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Outdoors notebook: Minnesota snowmobile trails open Dec. 1, Give eagles a 'brake' etc.

DNR: Snowmobile trails open Dec. 1 Much of northern Minnesota received its first significant snowfall last week, and many snowmobile enthusiasts are rushing to take their first ride of the season. Despite the early snow, the Minnesota Department ...

Eagles are especially susceptible to being hit by vehicles this time of year, and motorists should use caution if approaching one of the birds along a roadway, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says. (Minnesota DNR photo)
Eagles are especially susceptible to being hit by vehicles this time of year, and motorists should use caution if approaching one of the birds along a roadway, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says. (Minnesota DNR photo)

DNR: Snowmobile trails open Dec. 1

Much of northern Minnesota received its first significant snowfall last week, and many snowmobile enthusiasts are rushing to take their first ride of the season. Despite the early snow, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds snowmobilers that most of the state's snowmobile trails are not yet ready for riding.

Minnesota's snowmobile trails officially open Dec. 1 each year, but several conditions must be met before trails are open and ready for travel:

• The ground must be frozen to allow for crossing wet areas.

• Adequate snow cover, about 12 inches, must be on the ground to allow for packing and grooming of the trails.

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• Trails must be cleared of fallen trees, signs put in place and the gates opened.

Snowmobile club volunteers and DNR staff are working on these tasks.

"While the early snow is encouraging, it acts as insulation that slows the freezing we need in order to work on brush clearing and other trail maintenance in wet areas," Guy Lunz, area trails supervisor for the DNR in Grand Rapids, Minn., said. "Crews are out removing brush from trails where they can, and that pace will pick up once cold weather helps freeze the low-lying areas."

Meanwhile, the significant snow missed most of northwest Minnesota.

When the trails open, the DNR urges riders to use caution. Early season trails may have trees or other debris across the trails, unfrozen areas, rocks or ruts, or standing crops and closed gates. Also, road ditches can have obstacles such as culverts, signposts and rocks.

For more information on the latest trail conditions, check out the DNR website at mndnr.gov/snow_depth/index.html. The DNR will update state trail conditions each Thursday throughout the season.

-- Minnesota DNR

Give eagles a 'brake'

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It's the time of year when an increase in deer activity leads to more road-killed deer that attract animals, such as eagles, to a free meal along roadways. This also is the time of year when wildlife officials receive calls about injured or dead eagles on roads.
Why do eagles get hit by vehicles? After all, people rarely see a crow injured or dead along the roadway. Crows simply fly off.
Just as an overloaded plane can't take off, eagles can overeat and become too heavy to fly until they digest their meal. Eagles also can suffer from neurological issues if they are exposed to lead in the carcass of the animal they are eating.

When that happens, eagles become disoriented and do not know to fly off when a car is approaching.
"When deer are particularly active, we tend to get calls about eagles that are injured or killed by vehicles or sick and dying from lead poisoning," said Christine Herwig, nongame specialist for the DNR's northwest region. "If you see a dead deer on the road and can safely move the deer off the roadway, this improves the safety of other motorists and wildlife."
People who encounter a dead eagle can leave it alone or bring it to the nearest DNR office; it's a good idea to call ahead to be sure they have a freezer. Eagles are sent to a national feather repository, where the feathers and other eagle parts are cleaned and distributed to American Indian reservations for use in ceremonies.
For people who encounter an injured eagle, Herwig recommends either contacting a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or letting nature take its course. Some eagles can survive their injuries and be transported to a rehabilitator such as the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center, which rehabilitates more than 800 sick and injured hawks, eagles, falcons and owls a year. Again, there are exceptions to federal laws, including an allowance for those attempting to bring wounded birds to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Nobody can rehabilitate wildlife without a permit.
Information about wildlife rehabilitation, including a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators in Minnesota, is available at mndnr.gov/eco/nongame/rehabilitation/injured-wildlife.html.

-- Minnesota DNR

Hunters take 3 mountain lions

North Dakota hunters took three mountain lions from a harvest limit of eight during the early season that closed Nov. 20, the Game and Fish Department said.

The late season, when hunters can pursue lions with dogs, now is open.

Under a new season structure this year, a conditional season could open five days after the late season closed, allowing hunters to pursue the additional five mountain lions that were not taken. The late season in Zone 1 opened Monday and is scheduled to run through March 31, 2017, or until the harvest limit is reached.

The late season harvest limit is seven total lions or three female lions, whichever comes first.

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The late season harvest limit in Zone 1 filled early last year, so hunters should check for updates on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov before going afield.

A map of the Zone 1 boundaries also is available on the Game and Fish website. The season in Zone 2, which is the rest of the state outside Zone 1, has no harvest limit and is open through March 31.

North Dakota's mountain lion season only is open to residents, and a furbearer or combination license is required.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDGF offers hunter ed. update

Most of North Dakota's hunter education courses have wrapped up for the year, but individuals or parents with children who will need to take a course in 2017 should monitor the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's website at gf.nd.gov.

Classes begin in January and will be added to the Buy and Apply link as soon as times and locations are finalized.

After accessing the Buy and Apply link, click on the hunter ed enrollment link and "list of hunter education courses." Classes are listed by city and also can be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on "enroll" next to the specific class and follow the instructions. Personal information is required.

Anyone interested in receiving a notice by email when each hunter education class is added can click on the "subscribe to news and alerts" link found below the news section on the Game and Fish home page. Check the box labeled "hunter education" under the education program updates.

In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cellphone. Simply text "NDGF HunterClass" to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.

State law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961 to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in North Dakota. Hunter education is mandatory for youth who are turning 12 years old, and kids can take the class at age 11.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Recruitment grants offered

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering grants to aid in recruiting hunters and anglers in an effort to stem the decline in participation.

"Groups that will help move people through the process of becoming hunters and anglers, or of continuing to hunt or fish, are encouraged to apply for funding," said Jeff Ledermann, DNR angler recruitment and retention supervisor. "We give priority to programs for underserved audiences, new immigrant populations and those with an ongoing impact rather than one-time events."

Types of activities could include fishing and hunting educational programs, clinics, workshops, camps, and funding for fishing and hunting equipment and transportation.

Groups must apply for this round of grants by Jan. 9. The grant program began this year, and this is the third round of grants. In this round, awards will range from $5,000 to $50,000. The DNR anticipates a total of $100,000 will be available. Third-round projects must be completed in Minnesota and be finished by June 30, 2018.

New in this round, there no longer is a requirement of a funding match. Organizations are nonetheless encouraged to include a match in their project that can be funding or donated labor, materials or services. Match amounts will be considered in the selection process.

The DNR received more than 50 applicants during the first two rounds, Ledermann said.

More info: mndnr.gov/r3.

-- Minnesota DNR

DNR seeks turkey stamp designs

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2018 Minnesota Wild Turkey Stamp from Dec. 5 through 4 p.m. Dec. 16, the DNR says.

The cost of a turkey stamp is included in a turkey license, but pictorial stamps are sold as collectables. The eastern wild turkey must be the primary focus of the contest design.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists may issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Final judging is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. Dec. 22 at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to wild turkey habitat management. Extirpated from Minnesota around 1900, wild turkeys now thrive throughout all but the northern forested portions of the state.

More info:mndnr.gov/stamps.

-- Minnesota DNR

Fishing tourneys require notice

Organizers planning fishing tournaments in North Dakota, including ice fishing contests this winter, must submit an application along with fishing tournament regulations to the Game and Fish Department at least 30 days before the start of the event.

The 30-day advance notice allows for review by agency staff to ensure the proposed tournament will not have negative consequences or conflicts with other proposed tournaments for the same location and/or time.

Tournaments may not occur without first obtaining a valid permit from the department.

In addition, the number of open-water tournaments on lakes Sakakawea and Oahe, the Missouri River and Devils Lake are capped each year, depending on the time of the year and location.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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