Minnesota woodlands and wildlife: strategies and species

April 30, 2007 at 4:26 am Leave a comment

Your best source of information for attracting individual wildlife species to your property is a local wildlife professional.  Your first call should be to your local MN DNR wildlife office.  They can help you plan and implement your wildlife conservation strategies.

Most landowners do one of three things to attract wildlife:  Plant trees, dig a pond, or create food plots.  Wild Turkeys - image by bobtravis. Click for a better view.These may or may not be the most effective strategies.  Why?

Remember the four basic needs of wildlife:  food, water, cover, and space.  Think about your landscape, including your neighbors’ properties and beyond.  What is missing that your target species need?  Let these needs guide your planning.

Some strategies to improve woodland wildlife habitat:

  • Plant (or retain) patches of dense conifers.  Pockets of balsam fir, spruce, or other shade-tolerant conifers provide much-needed thermal cover for deer and other species.
  • Create and maintain openings in dense forest stands.  Openings often include different species than the surrounding forest, including important food species.  However, openings also increase edge habitat, which may or may not be desirable given your target species.
  • Maintain diverse age classes of aspen in closeRuffed Grouse - image by ru_24_real. Click for a better view.proximity.  This is particularly effective for ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer.  Young, dense aspen stands provide cover from predators as well as nutritious food (buds) within reach of deer.  Older aspen provides an excellent food source for grouse.
  • Plant trees in open areas. If you live in an area with more open field than forest, consider establishing trees on the landscape.  Trees provide mast (food) as well as cover and shade for wildlife.
  • Protect riparian corridors. Forested areas along waterways provide unique habitat for wildlife.  Trees along the water provide shade, cover, and (in some cases) unique food sources for wildlife.  You can definitely harvest timber in riparian corridors, but it’s important to maintain some intact vegetation along stream and river banks.

In some cases, feeding stations and planted food plots can be a good idea.  However, they can also be problematic. There is evidence that feeding stations can concentrate wildlife and facilitate disease transmission.

Individual species

Ruffed grouse

White-tailed deer

Wild turkey


Other useful info

For facts and information about individual wildlife species, visit the DNR’s Animals of Minnesota page.


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Forest health: Foliage, stem, and branch diseases The four basic needs of Minnesota woodland wildlife

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News and information of interest to Minnesota woodland owners. Sister site to MyMinnesotaWoods.org.

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