September 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.






The fall firearms deer season is fast approaching. Although it is illegal for hunters to shoot and kill any wild animal from a motor vehicle, there are some exemptions for persons with disabilities. What are they?

Certain disabled persons may obtain a permit to hunt from a stationary motor vehicle, including a truck, car or all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The permit may only be issued to a person who obtains the appropriate hunting licenses and has a permanent physical disability that makes them unable to get out of a vehicle without the aid of crutches, wheelchair or similar device. Disabled persons who require oxygen to walk any distance may also be eligible for this permit. In order to obtain the permit, which is available at DNR regional offices, a physician must verify the disability in writing. There are also many people with very real, very limiting physical disabilities who do not qualify for that permit. In those circumstances, local conservation officers may issue a special permit for hunters to operate motor vehicles any time during the firearms deer hunting hours. This permit is available to hunters who, due to health, medical or other reasons, cannot stay outside for extended periods of time. It would not, however, allow the hunter to shoot from the motor vehicle or to operate the vehicle where the vehicles are otherwise prohibited.

Pat Watts, DNR Division of Enforcement


Mushrooms have been popping up all over the forests. What is the reason for this? Is this a good thing for Minnesota's forests? Also, are they edible?

The emergence of mushrooms in Minnesota's forests is a perfectly natural occurrence. These fungi peak in late summer and early fall, and are dependent on abundant moisture for good growth. Although there are many types of parasitic mushrooms, most are important to forest health and the forest life cycle. Some species contribute to forest decay while others act as extensions of the root systems of many tree species. That increases the ability of trees to absorb nutrients, water and other materials from the soil, which allows for better tree growth. Some mushrooms, such as morels, which appear in the spring, are a highly prized gourmet's delight, but others are deadly poisonous. Before doing any taste testing, it is highly recommended that people do research to know which ones can be eaten and which ones should be avoided.

Kurt Rusterholz, DNR Forest Ecologist


The switch from summer to fall has begun in earnest for many of us, but some trees have already made an unexpected transformation to their fall colors. Why is this? Does this mean this year's fall color display will be early and not as vibrant?

Some tree species, such as ashes, that are known to get a jumpstart on the fall color change. So it's not uncommon for people to see one or two ash trees in their neighborhood that have colored leaves. However, early coloration in other tree species can mean that the tree is stressed, either from a disease or physiological stress, such as lack of water or too much of it. As a result, these trees will shut down before other individuals of the same species. Even though a number of trees are already in the midst of their annual transformation, people should expect this year's fall colors display to be quite brilliant in most areas of the state, provided we continue to have warm days and cool nights. Those who enjoy fall foliage should expect an early change in most areas of the state, as the leaves and trees are responding to the unusually cool summer and autumn weather. For the latest information about fall colors, visit the DNR's Web site .

Jana Albers, DNR Forest Health Specialist


The fall hunting season is upon us. Do resident or non-resident hunters who possess a lifetime Minnesota hunting license need to get a license for the current year, even if their license is a lifetime license?

Every hunter who possesses a lifetime Minnesota hunting license must obtain an annual license at no cost for the current year. This rule also applies to those who have purchased lifetime angling licenses. Those planning to hunting for pheasant, turkey or waterfowl, or fish for trout, must purchase the necessary stamps. Hunters who intend to harvest migratory game birds must also get their HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification. For those planning on taking part in this year's firearms or archery deer hunting seasons, they will need to register and receive tags for this and every year, including applying for the antlerless deer permit drawings in areas where the lottery system is still used. All tags must be used in the year issued. Regular deer tags will be issued at no charge to the licensee; however, hunters will be charged for additional management or intensive harvest tags.

Karen Beckman, DNR License Center supervisor


DNR Question of the Week Archive