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Mille Lacs may become catch and release only

Members of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee say it might be OK if all or part of the walleye season goes to catch and release if it means avoiding another shutdown of the season. Zach Kayser of the Brainerd Dispatch reports that the Department of Natural Resources will make a decision in early March. The DNR suggests an early shutdown of the walleye season in 2016 when the total amount of walleye killed reaches 40,000 pounds total — 11,400 pounds for tribal fishing and 28,600 for the rest of the state. Here’s some data you might not need: Over the past decade, anglers log about 1 million angling hours per year on Mille Lacs. Factoring in starting walleye population, population growth, the walleye catch, catch-and-release walleye that are accidentally killed by anglers, water temperature and winter fishing, and assuming a worst-case scenario, the DNR predicts an 88 percent likelihood of shutting the lake down by Aug. 1 and a 78 percent of hitting it by July 15. However, if the number of walleye that are accidentally killed is reduced to 20 percent of the current rate, the likelihood of hitting allocation by Aug. 1 is 58 percent and 44 percent by July 15, under the worst-case scenario.

Speaking of fishing, bait shop owners in Central Minnesota aren’t happy with the past winter. Ann Wessel of the St. Cloud Daily Times reports that the late ice-up and last weekend’s projected record-breaking high temperatures have left them with only about six good weekends. Eddy Lyback of Lyback’s Ice Fishing in Wahkon said the ice was 20 to 24 inches thick on Mille Lacs. He’s looking to pull most of his 120 rentals and private fish houses off the lake this weekend. “It’s definitely in the Top 2 for worst. There was one (season) we weren’t driving until at least February,” said Bill Hohenstein of BJ’s Bait on Clearwater Lake in South Haven. Hohenstein said the ice wasn’t thick enough to support trucks until Jan. 19.

Pope Francis comes to Ciudad Juarez and everyone goes bananas. The Dalai Lama comes to Rochester and he gets a photo and a caption in the local paper. The Rochester Post-Bulletin had this to say under a photo of the former Tenzin Gyatso: “His Holiness The Dalai Lama presents ‘Compassion in Health Care’ Monday at Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Mary’s Campus. He is the spiritual and political leader of Tibet and describes himself as ‘a simple Buddhist monk.’ ” So there.

MnSCU is getting closer to naming a new president for Bemidji State University. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that the next candidates to succeed Richard Hanson will be announced March 18, and the finalist should be named by April 20. Candidates were interviewed last week. The finalists — it’s usually about three — will visit BSU March 21-23.

Gas prices jumped 20 cents per gallon last week, according to the Duluth News-Tribune. Some organization called GasBuddy reported that a gallon of gas in Minnesota was about $1.81, up from about $1.63 a week ago but down about 60 cents per gallon from gas a year ago and $2 a gallon lower than 2013. In Wisconsin, the average gas price on Monday was about $1.73 a gallon, up about a dime from a week ago.

Just another Monday morning in Winona. Here’s a note in the crime blotter in the Winona Daily News: 10:19 a.m. Monday: A 24-pack of Budweiser was taken from a Schott Distributing delivery truck parked at Midtown Foods by an unidentified man last seen by witnesses running eastbound carrying a case of beer.

Inforum in Fargo/Moorhead notes that an annual rite of spring has sprung: Tastee Freez and Dairy Queen have reopened after having closed during the winter. “When I open, my customers tell me the same thing; ‘It’s just a sign of spring. You’re open. It’s great,’ ” said Duane Elofson who, his business partner Fern Elofson, has owned the Tastee Freez near the corner of Main Avenue and 19th Street South in Moorhead for 26 years. Unless there’s a blizzard, he tries to open every year on March 1 after closing in October. March 1 is also when the downtown Dairy Queen traditionally opens. While the DQ is in a more noticeable location downtown, Elofson said he’s found his own following from among nearby workers and students from the high school and from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Here’s an update to the note in this space last week about the injured timber wolf in Baxter. Chelsey Perkins of the Brainerd Dispatch writes that the wolf appears to be injured but not dangerous to the public. “At the moment, from what we’ve seen, is that it is afraid of people,” Christine Reisz, area wildlife supervisor for the Baxter office of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told the newspaper. Reisz said if the wolf begins to act aggressively or pose a threat, the federally protected creature will be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services.

A troubled building in downtown Duluth that has been gutted by fire and now faces unpaid tax bills could have its future determined by the county. Peter Passi of the Duluth News-Tribune writes that Pastoret Terrace at First Street and Second Avenue East — formerly home to the Kozy Bar and Apartments — went into tax forfeiture in December 2015 when its owner, Eric Ringsred, owed $26,522 in back taxes and penalties dating back to 2011, according to the St. Louis County Auditor and Treasurer. Ringsred bought the building from Paul King on a contract for deed and has not yet paid off the purchase. King has filed paperwork to repurchase the property and settle up outstanding tax bills while Ringsred said he wants to restore the 129-year-old building into affordable housing. County staff has recommended that St. Louis County pass a resolution holding up the deal for one year “to allow time for the Duluth Economic Development Authority and the city of Duluth to acquire the property for demolition and redevelopment purposes.”

A house at 611 6th Street South in Moorhead was damaged by fire at 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to InForum. Everyone in the home got out safely and the house sustained between $5,000 to $10,000 in damage. An exact cause is not known, but officials believe it is related to the home’s older wiring.

After home invasions in several rural homes, police are urging outstate residents to lock their doors. Jordan Gerard of the Austin Daily Herald reports that an elderly woman told law enforcement last week that she saw a car in her driveway north of Brownsdale and then discovered a man in her kitchen. The man reportedly asked if this was the Jenkins’ residence, the woman said no and then he left politely. Mower County Chief Deputy Mark May said the suspect is described as 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 with short black hair, a short, black and gray beard and was estimated to be about 35 to 45 years old. No items were taken. May said this type of incident is common: A person will knock on the door of a rural home and if someone answers, they give a false name, ask for someone and then leave. If no one answers the door, they go in and steal from the house, May said.

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