March 2012

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.


Q: Does a calm winter indicate we'll be seeing more sets of triplet fawns?

A: It certainly could, but it may not be measurable. Nutritional status of pregnant females can influence the number of fawns they have in the spring. Indeed, triplets are more common in the southern Midwest because deer do not have to contend with severe winters and can maintain a high nutritional plane, thus their reproductive rates are typically higher than what we see in northern Minnesota.

It may not be measurable in the sense that while some deer may have three fawns instead of two, it likely does not occur at a high enough rate to influence the overall deer population.

The other phenomenon related to mild winters and deer pregnancy is that some fawn females will come into estrus later in the season, get bred, and carry a fawn to term. Given the mild weather, we may see more late born fawns in northern Minnesota this year. So, if you see a spotted fawn in September or October, it's likely the result of a late bred fawn deer.

- Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research program manager


Q: What's going to happen to the maple syrup season with this crazy weather?

A: That is a question every maple syrup producer would like answered definitively. The key to a successful season is having temperature fall below freezing at night and rise (preferably into the 30's to 40's) during the day for extended periods. Producers are worried that the temperature will not get low enough at night to encourage adequate sap flow.

Some people believe that maple trees produce higher concentrations of sugar in the sap when there has not been adequate moisture the previous fall. Also, snowfall during the tapping season means that the next time the temperature rises above the freezing point, sap tends to flow rapidly and heavily.

We won't know how things will turn out for sure until the 2012 season is over.

-Mimi Barzen, DNR forestry specialist


Q: The same woodpecker pecks at our house non-stop. Do woodpeckers get a headache after a while?

A: Woodpeckers have well-adapted structures that act as shock absorbers inside of their heads. They have a hard, but elastic beak, a springy tongue-supporting structure called the hyoid and an area of spongy bone inside the skull. These features, in addition to cerebral fluid interact to suppress vibration in their head so they can peck all day without getting a headache.

-Lori Naumann, information officer - DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


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