August 2004

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.






Fall is rapidly approaching, which means birds will begin their annual trek to warmer climates for the winter. When will the fall migration get underway?

Ironically, as temperatures just start heating up in Minnesota some shorebirds begin preparing for their fall voyage. Sandpipers actually start their migration during the first week in July because of their lengthy trip to Argentina and Chile. People should also start looking for hummingbirds to begin their migration to Mexico and Costa Rica, so now would be a good time to fill up their feeders. The great egret, too, is preparing for its voyage south. In fact, these usually solitary birds are beginning to congregate and prepare their young for the long flight ahead. During mid-September, Hawk Ridge in Duluth will be a busy place when raptors, such as hawks, eagles and owls, begin moving through on their way to their wintering sites. So fall is a fabulous time to bird watch because these and other species may be easier to spot. For more information on fall migrations, check out the DNR's Web site .

Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Program supervisor


In order to legally hunt any migratory game bird, which now includes mourning doves, hunters need to be certified for the Harvest Information Program (HIP). What is the purpose of this?

HIP certification is a tool the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses in every state to monitor the kind and number of migratory birds harvested each fall. Through random surveys of certified hunters, the agency is able to develop reliable harvest estimates for all migratory birds. This information is important because it helps set future hunting seasons and harvest quotas, monitor migratory bird populations and protect hunting heritage. Hunters can get certified when buying their license by answering "yes" to the question asking if they intend to hunt migratory birds, including ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, snipe and rails. If hunters have already purchased their license and it does not say "HIP Certified," they need to register for the program before hunting any migratory birds. Certification is free and is available at all of Minnesota's more than 1,800 electronic licensing agents.

Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist


It appears to be that time of year for tree diseases to surface. In recent weeks a number of outbreaks have been reported. Is there anything homeowners can do to protect their trees from diseases and possible mortality, regardless of tree species?

There are a number of things that homeowners can do on their own to help keep their trees healthy. Since many areas of the state are experiencing some type of drought conditions, a good place to start is watering your trees. The lack of water is causing trees all over the state to die off or become infected with diseases. So, wherever possible, homeowners should give their trees about one inch of water each week. In addition to watering, organic mulch, two-to-three inches deep, around the base of the trees will guard against lawn mower injury and keep the roots moist. Homeowners should also avoid using weed and feed fertilizer products, which contain herbicide. While the product makes lawns look good, it does kill tree roots. Picking up and properly disposing of fallen leaves and tree branches can also help prevent the spread of tree diseases now and next spring. For more information, log onto the DNR's Web site at Backyard tree care.

Jana Albers, DNR forest health specialist


The 2004 hunting seasons open Sept. 1 with the first mourning dove hunt in nearly 60 years. Hunters looking for places to hunt are in luck because Minnesota has a lot of land that is open for public hunting. What are they and where are they?

Finding a great place to hunt is often as challenging as the actual hunting itself. Those who hunt in Minnesota are fortunate because the search for that place is not nearly as difficult as it is in many states, where public land is rare. Here in Minnesota, hunters can choose from 1,300 state wildlife management areas, 56 state forests, two national forests, scientific and natural areas, federal waterfowl production areas and county lands. However, not all public lands allow hunting, so it's a good idea for hunters to check ahead and become familiar with boundaries of public-owned land so they do not inadvertently trespass onto private property. Hunters can find information about these sites by picking up Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM). The 51 different maps display the location of public lands throughout the state, their boundaries and related facilities, such as parking lots, camp sites and other things hunters may need to know. PRIM maps can be purchased through the DNR, some major sporting goods and map stores, and Minnesota's Bookstore. Additional information about these maps can be found on the DNR's PRIM Web site .

Amy Ellison, DNR Cartographer


Minnesota's scientific and natural areas (SNA) program is celebrating 30 years. What exactly is a SNA and how does it differ from other publicly owned lands?

Scientific and natural areas are places where anyone can go to see examples of what Minnesota used to look like prior to European settlement. There are currently more than 130 sites scattered throughout Minnesota's prairie and coniferous and deciduous forest biomes. The program's mission is to acquire and preserve places of ecological significance that contain rare plant and animal species, geologic formations and natural communities like old growth forests. All areas are open to the public for nature observation, and educational and scientific research purposes. Travel on these sites is by foot only. Approximately 86 percent of the land acreages are also open to some form of public hunting. However, these areas are not for intensive recreation. As a general rule, there are no trails and no restrooms in SNA's. Visitors will typically find only an interpretive sign and parking area, at best. To learn more about the SNA program or to find a location near you, log on to the DNR's Web site .

Bob Djupstrom, DNR SNA Program supervisor


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