May 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.






Snakes can be occasionally spotted sunning themselves on driveways. Should property owner be concerned?

The most common snake in Minnesota is the common garter snake, which is harmless. The appearance of unwanted snakes is usually due to cracks or holes in concrete structures. These spaces provide warm places for the snake to spend the winter. When spring returns, the snakes reappear outside. Since snakes cannot regulate their own body temperature, they rely on their surroundings, such as rocks or concrete, to warm themselves. If the presence of these snakes is a concern for homeowners, a few simple solution is to fill the holes or cracks in the concrete; make their yards unattractive to snakes by removing yard or other debris piles and keeping shrubs and trees trimmed, and the grass mowed; and eliminate what snakes eat - mice.

- Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program



Woodpeckers can be seen occasionally mistaking the side of a house for a tree. Why is this? And, is there anything homeowners can do to keep the birds from drilling a hole in their homes?


Woodpeckers drill holes in the side of homes for several reasons. Sometimes they are after insects and larvae found in and under the home's siding. Other times woodpeckers are pecking to attract a mate, make a hole for a nesting spot or to establish a territory. There are some effective techniques for discouraging woodpeckers. Bird scare tape and bird scare balloons are two helpful products that can be purchased at stores that sell bird feed. The DNR also has a packet containing helpful tips and other information for homeowners with woodpecker problems. To obtain a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Woodpecker Packet, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

- Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program



Weedrollers have become a popular tool for eliminating unwanted vegetation along the shoreline, especially in the Brainerd Lakes area. What sort of problems do they cause for fish and water quality?


Mechanical devices, such as weedrollers, are commonly used to control aquatic vegetation in public waters and their use is regulated by the DNR through the issuing of permits. Not all sites are suitable for the operation of these devices, however. Although they can be an effective method of controlling vegetation, these machines can have a negative impact on lakes, which is an area of concern when it comes to lake management. The potentially harmful affects of the loss of aquatic plants are felt by a wide variety of species, including waterfowl, invertebrates, amphibians and fish. Specifically, weedrollers can decrease water clarity by displacing sediment and destroy fish spawning beds and nursery areas, and potentially impact recreational activities. Lakeshore owners should be aware of these tradeoffs when considering using such devices. A proper permit should be obtained before using any mechanical vegetation removal device.

- Wayne Mueller, DNR aquatic plant specialist



The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources helps sponsor an archery in the schools program. What is the program all about and how can my school get involved?


Minnesota is among the leaders in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), a physical education based program that enables schools to provide high quality archery programming right in their gymnasiums. To participate, schools need the standard archery equipment and teachers need to get trained and certified as Basic Archery Instructors. The equipment costs about $3,000, but DNR offers about 50 grants to schools every year that cuts the cost down to $1,500. The grant application can be found on the DNR website, and the next grant application deadline is Oct. 31. Most schools are getting hunting, shooting, fraternal and conservation groups in their community to donate the money for the gear.

DNR provides training sessions all over the state for teachers and parks and recreation departments for no charge. Certified instructors learn how to safely and effectively teach beginning archery, including the procedures used in archery competitions. Each spring the DNR sponsors a State Archery in the Schools Tournament, which is open to all schools participating in the NASP.

For more information, or to get involved in the program, contact Kraig Kiger at the DNR Minnesota Shooting Sports Education Center at 218-327-0583, or


Humans and fish are similar in that they rely on the senses of taste, smell, sight, hear and touch to live and cope with their surroundings. However, fish also have a sixth sense. What is it?

Although technically not a sixth sense, fish do have a motion detection system called the lateral line, which is an extension of their sense of hearing. It is comprised of a series of special cells that run along each side of the body. A hole through the scales allow vibrations to enter the cell where sensitive hairs help detect the location and direction of the source of the vibrations. This is especially important to anglers. Sound and movement of bait and lures in the water attracts attention. Once at an angler’s lure, fish will use their other five senses to determine if the bait is something that sounds like, feels like, looks like, smells like and tastes like something they might usually eat. While the lateral line helps fish find a meal, it also helps them avoid becoming one too. The lateral line also helps a school of fish swim together without bumping into each other.

- Roland Sigurdson, DNR MinnAqua Program


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