September 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 fall firearms deer season is fast approaching. Although it is illegal for hunters to shoot and kill any wild animal from a motor vehicle, there are some exemptions for persons with disabilities. What are they?

Certain disabled persons may obtain a permit to hunt from a stationary motor vehicle, including a truck, car or all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The permit may only be issued to a person who obtains the appropriate hunting licenses and has a permanent physical disability that makes them unable to get out of a vehicle without the aid of crutches, wheelchair or similar device. Disabled persons who require oxygen to walk any distance may also be eligible for this permit. In order to obtain the permit, which is available at DNR regional offices and on DNR's Web site, a physician must verify the disability in writing. There are also many people with very real, very limiting physical disabilities who not qualify for that permit. In those circumstances, local conservation officers may issue a special permit for hunters to operate motor vehicles any time during the firearms deer hunting hours. This permit is available to hunters who, due to health, medical or other reasons, cannot stay outside for extended periods of time. It would not, however, allow the hunter to shoot from the motor vehicle or to operate the vehicle where the vehicles are otherwise prohibited.

- Pat Watts, DNR Division of Enforcement


The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive insect that is destroying ash trees in states to the east of Minnesota. What can people look for in their own ash trees, as early signs the bug is here?

Before you see the beetles, you're going to see symptoms of dying ash trees. The first thing to look for is die-back in the crown. That means at the top of the tree you will see yellowing, you will see leaf loss and this will occur year after year with more and more dying each year. Once the tree starts to die, it will send up these shoots from the base or maybe from just an unusual spot on the tree, they're called epicormic sprouts, and this is sort of the trees last attempt to send out shoots and stay alive and grow as its dying. When the infestation gets bad you will be able to see, upon close inspection, very tiny 'D' shaped exit holes, and this is where the beetle comes out of the tree. It's shaped like a capital 'D' because the beetle is flat on top and rounded below. If a homeowner thinks that he or she has seen an emerald ash borer, its best to call the Department of Agriculture, they have an 'Arrest the Pest' hotline at (651) 296-6684, or 1-888-545-6684.

- Val Cervenka, DNR forest entomologist


How does Minnesota decide the date for the waterfowl opener, season length and bag limit?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with input from the States and Flyway councils, decides the annual waterfowl hunting frameworks, which include the earliest opening and latest closing dates, maximum season length, and duck bag limits. These are established based on the continental status of mallards, habitat conditions and a model-based process called Adaptive Harvest Management. For the regular duck season, these guidelines are the same for all states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota. States always have the option to be more restrictive than the Federal frameworks.

In 2005, the State Legislature mandated that the duck season in Minnesota open no earlier than the Saturday nearest Oct. 1, one week later that permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The DNR is allowing a six-duck bag limit this year after implementing a state imposed four-duck bag limit the past two years.

For 2007, the DNR continues to maintain a one hen mallard/day limit, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would allow two. Bag limits for some species (wood ducks, pintails, canvasbacks, etc.) are established based on their continental population status and expected harvest.

The DNR also considers the status of Minnesota’s breeding duck populations and hunter preferences before establishing seasons each year.

- Linda Radimecky, Fort Snelling State Park naturalist


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, its just you can't see them because of the green chlorophyll in the leaves. As our days get shorter and the temperatures cool down, trees cease green chlorophyll production causing the reds to form, 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 red 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 DNRs Web site,

- Linda Radimecky, Fort Snelling State Park naturalist