Projects

Collage of nongame wildlife program staff working with wildlife

For over 40 years, the Nongame Wildlife Program has worked to protect and preserve Minnesota’s wildlife. We’ve already successfully restored many wildlife populations, but our work isn’t done! There are still many species that need our help and our past efforts have shown that we can make a difference.

Current Projects

american kestrel chickTrends have shown a decline in American kestrel populations, so we’re working with several partners at the Army National Guard site at Arden Hills to band kestrel fledglings. We’re monitoring their movements and getting more information about the annual life cycle of kestrels. We’re hoping this data will help us find potential causes for their recent decline.

 

 

regal fritillaryWe’re restoring and diversifying native prairies as part of our implementation of the Wildlife Action Plan. One of our focuses is providing high-diversity, native wildflower habitats for prairie pollinators. If we can increase the distribution and abundance of prairie wildflowers, we should see an increase in prairie pollinators like the regal fritillary. We’re monitoring restored sites for butterflies and bumble bees to see how pollinators are responding to our efforts.

 

gray and yellow birdTallgrass 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. We’ve also been partnering with the Grassland Management Team to reduce invasive species and improve prairie habitats. These efforts are giving us crucial data into the decline of grassland birds and changes to prairie plants.

 

Statewide Projects

 

Regional Projects

map of DNR regions in Minnesota

Northwest

Northwest Region staff are monitoring rare species such as the red-shouldered hawk, northern goshawk, Blanding’s turtle and Richardson’s ground squirrel. We are monitoring piping plover and common tern populations. We’re also involved in monitoring more common nongame species such as the common loon and trumpeter swan. Staff are conducting surveys for the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee and assisting with other pollinator survey efforts.

Northeast

Staff in the Northeast Region are hard at work studying rare species like the northern goshawk, four-toed salamander, red-shouldered hawk and Blanding's turtle. We’re restoring habitat of threatened species like the common tern and wood turtle, as well as protecting their nests from predators. We are also monitoring common loons.

Central

In the Central Region, staff are conducting surveys on many wildlife species, including timber rattlesnakes, cricket frogs, and wood turtles. We’re working to restore and maintain peregrine falcon and karner blue butterfly populations. This region is also where the eagle nest in our EagleCam is located!

South

Protecting and restoring prairie landscapes and its wildlife through diverse partnerships is vital to the South Region. Monitoring and adaptive management are part of our collective conservation efforts under the MN Wildlife Action Plan. For example, we’re monitoring grassland birds and pollinators (bumble bees and butterflies) to help assess effectiveness of prairie restorations in collaboration with land managers. We also survey for Richardson’s ground squirrels, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, lined snakes, and other Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCNs). We partnered with the Minnesota Biological Survey and others for the Minnesota River Reptile Project targeting gophersnakes (bullsnakes) and common five-lined skinks. We’ve completed field work and are translating our data into technical guidance for conservation. Our many years of experience with Blanding’s turtles and other SGCNs helps to maintain and restore their populations and the habitats they need to survive and thrive.