For over 40 years, the Nongame Wildlife Program has worked to protect and conserve Minnesota’s wildlife. And 2020 was no exception! Although our field season faced unique challenges, our specialists were still able to conduct surveys and monitoring. We were also able to start new projects, finish conservation plans, and advance our outreach and education projects.
Some highlights of our work in 2020 include:
Helping Species in Greatest Conservation Need
- Common terns aren’t actually that common in Minnesota, so it was important for us to lend our help to the habitat restoration work on Interstate Island WMA. Multiple partners came together to raise the island and create more land for the terns’ nesting sites.
- We’ve been monitoring piping plovers on Pine and Curry Island SNA on Lake of the Woods for several years. We’ve installed fencing and posted signage to protect critical nesting areas. In 2020, a piping plover pair successfully nested and fledged three chicks. This hasn’t happened since 2012!
- We found two new northern goshawk nesting territories. We monitor northern goshawk nesting territories every summer to see if they are still active and if there are any new nests.
Conducting scientific research
- We tested new technology to evaluate the impacts of flood events on wood turtles in southeastern Minnesota. We used iButtons and HOBO loggers to detect nest saturation and track turtle behavior. Both gave good results, so we plan to test them further in 2021.
- Additional funding was provided to the Center for Aquatic Mollusk Programs (CAMP). CAMP is re-building populations of threatened and endangered native mussel species. About 10 different species of mussels are being propagated at the CAMP lab and in 2020 the lab "gave birth" to nearly 14,000 federally endangered baby snuffbox mussels.
- We used DNA analysis of molted northern goshawk feathers to identify the individual bird it came from. This new way of identifying and tracking goshawks holds a lot of promise for our nest monitoring. We hope to analyze a hundred more feather samples in 2021.
- Tallgrass prairies are home to more Species of Greatest Conservation Need than any other habitat in Minnesota. Since 2008, we’ve been monitoring tallgrass prairie sites to evaluate the effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change on Minnesota’s native prairie plant and bird communities. These efforts are giving us crucial data into the decline of grassland birds and changes to prairie plants. In 2020, we did the preliminary work to add bee and butterfly monitoring to the long term project.
Increasing our outreach
- We created new promotional stickers for the program. Let us know if you’d like to receive one!
- We revamped our website and created new webpages about wildlife education and our program’s history.
- We increased our social media outreach by telling more stories about the program and the wildlife we help.
- We started laying the groundwork for our upcoming Community Science Program. More to come in 2021!
- We also started writing letters to our donors. Didn’t get a letter? Send us your information to learn all the latest about our program.
We couldn’t have done it all without your help! We rely on donations to fund much of our work. And your gift is matched! Every $20 you donate becomes $40 we can use to continue protecting and preserving Minnesota’s diverse wildlife.