Gunflint Pines Resort loses a good friend

I received this note from Shari Baker at Gunflint Pines Resort on the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais today about the loss of their family dog:

“With heavy heart, we must report that we lost Sota early this morning. We will
miss her greatly. She was a major part of our life here at the Gunflint Pines
Resort. She was the camp greeter and often could be found opening the door to
run out and greet the next guest as they arrived.
“She often guided guests on hikes to Lonely lake or High Cliffs. Many a guest
would start off hiking only to find her flushing the path in front of them and
waiting at the intersections to be sure they were on the right path. But many
a guest would also come back without her, distraught, only to have us ask how
long they were hiking. We knew that if they had taken a short hike, she had found
others to hike with before coming home. She was an excellent bird dog,
squirrel or chipmunk chaser and mouser. She was smarter than and had more
grace than many humans (I swear!) and was nothing but loving to everyone.
Sota was 11 years old and had a good life. She was loved and adored by many
children who returned each year only to ask where she was so they could pet
her belly.
“Sadly we feel we must also tell you that she was killed by wolves. At 3 a.m. this
morning, she had to go to the bathroom. Within minutes we heard them. We quickly
dressed and scared them off. It was too late. This happened within 30 feet of
the building. It is a testament to the severity of the wolf situation. We
understand that this was always a possibility and that the wolves are just
trying to survive. We also know there are those out there who will criticize
us for even mentioning the wolf situation, but those who do not live here
have no idea how large the population is.
“We used to have a deer herd of roughly 100 on the south shore of Gunflint Lake.
This year I have seen fewer than four. Please understand that we also love the
wolves and appreciate their need for balance in nature, but our position has
and always been and will remain this: If you are going to manage the moose, deer, small
game, etc., populations, you must also manage the wolf population. There is no
longer a balance in our area. The wolves are beginning to become desperate.
How long before they begin starving and become aggressive?
“Rest in peace Sota. Many will miss you!”

DNR names Rodmen to head enforcement division

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today that Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, assistant director and 19-year veteran of the department, will be the next director of the agency’s Enforcement Division.

“Rodmen brings a wealth of on-the-job knowledge and experience to the position, and understands first-hand the challenges facing natural resources law enforcement,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “I’m looking forward to working with Rodmen to enhance the division’s communications and public outreach and accelerate our efforts to diversify the department and solidify our reputation as a top-shelf natural resources agency.”

As division director Smith, 44, will oversee a $38 million annual budget and a staff of 250 employees, more than 200 of whom are licensed conservation officers. The division is responsible for enforcing the state’s laws related to game and fish; public lands, waters and natural resources; units of the outdoor recreation system and outdoor recreation-related public safety.

Smith began his career with the DNR in 1997 as a conservation officer. He was assigned to patrol areas in central and northern Minnesota, and later became a district supervisor, a regional enforcement director and then the division’s operations manager. In 2011 he was promoted to the division’s assistant director where his job responsibilities included the division’s budgeting, policy formation and legislative liaison.

“I see three immediate priorities for the division,” Smith said in a statement. “We need to continue to improve our service to Minnesota citizens. We need to recruit and hire new officers who not only exceed our high standards, but more accurately reflect the diverse community we serve. And we need to continue to provide field staff with the best training and tools to do their job safely, effectively and efficiently.”

Smith  replaces Col. Ken Soring, who retired in December after more than 35 years with the DNR.

DNR names big-game program leader

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has hired Adam Murkowski as big game program leader for the agency, starting Jan. 11. Murkowski will oversee deer, elk and moose populations and hunting seasons for deer and elk.

Murkowski worked in a similar position, deer project leader, in Vermont from 2012 to 2015. Since March 2015, he has worked for the Wisconsin DNR as assistant deer, bear and wolf ecologist in Madison.

“Adam is passionate about deer and deer hunting, and I think he is particularly well-suited to our big-game job because of his strong interest in big game and his professional experience,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager, in a statement. “He is also highly trained and experienced in wildlife science and engaging the public. He is well-positioned to continue our approach of using science-based information and effective public engagement processes to manage Minnesota’s white-tailed deer and other species.”

The primary responsibilities of the big game program leader are to manage deer and elk populations and harvest seasons, and to work with groups and individuals interested in big game management to address the expectations of a diverse public.  

Murkowski was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and received a bachelor’s of science degree in wildlife management and ecology. He also has a master’s degree in forest resources (with a wildlife emphasis) from the University of Arkansas-Monticello where he worked on bear, deer and elk research. He has held temporary jobs working on deer projects in North Carolina and Colorado.  

He replaces Leslie McInenly, who left the big game program leader position in October when she was promoted to the DNR wildlife section’s forest habitat team supervisor.

DNR announces more liberal turkey season framework

Minnesota wild turkey hunters will see longer hunting periods and more weekend hunting time in changes to the state’s spring turkey season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced.

A Minnesota turkey hunter calls gobblers in Carlton County. News Tribune file photo

A Minnesota turkey hunter calls gobblers in Carlton County. News Tribune file photo

Turkey hunting time periods will be longer, all will include weekends and more time periods will be available to each hunter. Five one-week time periods will be followed by one longer time period ending on May 31. Previously, there were eight time periods, and not all included weekends. The bag limit will remain one bearded turkey.

The DNR made the changes following a public process, in hopes of increasing hunter opportunity and satisfaction while maintaining hunt quality, officials said.

“A significant change will be that hunters who don’t bag a turkey during their first time period will also be able to hunt the last time period using their original license,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager. “This will make the experience more relaxing, as snow or rain storms that could ruin an entire hunt will not be as much of a problem.”  

Hunters who hunt a second time during the last time period will need to hunt in the same zone that they hunted in during their first hunt period, DNR officials said.

Firearms hunters who want to hunt either of the first two time periods will need to enter into a lottery to participate. In past years there were lottery drawings for the first three time periods. People can apply to the lottery through Jan. 22.

In another change, archers will be able to hunt the entire season and in any zone from when the first time period begins on April 13 through May 31. Hunters must choose between a firearms or archery turkey hunting license.

For more information, look here.

County-by-county totals out for Wisconsin deer season

Hunters took 201,812 deer during Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer season, which ended Nov. 29. That’s up just more than 1 percent from the 199,583 taken in 2014, according to preliminary harvest figures compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Here’s how the harvest compared to last year’s in several Northwestern Wisconsin counties:

Douglas — 1,625 this year, 1,523 last year, up 6.7 percent

Bayfield — 1,610 this year, 1,502 last year, up 7.2 percent

Ashland — 496 this year, 613 last year, down 19 percent

Iron — 226 this year, 206 last year, up 9.7 percent

Sawyer — 1,167 this year, 1,105 last year, up 5.6 percent

Washburn — 2,589 this year, 1,477 last year, up 75 percent

 

More than 612,000 deer hunters took part in the hunt compared to more than 608,000 last year.

State wildlife officials had predicted the harvest would be up somewhat this fall, although the deer herd is still rebounding from a severe winter in 2013-14 and what some observers say were seasons in which antlerless deer harvests were too liberal.

 

Woman traps albino fisher in Carlton County

Stephanie Merrill of Wrenshall trapped this albino fisher in Carlton County. (Stephanie Merrill photo)

Stephanie Merrill of Wrenshall trapped this mostly albino fisher in Carlton County. (Stephanie Merrill photo)

Seems as if it’s the season of albinos. Just the other day, Clint Moen of Duluth brought home a partial albino pheasant from North Dakota. Now we have Stephanie Merrill’s photo of a fisher she trapped this fall in Carlton County. It may not be a pure albino, as some of the pigmentation in the fur appears to be light brown. John Erb, a furbearer researcher with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, says he hears of an albino fisher about once a year in either Minnesota or Wisconsin. This fall, he has also seen photos of albino muskrats and beaver. Merrill, of Wrenshall, said the fisher was a larger one, weighing about 11 pounds.

 

DNR: Preliminary deer registrations up 13 percent

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 128,174 deer through the third weekend of firearms deer season, up from 112,715 from the same period in 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

So far this fall, hunters have registered 145,383 deer, up from the 2014 same-date harvest of 128,134, DNR officials said. That total includes the archery, early antlerless and firearms seasons, plus special hunts.

Preliminary numbers show that the number of deer registered has increased 13.5 percent from 2014.

Buck harvest during the firearms season was up 18.4 percent from last year, indicating that the population has grown from its low point two springs ago, DNR wildlife officials said.

The Zone 1 (including Northeastern Minnesota) total firearms harvest was up 11 percent. Zone 2 was up 15.5 percent, and Zone 3 was up 7.7 percent. Buck harvest was up significantly in all zones.

Going into the season, the DNR had projected the 2015 total deer harvest to be between 140,000 to 155,000 deer. The 2014 total harvest after last year’s conservative season was just over 139,000.

The Zone 1 firearms deer season ended Sunday. The muzzleloader season begins Saturday and will continue through Dec. 13. The archery season continues through Dec. 31.

Hunter shoots partial albino pheasant

Duluth hunter Clint Moen shot this partial-albino pheasant during a recent trip to North Dakota. The rooster had white pigmentation on its neck, body and wing feathers. Its legs and feet were yellow-ish instead of the usual gray. Albinism in birds is rare. It’s caused, according to researcher Krissy Bush, an avian researcher with the University of Alberta, by a mutation in a gene coding for a pigment-synthesizing enzyme.  Albinism occurs in other birds and in mammals such as deer, too.

Duluth hunter Clint Moen shot this partial-albino pheasant during a recent trip to North Dakota. The rooster had white pigmentation on its neck, body and wing feathers. Its legs and feet were yellowish instead of the usual gray.
Albinism in birds is rare. It’s caused, according to researcher Krissy Bush, an avian researcher with the University of Alberta, by a mutation in a gene coding for a pigment-synthesizing enzyme.
Albinism occurs in other birds and in mammals such as deer, too.

phez1

Picture-perfect morning to shoot a buck

Tom Grove of Duluth sits in his deer stand on the final Saturday of Minnesota's firearms deer season. (Guy Grove photo)

Tom Grove of Duluth sits in his deer stand on the final Saturday of Minnesota’s firearms deer season. (Guy Grove photo)

Tom Grove of Duluth sent along the photo above, taken by his son, Guy Grove of Champlin, Minn., on the final Saturday of Minnesota’s firearms deer season. The two were hunting near Saginaw. It seemed a fitting end-of-the-season photo. The photo was taken early Saturday morning, not long after Tom Grove had shot a buck from the stand. Guy Grove was coming over to help his dad with the buck, but he shot a few photos as he approached his dad’s stand.