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Outdoor Notes - March 18

Deer feeding bans continue in 16 Minnesota counties A deer feeding ban remains in effect for 16 counties located in central, north-central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "This time of year,...

Deer feeding bans continue in 16 Minnesota counties

A deer feeding ban remains in effect for 16 counties located in central, north-central and southeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"This time of year, we start to hear of people interested in feeding deer, especially when they see deer searching for food before plants start to green up," said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader with the DNR, in a news release. "People can help deer by being aware of and following the feeding bans that still are in place - they aid in preventing the spread of disease."

Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary and were put in place surrounding two farms where multiple captive deer were infected with chronic wasting disease, or CWD. Testing of hunter-harvested deer in these areas in fall 2017 did not detect CWD in the wild, but surveillance efforts will continue until the disease is not detected for three consecutive years. The bans remain in place through February 2019.

Central Minnesota counties affected by the ban are Kandiyohi; McCloud; Meeker; Stearns; Wright; and the portion of Renville County north of U.S. Highway 212.

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North-central Minnesota counties affected are Aitkin; Crow Wing; Morrison; the portion of Cass County south of Minnesota highways 34 and 200; and the portion of Mille Lacs County north of County Road 11.

In the southeastern Minnesota counties of Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted, Mower and Winona, a ban on deer feeding and deer attractants remains in effect through June 27 and will likely be extended because of ongoing disease issues. In Fillmore County, 17 wild deer have been found to have CWD since fall 2016, when the disease was first discovered near Preston.

Feed includes corn, grain, salt, mineral blocks, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay and other food that is capable of attracting or enticing deer. People who feed birds or small mammals must do so in a manner that prevents access by deer, or place the food at least 6 feet above the ground.

Food placed as a result of normal agricultural practices is generally exempted from the feeding ban, but cattle operators should take steps that minimize contact between deer and cattle.

One of the probable mechanisms for CWD spread among deer is over a food or attractant source that concentrates animals. Feeding bans are intended to reduce the number of areas where deer can come into close contact, either directly or indirectly.

"Even though people have good intentions, feeding often does more harm than good," said Thorson. "In addition to spreading disease, feeding can lead to death when deer abruptly shift their diet or cause behavioral changes that end up harming the animals."

More information about the precautionary feeding ban is available on the DNR's website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd .

Deer movement study begins in southeastern Minnesota's CWD zone

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A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources research project that will examine how deer move across the landscape in southeastern Minnesota's chronic wasting disease management area began Monday.

"The data from this study will help us estimate male and female dispersal patterns as they relate to disease transmission and build movement models," said Dr. Chris Jennelle, a DNR research scientist, in a news release. "We can use that information to predict likely pathways of potential chronic wasting disease spread and also estimate causes of death for use in population models."

The DNR's private contractor plans to capture 115 deer of varying age and sex classes and fit them with GPS radio collars. Daily movements will be tracked to determine seasonal movements and dispersal pathways. Deer dispersal occurs when juvenile deer come of age and move away from their mothers. Exactly when that occurs during the May-to-July time frame, and how far they go, can vary.

Deer will be captured in nets launched from a helicopter. Captures will occur on private land where the DNR has obtained landowner permission. Deer also may be captured on public land. All captures will occur on and around the periphery of the disease management zone, also known as deer permit area 603.

DNR staff will keep participating landowners updated on how GPS collared deer use the local landscape.

DNR scientists in Minnesota hope to share movement data across the upper Midwest with colleagues in Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. With that information in hand, research and management strategies can be developed that will have a better chance of slowing disease spread and benefiting the long-term viability of deer populations.

More information about CWD can be found at www.mndnr.gov/cwd .

Turn in Poachers names Duncan its conservation officer of the year

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Turn in Poachers has named Kipp Duncan, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who patrols the Duluth area, as its 2017 Joe Alexander Conservation Officer of the Year. Duncan also won the award in 2010.

As in previous years, Duncan was among many officers qualified to receive the award, said Dennis Mackedanz, executive director of TIP. The award, named in honor of former conservation officer and DNR Commissioner Joe Alexander, is presented each year to an officer who best represents the TIP mission during the course of duty.

"Kipp exemplifies the strength of the DNR/TIP partnership by his history of being engaged with the program," said Mackedanz, noting Duncan has been part of TIP committees, promotes the partnership through education, and generates cases based on TIP calls.

Duncan said he's humbled to receive the award a second time and notes the TIP program gives citizens an opportunity-anonymously if they choose-to help their local conservation officer.

"Our natural resources benefit and poachers have a higher likelihood of being caught because of the TIP organization," Duncan said. "A high percentage of the cases I am a part of that involve intentional poaching originate from TIP calls. Without that TIP call, many cheaters would not be held accountable and our natural resources would suffer."

TIP is a nonprofit organization that cooperates with DNR Enforcement Division to encourage the public to report natural resource violations. TIP provides rewards to people who provide information that lead to arrests of game and fish law violators. The TIP line is 800-652-9093, or #TIP for most cell phone users. For information, log on to www.mndnr.gov/enforcement/tip.html .

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