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News from the DNR

Walleye stamps support better fishing across Minnesota

Anglers can support walleye stocking by purchasing $5 walleye stamps that help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provide more places to fish for walleye.

“You can buy a walleye stamp any time of the year, even if you already have a fishing license,” said Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant. “All the funds from walleye stamps go toward the cost of purchasing walleye from private fish farms for stocking into lakes.”

The overall walleye stocking effort ramps up each year in April when fisheries staff collect walleye eggs, fertilize them and transport the eggs to fish hatcheries around Minnesota. The eggs spend two to three weeks incubating before hatching into fry that are soon released — two-thirds into lakes and one third into rearing ponds. The fish in rearing ponds grow into 4- to 6-inch fingerlings that are stocked into lakes in the fall.

In addition to raising and stocking walleye, 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 over 40,000 pounds of walleye fingerlings that have been stocked in the fall, all over the state. Walleye are stocked in lakes that don’t have naturally reproducing walleye populations.

“Just about anywhere you go in Minnesota, there’s a lake fairly close by where you can fish for walleye,” Vanderbosch said. “To decide what lakes and how many fish to stock, we look at available habitat, prey and past stocking success, and make individual lake management plans that guide stocking decisions.”

Anglers catch the lion’s share of walleye from waters where the fish reproduce naturally — about 260 larger walleye lakes and in large rivers. Because of stocking, walleye can be found in an additional 1,300 Minnesota lakes spread throughout the state.

Wildlife experts band eagle chicks on tax day

The three eaglets featured on the DNR’s popular EagleCam had metal bands placed on their legs as part on an ongoing research project. Today was chosen to band the eaglets because they are about six weeks old, which is the perfect age for banding.

In addition, today is tax day. Why is this significant for banding eagle chicks? Because the generous donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program on state income tax forms provided the funding for EagleCam. The live video feed will be available during the entire nesting season.

The chicks were measured and weighed and were fitted with light-weight silver U.S. Wildlife Service bands that will help identify them throughout their lives.

The sex of the chicks was determined to be one male and two females.

Chicks are banded at about six weeks because they are old enough for the band to fit their growing legs, but are too young to jump out of the nest when approached.

The chicks were not harmed and the parents will not abandon them; they have invested too much time at this stage to leave their chicks and are not bothered by human scent.

The adult female eagle has been wearing a band since 2010.

A private bander, Mark Martell, and staff from DNR Nongame Wildlife Program did the banding.

The chicks will leave the nest or “fledge” sometime in mid-to-late June.

Xcel Energy provided the bucket truck and crew to retrieve the chicks. Xcel provides this service to the DNR each year without a fee. The DNR and the Nongame Program extends sincere appreciation to Xcel Energy for providing their excellent staff and resources.

DNR seeks comments on EAW for project

The Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Minnesota Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area project in Renville County, about 12 miles south of the city of Renville along the Minnesota River.

Renville County proposes the off-highway vehicle recreation area on 278 acres of land in Sacred Heart (South) Township. Current sand and gravel mining will be phased out over 20 years, with reclamation including construction of proposed trails and amenities, and revegetation of mined areas to prairie grassland.

The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review period from April 10 to May 10.

A copy of the EAW is available online at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/mn_valley_ohvra/index.html.

A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5126.

The EAW is available for public review at:

DNR library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

DNR southern regional office, 21371 State Highway 15 South, New Ulm.

Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.

Willmar Public Library, 410 Fifth St., Willmar.

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