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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Survey sheds light on importance of Minnesota wildlife management areas, Motorists should be on the lookout for deer etc.

Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr

Minnesota survey sheds light on WMA views

Results from a recently completed survey indicate 86 percent of Minnesota's wildlife management area users support ongoing acquisition of the public lands, which provide wildlife habitat and access to hunters, wildlife watchers and countless others.

Sixty-three percent of users also say WMAs provide high-quality hunting experiences.

"Wildlife management areas are the cornerstone of our public lands system in many parts of the state," said Tom Landwehr, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "Minnesota is fortunate to have made an early investment in these public lands that provide a wealth of recreation opportunities."

Minnesota's WMA system began 64 years ago as part of public effort called "Save the Wetlands." Today, there are more than 1,400 WMAs totaling 1.3 million acres, providing a significant public-land base for users to enjoy prairies, brushlands, forests, and wetlands.

Approved by voters, the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment provides significant funding for WMA acquisition, Landwehr said.

As part of the scientific survey, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota-based Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit sampled WMA users in southwest and northwest Minnesota. The survey evaluated the 2015-2016 hunting season attitudes and experiences of people who used the WMA system.

Results showed that 55 percent of hunters are moderately or extremely satisfied with their WMA experience. WMAs are most valued by those hunting pheasants, waterfowl and deer with firearms.

Other key findings:

• Sixty-three percent of users hunt on WMAs but don't visit them for other purposes. For those who do, wildlife/bird watching, fishing and dog training are other top uses, respectively.

• Nearly 40 percent of users don't hunt on private land, indicating the importance of having public land available for hunting.

• Nearly 45 percent do either most or all of their hunting on WMAs.

• Users are most interested in pheasant hunting (80 percent), duck hunting (37 percent) and firearms deer hunting (31 percent).

• The most satisfied hunters are those seeking spring turkeys, fall turkeys and deer by archery, respectively.

"This survey told us that 92 percent of hunters intend to return to a WMA," Landwehr said. "That tells us that hunters see these lands as an important resource."

The survey is the most extensive analysis ever of WMA users. The DNR will use the input when making future WMA acquisition and management decisions. Complete survey results are available at mndnr.gov/wmas.

-- Minnesota DNR

Motorists should watch for deer

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds motorists to watch for deer along roadways this time of year because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.

October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists should slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along roadways. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.

Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs.

Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, law enforcement authorities do not have to be notified if only the vehicle is damaged. However, if the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.

In addition, a permit is still required to take parts or the whole carcass of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

More info: gf.nd.gov.

-- North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Special youth deer season set

Young hunters ages 10 to 15 can participate in a special deer season that runs from Thursday, Oct. 19, to Sunday, Oct. 22, in 28 permit areas of northwest and southeast Minnesota, including in the Twin Cities metro permit area 601, the DNR said.

"Youth deer season is about putting the youth's hunting experience first," said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. "Many students get a couple days off school for teacher workshops during the youth season so the long break is a great time to plan a hunt that can teach valuable skills and help grow a youth's interest in the outdoors."

Deer permit areas open to the hunt are 101, 105, 111, 114, 201, 203, 208, 209, 256, 257, 260, 263, 264, 267, 268, 338, 339, 341, 342, 343, 344 (including Whitewater Game Refuge), 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 601 and 603. Blaze orange or blaze pink requirements apply to all hunters, trappers and adult mentors in areas open for the youth deer season. Public land is open, and private land is open if the hunters have landowner permission.

Youth ages 10 through 15 must obtain a deer license. Hunters ages 12 to 15 need to have completed firearms safety or, if not, can obtain an apprentice hunter validation.

More information about the youth season can be found on page 34 of the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.

Did you know?

• North Dakota state law does not allow nonresidents to hunt on Game and Fish Department owned or managed lands during the first week of pheasant season. Private Land Open to Sportsmen acreage and state wildlife management areas are open to hunting by resident hunters only from Oct. 7 through Oct. 13. Nonresidents still hunt can those days on other state-owned and federal lands, or private land.

• With 59 state forests that cover 4.2 million acres, Minnesota state forests are a great place to view fall color, the DNR said. Visit the Minnesota state parks and trails Fall Color Finder at mndnr.gov/fall_colors to find areas in Minnesota with peak fall color. The Fall Color Finder is updated every Thursday through the end of October.

-- compiled by Brad Dokken

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