April 2007

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.






Spring is the time when wildlife babies are born. What should people do, if anything, if they find what appears to be an abandoned wildlife baby, or a baby bird that feel out of its nest?

The arrival of spring also means the arrival of newborns and just-hatched wildlife. These youngsters soon venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings. All too often, well-meaning people pick up animals, particularly white-tailed deer fawns and young birds, believing that these animals have been orphaned or abandoned and need to be saved. This is almost never the case because the parents are usually waiting nearby. In fact, a would-be rescuer is causing more harm than good to the young animal. Those early unsteady steps and flights are part of normal development, helping the young learn how to care for themselves. So, it’s important for people to remember that wild animals belong in the wild.

- Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


National Volunteer Week is April 15-21. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a lot of volunteer opportunities for the public. How much of an impact do volunteers have on DNR activities and our natural resources?

Almost 31,000 volunteers assist the DNR annually with a variety of natural resource projects. Last year, these volunteers donated approximately 422,000 hours. This would be the equivalent of hiring an additional 202 full-time staff to clean rivers, conduct wildlife surveys, teach firearms safety, plant trees, restore stream habitat, enter data and serve as campground hosts. As a result, the time and effort spent by those volunteers to help manage and preserve Minnesota’s natural resources had a value of about $7.6 million. To learn more about volunteering opportunities, check out the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/index.html, or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) to find the nearest DNR location. Opportunities change on a seasonal basis.

-Renee Vail, Administrator, DNR Volunteer Program


As the snow melts in the spring, and during lengthy periods without rainfall, the DNR issues fire restrictions. Is there a difference between a restriction and burning ban?

Burning restrictions involve the issuing of burning permits. Burning permits are required for running fires, such as a grassy ditch or field, or piled vegetative debris. When restrictions are in place, permits are only issued for management or prescribed burns, or special burns such as construction companies burning trees and brush cleared from roads. Burning bans, which are issued by the DNR commissioner, prohibit other types of fires. For example, bans may disallow campfires completely or restrict them certain hours of the day. They may also restrict any fire outdoors, including smoking and barbeque grills. Bans are only imposed when extreme fire conditions have existed for a long period of time.

- Jean Bergerson, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center information officer


Safety is always a concern when out on the water fishing or just enjoying one of Minnesota's thousands of lakes and rivers. With the 2007 fishing opener only a few weeks away, what do people need to remember about early season boating?

When getting ready for opener, many people give more thought to what kind of sandwiches they should pack for lunch than they do about boating safety. It is important for people to remember that early in the season, although the air temperature may be 70 degrees, most of the bodies of water are still in the low 40s. Even the strongest swimmer is not immune to cold water shock and the torso reflex, the automatic gasp that occurs when people fall into cold water. If their mouth is underwater when this gasp occurs, they will breathe in water and drown if they aren't wearing a life vest.
Make sure navigation lights are all in proper working order, and be sure use them between sunset and sunrise. Also, be sure the boat registration decal is current and check air pressure on trailer tires, pack a spare and make sure the axle bearings are freshly greased. Finally, it is a good idea to leave the alcohol at home. Many of the boating accidents that result in injury, or worse, are the result of intoxicated boaters.

- Tim Smalley, DNR Boat & Water Safety specialist


DNR Question of the Week Archive