Published November 11, 2012, 05:45 AM

OUTDOOR NOTES: DNR officials shed light on deer season ... Olson to leave Delta Waterfowl

The tallies aren’t official by any means, but hunters in northwest Minnesota generally shot more bucks and fewer does during the first three days of the state’s firearms deer season, which opened Nov. 3. And more.

By: Grand Forks Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald

DNR officials shed light on deer season

The tallies aren’t official by any means, but hunters in northwest Minnesota generally shot more bucks and fewer does during the first three days of the state’s firearms deer season, which opened Nov. 3.

John Williams, assistant regional wildlife supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji, said the trend was expected because of the drastic reduction in antlerless permits for most areas of the state.

“We’ve changed a lot of the harvest strategy in the region compared to the past few years,” Williams said. “We were in ‘how to get rid of deer’ mode. The pendulum now has swung to building populations back toward goals.”

In Permit Area 263, for example, which extends roughly from Lake Bronson to Greenbush, the buck harvest was up 41 percent while the doe kill decreased 41 percent. Hunters in Permit Area 265 near Ada registered 49 percent more bucks and 15 percent fewer antlerless deer than the first three days of the 2011 season. Hunters in Permit Area 209 southeast of Thief River Falls registered 57 percent more bucks and 8.4 percent fewer does than last year, Williams said.

Anecdotally, Williams said, it seems as if hunters are putting more effort into the deer season than they did last year. The area Williams hunted near Viking, Minn., had about half an inch of snow on the ground opening day.

“I think our statewide opener, for the weather we had, was just about ideal,” Williams said.

The opening weekend of season also was mostly good from an enforcement standpoint. Jeremy Woinarowicz, a conservation officer for the DNR in Thief River Falls, said it was probably the quietest opener for complaints in his nine years on the job. Incidents of shooting from the road and trespassing were down, he said, while too many hunters still were transporting loaded firearms in vehicles.

Also too high, Woinarowicz said, was the number of hunters he encountered with open containers of alcohol in their vehicles.

“That has gone up a bit,” he said. “I don’t know why hunting and drinking would go hand in hand. There’s nothing wrong with that at the end of the day, but when you mix firearms, even a little bit of alcohol can cause problems.”

— Brad Dokken

Olson to leave Delta Waterfowl

The president of conservation group Delta Waterfowl is stepping down from the job to spend more time with family and friends in his hometown of Winnipeg.

Rob Olson joined Delta in 1992 as a graduate student doing his master’s degree work in natural resources management. He held a variety of positions with the foundation before being appointed president in 2003.

“It’s been an absolutely incredible run for me at Delta,” Olson said. “I’m honored to have been able to play a role in the success of one of North America’s most innovative conservation organizations.”

Olson will remain at Delta for the next several months to assist in the transition period. Delta’s board of directors as named Frank Rohwer as interim president. Rohwer has been Delta’s scientific director since 1991 while also serving on the faculty at Louisiana State University.

Jonathan Scarth, a past Delta president, also is returning to the organization to oversee conservation policy efforts.

“These are exciting times,” Rohwer said in a statement. “I’m confident Delta will become even more effective as a science-based advocacy organization. We are in this for the ducks, the hunters, the habitat and the waterfowl heritage that we love.”

— Herald staff report

N.D. outlines continuing invasive species battle

BISMARCK — Despite intensive monitoring, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has documented only one new infestation of aquatic nuisance species this year in the state — curly leaf pondweed in Lake Elsie in Richland County.

According to Fred Ryckman, ANS coordinator for Game and Fish, one of the biggest surprises this year was no detection of zebra mussel in the Otter Tail and Red rivers in Breckenridge, Minn., and Wahpeton, N.D., where young zebra mussels were found in both 2010 and 2011.

On the downside, Ryckman said, the recent announcement by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that adult zebra mussels have become established and continue to move downstream in Minnesota’s Otter Tail drainage is discouraging.

“Thankfully, we haven’t found any adult zebra mussels anywhere in North Dakota,” Ryckman said. “The news coming from Minnesota emphasizes the need for us to be vigilant in our monitoring efforts and to continue to stress public participation in following ANS regulations.”

Statewide monitoring efforts also indicated known populations of invasive species in existing North Dakota waters are stable. A few adult silver carp again were observed in the James River below Jamestown Dam, after moving upstream into the James during extremely high flows in 2011.

Besides statewide educational campaigns, wardens continued to check anglers and boaters for compliance. Robert Timian, enforcement supervisor for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said compliance was good but needs to be better.

“There are still some individuals who are unaware, or don’t care, how important this issue is,” Timian said. “We will continue to have checkpoints and will issue citations to individuals who are in violation of the rules.”

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDGF crews reach salmon egg goal

BISMARCK — Fisheries crews for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on Lake Sakakawea after collecting 1.5 million eggs, easily surpassing their goal of 900,000.

According to Dave Fryda, Missouri River System supervisor for Game and Fish in Riverdale, N.D., the majority of eggs came from Lake Sakakawea, with the remainder from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam.

The average size of Lake Sakakawea females was about 6½ pounds, similar to 2011. The Missouri River females, which typically are larger than the lake fish, were smaller this year, Fryda said, reflecting the decline in forage abundance in Lake Oahe.

As a result, Fryda said, Game and Fish will stock Lake Sakakawea with 200,000 salmon next year, but none in the river below Garrison Dam.

Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, crews from Game and Fish and the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.

Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department