February 2011

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.





How are Minnesota’s pheasants faring with all the snow and below-zero temperatures we’ve had this winter?

Although we survey pheasant populations only once per year in August, we know from past experience that winter mortality is greater during winters with persistent deep snow. Most of Minnesota’s pheasant range has been buried under deep snow since early December. If these conditions persist, we can expect below-average survival of hens this winter. Conditions appear worse in southern Minnesota where heavy September rains flooded cattail marshes, an important winter cover for pheasants and other resident wildlife.

- Kurt Haroldson, DNR wildlife research biologist


Not every bird species migrates from Minnesota to warmer climates down south before winter sets in; some stay behind. Is there anything that can be done to help these brave birds survive winter?

An easy plan for winter bird feeding is to provide three main choices of food: large seeds, small seeds and suet. Black-oil sunflower seeds and cardinal mixes have the greatest appeal to the broadest variety of winter birds and contain a high-energy content.

Water is a critical ingredient of a winter-feeding program. There are excellent birdbaths with heating elements and thermostats available from bird feeding supply stores. The heated water is primarily for drinking. Don't worry about birds freezing if they bathe on a cold winter day because native song birds seem smart enough not to bathe when the wind chill is 40 below.

For more information on winter bird feeding, check out the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/birdfeeding/winter/index.html

- Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor


The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program uses money raised from the sale of the critical habitat license plates to protect and restore habitat for fish and wildlife. What sort of an impact has this program made in Minnesota?

The Reinvest in Minnesota Matching Program was established in 1986 by a recommendation from the Citizen's Commission to Promote Hunting and Fishing in Minnesota. Since that time, the Critical Habitat Conservation License Plates have generated more than $34 million, and the Minnesota Legislature has appropriated another $33 million for acquisition and enhancement of critical habitat. These funds have matched private donations of land and cash totaling more than $73 million.

The money has helped restore wetlands, improve forest habitat, plant critical winter cover, preserve habitat for rare native plant and animal species, and protect reproduction areas for fish and wildlife. The program has also created public places for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and other outdoor activities. With the help of Minnesotans and other conservation-minded people, the RIM Matching Program has been able to acquire and protect more than 107,000 acres of land.

- Mike Halverson, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division land acquisition coordinator


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