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Doug Smith

Star Tribune

Seventeen appointed to new Lake Mille Lacs advisory group



Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr has appointed 17 Minnesotans to a newly formed Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee that will give input to the DNR on fisheries management programs and related issues for Mille Lacs Lake.

The DNR says members of the committee will contribute to the broader understanding of biological, social and economic aspects of the Mille Lacs fishery and develop recommendations to advise the DNR on potential approaches and regulations.

“Group members will represent diverse perspectives and interests and provide us with valuable understanding and advice about Mille Lacs Lake,” said Landwehr. “We are pleased at the pool of applicants and believe the people on this committee will give solid and meaningful input.”

Appointed to the committee by Landwehr are members who represent a diversity of angling interests; local business and tourism interests; tribal and academic representation; and local county officials.

Angling Representatives
Mark Utne, Isle; Cheryl Larson, Wahkon; Tony Roach, Willow River; Tom Neustrom, Grand Rapids; Steven Besser, Litchfield; and Peter Perovich, Ramsey.

Business Representatives
Tina Chapman, Chapman’s Mille Lacs Resort & Guide Service, local liaison to Explore Minnesota Tourism, Isle; Eddy Lyback, Lyback’s Ice Fishing and Lyback’s Marine, Wahkon; Steve Kulifaj, The Red Door Resort, Aitkin; Steven Johnson, Johnson’s Portside, East Township; William Eno, Twin Pines Resort and launch service, Garrison; and Dean Hanson, Agate Bay Resort and launch service, Isle.

Local Officials
Mille Lacs County Commissioner David Oslin, Aitkin County Commissioner Laurie Westerlund, and Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Koering.

Mille Lacs Band Representative
Jamie Edwards, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Academic Representative
Dr. Paul Venturelli, Fisheries Program, University of Minnesota.

Information about the committee structure, functions and expectations of appointed members are available on the DNR website at

Some hunters this weekend will be asked to have ducks tested for avian flu

Minnesota waterfowl hunters in seven western and central counties will be asked to have their ducks and geese tested for avian bird flu this weekend, as part of an effort to determine prevalence of the disease in waterfowl.

The waterfowl season opens Saturday.

The Department of Natural Resources will have field testing stations in Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Stearns, Swift and Todd counties. Staff will solicit hunters to volunteer their birds for sampling, which involves taking a quick swab from each bird. 

“We’re asking hunters to help,’’ said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “It just takes a few minutes.’’

Officials hope to test 800 waterfowl during the first two weeks of the season.

 There are no food safety concerns even with a positive test, so hunters can take their birds home, officials said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking whole duck or goose to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Officials have sampled about 4,000 waterfowl since the outbreak of the flu in the state in March, and none tested positive for avian influenza.

“We’re looking at counties that had infections, and some that had none,’’ said Cornicelli.

Crews will be stationed at: 

•Lake Osakis. 

•Middle Fork Crow River, north of New London.

•Mud Lake state water access site, just west of the Burbank Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near the intersection of county roads 128 and 33.

•Dietrich Lange WMA at the Lake Calhoun public access. 

•Yarmon WMA.

•Rice-Skunk WMA. 

•Big Rice Lake public boat access.

•Kobliska WMA boat access on Long Lake. 

•Quistorff WMA.

•Other hunting areas around Spicer, Pennock, Sunberg, Greenwald and Lake Lillian.

Since the outbreak of the flu in Minnesota in March, the DNR has only found two positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Minnesota wildlife — a Cooper’s hawk from Yellow Medicine County and a black-capped chickadee from Ramsey County.

The outbreak resulted in the deaths of 48 million domestic chickens and turkeys, primarily in the Upper Midwest. Minnesota lost about 5 million turkeys and 4 million egg-laying hens.