 percent during the same period in 2016.
In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 36 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 10 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 5 percent.
“The conditions were generally good for hunters participating in the last week of the Zone 1 season and for the start of the 3B season in the southeast,” said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader, “which provided a boost to the statewide firearms harvest.”
Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be around 200,000. The 2016 total harvest was 173,213 and to date firearms and archery hunters have harvested about 180,000 deer this year.
In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Nov. 12, and the northern rifle zone season ended Nov. 19. The late southeast firearms deer season is open through Sunday, Nov. 26. The muzzleloader season begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.  

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Fish houses and wheelhouses require license purchase for ice fishing

New definition of portable shelter expands types of structures needing to be licensed      

Beginning this ice fishing season, anglers using a wheelhouse type of ice or dark-house shelter are required to purchase a license to place the shelter on the ice, even when occupying it.
A new definition for portable shelters has been provided in law, which states that a portable shelter is one that collapses, folds or is disassembled for transportation.
“Wheeled fish houses, which formerly were considered portable – and thus excluded from licensing requirements for shelters – will now need to be licensed,” said Al Stevens, fisheries survey and systems consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “In the past, anglers using wheelhouses could use them without shelter licenses as long as they were occupied, including overnight.” 
A shelter meeting the new definition of portable only needs a license when a person leaves it unattended, meaning they are farther than 200 feet from the shelter.
The change pursued by the DNR and enabled by 2017 legislation accompanied hunting and angling fee increases. An annual resident shelter license is $16. A three-year license is $43. Owners of houses to be rented pay $31 annually or $88 for a three-year license.
A valid license tag must be attached to the outside of the fish house in a readily visible location. On border waters, a shelter license is not required on the Minnesota side if the neighboring state doesn’t require a shelter license for its waters.    
To learn more about the fishing and hunting license dollars are spent, visit mndnr.gov/licensedollarsatwork. Shelter or fishing licenses can be purchased at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

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Hunters register 145,054 deer through second weekend of season

Harvest up 10 percent

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 145,054 deer through the second weekend of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Preliminary results through the second weekend show that the number of deer registered was up 10 percent from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 54 percent were bucks, compared to 63 percent during the same period in 2016.
In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 25 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was up 6 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 12 percent.
“It appears as though deer harvest improved substantially since the first weekend,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Getting more corn out of the fields and a bit drier weather likely helped.”
Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be around 200,000. The 2016 total harvest was 173,213.
In much of Minnesota, the firearms deer season ended Nov. 12. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.  

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Hunters register 70,724 deer during first weekend of season

Harvest up by less than a percent

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 70,724 deer during the first two days of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered was essentially the same as from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 57 percent were bucks, compared to 67 percent of the first weekend harvest of 2016.

In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 16 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was down 5 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 20 percent.

“We expected to see an increased harvest this year, and that appears to be so in Zone 1. In the other zones where the first weekend harvest is off, it could be that the amount of standing corn negatively affected deer harvest,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “If that is the case, we should see improved deer harvest as more corn is harvested.”

Based upon the number of antlerless permits available and the number of permit areas that allow multiple deer to be taken, the DNR is projecting the 2017 total deer harvest to be around 200,000.

The 2016 total harvest was 173,213.

In much of Minnesota, the deer season continues through Sunday, Nov. 12. Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 19; the late southeast season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 26; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 25, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 10. More information on deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.  

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Upper Red Lake winter walleye regulations announced

Anglers fishing Upper Red Lake in northwestern Minnesota this winter will be able to keep four walleye of which only one may be longer than 17 inches, the Department of Natural Resources said. 

This same regulation has been in effect since the walleye fishing opener in May, but this will be the first winter season with the combination of a four fish bag limit and one over 17 inches allowed.

“Harvest under a three fish bag limit last year resulted in approximately 109,000 pounds for the winter season,” said Gary Barnard, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji. “Total harvest for the past winter and summer seasons combined was below the target harvest range so there is room for additional harvest this year.”

Red Lake walleye harvest is managed under a joint harvest plan, revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.

“The new harvest plan recommends a more aggressive approach when spawning stock is in surplus, as it currently is,” Barnard said. “The extra fish in the daily bag this winter is expected to increase winter harvest, and allowing one fish over 17 inches meets our harvest plan objectives by spreading harvest over a wide range of sizes and removing some of the surplus spawning stock.”

More information on Red Lake fishing regulations are available at the fishing regulations webpage.

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Mille Lacs winter anglers allowed 1 walleye

Annual fall surveys support conservative harvest decision

Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishing will open on Friday, Dec. 1, with no bait restrictions and a limit of one walleye 20-22 inches or one longer than 28 inches. 

“We’re glad results of fall population survey show Mille Lacs anglers will be able to keep some walleye during the winter walleye season,” said Don Pereira, fisheries section chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “We know this is important to resorts and businesses because the ice fishing season contributes a lot to the local economy.”

The DNR selected the size regulations to protect Mille Lacs’ walleye spawning population, which is largely comprised of walleyes hatched in 2013 (also known as a year class). Those fish currently range from 15 to 19 inches in length and represented about 40 percent of the walleyes sampled during this fall’s population survey.

Since the 2013 year class now is nearly fully mature, the DNR determined anglers could keep older and larger fish, something some anglers have been suggesting and requesting. In recent years, conservative regulations on Mille Lacs have protected the younger spawners to-be so they can replace the older spawners, which is necessary to sustain the population.

The DNR and members of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee did discuss setting the large fish limit at 26 inches. But feedback suggested that keeping those fish in the lake was preferred because the possibility of catching walleye 26 to 28 inches makes Mille Lacs an attractive destination. There also was concern that a 26-inch limit could result in a higher harvest level that would count against the 2018 allocation.

Insights from annual fall surveys
Mille Lacs fall walleye population survey, known as an “assessment,” showed that the 2013 year class continues to dominate the population. The catch of walleye hatched in 2014, 2015 and 2016 was below average. Fish hatched this spring were caught in good numbers but it’s uncertain if those numbers will remain as the 2017 year class progresses through its first, second and third years.

“During the past 15 years, our studies show fewer and fewer young walleye surviving to their third year,” Pereira said. “Young fish not surviving has put Mille Lacs’ walleye population in the unfortunate situation it is now. Whatever is causing that mortality is the root problem.”

The assessment also looks at food abundance and walleye health. Perch 1-2 years old were caught in low numbers and the number of young-of-year perch was above average. The number of young-of-year tullibee caught was near average.

Perch and tullibee are the primary food source for Mille Lacs’ walleye, which are showing negative effects from a lack of adequate food. That shortage may be driving the hot walleye bite anglers have experienced on Mille Lacs.

Complete winter regulation information for Mille Lacs Lake is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/millelacslake.

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