FROM THE DNR: Bison to be reintroduced?

DNR proposes reintroducing bison to Minneopa State Park 
Pelicans on annual spring migration to Minnesota
DNR question of the week: National Volunteer Week 

DNR proposes reintroducing bison to Minneopa State Park 
Open house set for April 22 at Blue Earth County Public Library, Mankato

The Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division is proposing to reintroduce bison to Minneopa State Park, near Mankato, and is seeking public comments on a draft management plan amendment for the park.

The amendment describes the impacts and opportunities created by the reintroduction of bison for resource management, interpretive services, recreation and visitor services at the park. Citizens can ask questions or submit comments until Monday, May 5.

As part of the public review, DNR staff will hold an open house at the Blue Earth County Public Library, 100 E. Main St., Mankato, on Tuesday, April 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., for anyone interested in providing comments about the draft management plan amendment.

The draft management plan amendment is available for review at

Copies of the plan will also be available to review at the DNR regional headquarters in New Ulm (at 261 Hwy. 15 S.), and at the office at Minneopa State Park, 5 miles west of Mankato off U.S. Highway 169 in Blue Earth County (at 54497 Gadwall Road.).

Minneopa State Park, established in 1905, contains southern Minnesota’s largest waterfall and the remains of the historic Seppmann Mill.  The park encompasses 2,691 acres of which 1,653 are owned and managed by the DNR.  Park facilities include a campground, group camps, picnic areas, a visitor center, and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing.

Those unable to review and comment on the draft amendment at the open house can submit comments via phone or email to Jade Templin at 651-259-5598 or


Pelicans on annual spring migration to Minnesota

Flocks of giant white birds are catching the eyes of outdoor enthusiasts across Minnesota, as once-rare American white pelicans migrate north to their nesting grounds across the state, the Department of Natural Resources said.

American white pelicans are among the world’s largest birds and are easily recognized in flight. Wingspans up to 9 feet, bright white plumage with black-edged wings and large, orange bills distinguish them from any other species.

“Pelicans often fly in evenly spaced lines or V formations,” said Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, regional nongame wildlife specialist. “Unlike swans or geese which fly with necks outstretched, pelicans fly with their necks doubled back against their shoulders. They often set up a rhythmic pattern of wing beats that ripple from the lead bird back to the end.”

American white pelicans were driven to near extinction in the early 20th century from human pressures, according to the DNR. There were no reports of nesting pelicans in Minnesota for 90 years, from 1878 until 1968.

Conservation efforts and federal regulations have helped pelican populations make a slow and steady comeback. “The prairie pothole region of western Minnesota hosts 22 percent of the global population of this species,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. An estimated 22,000 pairs of pelicans nest at 16 sites on seven lakes across the state.

American white pelicans leave Minnesota each fall as lakes and rivers freeze. They winter along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Mexico and typically return to Minnesota in early spring, as lakes and rivers thaw.

They are highly social and live in large, dense colonies. They feed exclusively on small fish and crustaceans and will work together for a meal.

“A group of pelicans will swim in a semicircle to herd their prey into shallow water,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. “Then they’ll scoop up fish and water in their beak pouch, drain out the water and swallow their food.”

Pelicans are popular among wildlife watchers. Gelvin-Innvaer advises that the birds are best enjoyed from a distance. “Pelican colonies are vulnerable to human disturbance and contact should be minimized.”

For more information on American white Pelicans, visit

Pelicans are an example of how they and many other wildlife species benefit directly from donations made to the nongame wildlife checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. Checkoff dollars fund research, surveys, habitat restoration and education for more than 700 nongame wildlife species. Each dollar donated also is matched by funds from the Reinvest In Minnesota account.

DNR question of the week 

Q: National Volunteer Week is April 6–12. What sort of volunteer opportunities does the DNR have to offer?

A: Volunteer opportunities vary across the state from assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair, to name a few. Right now the DNR is looking for volunteers to help count loons and frogs, plant trees, bait hooks at fishing clinics, build portable field desks, and search for rare wildflowers.

Volunteer positions are listed on the DNR website at  or by calling toll free 888-646-6367.

-Renée Vail, DNR volunteer programs and state fair project manager


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