web analytics

Archive | Outdoors

Wildlife recognition

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

The average child can recognize 1,000 corporation logos but is unable to identify 10 plants and animals native to the region where they live. I have seen statements similar to this repeatedly during the past few years from research surveys. I have not tried to check the validity but it does raise concern. Kids get exposure to tremendous advertising. The question I pose is whether they get tremendous exposure by parents and grandparents to plants and animals that live in their neighborhood.

Check with your own children, grandchildren, neighborhood kids, and others to see how much exposure they get on their own or from you. It is likely that those reading this column expose youth to nature. Those children probably recognize plants and animals better than most kids do.

Those that do not read the nature niche columns probably associate with youth that are more likely to reflect the statistical normal. I suspect I am “preaching to the choir” with my writings. That is valuable because many readers tell me they learn new desired information. How to reach others is a dilemma that requires parents, grandparents, and friends to solve. Most people learn best by doing.

When my daughters were very young, we lived five miles east of Manistique, in the Upper Peninsula. Our home was one mile from Lake Michigan. We regularly walked a gravel road to a County Park on the shore. Along the way, we explored everything of interest and spent time discussing tree species and associated animals. Before the girls learned to talk, they clearly soaked up great knowledge.

We pulled a wagon so the girls could ride when they became tired of walking. At the beach, we found much to explore. Shorebirds ran on the wet sand and found food morsels by staying close to the coming and ebbing of waves. Gulls and terns were common. Occasionally we would see a Bald Eagle.

We stood on flat rocks surrounded by water. We each selected a special vantage point to search the water for life. When we did not desire to look for wild creatures, the kids played on the slide, swing and teeter-totter. It was joyous time outdoors where we built a meaningful relationship with our kids.

Some memories of experiences the girls had from ages one to four years might be recalled. Most are lost in the hidden recesses of their brains but I am confident they are still there and they played a vital role in their development.

At home, we played a form a concentration. Using picture cards of birds and mammals, I placed them face down on the floor and would ask for an animal. When they selected correctly, they got to put it in their pile. With each picture of a bird or mammal, I would make a sound and motion to associate with the animal making it more fun and interesting.

Before they could talk, they could recognize over 100 birds and mammals. The girls could recognize many tree species we saw on our walk to Lake Michigan. On camping trips, they were great observers and saw things I missed. Maybe this was because their eyes were closer to the ground but I think they simply learned to observe creatures that shared the world with them. They developed good observation skills.

It was fun to play wildlife concentration, walk to Lake Michigan, and explore outdoors. Of course, they would tire and we found other things to do when we were growing weary. Today they appreciate the multitude of life and try to live lives that promote sustaining a healthy environment for humans and other creatures. I still expose them to nature. Help children exceed the norm for wildlife recognition and keep it fun. The best learning comes from one on one experiences between adult and child.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

DNR urges caution when using fireworks 

To help prevent wildfires, the Department of Natural Resources urges people to place used fireworks, including sparklers, in a bucket of water after they’ve gone out. When thrown on the ground while they’re still hot, fireworks can cause grass fires that can spread to become wildfires. 

To help prevent wildfires, the Department of Natural Resources urges people to place used fireworks, including sparklers, in a bucket of water after they’ve gone out. When thrown on the ground while they’re still hot, fireworks can cause grass fires that can spread to become wildfires.

Warm weather and family gatherings can make the Fourth of July a fun time with great memories. But before you celebrate, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking residents and visitors to make sure they understand the importance of fireworks and campfire safety.

“With folks filling state parks, campgrounds and backyards to celebrate the Fourth of July, it’s vital that precautions are taken prior to lighting campfires and setting off fireworks,” said Dan Laux, DNR fire prevention specialist. “You can have fun while celebrating with friends and family, even if you’re being safe and making sure your property and our natural resources are protected. The best way to avoid the risk of starting a wildfire this holiday weekend is to attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.”
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to an average of 19,700 fires caused by fireworks each year. For those planning to use fireworks, the DNR suggests keeping these safety tips in mind:

  • Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt gold. Always place sparklers in a bucket of water when they have gone out; when thrown on the ground, they can cause grass fires.
  • Point fireworks away from homes and keep them away from brush, grass and leaves.
  • Chinese lanterns can stay airborne for 20 minutes and reach heights up to 1 mile high before coming down in unplanned locations. The open flame has the potential to start fires.
  • Soak all fireworks in water before throwing them in the trash.
  • Laux said that in addition to fireworks safety, people should keep the following things in mind when enjoying their campfires:
  • Use fire rings in nonflammable areas when possible.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Keep a water source and shovel nearby.
  • Place roasting sticks in a bucket of water when not in use.
  • Completely extinguish fires before turning in for the night. Douse with water, stir and douse again to make sure no embers are left.

“Fireworks and campfires are a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but you’ll enjoy the holidays much more knowing that your family and your property are safe,” Laux said. “Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”
For more fire prevention information and safety tips, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off

New state-record quillback 

Garrett Reid shows off the state-record quillback he bowfished on Hardy Dam Pond, besting the previous record by more than a quarter of a pound.

Garrett Reid shows off the state-record quillback he bowfished on Hardy Dam Pond, besting the previous record by more than a quarter of a pound.

Caught from same water body as 2014 record

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed another new state-record fish, this time a quillback carpsucker. This marks the fourth state-record fish caught in 2015.
The state record for quillback carpsucker was broken by a fish caught by Garrett Reid, of Nashville, Michigan, on Hardy Dam Pond, in Newaygo County Saturday, June 20, at 10 p.m. Reid was bowfishing. The fish weighed 8.52 pounds and measured 24 inches. The record was verified by Todd Grischke, a DNR fisheries biologist in Lansing.
The previous state-record quillback carpsucker was caught by Benjamin Frey, also on Hardy Dam Pond, Aug. 29, 2014. That fish weighed 8.25 pounds and measured 22.62 inches.
State records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist. To see a current list of Michigan’s state-record fish, visit michigan.gov/fishing.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

Glowing Sparks on Sleeping Bag

OUT-Nature-niche-Ranger-Steve-Head-ShotBoy scouts hiked two miles to Mr. Cook’s farm woodlot to set up camp. First, selecting a proper tent site was important. Then collecting adequate firewood to cook dinner was essential and additional wood was gathered for an evening campfire.

Once the essentials of camp construction like making a latrine were completed, games, exploration, and mischief followed. We practiced tying knots and completed other camp skill activities for rank advancement or merit badges.

In those days, we packed in heavy food. It predated most freeze-dried food. The food was good. After removing apple cores, we packed cinnamon sugar in the center and cooked them in aluminum foil on the fire. We made meat, potato, and vegetable stews.

We explored Mr. Cook’s farm woodlot for animal signs hoping to find deer, bears, and cougars. Well the bears and cougars were not present. The deer were good at avoiding us. Squirrels would chatter and scold us from high in tree branches.

Desirable insects were fun to observe. We found it necessary to wear insect repellant and lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants for protection from biting insects. When we were in sunny areas, the mosquito problems were minor but deer flies could be bad in season. We learned Native American practices to fool the flies. We cut a bracken fern and wore it so the stem held the frond over our head causing the flies to circle the leaf-like frond instead of circling our head.

Scout and Native American skills helped us live in harmony with nature niches. We discussed some or these around the campfire after dark and, of course, told scary stories to put others on edge before turning in for the night.

Some scouts sneaked away during the campfire and collected sparks. After collecting one or two hundred, they went to my dad’s tent, opened the flap and released the sparks inside. They quickly closed the flap and returned to the fire.

After bed check, my dad as scout leader went to his tent expecting a good night’s sleep outdoors. When he opened his tent, he saw glowing embers covering his sleeping bag. Immediate shock and thoughts of getting a water bucket surfaced until he realized the embers were lightning bugs or fireflies.

They were not flies at all. Fireflies are actually beetles that have highly efficient light production, with little heat production. Our incandescent light bulbs are inefficient and produce excessive heat. New style light bulbs will save energy and money without the excessive heat production like the firefly light. They are more expensive but you will probably save enough money within a year to offset replacing the old incandescent bulbs and it will also lower your harmful carbon imprint.

Once dad determined the blinking embers were insects, he realized the scouts pulled a good joke on him. Interestingly, where I grew up the Saginaw area, we had lightning bugs (fireflies) that glowed amber red. Most places, like where we live now, have green glowing fireflies. It is a mystery that I still do not understand. Maybe scouts today will become scientists of the future that explain this mystery. There is so much to discover and learn.

I became an official “Girl Scout” leader when my girls were of age and enjoyed learning with them. Find ways to enjoy the outdoors often with your kids and grandkids.

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 49319-8433 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Sunscreen in plants

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

A red pigment called anthocyanin has been considered a sunscreen that protects plants from becoming sunburned, much like the sunscreens we use to protect us, from ultraviolet radiation (UV).

Look at newly emerging leaves from buds and notice the red color of the delicate tissues that have not yet “hardened.” When leaves expand from the bud, they are somewhat like a water balloon. They fill with water but the plant cannot build the necessary support tissues that rapidly. Feel newly expanded leaves to notice how delicate they are. The cellular tissues remain thin for days.

The leaves of trees and shrubs expand rapidly but it takes much longer to reinforce cells with cellulose and other strengthening tissues. The first line of defense to protect delicate tissues from UV radiation would reasonably be found in the protective outer cell layer called the epidermis. This layer lacks the green chlorophylls that make leaves green and it also has a low concentration of anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is more abundant deeper in leaf tissues called palisade cells, where vertical rows of cells stand next to each other and circulate green chloroplasts to capture sun energy. It also is more abundant in photosynthetic cells beneath the palisade cells know as spongy mesophyll cells. Studies are trying to understand the mystery UV protection.

Think of the palisade cells like a series of farm silos packed closely together to fill a checkerboard. They are tall and slim. Imagine each silo filled with water and beach balls. The balls represent the chloroplasts that form a moving loop inside silo like an internal Ferris wheel. The chloroplasts are like seats on the Ferris wheel following others as they rise to the top and circulate back down to bottom. The spongy mesophyll cells below the palisade cells are more globular in water filled spaces between cells.

UV can cause damage to DNA in the cells of the two layers, just like damage can cause cancer in our skin tissues. Anthocyanin filters radiation to varying degrees and helps protect plants. Melanin in our skin serves that function and is built when our skin is exposed to UV and makes us tan.

Shade tolerant plants in the understory of forests are protected from intense sun radiation by the forest canopy. When trees are clear cut, the ground plants are suddenly exposed to UV and respond. They produce large quantities of anthocyanin and become intensely red. Unfortunately, it is not adequate to save them and most succumb to sunburn. Plants adapted to tolerate open sunny nature niches colonize the new sunny habitat. When you see a clear-cut forest, stop to notice how red the ground plants become when exposed.

Explore with family members to notice new growth on dogwood shrubs, maples, sassafras, oaks, and cherries. Choose any tree or shrub and feel how soft and delicate new tissues are and that they are pigmented red until they harden and feel sturdy. It is universal that the new tissues concentrate anthocyanin. The water-soluble pigment has other functions also but it plays a role as protective sunscreen. Phenolic acids in corn and other crops are UV-absorbing compounds so anthocyanin is not the only sunscreen. More mysteries are waiting discovery.

Declining levels of ozone in the upper atmosphere have generated concern because more UV radiation is entering the lower atmosphere where we live. In our latitudes, UV has risen by 3 to 5 percent in recent decades. Closer to the poles it has risen 6 to 8 percent. Increased skin cancer in people is occurring. People are not the only species impacted by UV radiation but we tend to think we are isolated from nature niches. That is not now nature works. What happens to plants happens to people. We do not live alone and sustainable care for other life is essential for our own health. Food and forest productivity depend on how we care for ozone layers.

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 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Get paid to allow hunting on your land

The DNR’s Hunting Access Program provides hunters with quality hunting land close to home and landowners with incentives for allowing hunters access to their property.

The DNR’s Hunting Access Program provides hunters with quality hunting land close to home and landowners with incentives for allowing hunters access to their property.

Landowners looking to make the most of their land can support local hunting traditions and economy, improve their land, and get paid to do it through the Department of Natural Resources’ Hunting Access Program. The DNR encourages landowners to consider enrolling their lands in the program, which provides private-land hunting opportunities in southern Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula. Landowners with at least 40 acres are eligible to enroll.

Michigan’s Hunting Access Program (HAP) was created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan, where 97 percent of the land base is privately owned. Landowners enrolled in the program receive an annual payment, up to $25 an acre, for allowing hunters to access their lands. HAP, one of the oldest dedicated private-lands public-access programs in the nation, provides access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties.

Using funds from the new hunting license package and a new United States Department of Agriculture grant, the DNR—in collaboration with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and local conservation districts—plans to continue expanding the program over the next three years.

According to DNR wildlife biologist Mike Parker, “Providing access to hunting lands that are close to home is critical for supporting Michigan’s strong hunting heritage. Our commitment to providing access has more than tripled the number of farms enrolled in HAP the past three years. We now have over 140 farms and nearly 16,000 acres available for public hunting.

“HAP is also good for the economy,” Parker said. “Hunters taking trips to HAP lands contribute $1.7 million annually to Michigan’s economy. The majority of the HAP hunter trips are only 25 miles from the hunter’s home, making HAP lands extremely accessible and close to home.”

Landowners have the ability to choose which types of hunting are allowed on their lands. Hunting options include:

  • All hunting
  • Youth and apprentice hunting only
  • Small game hunting only
  • Deer hunting only
  • Sharptail grouse hunting only

Landowners may choose more than one option, such as deer and turkey hunting only. Maximum payments will be given for all hunting or youth and apprentice hunting options.

In order to manage the number of hunters using HAP lands at any one time, hunters are required to register to hunt each time they visit the property. The landowner can select either a mandatory registration at their home or a hunter self-registration box, which the DNR will provide and install. The maximum number of hunters allowed on the property is determined by the total acreage, as well as the habitat type. Leases are for a two-year period, with annual payments made each spring.

To ensure landowner and hunter satisfaction, HAP offers landowner liability protection. Public Act 451 of 1994 addresses the concerns some landowners have over sharing access to their land. In addition, HAP lands are patrolled by conservation officers, with an increased focus on patrolling during the busy fall hunting season.

Visit www.michigan.gov/hap to learn more about the program and to see a current list of private lands available for hunting in Michigan. The HAP Web page includes details about enrolled properties, including types of hunting allowed and aerial photos of the properties.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

Introductory camping experience 

 

At Newaygo State Park June 27-28

OUT-NewaygoStatePark

Newaygo State Park—Newaygo State Park’s Recreation 101: Intro to Camping program allows first-time campers to enjoy the park’s scenic views, diverse recreation opportunities and the entire camping experience with free equipment.

Newaygo State Park, in West Michigan (Newaygo County), will host a group campout experience for new campers Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28. Participants in the Recreation 101: Introduction to Camping program can borrow camping equipment at no cost from the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 trailer.

DNR staff will guide participants through making a reservation, checking in, setting up a tent and starting a campfire. Instruction on popular recreation activities such as archery and geocaching also are included.

Tents, chairs, cook stoves and flashlights will be provided, but participants must bring supplies such as bedding and food.

“Camping can be a little intimidating if you’re new to it,” said Elissa Buck, a DNR recreation programmer. “This program helps people try it out in a fun, social setting with all the gear, guides and good times included.”

Participants must register in advance to participate in the campout and to reserve camping equipment from the Rec 101 trailer. Regular camping rates apply ($13 per night and an $8 reservation fee) and a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Newaygo State Park.

For more information or to register for the program, please contact Elissa Buck at 989-313-0000 or bucke1@michigan.gov.

Newaygo State Park contains a 99-site rustic campground overlooking the Hardy Dam Pond, a 6-mile flooding of the Muskegon River. The park caters primarily to campers, anglers and recreational boaters. There are several picnic sites overlooking the reservoir for day users. The campground is nestled in oak and poplar forests and is noted for its large, private sites and scenic beauty. There is a 20- to 30-foot forested buffer between campsites, and each site is provided with a picnic table and a fire ring. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/newaygo.

The Recreation 101 trailer can be reserved for large group campouts at Michigan state parks by contacting Elissa Buck at bucke1@michigan.gov.

Recreation 101 is a series of free, introductory programs at Michigan state parks, taught by DNR staff and expert volunteers. Learn more and find a Rec 101 program near you at www.michigan.gov/rec101.

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr to subscribe now.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off

Tips for residents encountering snakes

 

The only venomous snake species found in Michigan, the rare eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy and avoids humans whenever possible.

The only venomous snake species found in Michigan, the rare eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy and avoids humans whenever possible.


From the Michigan DNR

This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan’s snakes. Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans.

There are two that are very similar and often cause a stir when people encounter them. Eastern hognose snakes, when threatened, puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.”) If this act is unsuccessful in deterring predators, the snakes will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans.

The Eastern massasauga rattlesnake the only venomous snake species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss. As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with other harmless species of snakes in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but also will buzz their tails if approached or handled.

Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes are shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as “swamp rattlers,” they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice. When encountered, if the snake doesn’t feel threatened, it will let people pass without revealing its location. If humans do get too close, a rattlesnake will generally warn of its presence by rattling its tail while people are still several feet away. If given room, the snake will slither away into nearby brush. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan (fewer than one per year), can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention immediately. To learn more about the massasauga and for more snake safety tips, visit http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/index.cfm.

Those who encounter a snake of any kind should leave it alone and should not try to handle or harass the snake—this is primarily how snake bites happen. A snake can only strike roughly one-third of its body length, so it is physically impossible for people to get bitten if they do not get within 24 inches of the snake’s head. Michigan snakes do not attack, chase or lunge at people or seek out human contact. Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone.

To learn more about Michigan’s snakes, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife, click on the “Wildlife Species” button and select “Amphibians and Reptiles.”

Also, be sure to check out the DNR’s 60-Second Snakes video series for identification tips and information about Michigan’s snake species.

The DNR asks Michigan residents to consider reporting any reptile or amphibian sightings to the Michigan Herp Atlas research project to help monitor amphibian and reptile populations in Michigan and protect these valuable resources for future generations. Visit www.miherpatlas.org for more information.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

Butterfly Counts

 

Please join some or all of the West Michigan Butterfly Association counts.

Counts are sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) and cost $3 for each participant. The money is sent to NABA to create a publication available to any one interested. Scientists make good use of citizen science data. Between 17 and 22 different counts are held in Michigan annually. As Michigan’s count editor, I review and write the annual Michigan summary report the proceeds the count reports.

To locate different species and count numbers we carpool to various sites during the day.

The purpose is to have a good time outdoors as well as to learn to identify species, learn habitat associations, behavior, and nature niche needs. Some families come for part of the day while others stay the full day. Also consider joining our West Michigan butterflies Association – membership $5/year.

Bring a bag lunch, plenty to drink, snacks, and dress with lightweight long sleeves and pants to protect from any biting insects or raspberry thorns. We explore off trails when searching for butterflies.

Dates and meeting locations:

July 5, 2015 (Sun) 9:00 a.m.

Allegan Butterfly Count – Allegan Co.

Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

Meet at the Fennville Allegan State Game Area headquarters, 6013 118th Ave, Fennville. odybrook@chartermi.net

July 7, 2015 (Tues) 9:00 a.m.

Newaygo County Butterfly Count – Newaygo Co.

Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

Meeting at Plum’s Grocery parking lot at the corner of M82 & M 37 in Newaygo. odybrook@chartermi.net

July 11, 2015 (Sat) 9:00 a.m.

Grand River Park Butterfly Count – Ottawa County Parks

Leader: Dennis Dunlap

Meet at Grand River Park, 9473 28th Ave., Jenison (north of Filmore St.)

dunlapmd@charter.net

July 12, 2015 (Sun) 9:00 a.m.

Rogue River Butterfly Count – Kent Co.

Leader: Ranger Steve (Mueller)

(Kent, Newaygo, Montcalm Counties)

Meet at Howard Christensen Nature Center Welcome Center 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City odybrook@chartermi.net

July 19, 2015 (Sun) 9:00 a.m.

Greater Muskegon Butterfly Ct – Muskegon Co.

Leader: Dennis Dunlap

Meet on Mill Iron Road from M-46 (Apple Ave.) east of Muskegon at second set of power lines that cross the road north of MacArthur Road. dunlapmd@charter.net

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 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

 

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Avian influenza found in free-ranging geese

OUT-freerangegeese

Three goslings in Macomb County test positive 

The Michigan departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) today announced the state’s first confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N2 in the state. The disease was found in free-ranging Canada geese in Macomb County. Avian influenza is a virus that can infect both free-ranging and domestic poultry such as chickens, turkeys, quail and geese.

Three goslings collected last week in Sterling Heights were delivered to the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory for necropsy. Initial testing was performed at Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health in Lansing. These tests were positive and the samples were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa, for final confirmation. MDARD and the DNR received confirmation Saturday, June 6, that the goslings were infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza, subtype H5N2.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from these HPAI viruses to be low. To date, no human HPAI infections have been detected in the United States. Avian influenza is not a food safety concern and no birds or bird products infected with HPAI will enter the food chain.

Michigan is the 21st state to report a case of HPAI since December 2014. In the other 20 states, the virus has been found in captive wild birds or free-ranging birds, backyard flocks, and commercial flocks. Michigan also becomes the 6th state to detect in wild or free-ranging birds only. To date, there are 226 detections of HPAI across the country (affecting approximately 50 million birds), with Iowa and Minnesota experiencing the most cases.
“While this is disappointing news that the H5N2 virus has been found in Michigan’s free-ranging bird population, it was not unexpected given avian influenza has been found in a number of our neighboring states and Ontario,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams.

Clover Adams stressed that avian influenza has not been identified in Michigan’s domestic poultry flocks. “MDARD will continue to work hand-in-hand with our backyard and commercial poultry farmers to conduct surveillance testing and provide education along with Michigan State University’s Extension on implementing and stepping up on-farm biosecurity practices to protect the health of Michigan’s domestic poultry,” she said.
Keith Creagh, DNR director, said the state’s chief focus now is preventing the disease’s spread in wildlife and its transmission to domestic poultry. “This confirmed positive finding of highly pathogenic avian influenza prompts several steps that are informed by Michigan’s Surveillance and Response Plan for HPAI in free-ranging wildlife,” said Creagh. “The DNR and MDARD are working with other experts and taking advantage of every available resource to ensure a swift, appropriate response that limits the spread of HPAI.”

The state’s wildlife HPAI plan was developed by DNR’s Wildlife Division in 2006. The DNR already practices regular examination of carcasses from mortality events affecting birds and samples live-caught and hunter-harvested wild birds.

Guided by the wildlife HPAI plan, the DNR will:

*Create an avian influenza (AI) Core Area, a 10-mile radius around the confirmed positive cases.

*Create an AI Management Zone, including any counties that touch the AI Core Area. In this case, the AI Management Zone will include Macomb and Oakland counties.

*Change goose relocation activities. The DNR routinely relocates nuisance geese in southeast Michigan to other parts of the state. The AI Management Zone will be under quarantine and roundup/relocation within these counties will be prohibited, except for the purpose of additional testing.

*Continue goose roundup and relocation efforts in the rest of the state.

*Change goose relocation drop-off sites so none are within a 10-mile radius of a commercial poultry facility in Michigan.

*Heighten AI surveillance in the two-county AI Management Zone.

*Increase biosecurity measures for contractors who relocate geese and anybody handling geese, as well as for waterfowl banders.

*Continue statewide AI surveillance, which includes responding to suspicious dead animals, conduct sample testing of geese being relocated, banding ducks and geese, and testing hunter-harvested waterfowl.

With this type of highly pathogenic avian influenza, there may be an absence of many of the routine signs of illness in domestic poultry. Sudden death and high death losses are major indicators of HPAI. However, sick birds may experience neurological signs; difficulty walking; lack of appetite, energy or vocalization; significant drop in egg production; swollen combs, wattles, legs or head; diarrhea; or nasal discharge, sneezing or coughing.

Wild birds commonly have avian influenza and sometimes spread it to domestic birds through direct or indirect transmission. Ducks and geese are considered carriers; however, geese generally do not pass it on.

MDARD, the DNR, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Veterinary Services (USDA, VS) and Wildlife Services (USDA, WS) and Michigan State University (MSU) are working together to conduct avian influenza surveillance and to monitor health of poultry, livestock, wildlife and residents in Michigan. Residents who notice the death loss of three or more free-ranging birds should report it to DNR at 517-336-5030. If your domestic flock is experiencing severe illness or multiple death losses, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or for after-hours emergencies call 517-373-0440.
For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/avianinfluenza or www.michigan.gov/aviandiseases.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off