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Outdoor Notes for March 10

DNR invites conversation about deer at area open houses

Ever wonder how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sets deer hunting regulations? Or how to provide input on deer management?

Local wildlife managers across the state are inviting the public to come to open-house meetings to ask their deer questions and learn about the state's most popular mammal.

These local, open-house-style meetings are a way to encourage discussions about deer and deer management, enhance local relationships and foster two-way communication between the DNR and the public, a news release stated. The DNR began the meetings last year with the release of its statewide deer management plan.

"We're excited to hold these open houses and encourage conversations and shared learning between our local area wildlife staff and the communities they serve," stated Leslie McInenly, the DNR's wildlife populations and regulations manager, who coordinated the state's deer management plan. "We had great discussions during our area events last year and want to build on that foundation." The DNR encourages anyone interested in our wildlife management to attend.

Each area DNR office has dedicated time during the weeks of March 18 and March 25 for these conversations. Specific time and location details are available on the deer plan webpage at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan. The meeting for the Brainerd area is set for 5-7 p.m. April 2 at the Brainerd Area DNR office, 1601 Minnesota Drive.

In addition to discussing general concerns about deer, people can ask DNR staff about last year's harvest data, share observations, discuss potential season changes and get a preview of the updated draft Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan that will be formally released in April. Season changes include a proposed statewide youth deer hunting season.

The meetings do not include formal presentations. People can arrive any time during the scheduled meeting times.

"Our deer management plan emphasizes the importance of providing input opportunities for the public," stated Barbara Keller, the DNR's big game program leader, in the release. "These conversations are key to providing additional insight to the issues that are important to everyone with an interest in deer."

The DNR will provide further online feedback opportunities for the public, with surveys that will cover chronic wasting disease management alternatives, perception of local deer populations, and potential hunting season changes for deer and other species. The survey addressing CWD will be available online at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan in late March. Online feedback opportunities concerning deer perceptions and season changes will be available in early April.

The DNR encourages people who can't attend a scheduled meeting, but who have questions about deer management, to contact a local wildlife manager. A list of area wildlife offices is available online at www.mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.

The DNR released the Minnesota White-Tailed Deer Management Plan in July 2018, setting new goals and priorities, increasing formal opportunities for people to influence deer decisions, and aiming for a disease-free deer population. The plan was a result of two years of planning that involved statewide meetings and hundreds of in-depth conversations with residents and interest groups. The full plan is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan.

Grants aim to get more people hunting and fishing

Groups that help people become hunters or anglers—or keep on hunting or fishing—can apply for grants from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"Minnesota's hunting and fishing tradition is still strong but we're seeking to address a steady decline in the percentage of people who hunt or fish," stated Jeff Ledermann, DNR education and skills supervisor, in a news release.

Priority in awarding grants will go to programs for new and diverse audiences and those with an ongoing impact rather than one-time events. Types of activities could include fishing or hunting educational programs, clinics, workshops, camps, or funding for fishing and hunting equipment and transportation.

"Potential applicants should know that this has been a very competitive grant process, so we're advising groups to consider how their programs provide ongoing support for people who want to hunt or fish," Ledermann said.

Groups may apply for this round of grants through Thursday, April 4. The grant program began in 2015 and this is the fifth round of grants. In this round, awards will range from $5,000 to $49,999. A total of $300,000 in grant funds is available in this fifth-round cycle. Funded projects must be located in Minnesota and completed by June 30, 2020.

As in the last round, there is no required funding match. Organizations are nonetheless encouraged to include a cash or in-kind match in their project proposal. In-kind contributions can be in the form of labor, materials or services. Match amounts will be considered in the selection process.

To learn more about the DNR's work in recruitment, retention and reactivation, and to find grant application requirements, visit www.mndnr.gov/r3. Details about the grant and a list of award winners can be found at the link under "Help others discover."

DNR fisheries to discuss Lake Winnibigoshish fish management

Anglers and others interested in Lake Winnibigoshish fisheries management are invited to a public open-house hosted by Department of Natural Resources Grand Rapids area fisheries staff.

The open house will be 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, 402 SE 11th St., Grand Rapids. The meeting will begin with a short presentation about historical and recent data, changes in fish populations, the impacts of exotic species on habitat and regulations. There will be time for questions and conversation.

Lake Winnibigoshish (Winnie) is a destination fishery for walleye, northern pike and yellow perch. Like many walleye populations, walleye numbers on Winnie have gone through periods of ups and downs over time.

"We appreciate the opportunity to talk directly with our anglers and to hear about their experiences on Winnie," stated Gerry Albert, DNR large lake specialist, in a news release. "After a couple of tough years, creel survey results indicate walleye fishing was better than average during the summer of 2018, and recruitment of the 2018-year class looks good. The lake may be recovering from one of the down periods."

The meeting is not a regulation review meeting and no special fishing regulation changes are currently being proposed. Interested parties are invited to attend the meeting, review current biological data, and provide input regarding Lake Winnibigoshish management.

More information is available by contacting the Grand Rapids Area Fisheries office at 218-328-8836, or Lake Winnibigoshish large lake specialist Gerry Albert at gerry.albert@state.mn.us.

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