web analytics

Archive | Outdoors

Leave wildlife in the wild

 

Do not take baby animals from the wild this spring

A white-tailed deer fawn waits for its mother to return.

A white-tailed deer fawn waits for its mother to return.

Spring is here, bringing warmer temperatures and the next generation of wildlife. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds those who are outside, enjoying the experience of seeing wildlife raise its young, to view animals from a distance so they are not disturbed.

It’s important to remember that many species of wildlife hide their young for safety and that these babies are not abandoned. They simply have been hidden by their mother until she returns for them.

“Please resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned baby animals,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator for the DNR. “Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.”

Schauer added that some animals that have been picked up by people and do survive may become habituated and may be unable to revert back to life in the wild.

“Habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behavior,” Schauer said. “For example, habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they get older and reach breeding age.”

White-tailed deer fawns are one of the animals most commonly picked up by well-intentioned citizens.

Schauer explained that it is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn and allows the fawn to go undetected by nearby predators. While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way. The best chance for their survival is to leave them in the wild. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, as this might leave your scent and could attract predators. Give it plenty of space and quickly leave the area. The mother deer will return for her fawns when she feels it is safe; she may not return if people or dogs are present.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please remember, a licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators must adhere to the laws and have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals. Licensed rehabilitators will work to return the animal to the wild where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting mi.gov/wildlife or by calling a local DNR office.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

Grumpy old robin a sign of spring

OUT-Robin

It’s now officially Spring, which means we see more robins. Jackie Gage, of the City of Cedar Springs sent us this photo of a robin visiting outside her window.

“Recently, I had a robin visit that looked old and grumpy,” wrote Jackie. “His back was a light gray and the orange breast was light also compared to the younger ones. He even had feathers sticking out of his chest, which reminded me of an old man’s hairy chest. He was huge, almost the size of a mourning dove. I named him Max, after the character of Walter Matthau on Grumpy Old Men. He came right up to my slider and had a staring match, eyeball to eyeball with my cat, Benny. Max looked grumpy about something and I tried to take a pic but he flew away each time he saw me. My granddaughter, Brenda Reed, 18  came to visit me last week and I told her about Max. Right after that he came again and she got some pretty good pictures!”

Thank you, Jackie, for sending us your photos of Max the robin!

Do you have a wildlife, Post Travels, Catch of the week, or other photo you’d like to send us? Email it to news@cedarspringspost.com. Include some information about the photo and your contact info. We will publish as space allows. Publication is not guaranteed.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

Motorists should report road-killed deer in southern Mecosta, NW Montcalm 

 

The Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development announced the finding of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a Mecosta County deer farm in late January 2017.

As part of the CWD surveillance effort in the area, the DNR requests that road-killed deer within specific townships in Mecosta and Montcalm counties be reported to a wildlife disease hotline. Samples are being collected from road-killed white-tailed deer found within Mecosta, Austin, Morton, Hinton, Aetna and Deerfield townships in Mecosta County, and Cato, Winfield and Reynolds townships in Montcalm County. To report road-killed deer in these townships only, call 231-250-2537. Leave a voicemail (or text) with location information, and staff will collect the deer as soon as possible.

The DNR asks the public and hunters to continue reporting deer that appear ill or are exhibiting unusual behavior (e.g., excessively thin, drooling, stumbling, approachable, etc.). To report such a deer, call the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 or fill out and submit the online observation report form, found on the DNR website at http://www.michigandnr.com/diseasedwildlifereporting/disease_obsreport.asp.

CWD affects members of the deer family, including elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals.

To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any risk to humans or other animals outside the deer family. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.

More information about CWD, including Michigan’s CWD surveillance and response plan is available at www.michigan.gov/cwd.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

DNR urges boaters to ‘Spring Aboard’ for training

 

Boaters encouraged to enroll in safety classes prior to season

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages boaters to enroll in a boating education course prior to the boating season. The reminder coincides with the national Spring Aboard – Take a Boating Education Course campaign at http://www.nasbla.org/spring that runs March 19-25.

“Educated boaters will have a safer, more enjoyable experience on the water,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, Michigan’s boating law administrator. “There are many safety courses across Michigan and online, making it affordable and convenient. Don’t wait until the season starts. It’s important to know what you’re doing before you head out on the water.”

Boaters born after June 30, 1996, and most personal watercraft operators must have a boater education card.

“Nationally, we are seeing an upward trend in the number of accidents and fatalities with nonmotorized vessels, which include canoes and kayaks,” Wanless said.

With this in mind, officials encourage all boaters, regardless of age or experience, to take a safety class.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that of the nationwide accidents in which the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator never received boating education.

During the Spring Aboard awareness campaign, some course providers may offer discounts or other incentives for students who enroll in or complete a course. The campaign is promoted by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the Coast Guard and several public and private organizations.

Get more information on boating safety, including who is required to take a safety class, on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/boating.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

Coyotes, Ducks, and People

 

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

 

One would expect coyotes to prey on ducks and their eggs. They do, but foxes are better duck hunters than coyotes. When coyotes are present, they keep fox numbers down. Studies by National Biological Survey research scientists found predator control programs that reduce coyote populations increase fox populations. The increase in foxes causes a greater reduction in duck production.

Many people support coyote control programs because they think it will reduce duck predation. Instead the increased fox population preys more heavily on ducks. At the same time, people support draining wetlands. Many wetland areas are drained or filled for farming or human habitation development. Wetlands are also filled to eliminate species we do not like such as mosquitoes. That reduces duck reproduction. Ducks Unlimited and other organizations work to establish conservation easements that restore drained wetlands and support programs that pay farmers to keep natural wetlands on their land. The Wetland east of Cedar Springs on 17 Mile Road is restored wetland that was drained for farming and has restored to the liking of waterfowl.

Loss of wetlands reduces spawning beds for fish like the northern pike. When pike decline, society spends money on hatcheries for restocking of pike. Poor land use decisions cost society more to maintain clean water, reduce flooding and to restore wildlife. The current proposed elimination of the Clean Water Rule by President Trump will have negative impacts on wildlife as well as community water of human use.

In Michigan’s past, predator control programs supported killing wolves. In locations where wolves and coyotes live in the same area, wolves kept coyote numbers low. Historically, coyotes were rare in Michigan.

Nature niches are finely tuned systems that function quite well until people decide to reshape them. When large predators live close to humans, there are occasions when they take the opportunity to kill domestic animals.  It is more effective to control a specific wolf or coyote problem than to try to eliminate a population.

When coyotes are removed through predator control, ecologic/economic studies have found coyote’s social structure is damaged and rapid reproduction occurs. Rapidly increasing populations spread into new areas. Additional money is then needed for more extensive predator control. A cost/benefit analysis shows it is generally poor and ineffective to try to control coyote populations instead of handling a specific problem.

It does not seem to make common sense that coyotes help duck populations increase but they do by controlling fox population predation. It does not seem to make common sense that wolves strengthen deer herd health but they do by keeping the deer population from over browsing habitats and causing long-term habitat damage. Human population expansion also reduces duck populations by destroying critical habitat. Many attributed reduced duck populations to predators, when it is often caused by human population increase. Human altered habitats and draining wetlands is more harmful to the ducks than predators. We do notice a growing human population reduces other life on Earth.

Coyotes live in our area but usually are not excessively abundant. Foxes live in our area but are not abundant. Life is very hard for all wildlife. Most coyote pups never live a year.

Predator nature niches are complex systems. It is necessary to control particular individuals that interfere with our livelihoods but large scale predator programs are usually unproductive, wasteful of life and money.

As a society, we have not recognized the positive role of predatory mammals like coyotes and wolves. Public understanding has gradually increased its understanding for how nature niches function. Public policy has not kept pace to reflect healthy land management but positive changes are gradually being implemented. Emotions usually trump research-based evidence and practices.

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 Outdoors, Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments (0)

DNR seeks comment on inland trout management plan

The public is welcome to comment on the DNR’s draft Inland Trout Management Plan, designed to protect species like Michigan’s state fish, the brook trout.

The public is welcome to comment on the DNR’s draft Inland Trout Management Plan, designed to protect species like Michigan’s state fish, the brook trout.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has released its draft inland trout management plan and is seeking public comment on it. The plan, available online at michigan.gov/fishing under Angler Alerts, focuses on the ecology and management of populations of inland trout in rivers and inland lakes of Michigan.

The intent of the inland trout management plan is to provide an overview of inland trout habitats in Michigan, the biology and ecology of inland trout populations, and management activities directed toward inland trout and their habitats. This information provides a basis for understanding the role of inland trout in current and future management of fisheries in Michigan’s inland lakes and streams.

This report does not cover species such as Chinook or coho salmon and migratory rainbow trout (steelhead), which reside in the Great Lakes and migrate inland on a seasonal basis. It does cover inland trout that primarily reside in streams and inland lakes throughout their lives.

Sections of the report focus on distribution of trout waters in the state, origin of inland trout fisheries, biology of inland trout in streams and lakes, fishing regulations, status of fisheries and other topics.

Public comments may be submitted via email to DNR-FISH-ManagementPlans@michigan.gov by Friday, April 14. Written public comments also will be accepted at Marquette Fisheries Research Station, attention Troy Zorn, 484 Cherry Creek Road, Marquette, MI 49855.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

Make life better

 

Ranger Steve

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Thanking Mr. Hayes was important for both of us. He taught middle school social studies to help me develop social responsibility and understanding for my role in living a healthy productive life for myself. Several years ago, I wanted to thank him. When I looked at the city’s long list of Hayes in the phone directory, I had no idea which one would be his phone number.

I called my high school biology teacher to ask if he happened to know Mr. Hayes so I could call to thank him for his role in my life. Serendipitously, he said, “Yes. Do you want to talk to him now? He is here visiting.” Though it had been 40 years since we heard each other’s voices, I recognized his immediately. I doubt he recognized mine or clearly remembered me.

We had a nice conversation and I mentioned a social studies assignment that was helpful. We were told to interview someone in a profession we might want to pursue. I interviewed a conservation officer. After the conversation, I imagine Mr. Hayes probably asked Fred Case to remind him about who I was. Hopefully, my good points were shared. Mr. Hayes did not let on that he did not recall me, but I did not think he could picture me in his classroom. Mr. Case died about a decade ago. Perhaps Mr. Hayes did also.

What we do during our lives can have important impacts on those around us while it improves our own lives. Think about your neighbors and their role in your life. Bees and other insects are good neighbors. They make it possible for us to eat many choice foods. They bring birds to our yards. We cannot call to thank them for their role in our lives but we can do better.

We can provide yards as safe havens full of selected native genotype plants. Buying plants native to the region instead of cultivars is a first major step. Ask landscape nurseries if they sell native genotype plants. If they do not, request they start by having a small section designated for such plants. Hopefully they will and the section will grow larger each year if buyers like you select plants that support native pollinators and wildlife.

Many cultivars sold have had important qualities needed for animal nature niches bred out of them by accident while other characters were selected. Some characteristics like larger flowers or double petals are nice but the breeding process often results in some valuable wildlife characteristics being bred out of them. Take joy in plant characteristics of native stock that evolved with insects, birds, and mammals instead of seeking excess of one character.

Google River City Wild Ones to view their web site and learn more about sources for native plants. Providing yards that support native species is one way to thank species we cannot directly converse with. Avoid use of pesticides and herbicides in yards and gardens. It will provide a richer and safer habitat for you to enjoy and supports survival of native species.

Our thank you is well received by native plants that grow and support native animals. Spring life is well underway in the wild natural areas of the yard. On 9 March, high wind gusts broke a silver maple branch that revealed its flowers had already shed pollen from anthers. A willow shrub had fuzzy pussy willow buds. Both hazelnut and speckled alder catkins had elongated but flowers were not yet open. Skunk Cabbage spathes with spadix flowers were present on the floodplain muck. On the 10th, an Eastern Screech Owl spent the morning peering at us from the nest box we provided. Eastern Bluebirds were inspecting nest boxes.

Thank a person important for improving your life. Allow plants and animals to thank you for providing them good living conditions in your yard. They will thank you by being present for you see and enjoy.

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 Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments (0)

Tuesday Talks: Trout in Cedar Creek

OUT-Tuesday-Talk-Brook-TroutThe Rogue River Watershed Partners present:

Tuesday Talks: Trout in Cedar Creek

Learn about the fascinating results of GVSU student Justin Wegner’s brook trout movement study on Cedar Creek. He will be at Cedar Springs Brewing Company on March 28, 6-7 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

DNR sees increase in Master Anglers

Janet Huff, of Marcellus, Michigan, shows off the 31.25-inch channel catfish she caught in Devils Lake in July 2016.

Janet Huff, of Marcellus, Michigan, shows off the 31.25-inch channel catfish she caught in Devils Lake in July 2016.

 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced the 2016 results from its Master Angler program. This program, in place since 1973, recognizes large fish caught by recreational anglers.

This past year, 1,807 anglers representing 24 states and the countries of Canada and Austria submitted catches that were recognized as Master Angler fish. That’s an increase from the 1,542 fish recognized in 2015 and nearly double the 987 fish recognized in 2014. Of the entries accepted, 1,078 were in the catch-and-keep category while 729 were in the catch-and-release category. A total of 241 anglers received certificates for fish placing in the top five for both categories.

Here is a breakdown of the most popular 2016 Master Angler entries by species:

  • 201 bluegill
  • 101 smallmouth bass
  • 93 crappie
  • 90 common carp
  • 89 pumpkinseed sunfish
  • 88 walleye
  • 87 freshwater drum
  • 75 channel catfish
  • 73 rock bass

Master Angler entries for 2016 included one state record: the 9.98-pound smallmouth bass caught on the Indian River by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida.

Submissions already are being accepted for the 2017 Master Angler program, and will be until Jan. 10, 2018. To download an application, visit Michigan.gov/masterangler. Anglers are encouraged to submit their applications as they catch their fish and to not hold onto them until the end of the year.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

Ready for Spring?

 

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

The warm spell in February was a big tease. It forced me into action. I pruned some low branches along trails at Ody Brook that I knew would grow to interfere with free travel. I thought hazelnut shrubs would appreciate me clearing some shrubs and small trees away from them to provide space for growth. There are relatively few hazelnut shrub clumps in the nature sanctuary and I want to encourage their survival.

The landscape mound’s dead vegetation was left standing in fall as a place for insects, birds, and rabbits to use as shelter during the winter. Usually before March ends and snow has melted, I rake the dead stems from the mound to allow unimpeded new spring growth.

There is always something to draw one outside every day of the year but the extreme February warmth and sun created an irresistible enticement. I got a jump on spring “clean-up.” It was good exercise for my muscles with the rake instead of using exercise equipment. Exercise equipment might be better for targeting specific muscles for toning but somehow indoor machines leave me empty compared with good meaningful work in the yard.

The benefits of work in the yard are many. It helps maintain appropriate living space for wild neighbors. I see animals moving about more during the warming. Two Sandhill Cranes flew over to increase my outside enjoyment. They were my first for the year. Anxious to reach breeding grounds, they advance north as quickly as the frozen water retreats. Finding remnants of corn left in fields, mice, and aquatic animals in open shallow water sustains them.

Frogs were active in their nature niche during what must have seemed like spring’s arrival. Unfortunately, some explorers of territory do not survive the early season jaunts. I went to the road to remove animals killed by passing vehicles. An opossum lay dead just north of the creek, where it tried crossing from west to east during the night. In late afternoon, a wild turkey lay dead south of the driveway where it was not present at midday.

For early spring color and nectar, daffodils and irises were planted in the gardens years ago. Already in February, the warmth stimulated activity. Daffodil leaves stood three inches tall and irises showed green to one inch above ground. I would not have seen their rush to grow if I did not do some early season gardening. I have learned from observations during previous years the new growth will survive the coming cold that will return.

The warmth persisted and I cleaned the butterfly garden of dead leaves well before the spring equinox. I looked for butterfly activity in the woods and was surprised I did not find Mourning Cloak or Eastern Comma butterflies taking advantage of unseasonable sunny warm weather.

The Sugar Maple trees by the house were daily dripping sugar rich sap from winter wounds during the warm spell. Birds like chickadees and titmice carry black oil sunflower seeds from birdfeeder to tree branches where they peck the hulls to get seed meat. In the process, birds break thin bark on small branches. The wounds drip sap.

Some butterflies that hibernate as adults find the wounds a rich source for nutrition to recharge their energy after months of not feeding. Though they hibernate and use little body fat during the cold, it must be good to wake to a ready source of quick sugar sap energy from bleeding wounds.

Take the opportunity to witness spring life in your yard.

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 Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments (0)