July 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.






The Minnesota State Fair is Aug. 23 to Sept. 3 in St. Paul. Is the DNR is offering any new activities at their exhibit for kids interested in fishing?

Yes! In addition to the live fish displays, lakes data booth and the popular Wheel-of Fish, MinnAqua and Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) will be offering additional fishing activities at the Minnesota State Fair. This is one more way the DNR introduces kids to fishing. Research shows that the earlier kids get hooked on fishing, the more likely they will become life-long anglers.

Sunday, Aug. 26, is Take a Kid Fishing Day. Both kids and adults can practice knot tying, identify Minnesota fish, talk with a conservation officer, and learn how to fillet a fish. Fly fishing activities will also be available throughout the day on the DNR stage.

Monday, Aug. 27, is Take a Kid Ice Fishing Day in celebration of the winter weekend when Minnesota residents ice fish for free with kids up to age 16. Fairgoers can learn about ice fishing equipment, ice safety and fish identification. The DNR stage will also have presentations on muskie fishing throughout the day.

Activity stations will be open from noon until 3 p.m. on DNR grounds both Sunday and Monday.

- Katie Kipka, DNR MinnAqua coordinator


Fall is approaching, which means birds will begin their annual trek to warmer climates for the winter. When will the fall migration get underway?

Ironically, as temperatures just start heating up in Minnesota some shorebirds begin preparing for their fall voyage. Sandpipers actually start their migration during the first week in July because of their lengthy trip to Argentina and Chile. People should also start looking for hummingbirds to begin their migration to Mexico and Costa Rica, so now would be a good time to fill up their feeders. During mid-September, Hawk Ridge in Duluth will be a busy place when raptors, such as hawks, eagles and owls, begin moving through on their way to their wintering sites. So fall is a fabulous time to bird watch because these and other species may be easier to spot. For more information on fall migrations, check out the DNR's Web site at mndnr.gov and the Traveler's Guide to Wildlife in Minnesota which is available from Minnesota's Bookstore in St. Paul at 651-297-3000 (www.minnesotasbookstore.com)

- Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Program supervisor


Technology has improved hunting and fishing. But some pieces of equipment, such as cell phones and two-way radios, can become illegal if misused. What is the state law on the use of such communications devices?

In addition to their blaze orange clothing, guns and other hunting gear, hunters are increasingly becoming technologically savvy. This includes the use of cellular phones and two-way radios. These devices can save lives, help find lost hunters and even allow hunters to chat with their spouses as they sit around a campfire at night. But, just because they're readily available doesn't mean they are necessarily legal for hunting or fishing in Minnesota, or any other state. According to Minnesota hunting regulations, it is illegal to use radio communications to aid in the taking of game. For example, hunters cannot communicate the locations of wild game or use the devices while driving animals to other hunters. Conservation officers do encounter hunters using some form of radio communications to assist others in the taking of game animals. Misuse of cell phones, two-way radios and other communications devices can land hunters on the stand in a courtroom. Additional information about the use of radios while hunting can be found under general hunting information in the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

- Rich Sprouse, DNR Division of Enforcement information officer


Boat anchors do a good job of keeping boats in place, but they can also cause damage to the aquatic vegetation in a lake or river. Is there any one style that causes little or no damage?

What a person does with a boat anchor - placement and retrieval - has more influence on the amount of damage it might do than the style of the anchor. For example, lower the anchor when your boat has stopped moving, this will keep it from dragging through vegetation. When you are moving your boat to a new location, even a short distance, be sure to lift the anchor off the bottom. It is illegal to drag an anchor while under power. On windy days, when it is difficult to remain anchored in place, only use the anchor in sheltered areas where the anchor will hold your position. It is particularly important to clean the anchor of vegetation and soils before you leave the lake so that you do not inadvertently transport invasive species from one lake to another.

- Steve Enger, DNR Aquatic Plant Management Program coordinator


As we head into July, are there still drought conditions in Minnesota?

As of the third week in June, the U.S. Drought Monitor (http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html) placed portions of north central and northeastern Minnesota in the "Moderate Drought" category. This categorization is the result of lingering moisture deficits established during the very dry 2006 growing season and a snow-sparse winter. Fortunately, conditions throughout northern Minnesota have improved greatly from the "extreme drought" situation that existed only a few months ago. Thanks to above-average precipitation during the late winter and spring: lake levels, stream flows, soil moisture content, and wildfire danger conditions have all shown marked improvement.
Other areas of Minnesota are drifting in a different direction. Much of central and eastern Minnesota (including the metropolitan area) is described as being "abnormally dry". In these counties, below-average rainfall in May and June has combined with very warm June temperatures to create deficits in topsoil moisture and lower-than-average levels in surface water systems.

- Greg Spoden, climatologist, DNR Division of Waters