DNR Question of the Week Archive

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.






On occasion, an eerie green glow can be seen illuminating from the forest floor. Is there something causing this or is it an unexplained Halloween phenomenon?

This phenomenon, called "foxfire", is a blue-green glow given off by the mycelia (threadlike strands) of certain fungi that grow in rotting wood. Armillaria, a root- and trunk-rotting fungus common in Minnesota, is one such organism that can emit a faint, blue-green light seen at night. It grows on hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, vines and forbs found in forests, along roadsides, and in cultivated areas. Bioluminescence, the emission of light from living organisms, is most likely to occur when decomposing wood is damp and when the temperature is in the high 70s. If you want to see foxfire, go for a hike in the woods after dark on a cloudy or moonless night in late summer or early fall. If you kick some decayed and softened stumps, you may also have a shoe that glows in the dark.

Jana Albers, DNR Forest Health Specialist


Why plant native trees and other vegetation in an urban area? What sort of benefits do they offer?

One major benefit to planting native species in urban areas is that they are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. They generally thrive with very little attention and can survive extreme weather conditions very well. In addition to being beautiful, native plants provide food and shelter for wildlife. Because native plants are found throughout Minnesota, they're a better alternative than non-native species, which can cause ecological damage to our natural environments. Some non-natives, such as buckthorn, are known to invade our prairies, forests and water bodies, spread quickly and crowd out native plants. So when we see a native oak or dogwood growing in an urban setting we maintain our connection to the natural world and protect Minnesota's natural resources.

Welby Smith, DNR state botanist


What does the DNR do with animals that are taken illegally (poached)?

Poaching, whether game or nongame species such as swans, is a serious offense. It is not only a waste of the state's precious resources, but also infringes on everyone else's right to hunt, fish and watch wildlife. The DNR attempts to ensure that animals taken illegally are not wasted. Meat from illegally harvested wild game such as deer is often donated to food shelves and other organizations that serve those less fortunate. However, sometimes meat must be thrown away or destroyed. This has been especially true for fish. The DNR has an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health to dispose of meat that is not deemed safe for consumption, such as packaged fish fillets. The reason is because it is often difficult to determine whether the packaging was done properly. In some circumstances, the animal or parts of the animal, such as a deer antler, is turned over to schools and other educational institutions for study.

Major Al Heidebrink, operations manager, DNR Division of Enforcement


The DNR has been removing or modifying dams that once obstructed water flow in rivers throughout Minnesota. How does this work improve the health of these bodies of water as well as the fishery?

The removal or modification of existing dams, along with river channel restoration, corrects the damage caused by these structures. Dams block sediment and organic matter from moving downstream. As a result, the collection of these and other nutrient-rich materials, plus the pooling of water behind in the reservoir, causes algae blooms and favors non-native fish species such as carp and bullheads. Also, sediment accumulation in the reservoir means water leaving the dam is sediment hungry and often results in downstream erosion problems. Without these structures blocking the river channel, fish, such as walleye, are able to migrate upstream to where the best spawning areas are located. Projects to eliminate these obstructions have already proved beneficial to plant and animal communities. For example, dam removals throughout the Red River Valley have enabled the reintroduction of the lake sturgeon to the Red River and its tributaries, and the Pomme de Terre River upstream of Appleton now has channel catfish, walleyes and other migratory species that were largely absent prior to the dam's removal.

Jason Ziemer, DNR information officer.


DNR Question of the Week Archive