'Ask the DNR' season finale to answer viewer questions live on TV

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources on Thursday will answer viewer questions as part of the season finale of the "Ask the DNR" series. 

The program, which airs at 8 p.m. live on WNMU (TV-13), will last an hour and be available online afterward.

The DNR staffers hosting the live question and answer event include: Kristie Sitar, DNR wildlife biologist from Newberry; Kelly Somero, unit supervisor at Baraga State Park; Cory Kovacs, fisheries biologist from Newberry; and Mike Evink, conservation officer from Schoolcraft County. 

There will also be a conservation officer present for guests who have questions about the law.

The series has been on the air for about 40 years and John Pepin, DNR coordinator of the program and the department’s deputy public information officer, says the show is still very popular.

"In non-COVID times we have the panel sitting at one table and it's presented more like a conversion," said Pepin.

In light of the pandemic, the series has gone remote with panelists answering questions over video chat.

The series offers a few main functions, said Pepin.

"First it lets people have direct access to people that are making decisions on their behalf within the agency," said Pepin. "It also lets people get common questions asked that they might not feel comfortable asking if they go into the DNR office."

Viewers can call in with question about everything from deer hunting regulations to the best fishing spots in their area. In the past, callers have also asked any general interest questions about wildlife they may have, said Pepin.

"People ask about turkey mating calls or they might ask about 'Why is this bird tapping on the corner of my house?' or various things about if they can use a certain deer urine for bait when hunting," Pepin said.

Every season of "Ask the DNR" airs five episodes and runs from the fall to spring, taking a break over the summer.

When calling in questions, be sure to leave your name and phone number so those questions not answered on the air can be answered via phone call by DNR staff following the event.

To phone questions in during the live program, call 1-800-227-9668.