Spring or not, the turkey mating game goes on

A turkey gobbler displays near the home of Sparky Stensaas, who lives near Wrenshall. (Sparky Stensaas photo)

Today’s the first day of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s spring wild turkey seasons, but it isn’t clear how many gobblers will be out strutting in the snowstorm. Sparky Stensaas of Wrenshall passed along a couple of photos of gobblers that have been visiting his birdfeeders this winter.

“We’ve had up to 14 for much of the winter,” Stensaas said in an e-mail. “They destroyed two of my feeders.”

The toms started displaying April 9 this winter, he said. They were in full-strut when he took these photos through his picture window. The gobblers often face off in full display, Stensaas said. The birds are still very wary of any movement inside the house, he said.

For more of Stensaas’ photography, go to www.thephotonaturalist.com.

A gobbler in full strut. (Sparky Stensaas photo)




Northern Minnesota beaver trapping season extended

Due to prolonged ice cover, the beaver trapping season in the northern third of Minnesota will be extended through May 15, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources news release.

The season was scheduled to close statewide on April 30, but a second consecutive winter of persistently frozen lakes and rivers in the north prompted the Department of Natural Resources to temporarily extend the 2013-14 season. Beaver trapping will close as scheduled in the southern two-thirds of the state.

Trappers who participate in the season extension will be required to take the following modifications to prevent incidental otter catch:

Foothold traps must be set in at least 8 inches of water.

Body-gripping traps must be completely submerged. Those with a jaw opening greater than 7 ½ inches must be set with the trigger wires moved all the way to one side of the trap. The wires must point straight down.

Snares must be set with stops affixed to the cable to ensure that the portion of the snare that makes up the noose loop may not be less than 4 inches in diameter when fully closed.

The season will be extended north of state Highway 200, east of state Highway 73 and north of the Pine-Carlton county line. A map of the open area (the north mink/muskrat/beaver/otter zone) can be found on page 48 of the 2013 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, which is available online www.mndr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Get a glimpse of Michael Furtman’s photography

Michael Furtman took this photo of a snowy owl near Duluth this winter. (Michael Furtman photo)

If you want to see some excellent wildlife photography, check out the Izaak Walton League meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Avenue. Duluth wildlife photographer Michael Furtman will be presenting a program on wildlife photography. Furtman has shot covers and other photos for Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer and many other publications. He has captured stunning images — and videos — of white-tailed deer, waterfowl, pheasants, raptors, owls, snowshoe hares and many other species. The presentation is free.


Ely church to hold second annual ‘Sportsman’s Expo’ on Saturday

A group of outdoors folks in Ely will again hold an outoors expo to shake off the effects of winter. The Ledgerock Community Church will hold its second annual Sportsman’s Expo from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the church, 1515 E. Camp St. in Ely. Admission is free. Concurrent sessions are:

2 p.m. — Winter Camping & Outdoors with Kids

3 p.m. — Fly Tying and Bird Watching

4 p.m. — Wingshooting, wild game tasting, DNR Wall of Shame, and “Ask the Warden”

5 p.m. — Free-will offering chicken dinner

6 p.m. — Keynote presentation: “The Spirit of Adventure”


Minnesota Senate committee passes bill to suspend wolf hunt

A bill that would suspend Minnesota’s wolf hunt was passed by a Senate committee on Tuesday afternoon.

The bill, passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, would put the hunt on hold until “to study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population and to implement the wolf management plan,” according to its wording.

Minnesota has held its first managed gray wolf hunting and trapping seasons the past two years after the wolf was removed from the federal Endangered Species List. Some groups and individuals have protested the hunt and filed law suits trying to prevent it. None of those law suits was successful.

The “Wolf Data Bill,” as it’s titled, also calls for an annual wolf population census and creation of an advisory wolf task force appointed by the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It would also close tribal lands to the hunting and trapping of wolves if tribal leadership requests it.

A companion bill in the House has not been acted upon yet.

The bill was authored by Senate Environment and Energy Chairman John Marty, DFL-Roseville; Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul; and Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center.

“The wolf data bill is an alternative proposal that addresses common-sense concerns with Minnesota’s wolf population and wolf hunt,” Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling For Wolves, said in a statement. “It directs the Minnesota DNR to gather better information that is needed to understand our wolves with sound, scientific methods.”

“We’re adamantly opposed to the legislation,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. “It refuses to acknowledge the research and study that’s gone into wolves, not just here in Minnesota but internationally.”




DNR, deer hunters group to hold listening sessions about Minnesota deer population

Responding to concerns from many deer hunters that the state’s deer population is too low, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will hold a series of “listening sessions” across the state to gather input from the public.

All listening sessions will be from 7-9 p.m. Here’s a list of the meetings in northern Minnesota:

Virginia: April 1, Mesabi Range College, 1001 Chestnut St. West, auditorium.

Bemidji: March 24, Bemidji High School, 2900 Division St. West, Lumberjack Room.

Brainerd: March 19, Central Lakes Community College, 501 West College Drive.

Online comments also will be accepted beginning March 19 at www.mndnr.gov/deer.


DNR doesn’t allow supplemental deer feeding in primary moose range

As a supplemental deer feeding effort gets under way this week in Northeastern Minnesota, some people may be wondering why feeding is not allowed in deer permit areas 117 and 118 in the Ely area and near or including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Snow depths in that region are at 36 inches, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. That’s the deepest snow currently on the ground in the state.

But that area is also part of Minnesota’s primary moose range, so the DNR opts not to allow supplemental feeding of deer through a formal effort such as this year’s, which could begin this week.

“That’s because it’s moose range, and our moose plan indicates we’d try to seek a ban on recreational deer feeding,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. “This (supplemental deer feeding) fits in that same vein.

“One thing we try to do is maintain low deer numbers in moose range. That’s because moose are susceptible to a parasite called brainworm that is commonly found in deer. It doesn’t affect deer. Bit it kills moose. At higher deer densities, that parasite is more prevalent.”

According to the state’s moose management plan, the DNR tries to keep deer densities at or below 10 deer per square mile in primary moose range.

No ban on recreational feeding by individuals is currently in place in the primary moose range.

Supplemental feeding of deer was authorized by the DNR last month, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is coordinating the purchase of and distribution of deer feed. A total of $170,000 has been allocated for the feeding effort. The money comes from a 50-cent surcharge on each deer license sold.




More areas added for Minnesota deer feeding effort

Two more deer permit areas have been added to the list of areas eligible for deer feeding in coming weeks. Permit area 199, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, was added effective today. Band and DNR officials had been conferring to determine whether the reservation should be included in the feeding zone.

The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee approved emergency deer feeding in area 199 with the provision that distribution of feed and coordination of volunteers for the unit be handled through the band’s Resource Management Division.

“Our staff will be doing some of the feeding on 199, but if nontribal members also want to volunteer to help feed in 199 they are welcome to, provided their efforts are coordinated through our Division,” said Mike Schrage, wildlife biologist for the band.

Also, permit area 176 north of Chisholm and Virginia has been added.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which will coordinate the feeding, hopes to receive bids from feed producers any day and perhaps award bids by the end of the week, said Jenny Foley, grant coordinator at MDHA.

“We’re still trying to shoot for feeding next week,” Foley said.

MDHA, with the help of DNR wildlife officials, its members and other individuals, has identified nearly 200 areas where deer are known to be concentrating, Foley said. Individuals on snowmobiles already have begun breaking trails to the areas where deer are concentrated, she said.

The DNR has recommended to MDHA that feeding be done twice a week in areas where deer are gathered, Foley said.





Are you ready for the ‘boat show?’

The Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show opens tomorrow (Wednesday) and continues through Sunday. I’ll be in booth 823 upstairs in the Lake Superior Ballroom, at the Northland Outdoors Duluth Deer Classic. Please swing by to say “hello” and visit for a bit. I’ll be there all five days of the show.

Here are details about the show:

Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel & RV Show / Northland Outdoors Duluth Deer Classic

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $9; ages 6-17, $6; kids 5 and under, free.

Attractions: North American animal exhibit including bears, taxidermy by Artistic Anglers, demonstrations on deer processing, fishing and hunting seminars by local guides. Stage show: The six-man a cappella group Street Corner Symphony, as seen on the NBC show “The Sing-Off,” will appear daily.