2022 was another busy year for the program! Our specialist spent the field season surveying wildlife, monitoring prairies, setting up Motus towers, and more. Our office staff developed a new e-newsletter and we hired new staff to help us continue our work protecting and conserving Minnesota’s wildlife.
Helped Species in Greatest Conservation Need
- In northern Minnesota, we surveyed and monitored Dakota skipper butterflies, common terns, four-toed salamanders, phlox moths, and Northern goshawks
- In central Minnesota, we surveyed for Blanchard’s cricket frogs. And you can help! Head over to our Blanchard’s Cricket Frog Call Survey webpage for more information.
- We made more progress on our wood turtle project. In 2022 we collaborated with the University of Minnesota and had a grad student helping us with our work! We surveyed nesting sites to get information on population trends, removed encroaching vegetation to make nests more flood resistant, installed temporary road barriers to reduce road mortality, and more.
- We repeated a 2015 pilot survey of trumpeter swans in northeastern Minnesota to see how their population numbers and nesting sites had changed. We observed 687 swans in 146 different nests, an increase from 2015!
Spent time in the field
- For the past three years, staff in southern Minnesota have been monitoring prairies for bumble bees and butterflies, and 2022 was no exception! We want to see how pollinators are responding to reconstructed prairies on state lands. Native prairie once covered much of Minnesota, but today less than 2% remains. Reconstruction and restoration efforts will take time, and these surveys help us understand what methods are more effective.
- We continued work on the Minnesota Loon Restoration Project. Our goal with this project is to reduce loon mortality and increase fledgling success of loons in Minnesota. Our staff conducted lake surveys and monitored loon productivity.
- Our staff also conducted early-season bird surveys in southeast Minnesota. These kinds of surveys are typically done during the breeding season (usually in June for songbirds), but in 2022 we started them in May to study how migrating birds use important stopover habitats. We were able to identify many species that were making their way north.
- We’re continuing to band chicks at the Arden Hills Army Training Site and have learned that American kestrels have low nest site fidelity, meaning they may return to the same nesting area, but not necessarily the same nest site. (This project was partially funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.)
- 2022 was our 15th year running a point count survey of grassland birds! We run these surveys as part of our adaptive management monitoring approach. We observed 177 bird species between the 12 observers. There were over 52,000 bird records, 1,700 hours spent in the field, and about 1,250 miles walked.
Developed the program
- We started several new outreach initiatives to connect with our donors and supporters, especially those who donate with the nongame tax checkoff! We don’t receive any contact information from those donors, so we can’t properly thank you. If you donated when you filed your taxes, please let us know!
- We also started our Let’s Get Wild! e-newsletter. It’s full of great information about wildlife, fun activity ideas, and more! Sign up and keep an eye on your inbox for future issues.
- We hired a few more staff members, including a Wildlife Action Plan Biometrician, a Conservation Focus Area Coordinator, and a Nongame Wildlife Specialist.
- We conducted several social science research surveys with Virginia Tech to learn more about our supporters and wildlife enthusiasts in Minnesota
- We also developed some community science projects. We’ll have some great volunteer opportunities starting this spring!
Finally, we want to thank YOU. Whether you donated, volunteered, shared our messaging, or were a silent supporter, we couldn’t have done this work without you. Thank you!