May 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.






Minnesota derives great benefit from having healthy, productive forests. What role does logging play in maintaining or improving forest health?

Minnesota's forests are a renewable resource. And the timber industry plays a key role in maintaining and improving forest health. Generally, loggers harvest mature or over-mature trees, which become increasingly susceptible to a host of insect and disease problems. Loggers also harvest areas that suffer catastrophic affects from wind, fire, or outbreaks of deadly diseases or insects. By quickly removing these affected trees and forests, the impacts to adjacent forests are minimized or reduced. Through well-timed harvests new, vigorous trees and forests are established.

Tom Baumann, DNR Division of Forestry


Why do property owners occasionally see snakes sunning themselves on driveways at this time of year? Are the snakes dangerous?

The most common snake in Minnesota is the garter snake, which is harmless. The appearance of unwanted snakes is usually due to cracks or holes in concrete structures. These spaces provide warm places for the snake to spend the winter. When spring returns, the snakes reappear outside. Since snakes cannot regulate their own body temperature, they rely on their surroundings, such as rocks or concrete, to warm themselves. Here are a few simple solutions if the presence of these snakes is a concern for homeowners:

  • fill the holes or cracks in the concrete;
  • make yard unattractive to snakes by removing yard or other debris piles;
  • keep shrubs and trees trimmed and the grass mowed;
  • eliminate what snakes eat - mice.

Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


The 2004 walleye opener is this weekend and there has been a lot of talk about this being a good year for anglers. What lakes appear to be the most promising?

Whether you're a veteran angler or a newcomer to the sport of fishing, Minnesota's large lakes are primed for a good year. Many of these well-known lakes have strong walleye and northern pike populations, thanks to favorable spawning conditions during the past five to ten years. In addition, experimental regulations - which help protect mature fish - may be contributing to better quality fishing as well. Anglers should see the typical one to two pound fish and a fair number over 20-inches, which are in the three to five pound range.

Steve Hirsch, DNR Section of Fisheries assistant chief


It has been said that Minnesota's moose population is struggling, but a recent survey showed that the population is much larger than anticipated - more than double its believed size. Is this significant? Are there still concerns?

This year's aerial survey did indicate that the moose population in northeastern Minnesota was more than twice as large as previous estimates. This increase reflects changes in the way that we conducted the survey this year and does not represent an increase in moose numbers. DNR researchers knew that the old survey underestimated moose numbers and believe that this year's count better reflects the state's moose population in the northeast. Still, research indicates that moose continue to die in large numbers from unknown causes. The DNR is continuing to study and understand the reasons why this is occurring.

Mark Lenarz, DNR Wildlife Research Group leader


DNR Question of the Week Archive