October 2011

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

A: 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. For those animals that are taken illegally, the DNR tries to ensure that the animal poached is not wasted, that it is put to good use whenever possible. Meat from illegally harvested wild game such as deer is often donated to food shelves or 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, such as prepackaged fish fillets, that is not deemed safe for consumption. The reason is it’s often difficult to determine whether or not the packaging was done properly. In some circumstances, the animal or bird, or parts of the animal such as deer antlers, are turned over to schools and other educational institutions for study.

- Maj. Roger Tietz, operations support manager, DNR Division of Enforcement


Q: 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?

A: Depending on the circumstances, restoring native plant species after buckthorn removal may help suppress the regrowth of buckthorn. Without follow-up control of resprouting 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 website at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn.

- Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator


Q: I’ve heard that invasive species like zebra mussels can hitchhike on boats to move from lake to lake. I like to hike and hunt. Are there invasive species that hitchhike on land?

A: Yes, for example, invasive plant seeds can be transported in mud and hay. Invasive plants can choke out native plants and reduce wildlife habitat. The eggs and larvae of invasive insects like emerald ash borer can be spread by moving firewood. Emerald ash borer kills ash trees.

By taking a few simple steps, you can prevent the spread and help keep your favorite recreation areas healthy:

Susan Burks, DNR Forestry invasive species program coordinator


Q: I’ve seen DNR watercraft inspectors using big pressure washers. What are they doing?

A: To protect Minnesota lakes and rivers, the Legislature gave the DNR greater authority to inspect and decontaminate watercraft and other water-related equipment that is at risk of carrying aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels. Watercraft inspectors have been trained to implement the new inspection rules and operate three newly purchased decontamination (boat washing) units. 

These portable decontamination units are capable of spraying 160-degree water at high pressure. The equipment will be used to remove zebra mussels from boat hulls and treat livewells and other areas that can harbor invasive species.

Most boats won’t need to be decontaminated with the high-pressure wash, only those boats that do not pass an inspection.

People can help by:

For more information, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives.

Heidi Wolf, DNR Watercraft Inspection Program supervisor


Q:  Now that the fall migration has started for some birds, when is the best time to stop feeding hummingbirds? If a nectar feeder (sugar water) is available, will they fail to migrate to their wintering sites?

A:  Hummingbird migration is triggered by the photoperiod, or the number of daylight hours, not by the availability of food. Many people fear that hummingbirds will fail to migrate south if feeders are left out in the fall. This is not true. Hummingbirds will migrate when it’s time to go, regardless of the presence or absence of feeders.

Fall is a great time to feed birds if you know how to attract migratory birds in addition to the permanent residents that visit your feeders year-round. The best way to feed birds is to adjust the food and feeders with each changing season.

To get the latest tips on fall bird feeding, check out the DNR’s website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/birdfeeding, or obtain a copy of “Wild About Birds: The DNR Bird-Feeding Book,” which is available  at www.minnesotasbookstore.com and www.Amazon.com.

Lori Naumann, DNR nongame wildlife specialist

DNR Question of the Week Archive