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Archive | April, 2013

DNR advises leaving wildlife in the wild

Baby birds, like these geese, will usually continue to be fed by their parents, even if it appears they’ve been left alone. The DNR advises that if you find baby animals in the wild, it’s best to leave them there.

Baby birds, like these geese, will usually continue to be fed by their parents, even if it appears they’ve been left alone. The DNR advises that if you find baby animals in the wild, it’s best to leave them there.

It happens every spring. Someone finds an “abandoned” fawn and takes it upon themselves to “rescue” it. The Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division staff has a word of advice: Don’t.
“When young fawns are born, they’re not very mobile and don’t appear to have much scent to them so their best defense is to just stay still, on their own, apart from their mother,” explained Brent Rudolph, the deer and elk program leader for the DNR. “Predators can’t track them down by following mom around, so she stays away and the fawns stay alone–that’s their best defense during their first few days of life.”
For the most part, does know exactly where their fawns are. “Sometimes what mom sees as a safe place to stash a fawn is a flower bed at the edge of the house or maybe underneath a deck,” Rudolph said. “So people think ‘That’s a weird place for a fawn—it must be an orphan.’ Generally they’re not orphaned. Through those first few weeks, mom will feed them, clean them, check up on them, and then take off again so she’s not drawing attention to them. So we encourage people to let them be.”
There are times—say, you find a dead doe by the side of the road with a nearby fawn—when fawns have been orphaned. Remember it is illegal to take them into your home. Call a licensed rehabilitator if you feel the need. For a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, visit www.michigandnr.com/dlr/.
The same advice applies to other animals as well. Though many young animals are adorable as babies, raccoons, for instance, they grow up to be less adorable as adults.
According to DNR wildlife biologist Erin Victory, wild animals do not make good pets and once habituated to humans, they generally do not do well, when returned to the wild. They also pose the possibility of bringing disease or parasites that could affect you or your pets into your home. Raccoons, for example, are not only potentially rabid, but they can carry canine distemper, not to mention round worms, fleas and mange.
“Please resist the urge to try to help seemingly abandoned fawns or other animal babies this spring,” Victory said. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but animals are better off left alone than if they are removed from the wild.”
Tari Howard, a licensed rehabilitator in Benton Harbor, said she always tells people who have picked up young animals to check and make sure mom’s not around, especially in the case of fawns. “People say, ‘Well, I’ve already touched it,’ but that generally doesn’t seem to matter. I think it’s a myth.”
Howard said she gets a fair number of baby rabbits and squirrels that come to her “eyes closed and hairless.” It’s a 50-50 proposition as to whether they live, she said.
As for birds, the advice is the same. Remember when you were a kid and someone told you that if you touched a baby bird, its mother would either abandon it or kill it? “Not true,” said Karen Cleveland, the DNR’s all bird biologist. “If it’s completely defenseless and can’t move on its own, the short version is: Stick it back into the nest, if you can. If it’s got little feathers on it and it looks like a bird rather than a ball of fluff, odds are it already tried to fledge from its nest before it was ready to fly. Generally, mom and dad will continue to feed it.” Young birds that appear grounded may be found a good distance from the nest, Cleveland said, because they walk and search for shelter from predators.
“It’s probably not ready to fly but it thinks it is, and then it ends up on the ground, because its feathers can’t get it airborne,” Cleveland said. “Little birds have been coming out of the nest too early since little birds have been around.”
Cleveland said the DNR regularly fields calls from homeowners who have found ducks—mostly mallards—nesting in their shrubs or garden. “The thing to do is enjoy it. Back off. Leave them alone. Keep the dogs and cats and kids away from it,” she said. “They’ll be a very quiet neighbor and if the nest fails on its own—something that happens regularly—just wish her luck on her next attempt. If a nest is unsuccessful she’ll try to find someplace else to nest. And if she’s successful there, she may come back.”
Cleveland reminded folks that it is illegal to take birds, just as it is mammals, into their homes without permits to do so. “There are licensed rehabilitators who can work with them if necessary,” she said. “But it’s better for the bird to be raised by their parents, to learn all they need to know to live in the wild rather than to be raised by a human.”
For more information about specific species or wildlife viewing opportunities, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

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Earth Week Empathy for Life

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Earth Week should help us focus on our local community and things occurring in our neighborhoods that affect our daily lives. This might help us be better citizens. If we get to know the species that enrich our soils, purify our water, remove natural and human-caused pollutants, clean the air, and enhance biodiversity, we might be more empathetic and care more about their lives.
In Florida, a man died after disappearing when his bedroom fell into a sinkhole. It is a family tragedy. We care most about those closest to us and we empathize with that family’s loss. Headlines focus on natural tragedies around the world affecting humans. We hear good stories but it seems we focus on sharing bad stories. I want to know about problems I can rectify, resolve, or avoid. Human car accident deaths make news because they happen to one of our own. It does not make news when cars kill a deer, fox, squirrel, mink, song sparrow, ruffed grouse, monarch butterfly, cecropia moth, milkweed beetle and other species. Most small things killed are not even noticed until we clean their dead bodies from our windshields. We lack empathy for their lives because we do not know them or how they benefit our community.
Abundant species biodiversity ensures better functioning ecosystems and reduces time, energy, and money required to maintain a healthy community that supports our livelihood, pleasure, and basic survival needs. We evolved in association with other species yet systematically eliminate other species, not realizing we need their presence for society to function healthy and economically.
We view some species as bothersome and would prefer they not be present. Things like black flies, mosquitoes, termites, and wasps are targets for our destruction. In our quest, we often alter environments and kill thousands of species. Most species provide benefits for fruit tree and crop pollination, natural pest control, or are food for species we desire like Baltimore Orioles. Narrow focused pest management practices damage ecosystems. Aldo Leopold revolutionized wildlife management practices from single species management to ecosystem management practices with his 1933 text Wildlife Management. We could apply those principles to pest management in our home landscape to restore damaged natural communities for the benefit of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
It is not that we do not care about future generations. We have become more isolated from working the land or spending time in nature. We do not get to know our neighbors or their importance. By neighbors, I refer to species that share nature niches. Focus attention on the dozens of species of moths by the porch light. Most are helpful beneficial neighbors. Over 1000 species of moths have important functions in our community. Most people might only think of tomato hornworms, clothes moths, or exotic Gypsy Moths and conclude all moths are bad. This Earth Week start encouraging others to notice the beneficial creatures in ecosystems instead of focusing on those we consider bad.
Most of the moths in the yard are food for the birds we hope to see. Many pollinate plants we hope establish in wild areas of the yard. Wasps eat a great many caterpillars and prevent them from causing serious damage to plants. Spend more time getting to know nature niche neighbors that share your yard. There is more than a lifetime’s effort and enjoyment within footsteps. The variety of species is great and can only be protected once we get to know the species that share the yard. Begin to empathize with their lives this Earth Week, the entire year, and your lifetime.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

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Fishing hot topics

From the Michigan DNR

Several fishing seasons open Saturday
You may want to get ready for the opening of several fishing seasons coming this Saturday, April 27!
The statewide trout season; Lower Peninsula inland walleye, northern pike and muskellunge seasons; and the catch-and-immediate release seasons for largemouth and smallmouth bass in the Lower Peninsula all open that day.
It should be noted that in Upper Peninsula waters, the walleye, pike and muskellunge seasons don’t open until May 15, which is the same date the catch-and-immediate-release season for bass opens in those same waters.
Possession season for bass opens statewide on Saturday, May 25, except for Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and the Detroit River which open on Saturday, June 15.
The new license season began on April 1, so anglers need to be sure they have purchased a new fishing license for this season. The 2013 fishing licenses remain valid until March 31, 2014. For information on purchasing a license, visit www.michigan.gov/fishinglicense.

The 2013 Michigan Fishing Guide and Inland Trout & Salmon Maps are available online, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/fishingguide for more information.
Walleye daily possession limit for Lake Erie to stay at six
Again this year the daily possession limit for walleye in Michigan’s waters of Lake Erie will be six starting May 1, 2013.
Michigan’s daily creel limit for walleyes on Lake Erie is based on its share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the lake, which is determined by the Lake Erie Committee under the guidance of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
The TAC is based on the overall abundance of walleyes. The committee establishes quotas for each jurisdiction based on the percentage of habitat for adult walleyes in each jurisdiction’s waters of the lake. The daily limit is based on a formula that projects how many walleyes anglers can keep but still remain within the quota.
The 2013 Total Allowable Catch for Lake Erie is 3.356 million fish, making Michigan’s quota 196,000 fish. This equates to a daily possession limit of six fish. 
For 2013, there are no changes to either the fishing season or size limit for walleyes on Lake Erie.

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Signs of spring

Sue Harrison, of Nelson Township, sent us this adorable picture of three baby bunnies. She wrote: “When my husband Phil was cleaning out some of our flower beds, he discovered these three baby bunnies in a nest about the size of half a softball. When we first saw them, they were covered up with Mama rabbit’s fur and leaves, and were about 1-inch long. In just a short week, each baby has grown to about 1 ½-inches now. So cute! A sure sign that spring is around the corner!
That’s a great sign! And kudos to Sue and Phil for leaving the bunnies in their nest. This time of year, too many folks disturb the young, thinking they are abandoned, when they are not. See the other story on this page, “Leave wildlife in the wild” to learn what to do if you find baby animals.

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Car Buyer Beware

In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds.

In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds.

(NAPS)—There are several ways to buy a used car, but whether you choose to buy from a dealer, online or from someone you know, it’s always a smart idea to protect yourself. These tips can help:
Ask for an independent inspection. Be sure the car has no major problems that you will have to deal with later.
Find out if the car was involved in an accident. In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds. You need to know when buying a used car that it is safe to drive and will protect you. If the car was in an accident, ask a mechanic to make sure it was fixed properly.
To help you make an informed and confident decision, ask for a Carfax Vehicle History Report. These reports reveal prior damage reported to Carfax, such as accidents and subsequent repairs. Pay extra attention if you find a salvage title or air-bag deployment. To get Carfax Reports and learn more, visit www.carfax.com.

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Wash away the effects of rough weather

Keeping your vehicle clean protects your valuable investment. The task takes very little money or effort but provides huge returns.

Keeping your vehicle clean protects your valuable investment. The task takes very little money or effort but provides huge returns.

(NAPS)—When it’s time for spring-cleaning, remember to include your car. Cleaning your vehicle inside and out prevents the buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, reduces the potential for rust from road salt and helps ensure proper visibility needed for safe driving.
How To Clean Your Car
To get started, remove any clutter from inside the car, including items that have accumulated in the trunk that can add extra weight and reduce fuel efficiency. The next step is to thoroughly clean and vacuum the interior and wash the windows.
When washing the outside, include the tires, wheels, underside and fenders to eliminate any road salt or grime. Wheels and tires should be cleaned with a mitt other than the one used to wash the body. This will avoid contaminating the vehicle’s paint with debris from the wheels and tires.
Wash in the shade and with a product sold specifically for cars. Wash one section at a time, thoroughly rinsing away the soap as you go. Work your way down toward the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. Clean the fenders and bumpers last since they will have the most dirt and grime that can contaminate the wash mitt.
Give the car a final rinse. Remove the spray nozzle from the hose and let the water cascade down the surfaces of the vehicle. To avoid water spots, dry your car with a chamois or other product made for drying.
The last step is to wax the car. This should be done out of direct sunlight and every six months. It goes a long way toward protecting the vehicle’s finish and makes subsequent washes easier.
If you found any stone chips, rust or other problem spots while washing your vehicle, the experts at the Car Care Council recommend having these taken care of immediately to prevent further damage.
The Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.
For further facts and tips, visit www.carcare.org.

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Driving around flooded roadways

Think floods are only a risk for homeowners? Think again. Floods are also a hazard to motorists. Many people die each year while attempting to navigate flooded roads.
Here are a few tips from State Farm to help deal with flooded roadways, and also some ideas on how to handle your vehicle once the waters have receded.
Flooded Roadways
The Federal Alliance For Safe Homes has partnered with the National Weather Service to warn motorists about the dangers of flooded roadways. They recommend the following safety tips:
If you can, simply avoid flooded areas—especially those with rapid water flow. Keep things safe and simple: reschedule your plans if you’re aware of flooding in the area.
If flooding occurs when you’re on the road, stay on high ground. Experts also advise against driving in deep water, especially when the water could be fast-moving or the depth is not known.
If your vehicle stalls, DO NOT attempt to restart it, as your engine may be damaged. Leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
After The Deluge
The floodwaters are going down, but your car may have been exposed to the water. Experts say high water can damage vehicles. Here are some tips to help limit the damage to your car after water exposure:
DO NOT start a flooded vehicle until it has received a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic.
Record the highest level of water exposure on your flooded vehicle.
Contact your agent or insurance company and advise them that your vehicle has been flooded.
The sooner the vehicle can be evaluated and dried out, the less damage the vehicle will sustain. If you don’t have the right training and personal protective equipment (PPE), it’s safer, in most cases, to leave the cleaning up to professionals. Some floodwaters contain raw or untreated sewage and other contaminants that may pose serious health hazards during cleanup. The Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov offers more information on this topic.

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How to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency


Fuel system maintenance can improve fuel efficiency and re­duce the need for repairs.

(NAPS)—Your car can go farther for less if you take a few steps to keep it efficient.
It helps to take meticulous care of your vehicle by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedules and using the right products inside and out. This includes getting your oil changed, rotating your tires, checking hoses and belts for wear, replacing worn windshield wipers and keeping your vehicle clean.
Another way to extend the life of your vehicle and improve fuel efficiency is to make sure your fuel system is clean.
To help, here are a few fuel system basics.
What does a fuel system do? A fuel system’s job is to properly maintain fuel demand. The fuel is eventually sprayed from the fuel injectors into the intake stream and into the combustion chamber.
What does a fuel system con­sist of? Depending on whether it’s a return or a returnless fuel system, it can consist of the fuel tank, fuel pump, sending fuel lines, fuel rail, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulator and returning fuel lines. If you have a returnless system, there is no fuel pressure regulator or return fuel lines.
How do I know my fuel system needs to be cleaned? If your fuel injectors have become clogged from deposits, they are not able to provide the wide and fine spray of fuel needed for the spark to ignite it. There are a few signs that may indicate you need to clean your fuel system.
•    You are getting lower gas mileage.
•    There is a hesitation when you put your foot on the gas pedal.
•    You are experiencing a loss of power when driving your vehicle.
One easy and convenient solution is to use a total fuel system cleaner such as Max-Clean by premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple. It can clean fuel lines and injectors, restore fuel economy and reduce both engine buildup and tailpipe emissions by deeply penetrating and cleaning injectors, carburetors, intake valves and combustion chambers. The lubricant works in a variety of en­gines whether new or old, gasoline or diesel. One bottle will treat 15 to 20 gallons. You just pour it into a nearly empty tank and refuel.
Fuel system maintenance can easily be added to your regular vehicle maintenance routine. Not only will it improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, it can save you from having to make costly repairs that may be needed when fuel deposits are left to build up.
Learn More
For further advice and information, visit www.royalpurpleconsumer.com.

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What’s in for outdoors

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape. Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

Outdoor kitchens and food gardens are growing in popularity in the American landscape.
Photo credit: Stephen Stimson Associates

(NAPS)—If you want to get more enjoyment out of your yard, you can consider creating attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and good for the environment.
American homeowners are increasingly drawn to adding outdoor rooms for entertaining and recreation on their properties. That’s what the most recent Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects discovered. The survey results also show demand for both sustainable and low-maintenance design.
Landscape architects who specialize in residential design were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, received a 94.5 percent rating as somewhat or very popular. Ninety-seven percent of respondents rated fire pits and fireplaces as somewhat or very in demand, followed by grills, seating and dining areas, and lighting.
Decorative water elements— including waterfalls, ornamental pools and splash pools—were predicted to be in demand for home landscapes. Spas and pools are also popular.
Terraces, patios and decks are also high on people’s lists.
Americans prefer practical yet striking design elements for their gardens including low-maintenance landscapes and native plants.
In addition, more people are opting for food and vegetable gardens, including orchards and vineyards.
Good to know
If you’re thinking of joining them, a few food-growing facts and hints may help:
•    Food gardens can be easy, rewarding and sustainable. For starters, you can use fallen leaves in autumn and grass clippings in spring and summer as mulch and weed suppressant.
•    Perennial plants can be low maintenance—they come back every year without replanting. Some great examples include asparagus, blueberries, blackberries and rhubarb.
•    Herbs can make for an especially sustainable food garden, as many prefer hot and dry areas of your yard, with chives, sage and tarragon returning every year.
Learn More
Additional information on the survey and on residential landscape architecture in general can be found at www.asla.org/residentialinfo and (888) 999-2752.

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Sure-grow guidance for first-time gardeners

(BPT) – Each year, thousands of first-timers will join the millions of seasoned gardeners who already know the satisfaction of picking a perfect tomato at its peak, serving up salads from greens just grown right outside the back door, or harvesting home-grown peppers and specialty herbs never even seen at the grocery store.
DIG-First-time-gardeners2Most of us want that home-grown, healthy goodness that veggie and herb gardens provide, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out just where to start. Diligent effort and smart investment can result in less-than-expected results, but starting your own produce plot and reaping its rewards is not out of your reach.
Even a small garden can fill your table with fresh, nutritious food, and help save money, too. In addition to the satisfaction you’ll get from growing your own food, gardening delivers a host of other health benefits, from low-impact exercise to boosting vitamin D levels with the hours you’ll spend in the sunshine.
Whether you start with a few containers on your patio, create a raised bed in a side yard or go big and plant a grand victory garden, gardening can be easy if you start with these six simple steps.
Step 1 – Pick transplants
While every plant starts from a seed, transplants make establishing your garden easier, and help ensure better success. Transplants, like Bonnie Plants which are grown regionally across the country and available at most garden retailers, nationwide, can trim six to eight weeks off growing time, and allow you to skip over the hard part of the growing process when plants are most vulnerable – so they’re more likely to survive and thrive.
Bonnie Plants offers a wide variety of veggies and herbs, available in biodegradable pots, making the selection process easy. Plant what you eat and try some easy-to-grow favorites, like these:
* Easy herbs – The volatile oils that make herbs valuable in cooking also naturally repel many insects and garden pests. Try basils, parsley, rosemary and something new, like grapefruit mint, which tastes as refreshing as it sounds.
* Bell peppers – You’ll find the Bell peppers grown in your own backyard will taste sweeter than those bought from your grocer. Harvest them green or red, when vitamin levels are higher. Bonnie offers the classic “Bonnie Bell,” that’s a productive proven winner.
* Eggplant – Eggplant thrives in hot weather. Try easy grow “Black Beauty” or something different like the white-skinned “Cloud Nine.”
* Lettuce – Go for “leaf” lettuces like “Buttercrunch,” “Red Sails,” or Romaine. They’ll tolerate more heat than head lettuces and if you keep picking the leaves you’ll get multiple harvests.
* Summer squash – Squash are easy-grow too, and very productive. Try zucchini “Black Beauty” or new-for-2013 Golden Scallop Patty Pan Squash. Many gardeners call this the flying saucer squash because of its unique shape. The flavor is delicate and mild, similar to zucchini.
* Tomatoes – These crimson favorites are the most popular backyard vegetable. Choose disease-resistant “Better Boy,” “Bonnie Original” or the extra-easy cherry tomato “Sweet 100.”
Step 2 – Location, location, location
Be sure the spot you choose for your plants gets six to eight hours of sun.You don’t need a lot of space to begin a vegetable garden. If you choose to grow in containers, you don’t even need a yard – a deck, patio or balcony will provide plenty of space. The amount of space you require will depend on what you’re planting and how many plants you intend to cultivate.
Sun-deprived plants won’t bear as much fruit and are more vulnerable to insects and stress.
Step 3- Suitable soil
Success starts with the soil. Most vegetables do well in moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter like compost or peat moss. Adding organic material loosens stiff soil, helps retain moisture and nourishes important soil organisms.
Step 4- Feed your food
All edible plants remove some nutrients from the soil, and can quickly exhaust soil without the help of a fertilizer. Since one of the reasons for growing your own vegetables is to control exactly what your family consumes, be sure to use all-natural, safe products like Bonnie Plant Food, which is derived from oilseed extract such as soybean seed extract. Research shows plants are healthier and more vigorous using organically based foods, rather than chemical based options.
Step 5 – Water well
Most vegetables aren’t drought tolerant, so you’ll need to water them regularly. The closer your garden is to a water source, the easier it will be to keep plants hydrated. One inch of water weekly is adequate for most vegetables.
Step 6 – Pest patrol
Let natural predators fight your battles, hand-pick pests or dislodge them with a jet of water. If you spray, do it late in the day when beneficial insects are less active.
You can find plenty of resources to help guide you through the planting process, from websites like www.bonnieplants.com to your local community college’s agricultural extension. Read up, watch videos, take a class and get your hands dirty.

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