DNR lifts northwest deer feeding ban; MDHA deer feed update

It hasn’t been widely publicized, but the Department of Natural Resources lifted the deer-feeding ban in northwest Minnesota on Feb. 15.

Imposed in November 2006 to help prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis after its discovery in 2005 near Skime, Minn., the ban covered a 4,000-square-mile area of northwest Minnesota.

Despite lifting the ban, the DNR opted against authorizing state-sponsored deer feeding in northwest Minnesota this winter for fear that artificially drawing deer into close contact could increase the risk of transmitting any TB that might still be out there. The DNR declared the area TB-free in February 2013 after three years of extensive testing failed to find any new positive cases.

MDHA begins northeast effort
In related feeding news, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s feeding effort in northeast Minnesota now is underway, and MDHA sent out a news release this afternoon with the following days and times it will be distributing feed in that part of the state:

Esko: (Widdes Feeds) 8 a.m.-noon.
Moose Lake: (Moose Lake Co-op) 1-5 p.m.

Hibbing: (Hibbing Feed & Seed) 1-5 p.m.
Grand Rapids: (Itasca Co. Farm Service) 1-5 p.m.

International Falls: (Up North Builders) 9-11:30 a.m.
Cook: (Homestead Mills) 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Wright: (Farmers Co-op Feed Mill) 8 a.m.-noon.
Virginia: (New London Warehouse) 1-5 p.m.

MDHA also issued these reminders in relation to its northeast Minnesota deer feeding effort:

* To receive feed you must have a known feeding area on PUBLIC LAND, and know approximately how many deer are on that area. We will get all needed documentation at the time of distribution.
* You DO NOT need to be a member of MDHA to receive feed. (But we would love to have you join us!)
* We will have only half a semi load available at each distribution location for the first week, so we will be giving out feed conservatively to try to reach as many locations as possible.
*Deer feed will only be available from us during the posted distribution days and times, as specific documentation needs to be collected and provided to the DNR for reimbursement of the funds.
For the most up to date information, click here.


Make sure you have a new fishing license if you’re fishing in Minnesota this weekend

If you’re planning to go fishing in Minnesota this weekend, make sure you buy a new fishing license first.

The old licenses expire today.

If my experience is any indication, there’s going to be some confusion about this.

Like pretty much everyone else, I’d been under the assumption that the 2013 licenses were good until April 30 — which for reasons I don’t understand had been the case for the past few years — even though walleye and pike season on Minnesota inland waters closes in late February.

But then a notice came out last week that licenses expire today, Feb. 28. For reasons I again don’t understand, Minnesota changed the expiration date — again — reverting to Feb. 28, which is when fishing licenses historically expired. If you’re fishing Lake of the Woods or other Minnesota-Canada border waters where walleye season is open through April 14, that’s a significant change.

And so, last Saturday, I decided to buy my new license while it was fresh in my mind. I stopped by a local sporting goods store and told the person at the customer service counter that I needed a new Minnesota fishing license — only to have him tell me I didn’t need the new one yet.

He almost convinced me, but I opted to err on the side of caution and told him I’d like to buy the new license anyway.

Now I’m glad I did.

The encounter made me wonder, though: If the person who was running the DNR’s Electronic License System machine wasn’t aware of the date change, I wonder how many anglers are going to be caught off guard this weekend.

I had an email chat with a Minnesota resort owner who summed it up best:

“For years, licenses expired on the 28th of February and then on March 1st, everyone would have to get a new license,” he wrote. “Then someone thought, ‘why don’t we simply allow licenses to expire when season closes, and then when the season opens, everyone can purchase a new license.’ Must have made too much sense; we are back to the old way.’”

So there you have it. Don’t ask why. Just go out and buy a new fishing license.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, you’re going to need it this weekend.

DNR: New Minnesota fishing licenses required March 1

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in its weekly enforcement report today sent out a couple of reminders that are worth noting.

First and foremost is that 2014 fishing licenses are required beginning Saturday, so if you’re planning to hit your favorite Minnesota fishing hole this weekend, be sure you have a new license first. Fishing season for walleyes and northern pike closed Sunday on Minnesota inland waters, but season on popular Minnesota-Canada border waters such as Lake of the Woods remains open through April 14.

The DNR also reminded fish house owners to remove all garbage from the ice in the area surrounding their shelter. That should go without saying, but huge amounts of garbage traditionally are left to wash up on shore every spring from careless fish house owners who leave trash on the ice.

In another example of stating the obvious, snowmobilers should get their snowmobiles registered before taking them out on the trails, the DNR reminded. Once you’re stopped by a conservation officer, it’s too late.