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Field reports: Deer association moves ahead on deer feeding

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The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is moving ahead with efforts to mount a broad deer-feeding effort in Northeastern Minnesota, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the group. MDHA has sent out emails seeking bids for producing the food, Johnson said.

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The group has received a grant contract from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that would provide $170,000 to produce and ship the feed for deer in areas experiencing a severe winter. All distribution of the feed will be a volunteer effort, Johnson said.

It's unclear whether feeding will take place within reservation boundaries of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. That's deer permit area 199. Paul Telander, DNR chief of wildlife, said the agency is in contact with band officials, but no decision has been made yet.

The deer feed will be specially formulated at a feed mill so that deer can digest it well, Johnson said.

"It will be a pelleted feed mixture, about 14 percent protein, close to 4 percent fat and 12 percent fiber, with vitamins and minerals," Johnson said.

The mix will contain corn, distillers' grain byproducts, wheat middlings, oats and other components, he said.

"We're going to nutrition and specialists in the deer feed industry to make sure it's as correct as possible," he said.

MDHA has said it hoped to begin distributing feed as soon as March 1. The DNR authorized the release of the money for feeding; the money accrues from a 50-cent surcharge on deer licenses.

The fund balance was about $770,000 before the allocation of the $170,000, DNR officials said. Johnson thinks the $170,000 may go fast.

"The fear is that $170,000 isn't going to do it," he said. "We'll have to really pinch the pennies to make sure they go as far as possible."

DNR wildlife officials have made it clear they oppose the feeding of deer. They believe it's unnecessary, that it doesn't have a significant impact on the overall deer population and that it can have a detrimental effect by potentially spreading disease. Unhealthy deer can have nose-to-nose contact with healthy animals where food is placed, wildlife officials say.

Volunteers who wish to help deer in this winter of cold and deep snow can do more than feed deer, Johnson said.

"They can put on snowshoes and go walk where the deer are and help them make trails," he said.

Stream trout? Good luck

Wisconsin's early catch-and-

release trout season opens Saturday on streams that might take some work to reach, state fish biologists say.

"My advice for anglers? Snowshoes," says Jordan Weeks, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.

The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. Saturday and runs until midnight April 27.

Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin. Check the current trout fishing regulations pamphlet for specific waters. Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but must use artificial lures and flies.

Prairie Pothole grassland, wetland effort funded

Up to $35 million will be provided during the next three years to help landowners conserve grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers, ranchers and conservation partners will have access to a mix of financial and technical assistance opportunities through the Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore wetlands and grasslands.

The money will be available in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Montana.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is moving ahead with efforts to mount a broad deer-feeding effort in Northeastern Minnesota, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the group. MDHA has sent out emails seeking bids for producing the food, Johnson said.

The group has received a grant contract from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that would provide $170,000 to produce and ship the feed for deer in areas experiencing a severe winter. All distribution of the feed will be a volunteer effort, Johnson said.

It's unclear whether feeding will take place within reservation boundaries of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. That's deer permit area 199. Paul Telander, DNR chief of wildlife, said the agency is in contact with band officials, but no decision has been made yet.

The deer feed will be specially formulated at a feed mill so that deer can digest it well, Johnson said.

"It will be a pelleted feed mixture, about 14 percent protein, close to 4 percent fat and 12 percent fiber, with vitamins and minerals," Johnson said.

The mix will contain corn, distillers' grain byproducts, wheat middlings, oats and other components, he said.

"We're going to nutrition and specialists in the deer feed industry to make sure it's as correct as possible," he said.

MDHA has said it hoped to begin distributing feed as soon as March 1. The DNR authorized the release of the money for feeding; the money accrues from a 50-cent surcharge on deer licenses.

The fund balance was about $770,000 before the allocation of the $170,000, DNR officials said. Johnson thinks the $170,000 may go fast.

"The fear is that $170,000 isn't going to do it," he said. "We'll have to really pinch the pennies to make sure they go as far as possible."

DNR wildlife officials have made it clear they oppose the feeding of deer. They believe it's unnecessary, that it doesn't have a significant impact on the overall deer population and that it can have a detrimental effect by potentially spreading disease. Unhealthy deer can have nose-to-nose contact with healthy animals where food is placed, wildlife officials say.

Volunteers who wish to help deer in this winter of cold and deep snow can do more than feed deer, Johnson said.

"They can put on snowshoes and go walk where the deer are and help them make trails," he said.

Stream trout? Good luck

Wisconsin's early catch-and-

*elease trout season opens Saturday on streams that might take some work to reach, state fish biologists say.

"My advice for anglers? Snowshoes," says Jordan Weeks, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.

The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. Saturday and runs until midnight April 27.

Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and most streams in northeast Wisconsin. Check the current trout fishing regulations pamphlet for specific waters. Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks but must use artificial lures and flies.

Prairie Pothole grassland, wetland effort funded

Up to $35 million will be provided during the next three years to help landowners conserve grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers, ranchers and conservation partners will have access to a mix of financial and technical assistance opportunities through the Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore wetlands and grasslands.

The money will be available in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Montana.

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