DNR accepting applications
for 2012 Camp Ripley archery hunts
The DNR will begin accepting applications Sunday (July 1) for the 2012 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.
Hunters may pick from one of two hunting seasons — Oct. 18-19 (Thursday-Friday; code 668) or Oct. 27-28 (Saturday-Sunday; code 669). A total of 5,000 permits — 2,500 per two-day hunt – will be available. Successful applicants must purchase a valid archery license at least two days before their hunt to participate. The bag limit for this year’s hunt is two, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer.
Hunters may choose from four options to apply for the Camp Ripley archery hunts:
• Through the DNR’s computerized Electronic Licensing System (ELS) at any one of 1,500 ELS agents located throughout Minnesota.
• By telephone at (888) 665-4236.
• Through DNR’s Internet licensing link at www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/index.html.
• At the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
The application fee for the hunt is $8 per applicant. The application deadline is Aug. 17.
Rules for the Camp Ripley hunt are available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/index.html.
Aquatic invasive species laws
change Sunday, fines double
Civil citation fines for violating aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws in Minnesota will double beginning Sunday (July 1).
For example, the fine for transporting a watercraft or water-related equipment with attached aquatic plants will go from $50 to $100 and the fine for possessing or transporting a prohibited invasive species, such as zebra mussels will now be $500.
Watercraft users need to remove all aquatic plants and animals from their watercraft, drain all water and leave all drain plugs and water draining devices open during transport.
This weekend and throughout the summer, about 140 watercraft inspectors will be stationed around the state, checking boats for AIS and advising water users of laws and practices that will keep invasive species from spreading. The DNR will also deploy 23 decontamination units at various water bodies around the state. The agency will concentrate inspectors and decontamination efforts at high-use water bodies that are currently infested with AIS.
Ruffed grouse counts decline
Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were lower than last year across most of the bird’s range, according to a survey conducted by the DNR.
Compared with drumming counts conducted in 2011, 2012 survey results showed an average decline of 24 to 60 percent, to 1.1 drums per stop, in the northeast survey region, which is the core and bulk of grouse range in Minnesota. Drumming counts in the northwest declined 33 to 73 percent to 0.9 drums per stop. Drumming counts did not change significantly in the central hardwoods or southeast, which had averages of 0.6 and 0.7 drums per stop, respectively.
“The grouse population is in the declining phase of its 10-year cycle,” said Mike Larson, DNR wildlife research group leader and grouse biologist. “The most recent peak in drum counts was during 2009, but hunter harvests remained relatively high through at least 2010.”
Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, according to the DNR, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. This year observers recorded 1.0 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2010 and 2011 were 1.5 and 1.7 drums per stop, respectively. Counts vary from about 0.8 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 1.9 during years of high abundance.
Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.
Also, sharp-tailed grouse counts in the northwest survey region decreased approximately 18 percent between 2011 and 2012, Larson said. Counts in the east-central region declined approximately 33 percent.
Observers look for male sharptails displaying on traditional mating areas, called leks or dancing grounds. Despite three years of declines, this year’s statewide average of 9.2 grouse counted per dancing ground was similar to the long-term average since 1980. The 2009 average of 13.6 was as high as during any year since 1980. During the last 25 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been as low as seven birds counted per dancing ground.
DNR releases long-term
management plan for ruffed grouse
A long-range ruffed grouse habitat and population management plan is now available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/grouse.
Grouse hunter numbers have traditionally followed cyclic changes in drumming survey indices, but when drumming surveys trended upward recently, hunter numbers did not follow as they had in the past. The plan includes strategies to reverse that trend by offering improved habitat and access, as well as programs to help new hunters.
The DNR’s ruffed grouse management plan was approved earlier this year after public comments on the draft plan were reviewed and considered.
Minnesota leads the nation in aspen-birch forest type, the preferred habitat of ruffed grouse, and offers more than 11 million acres of federal, state and county land open to public hunting.
For more on grouse, hunting opportunities and available online tools, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/grouse. More information — including podcasts, more detailed mapping and hunter education class announcements — will be posted as it develops.