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Silver carp eDNA detected in Lake Michigan tributary

This is a photo of a silver carp (a species of Asian carp) found in waters outside Michigan boundaries. Though no live silver carp has been found in Michigan waters, a recent positive environmental DNA (eDNA) result for silver carp was found within the lower Kalamazoo River in Allegan County, Michigan.

This is a photo of a silver carp (a species of Asian carp) found in waters outside Michigan boundaries. Though no live silver carp has been found in Michigan waters, a recent positive environmental DNA (eDNA) result for silver carp was found within the lower Kalamazoo River in Allegan County, Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are collaborating to assess a recent positive environmental DNA (eDNA) result for silver carp—a species of Asian carp—within the lower Kalamazoo River, Allegan County, Michigan.
Two hundred water samples were taken in July 2014, along the Kalamazoo, from below the Caulkins Dam in Allegan County, to the mouth of the river. Laboratory results, which take several months to process, were reviewed by the DNR Oct. 2. One of the of 200 samples tested positive for silver carp eDNA. The positive sample was taken from just below the Caulkins Dam.

An additional 200 eDNA samples were collected in the same vicinity in June and resulted in no positive results. The July sample represents the first time that Michigan has experienced a positive result for silver carp eDNA in Michigan’s Great Lakes waters outside of Maumee Bay.

The findings indicate the presence of genetic material of silver carp, such as scales, excrement or mucous. However, there is no evidence that a population of silver carp is established in the Kalamazoo River. In addition to live fish, genetic material can enter water bodies via boats, fishing gear and the droppings of fish-eating birds. The lower Kalamazoo River is popular for recreational activities including fishing and boating. Activities such as these may increase the possibility of eDNA entering the river without the presence of a live silver carp.

“Although not conclusive, this finding heightens our vigilance and sets into motion a specific response,” said MDNR Director Keith Creagh. “We will work with our partner organizations and anglers on next steps to protect the Great Lakes and its tributaries against this significant threat.”

In response to the finding, the MDNR:

Requested additional assistance last Friday from the USFWS to implement a third eDNA surveillance effort on the lower Kalamazoo River. The collection of an additional 200 samples begins Oct. 7. Analysis of the samples will be expedited and results should be available within a month.

Will increase the presence of MDNR staff along the Kalamazoo River to enlist anglers to report any Asian carp sightings.

Will place information in local bait shops to broaden public awareness.

“At the state’s request, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing all the resources and technical expertise we have available,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “The Service is committed to working in a coordinated, landscape-level, approach to prevent the establishment of self-sustaining populations of Asian carp in the Great Lakes.”
Asian carp, including bighead and silver carp, pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion fishery, and other economic interests dependent on the Great Lakes and its tributaries. Silver and bighead carp are likely to compete with native and recreational fish species and are known to quickly reproduce.
“The Kalamazoo River results further point to the urgency of the Great Lakes states to be vigilant in seeking all solutions to keep Asian carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes basin,” said Creagh. “Michigan continues to advocate for hydrological separation between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes basin as the best long-term solution to the threat of Asian carp. By working together as a united front, we can address the imminent threat invasive species pose to our quality of life.”
Anglers and boaters are vital stewards to prevent movement of Asian carp and other invasive species that threaten Michigan’s waters. Anglers are urged to become familiar with the identification of Asian carp, including both adults and juveniles, as the spread of juvenile Asian carp through the use of live bait buckets has been identified as a potential point of entry into Great Lakes waters. Anglers and boaters are strongly encouraged to drain all water from their boats and to clean boats and gear. Invasive species and eDNA are known to “hitchhike” within live-wells and attach to boat trailers, anchors and fishing gear.
A video demonstrating how to identify bighead and silver carp can be viewed on the USFWS YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/B49OWrCRs38?source=govdelivery. A video focused on identification of juvenile Asian carp species can be viewed at http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153–317128–s,00.html. Identification guides, frequently asked questions, management plans and an online reporting form for Asian carp sightings are available online at michigan.gov/asiancarp.
More information on eDNA is available here: http://www.asiancarp.us/edna.htm. Results of eDNA monitoring from the Midwest region are posted here: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA.html.

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Youth hunt

OUT-YouthHunt-ChloePetersen

 

Chloe Petersen, 13, the daughter of Brian and Amy Petersen, of Gowen, went hunting in Lakeview with her Grandpa, Richard Jones, for the youth hunt. They were in a blind, and it didn’t take long before she saw her first buck. She was a little nervous, however, and was worried she wouldn’t make the shot so let him pass.

“After I calmed down, and let myself know that I shouldn’t be worried, another buck came out in front of the blind. I looked into the scope of the gun, aimed, and then shot. The 8-point buck fell straight back without running. At that time, I realized being scared was worthless. My joy was about to blast out of me,” said Chloe.

She added that there was 14 inches between its horns.

Congratulations, Chloe, on a successful youth hunt!

 

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Catch of the Week

While visiting their Grandma and Grandpa Robinson on Bass Lake, near Gowen, these three boys—Tyler Robinson, 3, Nick Robinson, 5, and Nathan Robinson, 9—had fun catching some pan fish and releasing them. They are the children of Bob and Julie Robinson.

Congratulations to Tyler, Nick and Nathan! You made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Colors In the Wind

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Red Maples in swamplands are the first to show fall color. It is typical for stressed plants or weak dying plants to change color earlier. Difficult growing conditions in swamps are demonstrated by the red appearing first on the maples in standing wet conditions.

Sassafras trees show red or yellow depending on the amount of sugar, anthocyanin, and carotenes present in the leaves. Sumacs change early to become a beautiful crimson. At the equinox, color change picks up speed. Green still dominates the landscape.

Uppermost tree leaves change color first. Treetop leaves are exposed to chilling cold before more protected inner leaves. This results in color changes at the top first and is usually followed by leaf color at the tree canopy edge.

Fall breezes rustle leaves and we get to see the first colors in the wind drifting to the ground, as leaves break free. A few fall until a gust of wind fills the air with a couple hundred leaves. Cherries begin shedding leaves before many other species. Their leaves are not cherry red like the fruits but are yellow.

Aspen colors draw our attention as green and amber leaves quake in the slightest air movement. The leaves have a flat petiole that holds the blade to the stem. The flat petiole makes them quake easily. The movement captures our eyes and the sound of wind among the leaves draws attention. As fall progresses, aspens become beacons of reflected amber light in the setting sun. Amber aspens are like massive streetlights beginning to glow in the dimming evening woods.

Closer to the ground, dogwood shrubs are a deep dark maroon and raspberries are a rich red. Among the most brilliant fall colors are the Virginia creeper vines clinging to trunks of dead trees. They are exposed to full sun and have more sugar in the leaves. The exposure to sun aids pigment richness. The creepers that are more shaded from full sun are usually yellow.

Watch trees in various nature niche situations to discover subtle variations occurring where individual plants work to survive in their unique location. Discover trees of the same species with one growing in less ideal conditions and notice it changes color before others of it kind growing in better conditions.

Plants shed leaves in preparation for winter by producing an abscission layer between the petiole (leave stem) and the branch. This is a layer of large cells that seals fluid movement from leave to stem or stem to leave. If weather conditions prevent leaves from shipping sugars from the leaves before the abscission layer forms, sugar gets trapped and fall colors become more beautiful.

Large cells of the abscission layer create a weak area where the leaves separate from the tree to create colors in the wind when they fall.

Sugar maples hold leaves well and then suddenly drop them in a few days. Karen’s parents often visit for her October 20th birthday. When they arrive, the two maples by the house still have many leaves. Her parents are always amazed by the time they leave three days later that most of the leaves have been shed.

Oak trees do not form a good abscission layer. The result is many of the leaves remain on the tree into winter or even spring when new growth pushes the old leaf off. Sometimes oak leaves turn red but it is usual for them to simply brown. Enjoy the flitting and fluttering of colors in the wind, while taking notice of individual trees.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net

 

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Wildlife Injuries

OUT-Nature-niche-Tattered-Monarch-web

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Animals can live with some injuries and others are deadly. Years ago, when Ruffed Grouse were more common at Ody Brook, one tried to fly through the living room side window and out the front window. It did not see the glass and broke its neck. For the past 20 years, I keep the side window blinds pulled most of the time to prevent similar collisions.

I photographed a Monarch during fall migration with wings so tattered that it could not possibly make it to Mexico. Perhaps it was one of the last breeding Monarchs of the season and not a member of the migration population. See photo.

Screens were removed from windows for winter but now I leave them. Birds would hit the window and die. Now they hit the screen and might get injured but I don’t find their corpses below the window. They hit the screen but they fly away.

During the late fall Rusty Blackbird migration, I found one near the pond. They migrate in large flocks from the far north summer breeding grounds. Their population size has been declining and it is not understood why. Summer breeding grounds are relatively undisturbed. Migration is a time of high mortality for birds. The Rusty Blackbird I encountered could not fly. It had a broken wing and was left behind. It appeared healthy except for the injured wing. It ran and hopped easily to get out sight. Unable to fly it would not survive winter and probably would starve in short order during fall.

Deer/car collisions in the vicinity of V&V Nursery and Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary increase during October and November. Usually one to three deer get hit at this time of year while crossing the road at Ody Brook. The county installed experimental Deer Crossing signs but found drivers did not slow down. The signs were determined ineffective and removed. Drivers do not reduce speed for posted deer crossings.

An injured deer with a broken leg frequented Ody Brook. I expect it received the injury from a car but was able to survive. The lower leg dangled loosely below the break. Another deer had an unusable leg with a swelling the size of a football.

One night I heard vehicle breaks and a skid. I went to see if someone crashed and needed help. The people were fine but they hit a deer that ran off. We used a flashlight to locate the deer at woods edge. When we approached, it managed to penetrate deeper into the woods. With further searching I found it with three broken legs. I called the sheriff. They shot the crippled the deer.

Spring and fall migrations result in high death rates, as do road crossings. Birds collide with buildings, windows, and other objects. A national program called “Safe Passage” encourages lights be turned off above 4th floors in buildings at night. Light causes birds to fly toward them during night migration where collisions result in death. It is especially dangerous on foggy nights. We can help animals survive with darkening shades or by turning lights off. If you work at a business with more than 4 floors, encourage managers to turn out lights at night for bird safe passage.”

We cannot prevent all collisions with vehicles or home windows but we can save some lives. Window decals alert birds to glass presence. Slowing down in the vicinity of Ody Brook and V&V Nursery will save lives of animals and people. There have been two human fatalities here.

Raccoons, squirrels, weasels, mink, small birds and a long list of others are found dead on the road. A Great Blue Heron flew low over the road and barely escaped being hit. Drive defensively in areas where wildlife frequently crosses roads. Save your life and theirs.

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

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DNR reminds deer hunters of license changes 

 

With Michigan’s archery deer season set to begin Oct. 1, the Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters of recent changes to the state’s hunting license structure.

The new license structure, that was authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013, took effect March 1, 2014.

Among the most significant changes affecting deer hunters, a base license is now required for all hunters. The base license provides critical funding for habitat and conservation work on both public and private land and supports the work of conservation officers and field staff to ensure safe, legal hunting practices are followed. The purchase of a base license includes small game hunting. Whether they choose to hunt small game or not, hunters’ base license dollars will be used to enhance and expand hunting opportunities, which benefits hunters of all species.

Deer licenses available include:

Single deer license, valid throughout archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. This license has replaced the separate archery and firearm licenses. Hunters who buy a single deer license may not buy a second single deer license or the deer combo license.

Deer combo license, which includes two kill tags, one regular and one restricted. Hunters who want two deer licenses must buy the deer combo license instead of the single deer license. This is required to implement antler point restrictions, which apply based on whether the hunter has purchased two deer licenses. The deer combo license is valid for use during the archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. A hunter can use both kill tags in the firearm seasons, both in the archery season or one in each season.

Antlerless deer license, available based on license quotas set for each Deer Management Unit (DMU).

To see how the single deer and deer combo licenses may be used in each deer season, based on which DMU a hunter wishes to hunt, see the Antler Point Restriction Regulations map and chart on pages 32 and 33 of the 2014 Hunting and Trapping Digest.

To learn more about this season’s hunting opportunities and regulations, see the DNR’s Fall Hunting Preview video on YouTube.

More information about the new hunting license structure, including license prices, frequently asked questions and details about how license dollars will be invested, is available at www.michigan.gov/dnr under “In the Know.”

For more details about hunting seasons, licenses and regulations, see the Hunting and Trapping Digest and Antlerless Deer Digest.

Those who have questions or need help determining which licenses to buy may contact their nearest DNR Customer Service Center.

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Fuelwood permits still available from the DNR  

 

 

With winter quickly approaching, the Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that fuelwood permits are available for the 2014 season, which runs through Dec. 31.
“Days are getting shorter and as much as we don’t want to think about it, it’s time to start preparing for winter,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “Burning wood is an economical way for folks to heat their homes, cabins and hunting camps if they’re willing to put in some work collecting firewood.”

Mail-in order forms are available online at the DNR’s website, www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.
Permits cost $20 and are for use on designated state forest land in the northern two-thirds of the state and allow for collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household. Fuelwood collected with a permit can be used for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. The permits are good for 90 days, but all permits will expire Dec. 31, 2014.

In response to residents’ heating energy needs this past winter, the DNR conducted early permit sales—more than a month before the traditional starting date of April 1. Because of the unique winter, the DNR is allowing those who purchased an emergency permit to purchase another regular permit in the same calendar year.
Through the successful program, which has been in effect for decades, between 2,500 and 3,500 permits are issued each year. For further information on how and where to purchase a personal-use fuelwood permit, contact your local DNR office or visit www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.

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Casting spinner rigs for walleye and bass

John Huyser with a small mouth bass caught on a crawler and a spinner.

John Huyser with a small mouth bass caught on a crawler and a spinner.

by Jack Payne

Recently we were taking advantage of the quick change in water temperatures on Lake Michigan. Whenever the lake flips over, the walleye move into the connecting waters. For most anglers this means trolling many rods and the use of planner boards.

We found the fish stacked just behind the pier heads and with a good breeze, casting was far more productive. That got me to thinking, which can be dangerous, and I remember many such days where we casted crawler harness rigs for both walleye and bass.

First with the walleye. When the walleye are suspended at a set depth and stacked into tight locations, casting keeps your bait in their face. Second, when trolling you are into the fish quickly and then out of them as fast. A slow drift or using the trolling motor will keep you over the pod of fish.

Jack Baar with a spinner walleye.

Jack Baar with a spinner walleye.

When casting for bass or walleye matching the sinker weight and style of sinker is very important. We use egg sinkers most of the time and we place them onto our main line above a barrel swivel or snap swivel. Then we attach our Ultra Violet Colorado crawler rigs from Stopper Lures. Add on a fat crawler and you are set to go.

Cast out and count down to the depth that the fish appear on your graph. Then a nice steady retrieve keeping the harness rig in the strike zone. You might need to play with your sinker weights. Some days an eighth ounce works best, other days it might take a half ounce weight.

Besides suspended fish coming in from the great lakes, this system will work over rock piles, reefs or even deep holes is your favorite river. An over looked location is any type of wood. Docks, standing timber and fallen trees are great casting locations.

On all of the connecting lakes to Lake Michigan, anglers will find many points to fish. You can spend an entire day just running the points and working each one for a few minutes. Throw in docks that run tight to the drop-off and you will stay busy all day.

Bass anglers should look for the same locations plus a healthy weed bed. Nothing beats a cabbage weed patch that borders a deep point. Work the spinner over the tops of the weeds and alongside of the weeds.

When working the deep side of the weeds or a deep point, cast out and let it sink to the bottom. Then start a nice retrieve that keeps the blade spinning. I know that a lot of bass anglers turn their nose up at the mere thought of live bait, but a crawler harness rig is the fastest way to a limit of bass. With the two hook rigs most of your bass will hit the last hook and be hooked in the jaw. This greatly reduces the chance of a gut hooked fish.

Right now I like the deepest structure when chasing bass. A deep point or a weed bed that drops off into a very deep hole are favorites. Fishing deep or over the tops of the weeds reduces the number of hits from small panfish. You still will get picked at but many times if you increase your retrieval speed the panfish will leave you alone.

The Ultra Violet Rigs from Stopper Lures are more visible than a standard rig in deep water or when faced with dingy water. That being said, it is also much easier to catch a walleye in dark water or dingy water during the day than when fishing clear water. The same applies to bass fishing.

On your favorite bass lakes fish the deep points, the deep weed beds or timber. Walleye anglers concentrate on suspended fish or deep points and any type of concrete or rock ruble. Carry along 2-3 dozen fat crawlers and a handful of Ultra Violet Spinner Rigs and be ready to do battle.

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Rare Bear

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

A black bear was reported to have crossed Northland Drive near 15 Mile Road a few years ago. I wondered if it had followed the Rogue River to Cedar Creek, made its way to Little Cedar Creek, and possibly wandered through Ody Brook before getting to 15 Mile Road. A visitor told me he saw a bear track here a few years ago but I personally never saw evidence of the bear. The track was seen about the time bear crossed Northland. Many people may also recall the sow bear that wintered near Ada and emerged from her winter sleep with young.

Michigan’s regeneration of forest and wild land vegetation has made it possible for bears to re-inhabit areas where they lived prior to forest clearing and large human population settlement. Living near bears may present some problems. Generally, we can co-exist, but not always.

One September I was camping at Yellowstone National Park, at the edge of the campground. A ranger drove through the campground with a loudspeaker warning people to put coolers away and to clean camp well after eating because a bear was coming into the campground for easy food. The park service set a live trap to capture the bear for relocation but had not been successful yet.

My tent was set up with one side over me but I folded one side open so I could view the forest. At about 11 p.m. I was lying in the sleeping bag and saw the bear walking directly towards me. I was deciding if I should get out of the bag and into my vehicle but it was too late. The bear walked past my tent ignoring me. I heard it beat a food cooler on the picnic table that the campers next to me had not properly stored. After breaking it, the bear proceeded to bear proof garbage cans where it pounded them and walked on.

I went to sleep until 3 a.m., when I woke to the noise and breath of a bear. It had walked around my tent and was peering in at me. Our noses were inches apart. In the moonlight, I could see its silhouette. I experienced some fear. Bears are powerful and can be unpredictable. If the bear was getting used to people it might be more likely to injure me in some way.

I have encountered bears in the Upper Peninsula and other locations. In each instance the bear has immediately turned and ran in fear. Their escapes were noisy as they ran through brush, making stems push apart and slap back together.

This bear was inches from my head and a startle might cause it strike out with a powerful paw, break my neck or otherwise injure me. Maybe it would take a quick defensive bite before leaving. Fortunately, I did not have any food in my tent.

For a brief moment the bear and I looked each other in the eye. Almost instinctively I quietly said under my breath “hello.” The bear realized it was where it did not want to be. It turned and started trotting into the forest. I said “hello, hello, hello” a little louder with each word as it left. It picked up speed with each hello. My purpose at that point was to make noise that would keep the bear moving away.

The bear was not interested in me and probably feared me. It was looking for easy food. The neighbor campers were endangering the bear by leaving a cooler accessible. If the bear was captured, moved to a new location and later returned to the campground, it would probably be killed. People can learn to live with bears in nature niches but we need to act intelligently in their presence.

If I shouted at the bear when I first saw it nose to nose, it might have been more defensively aggressive and swipe me with a paw or bite me. Instead, a quiet hello alerted it and it departed quickly. It remains a pleasant memorable experience for me instead of tragic for either of us.

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

 

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Deer seasons in Michigan

 

 

It’s that time of year again, when hunters take to the woods for deer hunting season. For the most up to date changes and requirements for deer and other game licenses, see the Michigan DNR’s Hunting and Trapping Digest. It can be downloaded for free at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Deer seasons:

Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 20-21

Liberty Hunt: Sept. 20-21

Independence Hunt: Oct. 16-19

Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1

Regular Firearm: Nov. 15-30

Muzzleloading:

Zone 1: Dec. 5-14

Zone 2: Dec. 5-14

Zone 3: Dec. 5-21

Late Antlerless Firearm: Dec. 22 – Jan. 1

 

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