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Cougars poached; DNA tests done 

 The cougar shown was poached in Schoolcraft County in 2013. This is one of two male cougars the Michigan Department of Natural Resources sampled tissue from for genetic analysis. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The cougar shown was poached in Schoolcraft County in 2013. This is one of two male cougars the Michigan Department of Natural Resources sampled tissue from for genetic analysis. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Genetic testing on tissue samples from two cougars poached in the Upper Peninsula shows the two animals likely came from a population found generally in South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska.

“This genetic research lines up with what we’ve presumed previously, that cougars found in the Upper Peninsula are males dispersing from this population east of the Rocky Mountains,” said Kevin Swanson, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife management specialist with the agency’s Bear and Wolf Program. “These males dispersed from the main population are looking to establish new territories.”

Since 2008, the DNR has confirmed 35 cougar reports in the Upper Peninsula, but so far there remains no conclusive evidence of a breeding population. No reports have been confirmed from Lower Michigan.

Cougars are an endangered species in Michigan protected by law.

The U.P. cougar confirmations were derived from trail camera video, photographs, tracks, scat or in the case of the two males poached, carcasses.

On Feb. 1, a cougar, or mountain lion, was found dead in Dickinson County, about 4 miles north of Iron Mountain.

Conservation officers investigating the incident said the animal, which a medical examination determined had been in a snare, had been dumped near the intersection of Johnson Road and County Road 607 in Breitung Township.

On April 18, researchers at the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Missoula, Montana received a tissue sample collected Feb. 1 from the dead cougar.

The sample had been sent to the center for genetic evaluation by DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell in Marquette.

Researchers had previously received another cougar tissue sample from Roell on Aug. 28, 2015, which had been collected Nov. 20, 2013, after the poaching of a cougar in Schoolcraft County.

During the 2013 muzzle-loader deer hunting season, conservation officers received a tip that a cougar had been killed at a hunting camp near Seney.

Investigation revealed the animal was shot and wounded with a rifle when it entered a field near the camp. The following day, the cougar was tracked down and killed by a man developed later as a suspect.

Three men from Bay City were arrested and convicted for poaching the cougar. The men served jail time, paid several thousand dollars in fines, costs and restitution, and lost hunting privileges for several years.

The genetic results from analysis of the two cougar samples were reported recently to the DNR by the center.

Researchers analyzed the DNA from the two samples using mitochondrial DNA, which traces mother-line ancestry. A haplotype is a group of genes within an organism inherited together from a single parent.

Kristine Pilgrim, genomic laboratory’s supervisor, said the two cougars had a haplotype “M,” which is the most common North American haplotype.

Researchers investigated the potential population of origin for the two cougars using a database which includes samples from cougar populations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Florida.

“Preliminary substructure analysis shows that these animals are most closely related to individuals from the region of the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota and northwest Nebraska,” Pilgrim said.

Using the genic information from the tissue samples, matched against results from other cougars in the center’s database, probabilities are calculated for the animal’s origin.

The tissue sample from the cougar from Schoolcraft County showed a probability of 74.1 percent to have come from the Wyoming-South Dakota-Nebraska population, while the Dickinson County cougar’s probability was 99.8 percent.

Researchers caution the probability does not necessarily mean the cougars are directly from that location, because there may be other populations that have not been sampled and included in the database.

“This research adds a couple more pieces to the puzzle, helping us to learn more about the cougars found in the Upper Peninsula,” Swanson said. “We still have not found the presence of any females or cubs, which would indicate a breeding population. This analysis also adds information to the center’s data set.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cougars were once the most widely-distributed land animal in the Western Hemisphere, but have been eliminated from about two-thirds of their historic range.

At one time, cougars lived in every eastern state in a variety of habitats including coastal marshes, mountains and forests. They were native to Michigan, but were trapped and hunted from the state around the turn of the 20th Century.

Thirteen western states allow cougar hunting and the North American cougar is listed there as a game species.

The DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline (1-800-292-7800) offers money to tipsters. Information may be provided anonymously.

To learn more about cougars in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/cougars.

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Biggby Coffee coming to Cedar Springs

biggbylogofcCoffee chain to move into storefront just off 17 Mile at White Creek Avenue

By Judy Reed

Come this December, there will be a new coffee shop serving people in the greater Cedar Springs area. Bob and Deb Garza, of Sand Lake, are opening a new Biggby Coffee in the strip mall on White Creek Avenue, just north of KFC.

The coffee shop will be next to the Laundromat, and will include a drive thru on the back of the building. Patrons will enter in the north drive and follow that to the rear of the building and turn left to get to the board and drive thru window.

They are doing full renovations to the store, and have already completed major framing, the piping, and some of the electrical. Bob Garza said the project will cost about $300,000, and will bring about 15-22 jobs to Cedar Springs.

The Garzas acquired the franchise in 2014, and had looked at a couple of other sites before deciding on the current one. Both a potential site behind the Citgo station at 17 Mile and White Creek, and where the Family Fare pharmacy was located were under consideration previously.

During the time that they were trying to secure a location in Cedar Springs, Garza said he could have chosen locations in other areas, such as Fremont, but he wanted to stay in Cedar Springs.

He said his two daughters went to Cedar Springs Schools (one graduated two years ago and one is now a senior), he has coached soccer, and Deb coaches cheer.

“We stayed in Cedar Springs because we are the best owners for the area, being we are from the community,” he said.

You can follow their progress on facebook by searching for Biggby Coffee of Cedar Springs.

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DNR nabs four in duck poaching case

Nearly 60 mallards and wood ducks were shot during last weekend’s duck opener in Ottawa County. Four men from that area were ticketed. Photo courtesy Michigan Department Natural Resources.

Nearly 60 mallards and wood ducks were shot during last weekend’s duck opener in Ottawa County. Four men from that area were ticketed. Photo courtesy Michigan Department Natural Resources.

Four Ottawa County men were ticketed recently for poaching nearly 60 wild ducks from a private agricultural pond near the Grand River watershed, an area popular for waterfowl hunting.

The names of the four Coopersville area men, who range in age from 20 to 24, are being withheld, pending their scheduled Oct. 26 appearance in Ottawa County District Court in Hudsonville.

“This was not hunting,” said conservation officer Dave Rodgers. “Hunting involves a lot of hard work and fair chase. What these guys were doing is killing.”

At 7:38 a.m. Oct. 9, operators of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Report All Poaching (RAP) line received a call reporting an immense amount of shooting during this past weekend’s opening of the South Zone waterfowl hunting season.

Minutes later, Rodgers and conservation officer Chris Simpson responded, headed for Chester Township in north Ottawa County.

Rodgers said he found the four men on private property along an agricultural pond. He allegedly saw them shooting at crippled ducks on the water and gathering them.

Rodgers next spoke to the men.

“He located 58 ducks harvested by the four men along with a large amount of corn they had set out as bait in and along the edge of the pond,” said Sgt. Jeff Rabbers, District 7, Area 3 law supervisor for the DNR.

The ducks allegedly poached included 35 wood ducks and 23 mallards, including 13 mallard hens.

“Each hunter is allowed six ducks, but in this case all the ducks are illegal because the poachers were using bait, which is not allowed,” said Lt. Gerald Thayer, DNR District 7 law supervisor.

Of the six ducks allowed in a daily bag limit, hunters can shoot four mallards, only two of which may be hens. Only three wood ducks may be harvested per hunter.

One of the men, a 21-year-old, left the area, but was located by Simpson during a traffic stop. The man allegedly had a loaded firearm in the vehicle.

The agricultural pond where four men had allegedly shot ducks with over more than 200 pounds of corn used as bait. Photo courtesy Michigan Department Natural Resources.

The agricultural pond where four men had allegedly shot ducks with over more than 200 pounds of corn used as bait. Photo courtesy Michigan Department Natural Resources.

Conservation officers said over 200 pounds of corn had been placed out as bait for the ducks.

“One subject admitted to putting out the bait and another admitted to knowing there was bait out there,” Rabbers said. “The other two claimed that they did not know the site was baited.”

All of the firearms allegedly used in the incident were confiscated. Conservation officers also recovered the ducks shot, since they were taken by illegal methods.

Charges pending include taking waterfowl over bait, taking an over-limit of waterfowl and having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. The four men were issued appearance tickets and not physically arrested.

If convicted, the men could potentially be ordered to pay $29,000 in restitution ($500 for each duck) and to forfeit over $5,000 in high-end firearms, as well as having their hunting license revoked for three years each, along with the year of conviction.

In addition, the judge may order $50 to $500 in fines and costs and up to 90 days in the county jail.

“The acts of these poachers are an example of how our community is cheated by those who don’t care about anything but themselves,” Thayer said. “Whether it is related to a general violation of the law, or a fish and game violation of the law, they steal from us all. I’m proud of the hard work that conservation officers, like officers Rodgers and Simpson, do on a daily basis to bring violators to justice.”

Rabbers said the ducks confiscated would be used at the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Waterfowl Training School for training new officers on duck identification and necropsy studies.

Any ducks not used for this purpose will be donated to the Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Twin Lakes to help feed injured birds of prey, including bald eagles.

The DNR’s toll-free Report All Poaching (RAP) line number is 800-292-7800. Tips may be left anonymously.


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From refugee to Red Flannel Queen

Red Flannel Queen Mumina Ciise (left) is shown here on Red Flannel Day with Library Director Donna Clark, and court members Kaley Louck and Madison Case. Photo courtesy of the Red Flannel Festival.

Red Flannel Queen Mumina Ciise (left) is shown here on Red Flannel Day with Library Director Donna Clark, and court members Kaley Louck and Madison Case. Photo courtesy of the Red Flannel Festival.

By Judy Reed

For Mumina Ciise, being chosen as the 2016 Red Flannel Queen is a dream come true. And not all that long ago, this special event would never have seemed possible for Mumina or her family—a family that was just struggling to stay safe in war torn Somalia.

Mumina’s parents, Max and Maryan, fled Somalia with their seven children, due to civil war, when Mumina was only three-years-old. They hid below deck in a ship that was transporting livestock so they wouldn’t be seen escaping. The family thought they were going to Italy, but wound up in Turkey, where they stayed a few years. While there, Mumina’s older sister Fatima died of an intestinal disorder, and Max’s health deteriorated. They then decided to try to come to America. And with the help of the U.S. Embassy and other organizations, they were accepted to come to the United States as refugees.

After a year in Lansing, the family came to Cedar Springs in 2010, and ended up living in a two-bedroom apartment in town. People from the school and community made the family feel welcome, and helped meet their needs in many ways. Then, in 2015, they realized the dream of owning their own home when the Inner City Christian Federation approved them for a home to be built on a vacant lot on Cedar Street.

Mumina is very happy here. “I have lived in Cedar Springs for longer than I have lived anywhere else. Cedar Springs is my home. My friends, school, teachers, and church are all here!” she said.

The help that teachers here have given her has

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Woman sentenced for leaving toddler in car


Karol Anne Fitzgerald

Karol Anne Fitzgerald

A Stanton woman who left her sleeping two-year-old grandchild alone in the car while shopping at Walmart was found guilty Tuesday.

Karol Anne Fitzgerald, 71, of Stanton, was found guilty and sentenced on Tuesday, October 11, by Kent County District Court Judge Jeffery O’Hara. She was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to take parenting classes.

Police were called to the Walmart in Comstock Park on Saturday, May 21, at 6:18 p.m., on a report of a child left in a vehicle.

Kent County Deputy Ysquierdo arrived on scene and found the 2-year-old girl in the back of a running car. He was unable to awaken her, and it appeared she had a red face and was sweaty. When he forced his way into the car, the child began to wake up. She was transferred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with signs of heat exhaustion. She was later released to her mother with no injuries.

The Deputy then found Fitzgerald, who had initially gone into the store for a prescription and left the car running with the air on and a window cracked. She had reportedly been in Walmart about 40 minutes.

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Music Festival, games, family fun this Saturday


Fundraiser for Brison Ricker will be held rain or shine

n-music-festival-fundraiser-brison Would you like to have some great family fun and contribute to a good cause at the same time? Come on out to Skinner Field at Morley Park on Saturday, October 15, from noon to 5 p.m., for the Music Festival, Games and Family Fun event put on by Team Brison, to help raise funds for local teen Brison Ricker, who is suffering from a brain tumor.

This event will have a dunk tank for the kids who attend to dunk some of their favorite (or not so favorite) teachers and faculty (if the weather is warm enough). There will be live musical performances by the Larsen Brother’s Band, Riley Tate, Four Soldiers, Aubrianna Ensley, Mane Street, and Country Rewind.

The Grilling Company is donating Barbeque with sides (asking donations to Team Brison for the meal). Drinks and concessions will be sold at the Skinner Field Concession stand. Team Ensley will have a hot air balloon there for people to get into and check out. En Gedi will have bubble balls for bubble soccer from 12 to 3 p.m. There will be a cake walk, raffle items, auction items (Deer Mount, Carbon Fiber Arrows, Ice Fishing Pole, Michigan State tickets, and more), vendors, face painting, three legged race, and more.

Tickets are $5.00 if you purchase them ahead of time at eventbrite.com or $10 at the gate. To buy them ahead of the event visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/music-festival-games-and-family-fun-for-team-brison-tickets-27171816635

Brison Ricker is living with a rare and often deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG). With the help of medical professionals and advancements in medicine, he is battling his way through but needs more treatments.

The friends of Skinner Field have donated the use of their facilities for Team Brison to host a fundraiser for Brison and his family to help with medical costs. They can use a few more volunteers to help make this fundraiser event a success. If you would like to help out please call Perry at 616-439-0890. If you would like to be a vendor at the event please contact Amanda at 616-240-3174.

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Woman injured in deer crash


N-Kent-County-Sheriff-logoA Kent City woman was sent to the hospital in critical condition Tuesday after a deer that was hit by another car went flying through her windshield.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the accident occurred about 8:54 a.m. on Tuesday, October 11, on Algoma Avenue, just south of 15 Mile Road, in Algoma Township.

Doris Schoonmaker, of Sparta, was headed northbound on Algoma when she struck a deer with her 2007 Chevy HHR. The deer flew into the path and through the windshield of a southbound 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Linda Ball, of Kent City, and struck the driver.

A third vehicle then stopped at the scene and assisted the injured driver. Ball was given on-scene emergency care by Algoma Fire and Rescue and Rockford EMS and transported to Spectrum Butterworth with life-threatening injuries.

The driver that originally hit the deer was not injured. Neither vehicle had passengers. Both drivers wore seatbelts and police said neither alcohol nor excessive speed were factors. The crash remains under investigation.

According to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, fall is the most dangerous time of year for deer-vehicle crashes. Almost 50 percent of deer crashes occur October through December. There were 47,001 deer crashes in Michigan last year, and Kent County had the second most in the state with 1,528. Eleven people were killed in deer crashes last year, and another 1,132 were injured.

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The Post travels to Japan


Gabe Secord and his brother, Lucas, and their 2 cousins from Illinois traveled to Japan this summer June 27-July 13. They spent the time with their Grandpa Jim and Grandma Miyuki, who live just outside Takasaki, Japan. They visited many places in Japan and experienced so much. The photo shows Gabe, now a sophomore at Cedar Springs High School, standing in front of one of their many shrines.

Thanks so much to Gabe and Lucas for taking us with you to Japan!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Praying mantis gets ready for winter


Ron Parker, of Courtland Township, sent us photos of a praying mantis doing something you may not have seen before.

“My wife first spotted the insect as it started to deposit its egg case on one of the posts on our chain-link fence,” wrote Ron. “I went out and started taking pictures as she did her work. Once she was finished she remained for some time with just one leg resting on the case as if she was waiting for it to harden. I looked this insect up on google and found that the adult usually doesn’t make it through the winter, but the young come out of the egg case in the Spring—if the case survives the winter and other insects!”

Thank you, Ron, for sending that our way!

Do you have photos of nature you’d like to share? Send them to news@cedarspringspost.com, and include your name, where you live, where the photo was taken, what’s in the photos, etc. We will print as space allows, and look forward to seeing your photos!

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Nestlé Drumsticks recalled

Nestlé Drumstick Club 16 count Variety Pack are being recalled due to a possible health risk.

Nestlé Drumstick Club 16 count Variety Pack are being recalled due to a possible health risk.

Nestlé USA, Inc. is initiating a voluntary recall of its Nestlé Drumstick Club 16 count Variety Pack and 24 count Vanilla Pack (with cones marked for easy individual sale) due to a possible health risk. The two pack sizes contain 4.6 fl.oz. cones and were manufactured in Bakersfield, Calif. and distributed nationally. No other production codes, sizes or varieties of Nestlé Drumstick products are affected by this recall.

24 count Vanilla Pack (with cones marked for easy individual sale) are being recalled due to a possible health risk.

24 count Vanilla Pack (with cones marked for easy individual sale) are being recalled due to a possible health risk.

The company received positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes (LM) from equipment contact surfaces from a location on the production line where these products are made. There have been no positive test results for LM present in the Drumstick cones themselves. The products impacted by the voluntary recall were put into distribution inadvertently. No illnesses have been reported to date; the company is initiating this recall as a precautionary action to avoid any potential for consumer illness.

Listeria monocytogenescan cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The Nestlé recall is limited to the Drumstick Club 16 Count Variety Pack and 24 count Vanilla Pack, made at the company’s Bakersfield, Calif. ice cream production facility. The product identification codes can be found on the back of the packages and on the individually marked vanilla cones from the 24 count pack. The two packs being recalled carry distinct UPC codes, as well as a “best before” date and production code.

The 16 count variety pack has a UPC of 72554-11096 and best before date of June 2-June 15, 2017. The 24 count Vanilla pack has a UPC of 72554-00160 and a best before date of June 16-19, 2017. Visit http://www.nestleusa.com/media/pressreleases/nestle-drumstick-recall to see which for production codes under those UPCs have been recalled.

Consumers who may have purchased the product listed above should not consume it, but instead should return it to the place of purchase or contact Nestlé Consumer Services for replacement. Please call or text 1-800-681-1676 or emailNestleproductinquiry@casupport.com; representatives are available 24/7.  News about this recall also can be found on Nestléusa.com and Drumstick.com.

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