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Field reports: Northern Minnesota deer feeding begins

Minnesota's supplemental deer feeding program got under way on Thursday, as the first shipments of commercially produced deer feed were picked up by volunteers, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

The MDHA is coordinating the feeding effort, which was authorized by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Feed is being distributed to eight distribution points across Northeastern Minnesota --Esko, Wright, Moose Lake, Hibbing, Grand Rapids, International Falls, Cook and Virginia.

About 28 tons were scheduled for pickup from Thursday through Saturday, Johnson said. In coming weeks, most distribution will take place on Saturdays.

"Most of the people were really well-organized," Johnson said. "Some had been to their (feeding) spots and had a good idea of how many deer were there."

All of the feeding will be done on public land, according to DNR requirements. Feeding is being allowed in DNR deer permit areas where the deer population is below goal or expected to be below goal by winter's end, and where the Winter Severity Index had reached 100 by Feb. 15.

No feeding is being done in permit areas 117 and 118 near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness because that is considered prime moose range. By design, deer densities are designed to be at or below 10 deer per square mile in those areas, DNR officials said. That's because, according to the DNR, deer carry a parasite called brainworm that doesn't affect deer but can be fatal to moose. At higher deer densities, the parasite is more prevalent, said DNR wildlife program manager Steve Merchant.

About half the volunteers picking up deer feed for distribution are MDHA members and half are non-members, Johnson said. Some people have expressed concerns that volunteers will be feeding deer near where they hunt.

"I hear very little of, 'We're going to feed for our deer camp,' " Johnson said. "I heard one person say that. Primarily, these people are feeding near where they live or near where they hunt only because that's the woods they know. That's what they're familiar with."

One volunteer said he was hauling feed to a site where 100 deer were yarded up, Johnson said. MDHA's Jenny Foley said she spoke to a volunteer who planned to haul feed to a site where more than 300 deer were yarded, she said.

New fishing regulations in Minnesota

Several new regulations are in place for Minnesota's 2014 fishing season. The new regulations became effective March 1, when the 2014 fishing licenses went into effect.

Among the regulation changes that affect anglers in Northeastern Minnesota:

  • New or modified experimental or special regulations are now in effect on Leech Lake and Mukooda Lake. On Leech Lake, the walleye slot limit has been relaxed. The new slot limit requires that all walleyes from 20 to 26 inches be immediately released. (The former slot included walleyes from 18 to 26 inches.) One walleye longer than 26 inches is allowed in a possession limit. The bag limit remains at 4

    On Mukooda Lake, north of Crane Lake, lake trout fishing is catch-and-release only.

  • Trout and salmon from Lake Superior and its tributaries must be transported with head and tail intact.
  • Several waters have been added to the list of infested waters. Among them are Fall Lake near Ely; the Bowstring River from Sand Lake downstream to Rice Lake in Itasca County; Sand Lake (Itasca County); Little Sand Lake (Itasca County); Rice Lake (Itasca County); Birds Eye Lake (Itasca County); Portage Lake (Itasca County); Shagawa Lake near Ely; Trout Lake (Cook County); and Wabanica Creek (Lake of the Woods County).
  • A definition for culling (or sorting) of fish has been added. See page 18 of the regulations synopsis. Culling is the act of replacing one fish with another fish.
  • There's an updated list of lakes that ban northern pike spearing on page 69 of the DNR regulations synopsis.

    For a complete listing of regulations changes, go to page 19 of the regulations synopsis.

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