January 2004





I recently received my boat license renewal form. In addition to the usual fees, I noticed there is a $5 exotic species surcharge, what is this for?

The $5 surcharge on watercraft licenses, which is paid once every three years, is the primary source of funding for DNR efforts to curb the spread and reduce the harm caused by of aquatic exotic species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, and invasive carp. A state statue allows the DNR Exotic Species Program to use the surcharge for many activities including control, public awareness, law enforcement, monitoring, and research of nuisance aquatic exotic species.
Jay Rendall, DNR Exotic Species Program Coordinator


The DNR has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for nearly 30 years to relocate wild turkeys into new parts of Minnesota. What is the survival rate in the northern regions, and is the wild turkey range still expanding?

Although the DNR had successfully introduced turkeys into Minnesota in the early 1970s, the trap and transplant program really took off in 1976 with the support of NWTF; and so far, more than 4,000 birds have been relocated throughout Minnesota. Today, the population, which is estimated at 50,000 turkeys, stretches into areas we never thought possible, and it continues to grow through these efforts and natural reproduction. Turkeys can now be seen as far north as Becker and Mahnomen Counties. The DNR and the Biology Department at St. Cloud State University are currently involved in a survival study of radio-marked turkeys released in the northern edge of the turkey range near Mille Lacs Lake. Early results indicate that over-winter survival rates during relatively easy winters in 2002 and 2003 was much lower than for turkeys further south. However, the presence of agriculture, with some waste grain or corn left standing through the winter, greatly enhanced turkey survival in this same area.
Dick Kimmel, DNR Wildlife Research Group Leader


Now is the time of year when Minnesota residents can contribute to the DNR's Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund. What is this money used for and how does it help wildlife?

Donations made to this fund are used by the DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program for a number of comprehensive statewide efforts to help protect and manage the state's "nongame" wildlife species, which includes over 700 kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and selected invertebrates that are not traditionally hunted or harvested. This also includes conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species. Specifically, the species that have benefited from these efforts are bald eagles, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, eastern bluebirds, Blanding's turtles, bats, timber rattlesnakes, great blue herons and other colonial water birds like egrets and grebes. The money raised also helps purchase land and easements to protect habitat, manage prairies, forests and wetlands, create buffer zones along lakeshores, assist to private landowners and local governments with habitat management, and fund educational programs. Contributions to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund can be made on your 2004 Minnesota tax form.
Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program Supervisor


Minnesota has gone through unusually dry winters and even drier summers in recent years. What sort of impacts does this apparent climate change have on the state's forests?

A shift in climate will alter Minnesota's forests, which, over time, may change their composition and how they're managed. For instance, a warmer, drier climate will favor tree and plant species that can tolerate heat and drought conditions, such as those that currently grow in southern and western states. New species will migrate northward and replace native plant communities. As a result, a warmer climate will favor the expansion hardwood forests rather than the coniferous forests we're accustomed to seeing. Along with the new species come their disease and insect problems as well. Those changes will have adverse impacts on Minnesota's forest industry and wildlife habitat, which could ultimately affect the state's economy. That's the long-term perspective; in the short term, Minnesota could see a higher frequency in wildfires and increase in insect and disease outbreaks.
Ken Holman, DNR Community Forestry Coordinator & Alaina Berger, DNR Ecological Land Classification Specialist