November 2010

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.





The fur coat of a deer changes colors depending on the time of year – a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall. Why does this happen?

The deer’s coat is designed to provide both a means for thermoregulation and camouflage. Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress. In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons. The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow. The new coat is comprised of two layers. The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about two inches longer than the undercoat. The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow. Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas, where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.

- Michelle Carstensen, DNR Wildlife Health Program coordinator



It can be difficult to distinguish private land from public land. What should hunters remember as they are out hunting this fall?

It is your responsibility as a hunter to know whether or not you are hunting on private or public lands. Hunters who are interested in hunting on private land or need to access private property to retrieve downed game should “Always Ask First.” Many landowners are very accommodating and enjoy opening up their land to hunters.

Trespassing is the most frequent complaint landowners have against hunters. Technically, any entry onto private property without landowner permission is considered trespass. Failure to ask before hunting on private property can cut off access to these lands in the future and significantly impact hunting opportunities throughout Minnesota.

Many landowners also conduct habitat management programs on their property. Asking first will ensure that hunters do not interfere with those private land management activities. Additional trespass information can be found in the 2010 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook starting on page six.

- Wayne Edgerton, DNR agricultural policy & private lands coordinator


Now is the time of year when most property owners are considering pruning their trees. However removing unwanted branches improperly and at the wrong time of the year can stress and damage the tree. When and how should trees be trimmed?

The best time of the year to prune your trees is in the fall after the leaves have fallen from the tree. Most of the energy that the tree has produced over the year has been sent down to the roots for storage, so removal of unwanted branches will have a lesser impact on the health of the tree. When removing a branch, you want to make sure that you don’t cut into the branch collar of the tree (tissues where the branch meets the trunk), and don’t remove more than one-third of the live crown of the tree.

The USDA Forest Service has a pamphlet that describes proper pruning techniques.

– Bill Glesener, DNR forester, Bemidji


Buckthorn has become a major problem throughout the state. Can planting native species help suppress the growth of buckthorn, especially after buckthorn is removed from an area?

Depending on the circumstances, restoring native plant species after buckthorn removal may help suppress the re-growth of buckthorn. Without follow-up control of re-sprouting plants and seedlings that emerge after initial control, buckthorn will come right back. Buckthorn seeds in the soil can remain viable for up to five years. As a result, it is essential to monitor and manage buckthorn stands each year to suppress its growth, and allow native plants to establish. The best time to cut and chemically treat the stumps is in late summer and throughout the fall. Control methods are available on the DNR Web site at

- Luke Skinner, DNR Invasive Species Program


Since a lot of private land is rented land, it can be confusing as to whom I should ask for permission to hunt that land. Who has the final say on giving permission?

This is a great question, and one that can be confusing and can get people into trouble if they do not know the answer. Minnesota law [M.S. 97B.001 subd. 2] gives equal status, and equal authority, to the owner, occupant or lessee (renter) of the lands to grant or deny access to private lands. Therefore, it is important to know to whom hunters and other recreationalists may be speaking with and what link that person may have to that piece of property.

This underscores the importance of seeking permission early. Waiting too long may not allow for enough time to track down the person or persons who have the authority to grant permission in time for the season opener. As deer hunting season opens, it is important for all deer hunters to know where they are at all times, and ask permission of the landowner, occupant and/or renter before venturing onto private property. Remember, respect private property and always ask first.

More information related to the trespass law can be found in the 2010 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations beginning on page six.

- Wayne Edgerton, DNR Agricultural Policy & Private Lands coordinator


DNR Question of the Week Archive