November 2008

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.






With snow in the air, folks are getting ready to ride their snowmobiles. What are the educational requirements for the legal operation of a snowmobile?

Current statute requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976, to take a safety-training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters. Two types of courses are available.  First, there is a course for those 11 years old and older, which is an 11-hour introductory course designed for youth or riders with little or no experience, and includes hands-on training. Second, for those 16 years old and older, there is an independent study CD-based course where students learn at home.

Once they have successfully completed their courses, students print and mail a certificate of completion to the DNR.
Both these courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents in Minnesota, and how to avoid them. Volunteers teach classes across the state. Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR's Web site at

- Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Division of Enforcement recreational vehicle coordinator


The red pine is the Minnesota state tree. How did it earn this distinction?

The legislature felt it was important to adopt a state tree as a symbol of the history and physical characteristics of the state and did so in 1953. The red pine, or Norway pine, is native to Minnesota and is found in pure stands in many parts of the state. In the early history of Minnesota, red pine timber played an important part in the state economy. Most importantly, the red pine is a sturdy and majestic tree.

- Rick Klevorn, DNR Division of Forestry


The forest fire season seems relatively quiet this fall. Does Minnesota always have a fall fire season?

Fall fire season depends on rainfall and when there is a killing frost. This year the first killing frost occurred later than usual. Fall rains have also been frequent and plentiful. There will be an opportunity for fall fires until snowfall but it appears that there will be less fire activity than normal this year.

- Jean Bergerson, information officer, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center


Now is the time of year when animals start looking for winter shelter. What is the best way to keep bats out of my house?

The first step in excluding bats is to locate the entry points to your house. One way to do this is to watch at dusk to see where they are exiting. Bats can enter and exit through holes as small as three-quarter inches, the diameter of a dime. Typical entry points include chimneys, louver fans, air intakes, exhaust vents, openings around plumbing, power or cable lines, spaces around doors and windows, and where exterior siding has shrank, warped or loosened. Close inspection during the day will help determine the exact location of these entry points. Caulk, weatherstripping, expanding foam products, insulation materials, screening, steel wool, or even duct tape can be used to close these and other entry points. Efforts to bat-proof your home will also often improve its energy efficiency. Another good way to keep bats out of the interior of your home is to make sure doors to attics and basements are well sealed, and that dampers are kept closed when the chimney is not in use.

-Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


DNR Question of the Week Archive