Outdoors notebook: New MN regulations, ND dates set

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New pike regulations set for Minnesota anglers

Northern pike anglers on Minnesota inland waters will face new regulations beginning with the general fishing opener Saturday, May 12.

The new regulations technically take effect March 1, but fishing for pike isn't allowed on Minnesota inland waters until the May 12 opener.

The regulations split the state into three zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources said.

In the north-central zone, which encompasses most of Minnesota including the northwest, anglers will be able to keep 10 northern pike, the DNR said. All pike from 22 inches to 26 inches must be released, and anglers can keep no more than two pike longer than 26 inches in their 10-fish limit. Pike taken by spearing follow the same rules, although one pike can be between 22 and 26 inches in length, and one can be longer than 26 inches.

The goal of the regulations in the north-central zone is to reduce the overabundance of small pike.

Here's a look at the regulations in the northeast and southern zones.

• Northeast: Anglers can keep two pike and must release all northerns from 30 inches to 40 inches in length, with one longer than 40 inches allowed. The goal is to maintain the opportunity to keep pike while protecting the large fish already present in this part of the state.

• Southern zone: There's a two-pike limit with a minimum size of 24 inches for both angling and spearing. The goal is to increase pike numbers and improve the size of fish that are kept.

The new regulations, which came after an extensive public-input process, originally were supposed to take effect last spring but a legal snag delayed the rules. Last February, an administrative law judge ruled the DNR first had to repeal a one-pike-over-30-inches regulation that existed in state statute before she could sign off on the change.

That rule was rescinded during the 2017 Minnesota legislative session.

-- Grand Forks Herald

NDGF sets tentative 2018 hunting openers

As it does every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has announced next year's estimated hunting openers in an effort to help hunters hunters prepare and make plans.

Dates become official when approved by governor's proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2018 include:

• Spring turkey: April 14.

• Deer and pronghorn bow, mountain lion: Aug. 31.

• Dove: Sept. 1.

• Sharptail, gray partridge, ruffed grouse, squirrel: Sept. 8.

• Youth deer: Sept. 14.

• Youth waterfowl: Sept. 15.

• Early resident waterfowl: Sept. 22.

• Regular waterfowl, youth pheasant: Sept. 29.

• Pronghorn gun: Oct. 5.

• Pheasant: Oct. 6.

• Fall turkey: Oct. 13.

• Mink, muskrat, weasel trapping: Oct. 27.

• Deer gun: Nov. 9.

• Deer muzzleloader: Nov. 30.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

CWD tests show no new outbreaks

No chronic wasting disease was detected in more than 11,000 precautionary samples from deer that hunters shot this fall in north-central, central and southeast Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources announced last week.

"This is good news for Minnesota," said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. "The results lend confidence that the disease is not spread across the landscape."

In all, 7,813 deer were tested in the north-central area, 2,529 in the central area and 1,149 in the southeast area outside deer permit area 603, the CWD management zone. Researchers still are submitting samples from cooperating taxidermists, and final results will updated online at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck as they become available.

Because no deer with CWD were found in north-central and central Minnesota, the DNR will narrow surveillance next fall to areas closer to the farms where CWD was detected. A fourth precautionary surveillance area will be added next fall in Winona County because CWD recently was detected in captive deer there.

Precautionary testing in north-central and central Minnesota became necessary after CWD was found in multiple captive deer on farms near Merrifield, Minn., in Crow Wing County and Litchfield, Minn., in Meeker County. Testing also was conducted in the deer permit areas directly adjacent to southeast Minnesota's deer permit area 603, the only place in the state where CWD is known to exist in wild deer.

Minnesota's CWD response plan calls for testing of wild deer after the disease is detected in either domestic or wild deer. All results from three consecutive years of testing must report CWD as not detected before DNR stops looking for the disease.

Three years of testing are necessary because CWD incubates slowly in deer. They can be exposed for as long as 18 months before laboratory tests of lymph node samples can detect the disease.

More info: mndnr.gov/cwd.

-- Grand Forks Herald

Pheasants offer late hunting opportunities

Pheasant hunters in Minnesota and North Dakota still have time to bag some roosters this month.

"We had a late corn harvest, which affected the early pheasant season, but things are shaping up nicely for late-season hunting," said Nicole Davros, farmland wildlife research supervisor for the Minnesota DNR. "Additionally, despite the lower overall count on our roadside surveys this year, our rooster index went up slightly. This means there are still birds to chase out there."

Field conditions were wet enough that the corn harvest was significantly delayed this fall.

"Now that the crops are out of the fields, there are fewer places to hide and hunters should be seeing more roosters," Davros said.

Despite warmer weather in late November, pheasants are already using both grassland cover and winter cover such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets, according to Scott Roemhildt, DNR Walk-in Access Program coordinator.

On Dec. 1, the daily bag limit in Minnesota increased to three roosters with a possession limit of nine.

Minnesota's 2017 pheasant season is open through Monday, Jan. 1. Shooting hours are 9 a.m. to sunset. In North Dakota, pheasant season is open through Sunday, Jan. 7. Shooting hours are half an hour before sunrise to sunset, and the bag limit is three daily, with 12 in possession.

-- Grand Forks Herald

DNR: Give the gift of walleyes

Looking for a last-minute gift for the Minnesota angler on your list? The Minnesota DNR suggests a walleye stamp; stamp sales help the agency provide more places to fish for walleyes by stocking walleyes into lakes where there would be none.

"Anyone can buy a walleye stamp any time of the year, even if they don't have a fishing license," said Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant. "The collectible stamp is based on art chosen in our annual stamp contest."

Funds from walleye stamps go toward the cost of purchasing walleyes from private fish farms for stocking into lakes. A walleye stamp is not required to fish for or keep walleye.

In addition to raising and stocking walleyes, the DNR also buys walleye fingerlings from private producers to be stocked into lakes, and walleye stamp sales help pay for these fish. Since 2009, funds from the walleye stamp have purchased more than 40,000 pounds of walleye fingerlings that have been stocked in the fall, all over the state. Walleyes are stocked in lakes that don't have naturally reproducing walleye populations.

More info: mndnr.gov/stamps.

-- Minnesota DNR

DNR sets turkey application dates

Friday, Jan. 26, is the deadline for firearms wild turkey hunters to apply for early season spring hunting permits in Minnesota, the DNR said.

The spring season, which runs from Wednesday, April 18, to Thursday, May 31, is divided into six time periods. Only people age 18 and older who want to hunt using a firearm during the first two time periods (A or B) need to apply for a spring turkey permit. Permits for the remaining time periods (C through F) can be purchased over-the-counter.

Archery and youth turkey hunters can hunt the entire season without applying for the lottery.

Permits for the last four time periods and youth licenses are sold starting March 1. Surplus adult licenses from the first two time periods, if available, are sold starting around mid-March.

More info: mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

-- Minnesota DNR