October 2003





With an extremely high deer population across Minnesota, deer browsing could become an even bigger problem this fall, especially with regard to white pine. What options are there to protect white pine and other trees from deer?

There are two effective methods for reducing deer damage by browsing. The first is bud capping. Covering these parts will prevent deer from eating the buds and the newest, most tender shoots of the tree. To accomplish this, fold over and staple a small, square piece of paper around the terminal leader and bud to form a cap. Be sure to not staple through the stem of the tree. The second method is spraying trees with a deer repellant. Repellants have a disagreeable odor or taste, prompting deer to stay away from the treated vegetation. Check with a nursery or landscape store for repellants. These techniques work for most tree seedlings. You'll have to protect the trees until the buds are above the reach of deer, which may take five to six years.
Rick Klevorn, DNR Forest Development and Tree Improvement Program leader


Hunters and anglers are now required to provide their social security numbers before any type of license can be sold to them. Why and what happens if they refuse?

Minnesota lawmakers passed legislation in 2003 requiring the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to collect social security numbers (SSN) before hunting or fishing licenses can be issued. This is part of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act the federal government created to assist states with the enforcement of child support programs. Hunters and anglers of all ages must either have their SSN on file with the DNR or provide it at the time of purchase. Those who refuse will be denied a license. However, hunters and anglers will only need to provide their SSN number once. Hunting and fishing licenses can be purchased at more than 1800 locations throughout Minnesota. For more information on the types of licenses available, or providing social security numbers, check out the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Tom Keefe, DNR ELS Coordinator


Why do trees change color in the fall and what determines if we have a good display on a given year?

Those magnificent colors you see in the fall are actually there all summer, it's just you can't see them because of the chlorophyll in the leaves. As our days get shorter and the temperatures cool down, trees cease chlorophyll production causing the reds, oranges and yellows to show. Any sugars trapped in the leaf will react with each other in the presence of sunlight - thus the more sun, the more brilliant the colors. The best weather conditions are the same ones we enjoy in the fall - bright, cool days and chilly but not freezing nights. The slightest change - too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry - can slow the process, or cause trees to lose their leaves before they change color. Minnesota is fortunate to have many excellent places to view the changing season - from the northern hardwood forests along the North Shore to the prairie regions of the state. To get the latest information on when and where the fall colors are expected to be at their peak, check out the DNR's website, www.dnr.state.mn.us.
Linda Radimecky, Fort Snelling State Park Naturalist


Minnesota's Ring-neck Pheasant population is up again this year. What has contributed to the population boom, and will that translate into higher success rates for pheasant hunters this fall?

Mild winters and warm, dry spring weather during the nesting season have contributed to a larger pheasant population. However, population levels are also very much a function of habitat. A strong interest by landowners in habitat-conservation programs continues to maintain and increase undisturbed grasslands, which is essential for nesting and brood rearing. The Southwest and South-Central regions had the highest pheasant counts, and numbers are up across most of Minnesota's pheasant range. This is excellent news for hunters. With a bigger population, hunter success rate should increase. The total number of pheasants harvested this year is expected to approach 500,000 birds, which has not occurred since 1991. The 2003 pheasant-hunting season runs October 11 through December 14. For more information about Minnesota's pheasant population, visit the DNR's Web site www.dnr.state.mn.us.
John Giudice, DNR Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, Madelia