Minnesota Conservation Volunteer
In August 2003 I was fishing on a Minnesota-Ontario border lake and noticed hundreds of round, translucent discs about the size of a quarter rising to the surface. The discs had an irregular bluish central pattern and were soft, flexible, and slimy. What were they?
You likely were looking at freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii), says DNR research scientist Gary Montz. These little animals grow attached to under-water surfaces for part of their lives, then form buds that turn into the floating form, called a medusa. Freshwater jellyfish can appear in large numbers in lakes during late summer. Like ocean jellyfish, they capture their food-mainly zooplankton-with stinging -tentacles. Unlike ocean jellyfish, they cannot sting or harm you.
When do bears wake up from hibernation?
It depends on where they are. In central Minnesota, black bears emerge from their wintering dens in the last half of March. Farther north, they tend to stay holed up until early April. For more on bears, see www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/bears.
A bald eagle swooped down at me while I was hunting for the Winter Carnival medallion at Mounds Park in St. Paul last year. After I recovered my wits, I realized it was probably going after my fur-lined hat. Are such mistakes common?
The bird very well may have momentarily mistaken your hat for a meal, says DNR nongame wildlife specialist Joan Galli. Eagles have occasionally been reported to attack rabbits and even house cats. It's also possible that the bird was simply riding the wind currents created by the bluffs in the area, and was incidentally carried past you.
My family took a tour of the Amish farms by Harmony. We came to a farm with about 12 deer in a fenced-in area. When the tour guide was asked what they did with the deer, he replied that they would "can" them in the fall. Can anyone raise deer this way, or just the Amish?
Deer farming is legal in Minnesota as long as the farmers follow state laws and regulations. Minnesota currently has about 780 farms that raise deer or elk. Some raise deer for their antler velvet, which is harvested and sold for nutritional and other uses. Others produce venison for food markets. For more information contact the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942 or go to Minnesota Board of Animal Health and click on "deer and elk."
Are we allowed to raise and release baby snapping turtles, or keep a snapping turtle from hatch till old age, if we have a permit of some kind?
Nick Wooten Jr.
Minnesota law allows anyone with a resident angling license to possess a snapping turtle over 12 inches in shell length. However, you may not capture snapping turtles during May and June. Baby snappers are off limits for most of us, says DNR nongame wildlife research coordinator Rich Baker: Only people with an aquatic farm license with a turtle endorsement, or a private fish hatchery license with a turtle endorsement, may possess turtle eggs or propagate turtles.
We saw what we thought was a young loon on our dock sunning itself one morning in mid-October. It was all black, but had a loonlike head and body. It would splay its wings out and hold that position for a long time. Was it a loon? What was it doing?
DNR wildlife educator Jan Welsh suspects you were viewing a double-crested cormorant. Cormorants often hold their wings out, most likely to dry their feathers. Folks often mistake them for loons in the water since they have a similar profile and low swimming posture.
We live on a small lake in northeastern Minnesota. Last summer we observed an osprey flying low over the lake. About every 100 yards it would drag its feet in the water. What was it doing?
This common behavior is called foot washing, says Mark Martell, Audubon Minnesota's director of bird conservation. Martell says it probably provides the birds a way to clean off sticky fish scales and guts after a meal. It may also help them keep cool on hot summer days.
A friend of mine from Oklee tells me a sow bear has been seen there with four cubs. Do bears have quadruplets, or has she adopted some other bear's cubs?
Thief River Falls
It could be quadruplets. About 90 percent of bear litters consist of two or three cubs, says DNR bear project leader Dave Garshelis. But up to 5 percent of births involve quadruplets. Less than one in 100 litters will be quintuplets, Garshelis says. The remainder are single cubs, often produced by first-time mothers.