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Add adventure to your New Year’s resolutions 

There are countless benefits to using Michigan’s state parks, trails and waterways as your gym, such as burning calories while snowshoeing the many hundreds of miles of trails across the state.

with Shoe Year’s hikes and other outdoor fun

Reinvigorate yourself in 2018! Make an “adventure resolution” and commit to exploring Michigan’s great outdoors this year with a “Shoe Year’s” hike, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking or the many other ways to relish winter. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages residents to shift their plans for the coming year into high gear with a few ideas for inspired outdoor fun.

“For many, winter in Michigan is an undiscovered gem,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “State parks and trails offer visitors a completely different experience in the winter, everything from peaceful hikes through snow-dusted campgrounds and candlelight cross-country skiing to black diamond downhill skiing with views of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. A Michigan winter adventure should be on everyone’s list this season.”

Find an online calendar listing of Shoe Year’s hikes and First Day Hikes at michigan.gov/winterfun. Or explore Michigan’s parks, trails and waterways on your own at www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

The following Shoe Year’s guided hikes take place through the first week of January:

  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County) – Friday, Dec. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Bay City Recreation Area (Bay County) – Sunday, Dec. 31 from 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Maybury State Park (Wayne County) – Sunday, Dec. 31 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County) – Monday, Jan. 1 from 1 *Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County) – Monday, Jan. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (First Day Hike)
  • Straits State Park (Cheboygan County) – Saturday, Jan. 6 from 2 to 7 p.m.
  • Besser Natural Area (Alpena County) – Saturday, Jan. 6 from noon to 3 p.m.
  • Ludington State Park (Mason County) – Saturday, Jan. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Michigan is part of the nationwide First Day Hikes program, coordinated by the National Association of State Park Directors and inspired by the First Day Hikes that originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 62,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered more than 114,000 miles on 1,300 hikes across the country.

If guided hikes don’t work into your schedule, but you are looking for an adventure checklist, here are a few winter adventures suggested by Maia Turek, resource development specialist for the DNR:

  • Muskegon Winter Sports Complex – Even a novice adventurer will love the variety of adventure options at this state park destination. A luge, ice skating through the woods, sledding, skiing and even yurt yoga classes are all part of the experience. Visit msports.org.
  • Experience the lantern-lit or candlelight ski and snowshoe events—even if just once. They happen throughout the winter and around the state, so finding one that works for your schedule should be easy. Visit michigan.gov/dnrcalendar.
  • Fat tire biking on the Cadillac Pathway – This 11.3-mile groomed ski, hike and bike trail with six loops is marked and groomed for novice and intermediate cross-country skiers. Rent a fat-tire bike from area bike shops or use your own. Visit michigan.gov/dnrtrails.
  • Grab a fishing rod and take advantage of the first of two Free Fishing Weekends Feb. 17-18. Twice a year, residents and non-residents can enjoy two back-to-back days of fishing without a license. Visit michigan.gov/freefishing.
  • Visit Palms Book State Park in the Upper Peninsula and be amazed by Kitch-iti-kipi’s geothermal energy. Because the water is 45 degrees year-round, this stunning spring is a four-season destination. It’s also a great snowmobile stop. Visit michigan.gov/palmsbook.
  • Jump on the Iron Belle Trail, the longest designated state trail in the nation, and hike (or bicycle) your way between Belle Isle Park in Detroit and Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. Experience exciting cities, explore pristine forests and visit charming towns all across the state. Visit michigan.gov/ironbelle.
  • Porcupine Mountains Ski Area – Downhill skiers and snowboarders will enjoy 15 groomed trails, four glade trails, the second-highest vertical drop in Michigan (or Wisconsin) and breathtaking views of Lake Superior. The ski area also offers a launching point for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Visit porkiesfun.com.

“Often, the term resolution for the new year seems daunting, but don’t let it overwhelm you,” said Turek. “From participating in a guided hike along the more than 12,500 miles of state-designated trails, cross-country skiing on groomed trails and snowshoeing along lantern-lit trails to experiencing the ice skating trail at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, these destinations are home to unique and calorie-burning options for experiencing the outdoors in the coming year.”

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Lighthouse keeper program offers vacation and service opportunity

The Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program offers the opportunity for a free two-week stay in historic lighthouse keepers’ quarters while helping to promote the history and preservation of the site.

When the calendar reaches December, it’s not uncommon for people to start thinking about their travel plans for the approaching year. For those seeking uncommon travel experiences, the Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program offers the opportunity for a free two-week stay in historic lighthouse keepers’ quarters while helping to promote the history and preservation of the site. The application period to participate in the program in 2018 is now open.

Lighthouse Lens: Volunteer keepers learn about the history of the 1876 Tawas Point Lighthouse in preparation for duties that include giving tours and providing information about the lighthouse.

In 2018, the Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program offers combined vacation and service opportunities for adults from May 16 to Oct. 16. Those selected to be volunteer lighthouse keepers receive lodging in the restored keepers’ quarters next to the 1876 Tawas Point Lighthouse in Tawas Point State Park. In exchange, participants provide roughly 35 hours of services each week in and around the historic lighthouse that attracts visitors from all over the world.

“The Tawas area is known as Michigan’s Cape Cod,” said Hillary Pine, Tawas Point Lighthouse historian. “It’s a lovely area favored by bird-watchers, anglers, history enthusiasts and others. We make sure our volunteer lighthouse keepers have plenty of time to enjoy Lake Huron, Tawas Bay and other recreational opportunities.”

Keeper duties include greeting visitors, giving tours, providing information about the lighthouse, and routine cleaning and maintenance. Keepers stay in the second story of the keepers’ quarters attached to the lighthouse. Accommodations include two bedrooms sleeping up to four adults and modern kitchen, bath and laundry facilities. Keepers must commit to a two-week stay at the lighthouse. 

Pine said the lighthouse keeper program looks for teams of two, three or four adults—especially those with knowledge of lighthouse lore or Great Lakes maritime history—but that there is no requirement for such a background.

The museum portion of the Tawas Point Lighthouse shows artifacts from different time periods of its use.

“We give our volunteer lighthouse keepers historical information and on-site orientation to help prepare them for their experience,” Pine said. “They take great pride in helping to promote and preserve the lighthouse—and who wouldn’t love waking up to the beautiful view of the bay that they enjoy every day?”

The application and additional information about the Tawas Point Lighthouse Keeper Program is available at www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse. For more information about program, send e-mail to DNR-tawaskeepers@michigan.gov. The application period is open through Feb. 2, 2018.

Tawas Point Lighthouse is a nationally accredited museum located 2.5 miles southeast of East Tawas, in Tawas Point State Park; a Recreation Passport is required for park entry. For more information, call 989-348-2537 or visit  www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse.

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Somber Reality

 

 

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

My life’s mission of wilderness protection has gone awry. All hope is not lost to protect the resources and life forms that make it possible for humans to thrive today and for generations to live well a century from now. 

Theodore Roosevelt advised a century ago: “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders. Do not let selfish men and greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches, or its romance.”

We are in a “Star Wars” type struggle to prevent planetary destruction by a leader that does not value scientific evidence or understand its importance for guiding behavior to ensure a healthy future. I hope to inspire others to cherish nature wonders by encouraging them to spend time outside exploring and having fun.

I made a decision early in life to follow supported physical evidence to protect my family and their offspring. I have an extended family that includes you, butterflies, cedar waxwings, brook trout, white pine, and cinnamon ferns in addition to my immediate family and grandchildren. Our actions should help all family members.

The Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah has known and unknown life forms in a fragile ecosystem. The monument is owned by you like the local Manistee National Forest, Shiawassee Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Each has unique species and nature niches that support our lives and economy. 

When Roosevelt encouraged us to “cherish these natural wonders” much of USA land acquisition was complete. Here at home water supplies your well, trees cool homes and provide oxygen on private and public land. Many people feel they should be allowed to do whatever they desire on private and public lands without regard to impacts on neighbors. If they desire to dump PFAS, fill or plow wetlands that increased flooding to downstream homes, or dump improperly treated sewage in rivers, they should not be restricted. 

I realized as a teen that many people were solely focused on “Me, Myself, I.” Many do not agree that personal actions should protect themselves, neighbors’ water supply, soil fertility, stream quality, sustainable timber, and fellow beings on Earth. To protect resources of wonder, enjoyment and essential need for sustaining society, my mission advocates for wilderness protection. Protection of biological and geological features in designated wilderness, national monuments, and parks maintain healthy ecosystems supporting our needs and livelihoods.

Mistakes like dumping PFAS, overusing fertilizers on yards that get into streams or groundwater, delaying the switch from fossil fuels that alter climate, not treating life on Earth as we want to be treated, and reducing national monument sizes is perilous. It lacks a sense of community and does not leave these lands unimpaired. 

Ask yourself whether dumping PFAS or dumping carbon into the atmosphere will result in greater loss of life. Which will create worse economic and health hardships? For many it only matters what is happening personally in the moment. They are the half that put President Trump in office. Pulling out of the World Climate Accord is similar to dumping PFAS. The negative long-term impacts are imposed on future generations for short-term economic gains. Impacts diminish sustainable economic, social, and environment health. 

Impacts of the tax cut will likely result in unfunded protection of water, soil, air, endangered species, and wilderness as well many non-nature concerns. Trump campaigned to deregulate Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species Act protections. Such actions will allow deregulating things like dumping PFAS. He has opened protected public lands like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and monuments for mineral extraction. He supports fossil fuel mining and dumping of pollutants like carbon into the atmosphere. His supporters want this.

I have failed in the effort to help build a critical mass essential to protect Grand Staircase NM and other national treasures. Public comments were 98 percent in favor of protecting parks but Trump is ignoring public desires. He’s eliminating sustainable resource programs that protect generations to come. My mission is floundering. 

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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‘Tis the season for Christmas bird counting

 

Michigan DNR and Audubon Great Lakes working together for conservation

Pine grosbeaks, like this female photographed in Marquette County, are among the species found on Christmas Bird Counts in the northern part of the state.

By Holly Vaughn, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

This holiday season tens of thousands of Americans will fan out across the country with one goal in mind: finding and counting as many species of birds as they can find.

These observations will add to a large data set going back 117 years to Dec. 25, 1900, when the Christmas Bird Count, known then as the Christmas Bird Census, was first established.

The Christmas count remains one of the most important citizen science datasets today, helping scientists understand population declines and range shifts in North American birds.

“From beginning birdwatchers to experts, participants in Christmas counts gather to identify and census birds within 15-mile diameter count circles,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “The Christmas counts are a great opportunity to learn more about the winter birdlife of a particular area, and for beginners to gain experience birding alongside experts. Some participants count for an hour or so, some birdwatch for the whole day, some count at their bird feeders at home.”

There are now more than 2,500 Christmas Bird Counts in the U.S., Canada, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Michigan alone has 75 count circles, stretching from the Keweenaw Peninsula in the north, to Monroe and Berrien counties in the south.

To find the nearest count circle, the National Audubon Society maintains an informative map at https://audubon.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=fadfb421e95f4949bde20c29a38228bd. Clicking on a count circle on the map shows where and when the bird counting team meets, and who the count compiler is.

Christmas Bird Counts are open to the public, family-friendly and a great way to meet local birders.

“Year after year, my wife and I participate in Christmas Bird Counts. We’ve counted birds in Grand Traverse County, Macomb County and Oakland County over the years.” said Jeremy Joswick, a Macomb Audubon Society member. “We feel it is important to contribute to this citizen science project and are glad we can help.”

Joswick said one of the most memorable Christmas Bird Count experiences he and his wife had was in Grand Traverse County, very early in the morning, before the sun rose.

“We were standing on the side of Hoosier Valley Road, listening for owls, when a great horned owl began to hoot,” Joswick said. “It echoed in the quiet morning air—a really cool experience.”

The Christmas Bird Count is spearheaded by Audubon, a nonprofit organization with over 700 employees in the U.S.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources shares an employee with Audubon out of its Great Lakes office in Chicago.

Michigan bird conservation coordinator Caleb Putnam oversees a communications program called MI Birds, which is focused on bridging gaps between the hunting and birding communities and increasing understanding of the value of public lands and the need for strong funding of conservation in Michigan.

MI Birds began about one year ago, with the formation of a steering committee consisting of a dozen partner organizations from game and non-game conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Audubon, Detroit Audubon, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan State University Extension and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Together, the members of this group help to develop messaging communicated by MI Birds and determine audiences to send the messages to.

“In the beginning, we were just excited to assemble such a diverse and unique group,” Putnam said. “We made important conversations happen just by getting all of these conservation groups to the same table, and it’s something I haven’t seen before.”

Others agreed.

“Creating an environment of collaboration between birding and hunting groups is something we’ve been pushing for years, and this program has really made it happen,” said Audubon Great Lakes’ Director of Conservation Nat Miller.

Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief, said it’s been a long-term challenge of the agency to engage new user groups and begin to plan for declining hunter revenues for public-lands conservation.

“MI Birds is our first big attempt at leading discussions between all of these conservation-minded groups,” Mason said.

MI Birds’ biggest presence is online, on a Facebook page with over 4,000 followers. The page features real-time information about Michigan’s birds and their migrations, presented in a fun and engaging way for the public.

Putnam posts videos and hosts Facebook live feeds from a variety of public-lands areas. For example, one video produced earlier this year from the Murphy Lake State Game Area in Tuscola County showed Putnam investigating the nesting habitat of the Louisiana waterthrush, a state special concern songbird that lives there. See it at https://www.facebook.com/MIBirdspage/videos/283336678809254/.

Putnam is also working to publicize the DNR’s important habitat work statewide. He is leading tours to key state game areas and other lands, engaging the public in a conversation with DNR biologists about the work being done, which species it benefits and how it is funded.

“Once non-consumptive users understand how nongame species benefit from primarily game-funded work, the light bulbs immediately go off,” Putnam said. “We have people asking how they can donate to the work before the tours even begin.”

By elevating these discussions statewide, MI Birds stands to engage new user groups and create a broader constituency for public-lands conservation in Michigan.

Christmas Bird Counts are one of many places members of the MI Birds groups could find common interest, fun and camaraderie, paving the way for greater understanding and cooperation in the future.

The gatherings are also places new participants might find future best friends, while pursuing their personal interest in birds, nature and conservation.

For more information on MI Birds, visit the MI Birds Facebook page.

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How to target popular fish species through the ice

 

Professional angler Mark Martin recommends tip-ups for walleye fishermen.

Are you getting anxious for thick enough ice to head out fishing? Consider using the following tips when targeting four species popular with anglers in the winter.

Walleye

Early-ice walleyes are known to be active and aggressive. Use tip-ups at varying depths around the lake (anywhere from 15 to 35 feet deep) to appeal to this species. Regardless of the depth, always set the live minnow under the tip-up to swim 12 to 15 inches off the bottom.

Crappie

Consider using plastic bait, rather than live bait, when fishing for crappie. Focus on weed lines to find them. A lot of times crappie will hang out in the middle of the water column, half-way between the ice and bottom.

Northern Pike

You’ll find these aggressive fish near off-shore structures and weed lines, so try these types of spots on your favorite pike lakes first. 

Yellow Perch

Attract bigger perch by using tip-ups with minnows, that’s what they’re primarily eating this time of year. Sticking a minnow on an ice fishing rod is also very productive.

For more information on fishing during Michigan’s winter, visit Michigan.gov/fishing

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Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary’s Mission

 

by Steve Mueller

 

Like most nature lovers, I am bound to the land by heart, spirit, and labor of love. Bob Stegmier requested I write about Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary for the Izaak Walton League (IKEs). The mission here is to protect and enhance life in the native ecosystem where we live as members of the natural community. 

Here Little Cedar Creek’s permanent flowing headwaters begin. In spring, the creek carries water from about one mile upstream. By mid to late summer the creek bed is mostly dry upstream. Springs feed the creek with cold water to keep a constant flow. Groundwater springs are critical to make the creek suitable for brook trout. 

As I was leaving Ody Brook on opening day of trout season, an angler fishing at the highway bridge told me he had a brookie in his creel. The next Saturday an angler told me had his limit by 10 a.m. It pleases me environmental conditions supply healthy living space for these beauties and other stream life.

I was concerned the important headwaters that make life possible for thousands of plant and animal species, clear water, and solitude would be replaced with box houses to create a sterile landscape. Most of my life, I owned seven acres. Mrs. Williams owned land I purchased to expand the sanctuary on the stream’s floodplain. She desired to retain her 80-acre farm that included the creek and floodplain until her death. After her death, she said the children could do as they needed with the land. 

For 30 years I helped safeguard her land. Her husband died the year I bought seven acres adjoining her property. She leased tillable upland to a farmer. There were trespass and other issues I helped resolve. She told me to use the property like I owned it but I did little except maintain some walking trails. Consumer’s Energy owns a swath that bisects the property for its high-power utility line that crackles on rainy days. 

When it became necessary for her to move to a nursing home, she sold me the floodplain property with some adjacent upland forest to pay for her needs. We were both pleased. She knew I would care for the land like I cared for my kids. I thought it would never be possible to afford ownership of the land to protect the creek, floodplain, and upland. I chose a career as a naturalist where one does not gain wealth studying natural history of ecosystems and teaching others about the world’s natural wonders that sustain our health. 

The purchased portion was landlocked. I wanted to purchase additional acreage north of the powerline where the creek flowed so I could protect that portion of the creek and have access from a road. She was pleased to sell me that wetland. The farmhouse and tillable land was sold to another. 

This happy story allows me to protect the creek with adjacent treasures like three federally threatened American Chestnut trees. That species played an important role in our country’s development as part of the oak-hickory-chestnut ecosystem that encompassed much of the eastern US. Today textbooks refer to oak-hickory forest ecosystem because an exotic imported fungal blight eliminated most chestnuts from existence. 

As ecosystem ecologist for Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary’s 61 acres, my efforts focus on ecosystem enhancement for species that share the landscape. It is not primarily a nature center for education and human activity. The Howard Christensen Nature Center, Luton County Park, and the IKES property serve that purpose in our area. Here we serve plants and animals to help them thrive. In turn, they help society flourish.

Visitors are welcome to enjoy the sanctuary provided they call or email to request permission. I detest “No Trespassing” signs and am pleased to share with those willing to follow use guidelines. Some groups organize guided field trips to learn management strategies implemented for woodcock, turtlehead plants that support Baltimore butterflies, swamp saxifrage, forest, field, and wetland. College interns earn credit learning habitat management. I present a program titled “Restoring Biodiversity to Home Landscapes” and others. Program fees help fund management at Ody Brook and help others learn ecology for landscape sustainability. 

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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Squirrel stare down

Squirrels at The Post are funny creatures. Sometimes they come to our front window and watch us—silently willing us to come out and give them food. The squirrel in the photo watched our designer, Belinda Sanderson, when she got out of her car recently and decided to have a stare down with her. “He was just frozen, staring at me for the longest time, like he was waiting for me to take the picture,” she said with a laugh.

Do you have winter wildlife photos you’d like to share with us? Send them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Desire to have a bird brain

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Black-capped Chickadees have an advantage that we apparently do not. They grow new brain cells each fall and get rid of some old cells containing information no longer needed. The cells destroyed hold information on where they hid seeds last winter. The new neurons will store locations for this winter’s seed hiding.

Dr. Fernando Nottebohm of Rockefeller University in New York studies the growth of neurons in the brains of birds. Todd Peterson and Frances Wood shared this information in Audubon Notes.

I suspect studies on other bird species would reveal similar findings. Species visiting my feeders grab a seed and depart to unknown locations. I see birds wedging seeds in tree bark crevasses. White-breasted Nuthatches have long slim bills, a black cap, white underparts, and short tail feathers. They appear quite flat on their upper side. You could place a ruler on their back and it would touch the entire length from head to tail.

A Black-capped Chickadee’s back is more contoured with its head raised higher than its back and holds its long tail at slightly different angles. A ruler would not touch head to tail at the same time. They have gray wings with a white marking along the leading edge of flight feathers. People heading south for winter can see the Carolina Chickadee that looks nearly identical but lacks the white feather edging. 

The three species collect and hide seeds for winter. It is likely studies of the nuthatch and Carolina Chickadee bird brain hippocampus will reveal importance for their spatial memories also. People wonder why spend time and money to learn such things. Some ask, “What good are these species? 

Aldo Leopold said such a question is the height of ignorance. We are all ignorant in most areas of knowledge. Every organism has hidden values. Most benefit them. Not everything is about “me” nor should it be. We know little about the natural world and nature niches. It is not reasonable to assume other species have little value. My friend Bob Raver replied to people asking that question with, “What good are you? 

For those needing a better answer to why learn about birds replacing brain cells, Dr. Nottebohm said, “Studying the ability of a bird’s brain to generate new neurons might uncover ways to replace brain cells lost due to injury, stroke or degeneration, as happens in diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.”

I am on a combination of chemos that causes chemo brain, meaning that I have memory impairment from the chemicals used to keep me alive. Fortunately, they do not impair my long-term memory but I have difficulty learning new things or remembering things like what I had for lunch without writing it down as a memory jogger. I am concerned about dementia because my dad and his mother suffered from dementia. For now, I can blame my short-term memory difficulties on chemo. 

My cancer is terminal and not curable but great advances have been made. My oncologist’s goal is to keep me alive until I die from something else. When my multiple myeloma was first diagnosed when I was 47, life expectancy was one to three years and it was likely I would not reach age 50. Fortunately, the blood cancer progressed slowly. By age 57 the cancer caused seven bone fractures in my spine and I was using a walker. I could not navigate stairs. Scientists were studying frogs that could regenerate bones in lost limbs. Doctors used chemicals to help my bones’ regeneration and chemo to slow cancer progression. I do not know if my bone regeneration had anything to do with frog bone research. Today, another ten years later, I am walking without a walker and look reasonably normal except for 30 pounds of weight gain caused by a steroid chemo. 

Practical uses of bird neuron development that helps us is good and desirable. I contend species have their own value and we should not only be concerned with what good are they for us? Instead, ask what value you are for other species. What you do to help other species might help you in unknown ways. It is good citizenship to protect species like chickadees that have a right to share the world even if there is no apparent value to us.

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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CWD identified in a Mecosta County farmed deer

 

Chronic wasting disease was confirmed this week in a one-and-a-half-year-old female deer from a Mecosta County deer farm. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. The sample was submitted for testing as a part of the state’s CWD surveillance program.

“The deer farmer who submitted the sample has gone above and beyond any state requirements to protect their deer from disease, and it is unknown at this time how this producer’s herd became infected with CWD,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development State Veterinarian James Averill, DVM. “In partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are taking the necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of all of Michigan’s deer populations.”

“What we know about CWD is always evolving,” said DNR state wildlife veterinarian, Kelly Straka, DVM. “As new positives are found, we learn more about how it’s transmitted to determine the best way to protect both free-ranging and farmed deer.”

MDARD and DNR are following the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and Privately Owned Cervids. The positive farm has been quarantined and, based on the plan, DNR and MDARD will take the following steps:

*Conduct trace investigations to find possible areas of spread.

*Identify deer farms within the 15-mile radius and implement individual herd plans that explain the CWD testing requirements and movement restrictions for each herd. These herds will also undergo a records audit and fence inspection.

*Partner with the USDA on the management of the herd.

CWD is transmitted directly from one animal to another and indirectly through the environment. Infected animals may display abnormal behavior, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans. 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.

Since May 2015, when the first free-ranging white-tailed CWD positive deer was found in Michigan, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, as of December 6, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. This is the first year any free-ranging deer were found CWD positive in Montcalm or Kent counties.

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

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More deer suspected positive for chronic wasting disease 

 

30 deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties have been identified either as CWD positive or CWD suspect since 2015

With the firearm deer season complete, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has now identified a total of 30 free-ranging white-tailed deer that are confirmed or suspected to have chronic wasting disease. Several thousand additional samples are awaiting testing by Michigan State University, so numbers for this deer season could still change.

Since May 2015 when the first CWD deer was found, the DNR has tested approximately 23,000 deer. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. “CWD suspect” means that the deer tested positive on an initial screening test, but has not yet been confirmed through additional testing. It is very rare that a CWD suspect will not be confirmed as a CWD-positive animal, but it is possible.

From 2015 to 2016, a total of four deer (in DeWitt, Eagle and Watertown townships) in Clinton County tested positive. So far in 2017, a single CWD suspect has been identified in Westphalia Township, also in Clinton County. In Ingham County, five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016; since then, no deer from Ingham County have tested positive for CWD.

In Montcalm County, a total of 17 deer from the following townships are suspected or confirmed to be positive for CWD: Cato, Douglass, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine, Reynolds, Sidney and Winfield. In Kent County, three CWD-positive deer were found in Nelson and Spencer townships. This is the first year any CWD-suspect free-ranging deer were found in Montcalm or Kent counties.

“The fact that we have likely found so many additional CWD-positive deer is a major concern for Michigan’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “However, Michigan has a comprehensive CWD response and surveillance plan to guide our actions, and we will continue working with hunters and taking proactive measures to contain this disease.”

To date, the DNR has:

*Established a CWD Core and Management Zone where CWD has been detected.

*Implemented deer feeding and baiting bans throughout entire CWD Core and Management Zones.

*Intensified surveillance of free-ranging deer in CWD Management Zones, including mandatory check and testing of all hunter-harvested deer within Core CWD Areas.

*Opened and staffed additional deer check stations to better accommodate hunters within Core CWD Areas.

The DNR encourages hunters throughout the state to continue to hunt responsibly and submit their deer for CWD surveillance and testing. 

“Hunters are our best ally in understanding the magnitude of chronic wasting disease in Michigan,” said Stewart. “It’s vital for hunters throughout the state to continue to bring in their deer for testing, and to talk to one another about the seriousness of the situation and the actions they can take right now to help limit the spread of CWD.”

High rates of CWD in a deer population could significantly affect the number of deer, and also could significantly depress the potential for older age classes, especially the more mature bucks.

Michigan welcomes approximately 600,000 deer hunters each year who, over the past decade, harvest an average of 340,000 deer. Overall, hunting generates more than $2.3 billion a year for Michigan’s economy, with approximately $1.9 billion of that stemming from deer hunting.

“There’s no question that a healthy deer herd across the state is critical to Michigan’s economy and to a thriving hunting tradition that spans generations of friends and family,” Stewart said.

The DNR strongly recommends that hunters who harvest deer in Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties have their deer tested by bringing them to a deer check station.

Hunters who have submitted their deer heads for CWD testing should process their deer as needed, but wait for test results before consumption.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans. 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. 

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, 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. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids, or from the carcass of a diseased animal. 

Some CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation; however, deer can be infected for many years without showing internal or external symptoms. There is no cure for a deer once it is infected with CWD. 

To learn more about CWD, and the current known distribution of CWD in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/cwd. Results are updated weekly.

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