August 2008

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.






There has been a lot of news coverage recently about water birds and Newcastle disease. Will this disease affect songbirds?

No. There have been no documented cases of virulent Newcastle Disease in songbirds.  This does not rule out the possibility that some individual songbirds may die, but it is highly unlikely that it would impact them on a population level.  To the best of my knowledge, virulent Newcastle has only been documented in wild double-crested cormorants, American white pelicans, and ring-billed gulls to date.

- Erika Butler, DVM, wildlife veterinarian, MNDNR Division of Wildlife


In order to legally hunt any migratory game bird, which now includes mourning doves, hunters must be certified for the Harvest Information Program (HIP). What is the purpose of this?

HIP certification is a requirement for migratory bird hunters and a tool the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) uses in every state to monitor the number of migratory bird hunters and the number and kind of migratory birds harvested each fall. The certification process simply identifies hunters of different migratory bird species so that the USFWS can select a sample of these hunters to participate in the actual harvest survey. These hunters are then asked to provide more detailed information on their hunting activities.

USFWS uses this information is used to develop more reliable harvest estimates for all migratory birds. This information is important for establishing future hunting seasons, which helps protect our hunting heritage. Hunters can receive their certification by answering “yes” to the question asking if they intend to hunt migratory birds (including ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, snipe and rails) when buying their hunting license. Hunters who have already purchased a license that does not say “HIP Certified” must register for the program before hunting any migratory birds. Certification is free and is available at all of Minnesota’s more than 1,800 electronic licensing agents.

- Steve Cordts, DNR Waterfowl specialist


The DNR offers a variety of youth hunts from ducks and deer in the fall to turkeys in the spring. Who is eligible to take part in these special hunts and how do they sign up?

The State Legislature authorized the DNR to conduct special youth-only hunts in 1997. The primary goal of these special hunts is to provide safe, high quality, introductory hunting experiences for youth. During all special hunts a non-hunting, adult parent or guardian must accompany the youth. Annually we conduct special youth hunts for deer, turkeys and pheasants. The hunts are for youth ages 12-17 years and require participants to have successfully completed Firearms Safety Training.

In addition to special youth hunts, we host a series of events designed to raise awareness of the need to get youth afield and reduce the barriers to doing so. They include: Take a Kid Hunting Weekend, Youth Waterfowl Day, and Future Pheasant Hunters Weekend.

A final opportunity is the Northwest Minnesota special antlerless deer season. This season takes place in late October and encompasses Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington and Roseau counties. This hunt is for youth ages 12-14. A non-hunting adult parent or guardian must accompany the youth hunter.

Additional information about special youth hunt regulations and license requirements as well as dates and locations can be found on the DNR Web site at

- Jay Johnson, DNR Hunter Recruitment and Retention Program coordinator


We see a lot of turtles crossing roads. Why? Is there anything we can do to help them cross safely?


The turtles we see crossing roads are typically painted and snapping turtles. Both species spend most of their time in lakes, ponds and wetlands, but lay their eggs in nests dug in dry, sandy and warm soils. Since many roads are built skirting water bodies, our roads often separate a turtle's home from its nesting area. If the turtle can find the right type of soil near their home water body, they’ll use it. However, they may often travel great distances to find a suitable nesting spot. And so, a turtle may have to cross the road to get to the other side to lay its eggs. If you see a turtle crossing the road, you can help it cross safely. Be careful and watch for traffic. Pick up the turtle by the back of its shell - never pick up a turtle by its tail. Move the turtle in the direction it is heading.

The painted and snapping turtles laid their clutches of eggs in June. If the eggs survive predation, they are expected to hatch in late August, which means there’ll be even more turtles - quarter-sized hatchlings - crossing the road again, trying to get home.

- Richard Baker, DNR zoologist



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