Eagles, Antlers & Fire

What do these three things have in common? Just the fact the Minnesota DNR has provided updates about them in the last week that I want to share with you.

First off is the Eagle Cam.  If I had endless time to watch videos online then I would surely be watching the Eagle Cam.  Live footage of eaglets and their parents in a nest? It doesn’t get much better than this. Those eaglets are so cute and watching the adults bring them food and keep an eye out for danger is very entertaining.

Next is just a little information about deer antlers and why deer shed them each year.

Star Tribune Photo
Star Tribune Photo

Question of the week

Q: Why do deer shed their antlers each year?

A: Annual cycles in deer antlers are related to the changing seasons. Deer have adapted their physiology and behavior to respond to seasonal changes, including antler growth and shedding. The environmental cue that regulates antler growth is the amount of day length; the physiological cue is the hormone testosterone.

Simply put, the changing day lengths are sensed by the eyes, which send this message through the optic nerve to the pineal gland located at the base of the brain. The declining day length in late fall and early winter causes a decrease in testosterone, which results in antler shedding.

The actual process of antler shedding involves a thin layer of tissue destruction that forms between the antler and the pedicle, called the abscission layer. The degeneration of the bone-to-bone bond between the antler and the pedicle is considered to be the fastest deterioration of living tissue known in the animal kingdom.

Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program supervisor

Lastly Fire…  Anytime the snow cover leaves the earth earlier than normal there’s a higher chance of fire activity. Fire is a four-letter word that I personally hate to use. Our conditions on the Gunflint Trail are much different than they are elsewhere in the State of Minnesota. We still have snow cover and most likely we’ll receive more wet snow throughout April to keep things wet. After all, we have mud season that seems to last forever so I don’t foresee any fire bans in our region or in the BWCA.  However, it is helpful to know that without regular rain after the ground has thawed conditions can become dry quickly.  Before trees begin to bud is an especially important time to use caution with fire. The DNR suspects an earlier than normal fire ban in some parts of the state so use care when burning brush this spring and make sure you have checked to see if there are any restrictions in place prior to burning.

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