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Archive | Outdoors

Youth Hunt

Girl gets first buck during youth hunt

Haley Olson, 16, with her 9-point buck.

Haley Olson, 16, got her first buck Saturday evening, September 12, about 6:30 p.m., in Maple Valley Township, on their land. Haley is the daughter of Jeremy and Nikki Olson. The buck was a 9-point, and field dressed out to 180 lbs. Congratulations, Haley!

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Youth Hunt

Brothers both get bucks during youth hunt

Two local boys were both successful during last weekend’s youth hunt. 

Hunter Hankiewicz, age 14, took a 9-point that had a 17-inch spread.

His brother, Jack Hankiewicz, age 9, took an 8-point.  

The boys are the sons of Tami and Eddy Osgood, of Spencer township, and Ryan Hankiewicz, of Solon Township. They hunt in Mason County, where these bucks were taken. 

Congratulations to Hunter and Jack!

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Conservation officers urge proper etiquette on and off the river

Many landowners in northwest Michigan have posted their property as private to prevent anglers from trespassing to get to fishing spots. Anglers are asked to respect those postings and instead use state-managed public land to reach their fishing locations. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The abundant amount of Chinook and Coho salmon produced in the Betsie and Platte rivers every September, known as “fall fish runs,” draws anglers eager for this unique fishing opportunity in northwest Michigan. Unfortunately, the season also attracts illegal fishing activity and community disruption, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are working with local property and business owners to correct the situation.

Conservation officers are conducting enhanced patrols to reduce the illegal fishing, camping and parking, trespassing, littering and loud and abusive behavior.

“Local businesses and communities open their doors and welcome anglers every fall,” said Lt. Joe Molnar, the DNR’s district law supervisor who oversees officers in northwest Michigan. “Many people treat the area and fishing resources with care and respect, but those who live and work in these communities are tired of those who continue to snag fish, litter and exhibit poor behavior.”

Snagging is an illegal method of catching a fish using hooks, without the fish having taken the bait with its mouth. Read more on page 9 of the 2020 Fishing Guide at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/FishingGuide2020_684742_7.pdf?utm_campaign=fall+fish+run+etiquette&utm_medium=pr&utm_source=govdelivery.

Last September, conservation officers worked more than 900 hours and made 3,875 contacts in 14 days patrolling the fall fish runs in northwest Michigan.

“Snagging, littering and trespassing are the common violations we see during the fish runs,” Molnar said. “Landowners have gone above and beyond to clearly post their private property but continue to experience trespassers wandering their land to get to the next fishing spot—often leaving a trail of litter.”

Molnar encourages anglers to walk through state-managed public land to avoid trespassing.

Protecting the river systems in northwest Michigan is essential for continued success in replenishing the Chinook and Coho salmon populations. On Thursday, the Michigan Natural Resource Commission approved new regulations for the Betsie River Homestead Dam in Benzie County to prevent additional erosion, littering and unlawful activities.

Anyone found guilty of illegally taking fish may be charged with a misdemeanor, lose their fishing license, serve jail time and face fines and costs.

“At least four people served jail time for their unlawful activity during the fall 2019 fish runs,” said Sgt. Dan Bigger, who oversees the DNR’s fish run patrols.

For more on fall fishing opportunities and resources throughout the state, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

Anyone who witnesses a natural resources crime or has information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward. During 2019, more than $9,700 was paid to people who provided tips that led to the arrest or conviction of poachers.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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Trees down

Ranger Steve

Strong winds whipped trees to the breaking point throughout the Cedar Springs area a couple of weeks ago causing great damage. A power outage hit much of Cedar Springs, where homes were without electricity for 24 hours or longer. 

Tiny insects like the Harvester butterfly I recently wrote about survived. I saw one standing in its usual haunt on a following sunny day. At Ody Brook the top two thirds of a balsam fir in the yard was broken off. The tree was 30 feet tall. Now we wait to see if a branch will turn upward to replace the leader shoot. 

The tree was planted 35 years ago when the girls were young. We have pictures of them standing next to tree when they were taller than the tree and when Jenny was confirmed. We experience loss when any friend dies. I try to be a good friend to the species living and sharing Ody Brook. Though I have documented less than a thousand species here, I expect the number could reach a few thousand with the wonderful variety of insects. 

There were 10 locations with larger trees down across the trails that require chainsaw cutting to open the paths. Four have been cut but more work is needed. Our mission is biodiversity enhancement at the sanctuary but we open our property for others to discover and learn. Another article will address that. We have not charged for access, but donations are welcome for maintaining trails, signage and enhancing biodiversity.

Trees down on powerlines in Cedar Springs and in other communities is an immediate safety hazard and loss of power threatens cold food storage and, at certain times of the year, home warmth and pipes freezing. Trees on buildings might open roofs to weather elements and internal damage. Things could be worse. 

The current fires in California, Oregon, Washington, and other western states dwarf our problems. The high magnitude hurricanes coming off the Gulf of Mexico recently devastated communities to a greater extent. Of course, we focus on our own local problems, but we should recognize we are generating global problems through Anthropocene behavior. Rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans is causing climate change. It is causing self-induced problems, financial expense, and loss of lives and livelihoods for people and wildlife.

We can live like ostriches with our heads buried in the sand or run around like Chicken Little screaming “the sky is falling.” Neither is wise but we must acknowledge human generated problems and take action to resolve them. Pulling out of the world climate accord and ignoring the problem is an ostrich head in the sand behavior that requires us to demand immediate change. 

Changing from fossil energy fuels to alternative solar and wind energy is a reasoned moderation with positive direction for present and future generations of people, wildlife and plant community nature niches. It will provide increased employment, improve the economy, and stabilize community social wellbeing. It will require a change in attitude and behavior for those wanting to keep things the same. Without change we allow living conditions to deteriorate for both present and future generations of people and other life.

Trees down in communities by severe storms is systematic of global problems we are worsening by not proactively addressing climate changing behavior. We can increase employment by changing from fossil fuel use, improve the economy, help humans stave off self-generated life-threating problems, and be a solution that helps people and nature niches. Retraining worker livelihood skills from fossil fuel work to alternatives is good.

Dave Wagner and Weston Henry from the University of Connecticut recently concluded an article with “there is little doubt that the most important matters for those that value planetary biodiversity are to slow and mitigate climate change and the loss of tropical forests. These are the most urgent threats to butterflies and wildlife. We must dial back our use of fossil fuels, while simultaneously ramping up green energy technology and solutions.” 

We can choose a healthier future but it requires us to unite for positive actions and behavioral change. 

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.

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During Michigan Trails Week Challenge, every mile counts

Are you up for a challenge? During Michigan Trails Week (Sept. 20-27), the Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance invite Michiganders to pay tribute to trails and collectively walk, run, ride, hike, bike or paddle 100,000 miles.

Michigan is home to 13,000-plus miles of diverse, state-managed trails, plus thousands of miles of local, county and federally managed trails and pathways. Trail veterans and newcomers can help make every mile count by tracking mileage spent on any nonmotorized trail in the state during these eight days.

“Michigan Trails Week is the perfect time to get out and explore Michigan’s amazing network of trails,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Whether it’s on your first trail, your favorite trail or one brand new to you, the Michigan Trails Week Challenge is for anyone and everyone who wants to get out of the house and connect with nature.”

Explore Michigan and report your mileage; it’s that easy. Participants earn badges for completing miles; any distance counts. Every badge earned is another entry in a drawing for cool outdoor gear and Michigan branded prizes.

Folks on horses on trails.

You earn a badge when you register for the event and log at least 1 mile, and then every time you:

• Horseback ride for 5 miles.

• Walk, run or hike for 5 miles.

• Bike for 10 miles.

• Paddle for 2 miles.

There is no limit to the number of badges that can be earned. The more mileage you log, the more badges you earn, and that boosts your chances to win and helps the DNR and Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance reach the 100,000-mile goal.

“During this past year, trails have provided me with endless peace of mind,” said Andrea LaFontaine, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance. “Now, more than ever, we are seeing the importance of trails to our personal well-being and to our communities. I encourage you to invite a friend, recruit a family member and sign up for the event. I look forward to hitting the trails with you, virtually!”

The Michigan Trails Week Challenge is also an opportunity for people to support trails by donating to projects in need of help. The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance will act as fiduciary, ensuring that all monies raised for specific trail projects will go directly to those projects. In that spirit, the DNR will continue expanding, developing and maintaining the state’s vast trails system for the benefit of all Michigan residents.

The DNR manages one of the largest interconnected trail systems in the country, and many of those trails are accessible to people of all abilities; accessible kayak launches and track chairs also are available. There are many accessible recreation resources at community parks, too; check with local recreation authorities to see what’s available.

The challenge is a good way to socially distance during this time, but make sure to bring a mask and hand sanitizer with you and keep 6 feet apart from other people on the trails. For more information on Michigan Trails Week and to sign up for the challenge, visit Michigan.gov/TrailsWeek.

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Nature Niche Appeal

Ranger Steve

Observing wild creatures has great appeal. People visit state, national, and county parks to enjoy animal antics, seasonal blooms, and tree colors. The events unfolding in yards draws us outside to enjoy sun, garden, breeze, and beauty. It is a joy to share nature niche appeal occurrences about fish, warblers, butterflies, fireflies, squirrels, moles, stars, pond life, herons, canoeing and more.

Flowers, insects, and birds thrive together allowing survival that is dependent on one another. It is revealed in intricate relationships. 

My desire is to enrich reader interest in the natural world on which we depend. 

Within our community we depend on each other in intricate ways. Covid-19 has caused havoc. I am associated with business owners that tell me their business activity and income has increased and others whose livelihoods are precariously on the edge of closing their doors permanently. 

How we pull together as a community depends on personal action. The CS Post and other papers unfortunately have been hit financially hard for a number of reasons that have been explained in a number of articles in the paper in recent years. My effort of contributing nature niche articles is a volunteer effort guided by passion to increase appeal and support for nature that is essential to sustaining community livelihood. 

It has become increasingly difficult for the Post to continue printing nature niche articles because of space cost restrictions. If nature niche articles are appealing, I suggest readers contribute financial support to keep the paper in print. Beyond the nature niche, it documents local events in a manner otherwise left as a deep void. Please send a check or stop into the office to provide support and let the staff know how important their work is to you. 

It is good to support businesses that advertise in the Post but direct personal support is also important. 

I hope to continue sharing the richness of the natural world. That depends on the community’s supportive role to help local businesses like the CS Post survive. Contribute to keep our local paper serving the community. The paper gives and we receive. Give to the paper so readers continue to receive.

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.

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Invasive European frog-bit found in Mid-Michigan

European frog-bit resembles small water lilies, with white, three-petaled flowers visible between June and August.

Boaters, waterfowl hunters and anglers can help prevent further spread

EGLE Aquatic Biologist Tom Alwin removes European frog-bit from a backwater area in Pentwater River State Game Area.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy recently confirmed the presence of European frog-bit, an aquatic invasive plant, in four lakes within the Waterloo Recreation Area in Jackson and Washtenaw counties and one impoundment in the Dansville State Game Area in Ingham County.

Aquatic invasive species have the potential to harm Michigan’s environment, economy and human health. European frog-bit, which resembles a miniature water lily with leaves about the size of a quarter, can form dense mats on the surface of slow-moving waters like bayous, backwaters and wetlands. These mats can impede boat traffic and alter food and habitat for ducks and fish.

Spreading across Michigan

European frog-bit was first detected in southeast Michigan in 1996 and has since spread along the coastal areas of lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula.

In 2016, the plant was discovered in Reeds and Fisk lakes in East Grand Rapids. It was found in several small bodies of water in Oakland County in 2018 and in the Lower Grand River in Ottawa County and Pentwater Lake in Oceana County in 2019.

While waterfowl, currents and stream flow can spread the plant and its seeds, European frog-bit, like most invasive species, travels farther and faster by human movement. Plant parts and seeds can become attached to boat motors, trailers, decoys and other recreational gear in an infested body of water and be transferred unintentionally to another location.

What is being done

To date, EGLE staff has completed surveys of bodies of water in the Dansville State Game Area and Waterloo and Pinkney state recreations areas, as well as most lakes with public access in the area, finding no additional infestations.

All visible frog-bit plants were successfully removed by hand from Mills Lake, but due to heavy infestations, Mud, Green and Winnewanna lakes and the Dansville State Game Area impoundment require more intensive response options that cannot be completed in 2020.

Survey and removal efforts are ongoing in West Michigan, where crews from the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) and the Gun Lake Tribe are working with EGLE to remove or treat infestations around heavily used boating access sites and to protect culturally and ecologically significant sites like wild rice beds in the Lower Grand River.

The Oakland County CISMA is continuing its survey of lakes and wetlands and has begun controlling the invasive plant in some infested areas. 

What you can do

To prevent further spread of European frog-bit, boaters, waterfowl hunters and anglers should clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and gear before moving them to a new location.

State law now requires boaters to do the following before transporting any watercraft over land:

Remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells.

Drain all water from live wells and bilges.

Ensure the watercraft, trailer and all conveyances are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.

If you spend time on or around the water, learn how to identify European frog-bit and report any sightings using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website at MISIN.MSU.edu or the MISIN downloadable app. When reporting, be sure to note the date, time and location of the sighting and take photos if possible.

Reports also can be made to EGLE’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program by email to EGLE-WRD-ANC@michigan.gov or by calling 517-284-5593.

To find out more about European frog-bit and other aquatic invasive species, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.

Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

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Predictable Harvester

Ranger Steve

Animals have mysterious routines we know little about to keep their bodies and minds fit. From early to late afternoon the Harvester visits selected roosting locations. It is a small butterfly with brown and tan undersides of wings that are visible when it stands on a leaf with wings folded upward over its back. A number of irregular silver lines or circles loop on the wing outlining brown speckles.

The top of wings can be viewed when the butterfly partially opens them. The upper wing has large patches of orange bordered in black. How color patterns aid survival is mostly unknown to me. Colors help with mate or rival recognition. 

Observations indicate predictable activity periods. I do not see the Harvester in the roosting area until afternoon and it continues a presence into late afternoon. The butterflies perch on shrub leaves about five feet above the ground along the north side of a forest clearing where sun glistens on leaves. There it stands patiently waiting. Later in the day it perches at the east border of the clearing when sun rays brighten leaf landing pads.

Apparently the butterfly has business elsewhere in the morning. Perhaps it travels to speckled alders and ash trees on the floodplain where wooly aphids suck juices from tender stems. Harvesters lay eggs among the white wooly wax covering aphids create and use it to cover their bodies. When the caterpillar hatches, it covers its body with the waxy fluff and begins eating aphids. It is concealed and camouflaged from its predators by the wax and eats peacefully controlling aphid numbers. 

The caterpillar develops rather quickly, pupates and soon emerges as an adult butterfly. 

I visit the butterfly’s afternoon roosting site daily on walks. When a second one flies near, it darts toward it. It could possibly be a suitable mate or rival male. 

Last year there were three broods. Spring, summer, and fall broods were present. The spring brood flew 31 May through 21 June. The summer brood flew from 19 July through August and the fall brood began in August and overlapped with the summer brood. Harvesters were present through 26 September. This year the spring brood began flight on 31 May and was only noticed until 6 June. A long gap occurred until the summer (or fall?) brood began on 5 Aug. That brood continues at this writing in late August. 

The Harvester is the only predatory caterpillar found in the United States and it aids rapid development. Others are vegetarians and mature more slowly. Every species has something uniquely special.

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.

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DNR sends firefighters, engines to help fight California wildfires

Captured on 19 August 2020, this Copernicus Sentinel-3 image shows the extent of the smoke from fires currently ablaze in California, US. Amid the blistering heatwave, which is in its third week, there are around 40 separate wildfires across the state. Record high temperatures, strong winds and thunderstorms have created the dangerous conditions that have allowed fires to ignite and spread. The fires are so extreme in regions around the San Francisco Bay Area that thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate. Photo by European Space Agency (ESA).

The first wave of Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters is preparing equipment to leave for California with off-road fire engines to help fight raging wildfires there.

“The California wildfires have devastated thousands of families, and Michigan is ready to help in any way we can,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The highly trained firefighters from the Michigan DNR regularly assist other parts of the country that are in need. Just like when California sent us ventilators in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re prepared to help our friends on the West Coast protect families, businesses, and wildlife from these fires.”

DNR firefighters volunteer for out-of-state assignments through a nationwide cooperative system and may be assigned to any state in need. Firefighters are matched with the area that has the greatest need for their skills and equipment. Plenty of firefighters also stay home to make sure Michigan’s needs are covered while volunteer teams are working elsewhere.

Currently, 15 states from Florida to Alaska are battling wildfires, with most concentrated in western states. Wildfires have engulfed vineyards in California, forced thousands to evacuate and burned homes and businesses. Firefighters in Arizona, Oregon and Colorado also are fighting multiple blazes at once.

Out-of-state assignments are valuable to firefighters who want to increase their experience and learn skills they can use to fight fires at home. Michigan is fully reimbursed for expenses when firefighters travel to assist other states.

Learn more about the DNR’s wildland firefighting program at Michigan.gov/FireManagement.

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Dragons and damsels

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Rapid flight with exceptional maneuverability allows dragonflies to challenge the flight skills of other insects and take them as food. They challenge our identification skills. We can identify them into major groups and even recognize some species easily. On the wing identification can be difficult. Along lake and stream edges, they land long enough for us to get a good viewing. Their eyesight is among the best in the insect world and they will take flight when approached too closely. 

Ebony Jewelwing damselfly. Photo by Marilyn Kiegley.

Practice stalking skills when exploring outdoors. Move slowly when you approach a standing dragonfly and be careful not to allow your shadow to fall upon it. First distinguish between damselflies and dragonflies. Marilyn Keigley’s photographs show Ebony Jewelwing damselflies hold their wings together over their back and White-faced Meadowhawks hold wings to the side like other dragonflies. 

We were taught as kids to fear dragonflies because “darners” would sew our mouths shut. We ran for the safety of homes when we saw a Green Darner. Many of us were raised with misconceptions. Hopefully we do better helping our children appreciate the wonder and beauty that thrives in yards and do not instill fear. 

The Ebony Jewelwing male has all black wings and the female has white spots near the wing tips. Which sex is pictured? Damselfly eyes do not touch each other. Dragonfly eyes touch on top of the head in most cases. The large compound eyes are composed of tiny individual eye facets that allow them to view their entire surroundings at once. Movement attracts their attention and focuses attention to a confined area.

Movement will alert a standing dragonfly of your presence. By moving very slowly you can approach closely before it takes flight. When the agile insect flies, it maneuvers quickly in pursuit of mosquitos or other prey.

Colors of the rainbow are encased on their exoskeletons. Our skeleton is uniform in color and hidden inside our body. The Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) wear their skeleton on the outside with muscles attached inside. To move wings, their muscles pull in different directions on the inside to make the wings go up or down by reshaping the thorax. The thorax where wings are attached is between the head in front and the long thin abdomen that contains digestive and reproductive organs behind.  

White-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly. Photo by Marilyn Kiegley.

Different species have iridescent color patterns. Many of the larger dragonflies like darners (the ones we were taught would sew our mouths shut) have yellow, blue, or green stripes angled on the side of the thorax. They are among the largest and have beautiful checker colored abdomens. August and September is migration season for some of the large dragonflies. The three-inch insects will travel south to a warm climate and reproduce. Their offspring will munch their way north as rapidly as spring allows small insect availability.

A group of dragonflies known as clubtails has a swollen tip at the end of the thin abdomen giving them their name. The skimmers like the meadowhawks, twelve-spotted skimmer, common whitetail, Halloween pennant, and widow skimmer have wider abdomens of various colors. Skimmers are smaller than darners and clubtails. Start dragonfly enjoyment by observing differences among groups like darners, clubtails, and skimmers. 

When comfortable notice more subtle differences. The white-faced Meadowhawk clearly shows a white face. There are cherry-faced, ruby-faced, and others. The scarlet abdomen with black checks along the sides adds brilliance among wildflowers. Wander fields for Meadowhawks but do not expect them only in meadows. Their ecological nature niche is broader. Dragonflies and damselflies require water for egg laying. Young develop and spend the winter as predators feeding on aquatic organisms in healthy flowing or still waters.

Close focusing binoculars that focus to six feet are best. Those focusing to 10 to 15 feet work. Those focusing at 30 to 35 feet prevent easy identification. You might choose to improve your stalking skill rather than buy close focusing binocs. Check prices to find a pair that is affordable and good for dragonflies, butterflies and birds.

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.

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