Expanded turkey hours on tap at DNR input meetings

By Joe Albert Staff Writer

St. Paul – The DNR is looking for thoughts on five hunting and
trapping topics during its annual public input meetings, held this
week and next across the state.

Deer, turkey, small game, and waterfowl hunters, as well as
otter trappers, would be affected by issues the DNR is proposing or
considering.

Meeting topics include: deer zone realignment, an expansion to
the otter trapping zone, spring turkey shooting hours, non-toxic
shot for small game, and waterfowl feeding and resting areas.

Deer zone realignment. The DNR is proposing to move seven
permit areas currently in Zone 4 (410, 411, 413, 414, 415, 419, and
429) into Zone 2.

The parts of permit areas 417 and 418 north of Highway 55, and
the part of permit area 412 north of Interstate 94, also would be
moved into Zone 2. The southern part of those areas would remain in
Zone 4. Zone 4 areas typically are associated with the farmland
area of the state – and often have lottery permits for antlerless
deer – while Zone 2 offers more managed and intensive tags.

The DNR made similar changes last year – and those changes
worked well last fall – but before that the last major change to
deer zones was in 1978, according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game
program coordinator.

Zone 2 areas have continuous nine-day seasons, while Zone 4
areas have a split six-day season.

‘It’s the same deal as last year,’ Cornicelli said. ‘We can
afford to give people some extra opportunity.’

Otter trapping expansion. The DNR is considering expanding the
otter zone south of the current line – Interstate 94 into the Twin
Cities, Highway 10 from the Twin Cities to Wisconsin – because
otter numbers appear high enough to handle it based on research of
otter distribution, habitat, and population dynamics in the south,
said Mike DonCarlos, DNR Wildlife Program manager.

There are otters around the Mississippi River in the southeast,
and Wisconsin traps on the other side of river in that area, he
said.

‘In parts of southern Minnesota otters were less numerous when
that original line was set,’ DonCarlos said. ‘We think we can
expand the otter zone and allow harvest down there.’

New boundaries for otter trapping haven’t been set yet, nor have
season structure and limits, he said. Should the DNR go ahead with
an expansion, those issues will be resolved during season-setting
meetings in June.

Spring turkey season shooting hours. Regulations currently
allow turkey hunters to shoot until 5 p.m. during the spring
seasons.

Legislation expected to be introduced during this legislative
session, and supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation,
would expand shooting hours until sunset.

The DNR is collecting input in anticipation of a bill being
introduced, DonCarlos said.

Dave Mahlke, president of the Minnesota chapter of the NWTF,
said extending shooting hours would help, among others, kids who
are in school during the day have a chance to hunt after
school.

‘Biologically, it has been shown there is no additional pressure
really put on the birds,’ he said. ‘It is not going to affect
harvest significantly one way or the other.’

It would allow families to hunt together, and allow others who
work through the afternoon the chance to hunt more during the
season they drew a permit for, Mahlke said.

Most other states that allow afternoon turkey hunting also allow
hunters to shoot until sunset, and hunters during Minnesota’s fall
season can hunt until sunset, Mahlke said.

Non-toxic shot for small game. The DNR plans to put together an
advisory task force to explore where the state should be going in
terms of non-toxic shot, and before that, ‘we’re looking to get
general ideas and reactions from the public,’ DonCarlos said.

‘We will be having some managed dove fields on (wildlife
management areas) this year, and where we do that we are going to
have a lead shot restriction,’ he said.

Over and above that, no decisions have been made.

‘Lead is a toxic substance in the environment and to varying
degrees it poses a risk to wildlife,’ DonCarlos said. ‘We want to
look at further reductions.’

The DNR believes there’s a need to move farther away from the
use of lead, but wants input before formal discussions begin,
DonCarlos said.

Waterfowl feeding and resting areas. Two Itasca County lakes –
Mud and Goose – have been proposed by petition to be designated as
waterfowl feeding and resting areas.

‘Every year or every other year, we have some proposals for new
waterfowl feeding and resting areas, and we typically take them
through public comment’ before designation, DonCarlos said.

There currently are about 20 feeding and resting areas in the
state. Motors, except electrics, are restricted in them during the
fall open-water season.

Meeting dates, locations

Public meetings began earlier this week, but continue into next
week. All meeting are 7 to 9 p.m., except Northome, which is from
6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The meeting in St. Paul is ‘open house’ style.
The meetings are scheduled for:

March 2, St. Paul; DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Rd.

March 6, Altura; Whitewater State Park Visitors Center.

March 8, Willmar; Willmar Senior Citizens Center.

March 8, Northome; Northome School Library.

March 9, Fergus Falls; Wetlands Learning Center.

Send written comments to wildlife@dnr.state.mn.us or
to Hunting and Trapping Season Comments, DNR Division of Fish and
Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

Categories: Hunting News

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