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Outdoor Notes - May 7

Bear cubs have arrived at Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls. Submitted photo

Pine Grove Zoo announces arrival of baby bears

If you love seeing baby bears at Pine Grove Zoo, good news—they arrived this week.

With a special arrangement with Bear Country in Rapid City, S.D., Pine Grove Zoo receives baby cubs for guests to enjoy during their open season.

Marnita Van Hoecke, Pine Grove Zoo's director, said in a news release, "This unique arrangement with Bear Country began in 2006. Some years, Bear Country may not have enough babies to share, so we have gotten yearlings, but most years we are fortunate to get baby cubs. A special thank you to Bear Country for allowing our Zoo guests this incredible and up close insight to our cute little cubs."

The baby bears return to Bear Country in October.

Pine Grove Zoo is open every day from mid April through mid October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, contact Pine Grove Zoo at 320-616-5595.

Removing lake plants could require a permit

Lakeshore property owners are reminded that a permit may be required to remove aquatic plants, according to a Minnesota DNR news release.

"We remind folks each year that aquatic plants are essential to healthy lake ecosystems and property owners who want to remove them should check the regulations to see if they need a permit," said Steve Enger, supervisor of the aquatic plant management program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Aquatic plants provide food and shelter for fish, ducks and other wildlife. They stabilize the lake bottom, which helps maintain water clarity. These plants also protect shorelines from erosion by absorbing energy from waves and ice.

Property owners who want to remove aquatic plants with devices that create strong water currents need to know that such devices are illegal to use in a way that uproots plants, moves sediment or excavates the lake bottom.

Specific regulations govern what situations require permits for aquatic plant removal. Aquatic plant regulations and a guide to aquatic plants can be found at mndnr.gov/shorelandplants, or by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367. To apply for a permit, visit the DNR's permitting and reporting system at mndnr.gov/mpars.

Wild turkey populations expanding in northeastern Minnesota

Wild turkey populations are on the rise in northeastern Minnesota, and the birds are showing up in areas where they haven't been seen in the past, reports the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Once considered limited to southeastern Minnesota's agricultural fields and rolling bluff country, wild turkeys have expanded their range by finding small areas of suitable habitat as far north as Itasca and southern St. Louis counties and in areas along the north shore. The unusual presence of a new forest game bird has prompted questions about the bird's expanding numbers and opportunities for hunting.

"The Department has not released or relocated wild turkeys to northern Minnesota since 2009 when birds were released in northwestern Minnesota," said DNR forest game bird coordinator Ted Dick. "The increase of wild turkeys in northern Minnesota is likely a combination of range expansion of existing flocks from Aitkin and Carlton counties, while some of the sightings further north are believed to be escaped or released heritage breed birds from captive flocks."

Turkeys are an adaptable bird capable of foraging and surviving on a variety of food sources including acorns, berries, grain, buds, ferns, grasses, insects, and small frogs and snakes.

Turkey hunting was expanded statewide in 2016 by adding much of northeastern Minnesota to existing permit area 508 which now covers all of northeastern Minnesota and extends from north of highway 95 near St. Cloud and Princeton, northward to the Canadian border.

While turkey hunting success rates in northeastern Minnesota are likely low compared to more southern locations, hunters do have opportunities to pursue birds with shotgun and archery equipment in these expanded areas.

The spring wild turkey hunt runs from April 12 to May 31, and is comprised of six separate time periods. In order to hunt the first two time periods, hunters must apply in the lottery and be selected for a license. Hunters may purchase licenses ($27) over the counter for the remaining four spring time periods. A fall turkey hunting season runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 29.

Anyone interested in learning more about hunting wild turkeys can attend a hunter education and wildlife species course when offered. More information about hunting wild turkeys, turkey harvest information, and the turkey permit area map is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

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