web analytics

Archive | January, 2016

Time to pucker up! DEADLINE: Monday, Feb. 1st

Lynn Marion's, of Cedar Springs, winning lips from the Best Lips Contest 2015.

Lynn Marion’s, of Cedar Springs, winning lips from the Best Lips Contest 2015.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time for some fun at the Post. As always, we want to know who has the most luscious lips in Cedar Springs—male or female! Show us your lips by entering our 23rd annual “Best Lips” contest by February 1. We’re going to let YOU—the readers—decide who wins! We will print the finalists in our paper on Thursday, February 4. Then readers will go online to our website to vote for who they think should win. Winners will be announced in our February 11 edition.


Posted in NewsComments Off on Time to pucker up! DEADLINE: Monday, Feb. 1st

Sparta man dies in snowmobile accident

Edwin Larsen

Edwin Larsen

An evening snowmobile ride on the White Pine Trail turned deadly for a Sparta man last weekend.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the accident occurred on Saturday, January 22, shortly before 10:43 p.m. That was when they responded to a call about an injured snowmobiler on the White Pine Trail, near Northland Drive and Grosvenor, in Nelson Township.

Once police arrived, they found it was a fatality.

Police said that the victim, Edwin Larsen, 37, of Sparta, was traveling southbound on the White Pine Trail on his snowmobile, at a high rate of speed, when he lost control and crashed. He was wearing a helmet.

The victim was traveling with two other riders, who were not injured. Police believe that alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Funeral services for Edwin Larsen will be Friday, January 29, at Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home in Sparta.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Sparta man dies in snowmobile accident

Winter wonders


N-Outdoor-photo-Northern-Harrier-hawk-Chris-BellChris Bell sent us these winter weather photos she took when they traveled from Sand Lake to Muskegon. One is of a back road, and the other she said is a northern harrier hawk and its prey.

Thanks, Chris, for sending us your photos!

Do you have winter scenes or winter fun photos you’d like to send us? We know the weather has been a bit warmer than normal, but we’d love to see your snowmen and other fun outdoor shots. Send them to news@cedarspringspost.com. Tell us a little about the photo and give us your contact information in the email. We will print them as space allows.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off on Winter wonders

North Country Trail to run through area

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

By Judy Reed

It’s no longer a question of “if” the North Country Trail will run through Cedar Springs—it’s only a question of exactly where.

Representatives of the Community Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, National Park Service, North Country Trail Association and Michigan DNR met last Thursday for the signing of the document solidifying the North Country Trail route through Cedar Springs.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

“Cedar Springs is now home to a State Trail (White Pine Trail) and a Federal Trail (North Country Trail) crossing each other in our town, and we have a National Park that runs through town and through Solon Township out to the Rogue River State Game Area! It feels so good to have achieved this milestone!” said CBDT secretary Carolee Cole.

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails, and stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

An optimal location review was done to connect the National Country Trail from the Russell Road and White Pine Trail intersection, to existing trail off Red Pine Drive in the Rogue River State Game area. The review noted that points of interest along the trail route include Long Lake County Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, Duke Creek, Cedar Creek, Solon Township Hall and the park they are planning, and the City of Cedar Springs, with the planned boardwalk along Cedar Creek and other attractions. Several alternative routes were mapped.

The new part of the trail will be approximately seven miles long. But the exact route is not yet established since easements have to be obtained before the trail is officially certified.

However, certain sections of the trail may not be certified. “At this time the trail will not be able to be certified on the White Pine Trail, as the trail can only be certified in locations that are free of motorized vehicles,” explained Cole. “The Michigan DNR is in the process of approving the possibility for a parallel walking trail that could then allow the trail to be certified. It’s not unusual to have parts of the trail all along the route remain uncertified because a section must share with a motorized trail.”

So what’s next? “Well, a lot more work!” said Cole. “We have to secure easements (talk to people), then build the trail (clear a narrow, hiking only trail to certain specifications) and then maintain it (be willing to go out after a wind or ice storm and clear debris). So we need more people to get on board. A lot more people to get on board!”

If you would like to contribute to this piece of history in Cedar Springs, please contact Amy Anderson at a2andy@yahoo.com and let her know you would like to help with the creation of the North Country Trail.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off on North Country Trail to run through area

B&E results in meth lab bust


Troopers from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post were called to a breaking and entering in progress of an unoccupied home on Tuesday, January 26, about 7 p.m. The homeowner was out of state in California. Upon arrival, the Troopers located a vehicle in the driveway and contacted the homeowner, who gave permission for the Troopers to search the home. While checking the home, they observed evidence related to the use of methamphetamine.

A 37-year-old male and 17-year-old female were found inside the residence. While speaking with the male and female, the male admitted to possessing a one-pot meth lab in his vehicle in the driveway.

CMET (Central Michigan Enforcement Team) was called in to assist with the one pot meth lab.  The male suspect was arrested for unlawful entry and an outstanding warrant.  Additional charges are pending in relation to the manufacturing methamphetamine. The names are being withheld pending formal charges and arraignments.

Troopers were assisted on scene by the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department and CMET.

Posted in NewsComments Off on B&E results in meth lab bust

Trout Unlimited study finds Rogue River vital to economy


Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

Spending by visitors engaging in river-related recreation activities leads to more than $7 million in economic activity during the four-month summer season.

A recent study showing the value of the Rogue River to the area economy bodes well for what can happen in Cedar Springs in the near future.

“The Rogue River is a treasured resource for many communities, offering a variety of recreational opportunities from first-class trout fishing to hiking and wildlife viewing,” wrote Jamie Vaughan, Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator. “However, the river’s monetary value to the local economy has never been completely quantified. For this reason, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative commissioned a study and teamed with researchers Erik Nordman, Ph.D. and Paul Isely, Ph.D. from Grand Valley State University to estimate the economic development impact of recreation within the Rogue River watershed.”

Vaughan said that the economic impact of river-related recreation was assessed using on-site surveys at several locations in the Rogue River watershed in the summer of 2015. Survey locations included: The Rogue Golf Club, Rockford Dam and canoe launch, Grand-Rogue River Access Site and Campground, White Pine Trail trailheads in Comstock Park, Belmont, Rockford, and Cedar Springs, as well as events such as Praise in the Park, Art in the Park, and the Rockford Farmers Market.

The analysis of the surveys focused on visitors who 1) were primarily visiting the area because of the Rogue River; and 2) live outside of the watershed. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents indicated that they live outside the watershed and the primary reason for visiting the Rogue River watershed was to participate in river-related recreation activities. Most of these visitors were from the greater Grand Rapids area, including Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Allegan, and Ionia counties. About 20 percent of the respondents reported living in Rockford.  Other visitors reported residences in Lansing and Ann Arbor Michigan and as far away as Iowa.

“Our results found that the total direct spending for the four-month summer season, including both day users and overnight visitors, was more than $4.1 million. The total economic activity, which includes indirect spending, was more than $7.3 million. This led to additional earnings of more than $1.7 million and supported the employment of 64 full time jobs, which is substantial in a small city like Rockford,” noted Vaughan.

And it’s not just Rockford that benefits, or will benefit in the future. Cedar Springs is part of the Rogue River watershed, with Cedar Creek being an important tributary to the overall health of the coldwater fishery in the Rogue River. The Community Building Development Team, in partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the City of Cedar Springs, has several projects planned for the areas bordering Cedar Creek, including a new library, community center, ampitheather, and boardwalk along the creek.

“As part of this study, surveying was done all around the Rogue River area, including the White Pine Trailhead in Cedar Springs, so this report does include the river’s impact to Cedar Springs,” said Vaughan. “With all of the incredible work that the CBDT is doing, I think this report shows just how valuable that work will potentially be to Cedar Springs. Taking into consideration the trail, the Cedar Creek projects, the brewery, etc. and how those will attract many different users of the Rogue River to Cedar Springs, I would expect to see that economic value become even greater.”

Vaughan noted that this study shows that the Rogue River and its scenic and recreational amenities attract visitors from across West Michigan and beyond. “It’s important for the quality of life of local residents and is a significant amenity that drives economic development in the region. Trout Unlimited hopes that these results will enable communities and businesses to better understand the contribution of the Rogue River to local economies and make its protection and restoration a highest priority in decision-making so that these high-quality recreation activities can continue to take place,” said Vaughan.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off on Trout Unlimited study finds Rogue River vital to economy

Hart Post detectives receive meritorious service award 

 D/Sgt. Michael Stephens

D/Sgt. Michael Stephens

D/Sgt. Scott Rios

D/Sgt. Scott Rios

D/Sgt. John Forner

D/Sgt. John Forner

At a special ceremony held in Lansing, Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue presented D/Sgt. John Forner, D/Sgt. Scott Rios and D/Sgt. Michael Stephens of the Hart Post with the MSP Meritorious Service Award for their diligence during a very complex, 26-year-old cold case investigation involving the homicide of Ms. Shannon Siders.

After failing to return home one evening in July 1989, Siders was reported missing to the MSP Newaygo Post by her father.

In early September 1989, identification and other items belonging to Siders were found in the national forest and brought to the Newaygo Post. The area was searched where the items were found, but no evidence was located. Unfortunately, in October 1989, Siders’ remains were recovered in the national forest and her cause of death was ruled a homicide.

Investigators established a timeline and learned that Siders was last seen alive in the company of two brothers. As the investigation continued, additional leads were submitted and multiple suspects and theories were explored, but tips became sparse over time and the investigation grew cold.

In 2011, a cold case task force comprised of Forner, Rios and Stephens, along with officers from the Newaygo Police Department and the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department was formed to reexamine the case. Detectives examined all available evidence, collected missing documents and compiled a list of suspect theories.

After the task force indexed the report of over 2,000 pages and conducted over 500 interviews, the original suspects were again identified as prime suspects in the case.

In June 2014, homicide warrants were obtained and the suspects were arrested. The case went to trial in April 2015 and in May 2015 one suspect was convicted of first degree murder and the other suspect was convicted of second degree murder.

In awarding Forner, Rios and Stephens with the department’s Meritorious Service Award, the MSP Board of Awards recognizes that without their dedication and expert investigative skills, justice may have never been obtained for Siders.

Forner joined the department in 1998, graduating as a member of the 117th Trooper Recruit School. Prior to being assigned to the Hart Post, he served at the Grand Haven and Rockford posts, as well as the Sixth District Headquarters.

Rios joined the department in 1988, graduating as a member of the 103rd Trooper Recruit School. Prior to being assigned to the Hart Post, he served at the Ypsilanti, Detroit, Lakeview, Grand Haven and Newaygo posts.

Stephens joined the department in 1999, graduating as a member of the 118th Trooper Recruit School. Prior to being assigned to the Hart Post, he served at the Newaygo, Lakeview and Mt. Pleasant posts.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Hart Post detectives receive meritorious service award 

Time is short to apply for marketplace health insurance

N-Deadline-for-health-insuranceBy Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

The deadline is looming for uninsured Michigan residents to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Sunday, Jan. 31, is the last day of the 2016 open enrollment period. But as Erin Knott, Michigan director of Enroll America, says folks don’t have to go it alone.

Trained navigators are available in every community, and they can guide people through their coverage options.

“There’s in-person assistance and events going on across the state,” she explains. “We encourage everybody to take a look, to shop the plans, and to hook up with an expert who can walk them through the process.”

Knott adds that nearly eight out of 10 people who apply for insurance through the marketplace will qualify for financial assistance to help pay the monthly premium.

Those who do not have health coverage this year will face a federal penalty of either 2.5 percent of their income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.

Knott points out that some people may qualify for a special enrollment period.

“That’s when you have a qualifying life circumstance that would make you eligible to obtain insurance through the marketplace outside of the open enrollment period,” she says. “And those types of things are marriage, birth, adoption, job change, things like that.”

Knott adds as a result of coverage options between the Healthy Michigan Plan and the marketplace, the number of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2014.

“Around 900,000 folks have been insured,” she points out. “And what’s really exciting is this year, HHS has reported that more young adults, those critical 18-to-34-year-olds, are enrolling in the marketplace at higher numbers than previously.”

Those who enroll by the end-of-January deadline will have coverage starting March 1.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off on Time is short to apply for marketplace health insurance

Michigan investigating multistate outbreak of listeriosis


Some Dole salads being recalled

N-Dole-salad-recallLANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and local health departments in Michigan on a multistate foodborne outbreak of listeriosis, including four cases and one death in Michigan.

Twelve people in six states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes since July 5, 2015, including Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), New Jersey (1), New York (4), and Pennsylvania (1). Ill people range in age from 3 to 83 years, and the median age is 66. Sixty-nine percent of ill people are female. All of the cases reported being hospitalized, and one person from Macomb County, Michigan died as a result of listeriosis.

The source of the illnesses was not known until January 2016 when the laboratory result from packaged salad collected at a Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio, was linked to the illnesses. The CDC is recommending that consumers do not eat, restaurants do not serve, and retailers do not sell packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, OH.

The company is withdrawing all packaged salads currently on the market that were produced at this facility and is temporarily (and voluntarily) suspending operations at the facility. These packaged salads were sold under various brand names including Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice. These packaged salads can be identified by the letter “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code found on the package. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that packaged salads produced at other Dole processing facilities in the United States are linked to illness.

Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. Symptoms of listeriosis include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, muscle aches, and nausea, sometimes diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborn babies, older adults, and adults with weakened immune systems. The incubation period is typically between 2 and 3 weeks, but can be as long as 70 days. People experiencing these symptoms and who may have consumed this packaged salad product should seek immediate medical attention.

For more information about the investigation, visit http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/bagged-salads-01-16/index.html

Retailer and consumer questions about the voluntary withdrawal should be directed to the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at 800-356-3111) (hours are 8:00am-8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday).

Posted in NewsComments Off on Michigan investigating multistate outbreak of listeriosis

New hope for youth sentenced to life in prison

By Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

N-New-hope-for-juvenilesThere’s new hope for some Michigan offenders who were sentenced as juveniles to die in prison. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 2012 Miller vs. Alabama decision barring mandatory life without parole for child offenders applies retroactively.

Michigan is one of the few states that uses life without parole as a punishment for offenders younger than age 18. Kristen Staley, deputy director of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, said the high court recognizes that kids lack the impulse control and judgment of adults and have greater capacity for reform.

“The court even goes to say that it’s always unconstitutional for a juvenile to be serving life without a chance of parole unless he or she is found to be so irreparably corrupt or some sort of permanently incorrigible status,” she said. “Frankly, it’s a rare circumstance and we should not be using it.”

About 360 people are serving life sentences in Michigan for crimes committed prior to age 18. Michigan also is one of a few states where 17-year-olds are automatically tried as adults. Staley said she hopes the ruling helps build momentum to raise the age to 18.

Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, said the promise of the juvenile-justice system to help youth cannot be realized when they are treated like adults and exposed to harsh sentencing.

“The dual commitment to public safety and rehabilitation means that young people ought to be treated as young people,” he said. “They ought to be treated as youth who are changing and who are capable of changing, which means it should be about their development and not about punishment.”

The court held that those affected by the decision should be released or have their sentences reduced. Staley said re-sentencing by a trial court isn’t necessary.

“The court made it very clear that, frankly, a parole hearing could be an option,” she said. “This won’t necessarily clog all the cases with reopening and rehashing old wounds. Maybe we can just take a look at good behavior and parole options going forward. ”

Monday’s ruling impacts about 2,000 people incarcerated around the country.

The ruling is online at supremecourt.gov.

Posted in NewsComments Off on New hope for youth sentenced to life in prison

Winter reading

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Snuggling with a good book helps one savor long winter nights with pleasure. There are significant natural history books I read during my development. I stumbled upon books beyond those required for professional education. Each of us has personal interests for subjects but some books transcend specific content with broader ideas about our relationship with nature niches that support us physically and emotionally. Books from times past can be inexpensively found online or in libraries.

I became interested in sharing natural history through stories and writing by the time I was 20. I wrote little at that time and thought I might find time to write during retirement years. I wrote a short piece about what I observed while following a pheasant’s tracks in the snow. When I showed it to a college professor that wrote a nature column, she requested to publish it in her weekly column.

Later in graduate school in northern Minnesota, I was invited to speak. After my program, a literature professor, Dr. Saur, provided me with one of the better compliments of my life. He said I reminded him of a young Sigurd Olsen. I had read several of Olsen’s books about experiences in the north woods wilderness. Perhaps the “The Singing Wilderness” and “Listening Point” are my favorites where Olsen reveals the magic and mystery of wilderness experiences.

For readers desiring details of life, John Bardach’s book, “Downstream,” describes the life of species found from a stream’s headwaters to its mouth emptying into the ocean. It is an enlightening natural history of stream and river life addressing how human activity impacts the quality of life for people and nature.

“The Desert Year,” by Joseph Wood Krutch, will take you to the dry warm desert if you feel like escaping our cold weather. It is a most delightful introduction to the marvels of life able to survive in dry habitats. This author is one of my favorites. One Christmas I thought I would would tell him how much I appreciated his writing. I called and heard happy family voices. I asked to speak to Joseph. The women said who is this? I told her they would not know me but I wanted to tell Joseph how much I enjoyed his work. She said you wouldn’t know this but he has been dead for 10 years. I told her I hoped my call would give Christmas joy regarding appreciation for her husband’s work.

I read few novels because excellent nonfiction books keep me occupied but fiction stories with accurate natural history descriptions allow an author to create images of events that occur daily. “Those of the Forest,” by Wallace Byron Grange, is the story of Snowshoe, a hare, that everyone should meet.

For short spurts of reading, “Sisters of the Earth” is a collection of women’s prose. I have marked the table of contents with checks and stars for those to reread over and over again. I cannot read something once and absorb it all. Whether it is a good movie, book, or short story, I revisit for full enjoyment to garner new details or to just feel the joy of words rippling under my skin.

Emotional connections with places, experiences, and creatures captivate us. We relate through wishful desire and hunger for ancient roots lingering in our souls. Authors take us to places we want to go but do not know how to get there on our own. Helen Hoover’s “The Gift of the Deer” is a wonderful account of her experiences with deer that lived near her north woods home.

Invite me for an entertaining evening of story telling for your nature interested group, club, business, church, school, or even for a family and friends campfire. I have a variety of programs tailored for heart, soul, and mind. Contact me to receive an e-mail program brochure or to discuss tailored presentations.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Winter reading

What a difference a year makes


DNR biologists discuss effects of milder winter on wildlife

Canada geese and mallards enjoying a stretch of open water in Ingham County are shown. During this milder winter so far, waterfowl have been able to find more areas of open water for feeding.

Canada geese and mallards enjoying a stretch of open water in Ingham County are shown. During this milder winter so far, waterfowl have been able to find more areas of open water for feeding.

Looking out your window, do you find yourself saying, “This winter is different?”

Remembering last winter, areas of Michigan had not inches, but feet of snow on the ground by mid-November. In stark contrast, this winter, many parts of Michigan didn’t receive any significant snowfall that stayed on the ground, until after Christmas.

With the effects of one of the strongest El Nino weather patterns on record—warmer Pacific Ocean waters producing atmospheric changes in weather thousands of miles away—this winter certainly is different.

Moose are built for cold conditions, with long legs for deep snow and thick fur coats for winter temperatures.

Moose are built for cold conditions, with long legs for deep snow and thick fur coats for winter temperatures.

As a result, weather forecasters are predicting above-average temperatures and drier than normal winter conditions across the northern tier of the country, including Michigan.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists have been fielding inquiries about how the milder conditions might be affecting wildlife this winter.

“The 2014-2015 Michigan winter had record low temperatures for numerous days,” DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said. “Along with those cold temps, winter brought snow depths that challenged even the most adapted wildlife.”


Less than a year ago, waterfowl were being negatively affected across Michigan by lakes, rivers and streams freezing completely, or more extensively than usual, leaving smaller areas of open water for ducks and swans to feed. After the last two hard winters, this winter is providing many open water locations.

“Instead of ducks being concentrated in small areas, ducks and swans have good amounts of open water in a mild winter, giving them room to forage and find the food they need,” said Barbara Avers, a DNR waterfowl and wetlands specialist.

The last two winters resulted in some malnourished or dead waterfowl being trapped on the ice, unable to fly. Not this winter.

Smaller mammals

Squirrels never take a break. They are active all year long, and this mild winter provides an easier hunt for food. Less snow to get through equals less energy needed to find food and stay warm.

With a milder winter, snowshoe hares are likely to be under a bit more pressure from predators. Their fur is light brown in the fall and molts to white as the amount of daylight changes. Until snow is on the ground, the white fur stands out, allowing hawks, owls and other predators better opportunities to benefit.

Alternatively, hares this winter should have plenty of food they can easily access.

Skunks and raccoons go into an inactive or dormant state in the winter. This is something they are naturally wired to do to conserve energy. This won’t change with the mild winter. Their late winter mating seasons, won’t be affected. As usual, they will be out and more visible for brief periods of time looking for a mate.

Large mammals

Black bear have this same instinct; their internal clock is telling them they need to conserve energy, regardless of temperature, find a place to den and go into a deep sleep.

What is frequently referred to as a bear hibernating is really a bear in a very deep sleep. Even with the warm fall and warm December, a bear will still den. Black bears also den in southern states, where temperatures and snow levels are much more moderate compared to even a mild Michigan winter.

Bears are triggered to enter their dens by a combination of things, with the amount of daylight being an important main factor. Bears are able to survive the denning period because they bulk up during the fall, gaining 1-2 pounds per day.

Not all animals will benefit from this mild winter.

“Moose are a species that are just built for the cold,” said DNR wildlife research biologist Dean Beyer. “Moose are at their southern extent of their range in the Upper Peninsula.”

Moose, with their long legs and thick winter coat, are built for deep snow and cold temperatures. When moose have their winter coat, and temperatures are warmer than 23 degrees, they become stressed and need to take action to cool down.

“When an animal is stressed, its heart and respiration rates will increase, in turn increasing the amount of energy they are using,” Beyer said. “This December was probably stressful on Michigan moose, as temps were warmer than they normally experience.”

Deer, on the other hand, will find some relief with a mild winter.

For winter survival, deer reduce their movements by about 50 percent and their food intake by about 30 percent. Mild temperatures allow deer to survive on the layer of fat they’ve built up the previous fall.

Just like with moose, the more deer move in the wintertime, the more energy they use. However, deer, with their shorter legs, should be able to find the little food they need in the winter accessible, above and below the snow.

In the Upper Peninsula, the effects of three consecutive harsh winters, combined with the contributions of predators, have been tough on deer populations. Though wildlife biologists caution that one mild winter will not be enough to allow the herd to quickly rebound, the moderation in conditions is beneficial and welcomed.


Wild turkeys will also have an easier time in a mild winter. Typically at higher snow depths or when a hard snow crust is formed, turkeys rely solely on fruits, nuts and catkins on trees and shrubs—food found above the snow.

When possible, turkeys will continue to scratch through the snow in farmed fields, getting the valuable crumbs left behind by farming equipment, and can even find acorns and beech nuts in the woods.

Ruffed grouse may be more susceptible to predators, without several feet of snowy insulation. These birds can almost dive into the snow and burrow, staying warm and concealed. They typically do well during those hard winters.

Migrating birds generally started leaving and heading south months ago. Therefore, this unseasonably warm winter is something they’ll realize only when they return in the spring.

Some migrating birds that leave relatively late, like sandhill cranes, may stay behind as long as they can find the food they need to make it through the winter, but will continue south if temperatures drop.

Birds like American robins, eastern bluebirds and hermit thrushes may remain in the state in small numbers, because of the mild weather and availability of berries and seeds.

Resident backyard birds, like blue jays, American goldfinches, northern cardinals and black-capped chickadees will use less energy keeping warm during a mild winter, which can result in better body conditions and larger egg clutches or broods of chicks in the spring.


So far, the milder winter we’ve experienced has been a welcome break for many people and some wildlife that have had a hard go the last few winters. Although we may think this relative lack of snow and warmer temperatures make this winter different or easier, the winter is certainly not over.

For many animals, the next couple months could still be challenging. However, animals have habits or instincts and are hard-wired to survive. They will adapt.

For more information, visit the DNR’s webpage at www.michigan.gov/wildlifeactionplan.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off on What a difference a year makes



Get Your Copy of The Cedar Springs Post for just $40 a year!