March 2013

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.


Q: When does the snowmobiling season end for riding on state grant-in-aid trails?

A: Late season snowmobilers need to be aware of changing conditions, including bare spots, flowing water and exposed rocks. Some gates may be closed on grant-in-aid trails. As the temperatures rise, riding conditions are likely to deteriorate. The DNR advises checking conditions before hitting the trails.
The statewide snow depth map and state trail conditions are updated by 2 p.m. every Thursday at

For the most up-to-date trail conditions, contact the local trail administrator. Contact information can be found online at ( or by calling the DNR Information Center, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

The grant-in-aid trails are maintained by thousands of local snowmobile club volunteers who work throughout the year to ensure that trail corridors are maintained, permission for trail routes secured, signs installed, and trails groomed.

-Andrew Korsberg, DNR trail program coordinator



Q: Last night I heard and saw what I believe was a flock of cranes. It was a dark night, with bright stars shining, but only a little moonlight. Is it common for cranes to migrate at night?

A: Sandhill cranes normally migrate during the day, but in some circumstances they have been observed migrating after dark, especially if there is a bright starlit or moonlit night sky.

A Florida field naturalist reported migratory sandhill cranes flying overhead at 10:30 p.m. and another two flocks flying overhead at 3 a.m. on the same night near Gainesville, Fla. on Nov. 25-26, 1984.

Sandhill cranes from eastern Minnesota winter in Florida and would be migrating to Florida in November.

-Carrol Henderson, Nongame wildlife program supervisor



Q: Spring flooding season is fast approaching. How does the DNR monitor water levels in streams and rivers around the state?

A: The DNR operates more than 80 near real-time telemetry stream gages across the state that provide critical stream flow and level data to communities and agencies before and during floods. Field crews are out all year maintaining these stations and more than 100 other stream gages, insuring the information will be available when needed.
The DNR maintains close contact with the National Weather Service and other agencies, coordinating and providing information not only during floods but during drought conditions as well.

-Greg Kruse, DNR water monitoring and surveys unit supervisor


Q: I understand that two peregrine falcons have returned to a nest box on top of the Bremer Bank Building in St. Paul. Is this the same pair that was there last year?

A: The female is the same as last year, but unfortunately biologists have not seen the male, Sota, who was fledged 18 years ago from a nest near the Minnesota River. We suspect Sota died over the winter. He and his partner, Jill, had spent nine years raising young together. Jill is 10 years old and was fledged from a box at the high bridge in St. Paul. This will be her 10th year at this box. She and Sota raised 28 chicks together. A new male started coming around and Jill has laid three eggs. Biologists have not been able to identify the male yet.
A live camera inside the nest box was paid for by donations to the nongame checkoff. Now the public can watch them lay their eggs and raise their young in real-time.

Watch them live.

-Lori Naumann, information officer, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program


DNR Question of the Week Archive