Rydell NWR to close for special hunts

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge near Erskine, Minn., will be closed to the general public during two special deer hunts this month on the refuge.

The annual Accessible Deer Hunt is set for Thursday, Oct. 10, through Saturday, Oct. 12, and is conducted in cooperation with the Options Interstate Resource Center for Independent Living in East Grand Forks.

A Mentored Youth Deer Hunt will take place Saturday, Oct. 26, and Sunday, Oct. 27. The hunt is a cooperative effort with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for young hunters between the ages of 12 and 15.

Both of these hunts have a limited number of participants that were selected through a drawing, earlier in the year. Signs will be posted at refuge entry points during both of the closures.

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For more information on the closures, contact Gregg Knutsen, refuge manager, at (218) 687-2229 ext. 16 or by email at gregg_knutsen@fws.gov.

-- Herald staff report

NDGF reminds drivers to watch for deer

Motorists, be on the lookout for deer.

That’s the annual reminder from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department that deer are especially active in the fall as juvenile deer disperse from their home ranges.

October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists should slow down and be especially cautious after dark to reduce the likelihood of hitting a deer.

Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.

Motorists also 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 at times are unavoidable. If an accident does happen, there’s no need in North Dakota to contact law enforcement authorities if only the vehicle is damaged. If the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.

In addition, a permit is required before taking possession of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

Game and Fish also offered these tips for minimizing the chance of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash:

  • Always wear your seat belt.

  • Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.

  • If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDSU grad is new DU agronomist

Emily Schwartz is a new field agronomist at the Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck. Schwartz says she hopes to use her passion for agriculture and conservation to help promote, deliver and adapt DU’s new soil health programs.

“After working in agricultural consulting, I worked in environmental counseling, where I gained a deeper appreciation for North Dakota’s wildlife,” she said. “I chose to work for DU because of its commitment to conservation and cooperation with agricultural producers to accomplish conservation goals.”

Schwartz earned her degree in natural resource management at North Dakota State University. She added a minor in crop and weed science after seeing the importance of having natural resource managers and agricultural producers work together. Her professional experience ranges from field agronomy to agricultural and environmental counseling.

More info: ducks.org.

-- Herald staff report

DNR offers ‘No Child Left Inside’ grants

The Minnesota DNR is offering a new grant program called “No Child Left Inside” to help more children cast a fishing line, study animal tracks, hike or bike or simply learn more about nature.

“We’re excited to be putting some funding toward getting kids outdoors. The time is now,” said Jeff Ledermann, DNR's education and skills team supervisor. “Minnesotans care deeply about the outdoors. Kids in past decades were outdoors early and often, but that’s not a given anymore so these grants are here to boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state.”

The 2019 Minnesota Legislature authorized the No Child Left Inside grant program. Funding can be used for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. Factors the DNR will consider in determining awards include whether the project:

Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 are eligible to apply for the first phase of the grant program, which features a simple application and a quick review. In the first phase, $182,000 is available for programs all around Minnesota. The minimum request is $500 and the maximum is $5,000. Future phases of the grant program will have larger grant awards with more extensive application and review processes.

Applications can be submitted starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, and awards will be made on a rolling basis. Matching dollars are encouraged but not required. The application period will close once all the money is awarded. The earliest date to start reimbursable project work is Sunday, Dec. 1, and the reimbursable grant project work must be completed by Monday, June 1, 2020.

More info: mndnr.gov and type “No Child Left Inside” in the search window.

-- Herald staff report

DNR highlights grouse hunter trails

The Minnesota DNR offers 600  miles of hunter walking trails throughout grouse range in the northern and central parts of the state. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)
The Minnesota DNR offers 600 miles of hunter walking trails throughout grouse range in the northern and central parts of the state. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)

The Minnesota DNR offers 600 miles of hunter walking trails in the northern forested area of the state where ruffed grouse are most abundant.

There are more than 200 of the trails, which are well-marked and limited to walking access through grouse habitat in northern and central Minnesota.

Most of the trails have convenient parking and signs at the trailhead.

“Hunter walking trails are a fun way to check out new areas and they do provide good hunting,” said Ted Dick, forest game bird coordinator for the DNR. “New hunters can follow these trails and not worry about getting lost or wandering off public land. And you can get away from trucks and four-wheelers, and into some decent grouse habitat.”

An avid grouse and woodcock hunter himself, Dick has taken young and new hunters on hunter walking trails over the years and uses the trails as a fun way to check out a new area to hunt.

“I’ve taken kids to areas I don’t know very well, and they’ve shot their first bird and we’ve had great hunting on places we all went into cold,” Dick said.

Trails are generally mowed once a year as hunting season approaches. With or without a dog, the trails can offer a surefire way to get out and get away from it all.

More info: mndnr.gov/hunting/hwt/index.html.

-- Herald staff report

DNR: Take steps to avoid AIS spread

With waterfowl season underway, the Minnesota DNR is asking duck and goose hunters to take precautions to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species.

Without the proper precautions, invasive species such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails can be transported in boats, decoys or blind material.

Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and can even cause waterfowl die-offs. For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that can kill thousands of ducks.

“After hunting, take a few minutes to clean plants and mud and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles,” said Eric Katzenmeyer, DNR invasive species specialist. “It's the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat.”

To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse -- 120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds -- before launching into another water body. Air drying can also be effective but may require more time because of cooler weather.

More info: mndnr.gov/ais.

-- Herald staff report