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Archive | Outdoors

Kids find success in annual Youth Hunt

 

Last weekend, September 17-18, was the annual Youth Hunt here in Michigan. At least three area youth bagged a deer last weekend, all for the first time.

Hunter Hankiewicz

Hunter Hankiewicz

Spencer Township youth gets first deer

Ten-year-old Hunter Hankiewicz, of Spencer Township, pictured right, went hunting for the first time on September 17, in Mason County, and got his first buck. It was an 8-point with a 14-1/2 inch spread. Good job, Hunter!

Brothers both get first deer

Coty Youngs Jr.

Coty Youngs Jr.

Coty Youngs Jr., 10, of Ensley Township, went hunting with his dad, Coty Youngs Sr., on the first day of Youth Hunt, September 17, and got his first deer. It was a nice 8-point buck. He was hunting in the Hardy Dam area, on his Uncle Bill’s place, in Big Prairie Township.

Andrew Youngs

Andrew Youngs

Later that day, Coty’s younger brother, Andrew Youngs, 8, also shot his first deer at Uncle Bill’s place. The boys say thanks for a great place to hunt

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European frogbit detected in West Michigan lakes

 

Frogbit leaf: European frogbit leaves, shown here, are similar in shape, though much smaller than those of the water lily.

Frogbit leaf: European frogbit leaves, shown here, are similar in shape, though much smaller than those of the water lily.

Invasive species alert

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of European frogbit, a prohibited aquatic invasive plant, in Reeds and Fisk lakes in the city of East Grand Rapids. European frogbit was first verified in Michigan in 1996 along the Great Lakes waterways in southeastern Michigan and has since been found in areas along Lake Huron and the eastern Upper Peninsula. The detections on Reeds and Fisk lakes represent the westernmost known locations of this invasive plant in Michigan and the Midwest.

Frogbit colony: Dense colonies of European frogbit can develop quickly in shallow, slow-moving water.

Frogbit colony: Dense colonies of European frogbit can develop quickly in shallow, slow-moving water.

Staff from PLM Lake and Land Management Corporation initially identified the plant during a routine lake inspection and reported the finding through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN), triggering a notification to the DNR and the Department of Environmental Quality’s Aquatic Invasive Response Team. The team currently is assessing the risk level of the situation and working with partners in the community, including the city of East Grand Rapids, Kent Conservation District and the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, to develop an action plan.

What is European frogbit?

A native of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia, European frogbit is an aquatic plant with small (half-inch to 2.5 inch), heart-shaped leaves resembling miniature water lilies. Unlike similar aquatic plants, European frogbit does not anchor its roots in the lake or stream bed but remains free-floating. Three-petaled white flowers with yellow centers appear briefly sometime between mid-July and mid-August.

Why is it a problem?

The plant quickly forms dense colonies or mats in shallow, slow-moving waters. These thick mats prevent native plant growth, make movement difficult for ducks and large fish, and cause problems for boaters, anglers and swimmers.

European frogbit is spread by plant fragments or by turions—small, quarter-inch buds that break off the plant and overwinter in lake or stream beds. Plant parts easily can be transported to new water bodies on boat motors or trailers, fishing gear and other recreational equipment.

What can be done?      

“Detecting European frogbit in West Michigan is a call to action to all lake, stream and wetland users to clean, drain and dry boats and gear,” said Kevin Walters, an invasive species aquatic biologist with the DEQ. “Take the simple steps of removing all plants and debris from boats, trailers and gear and draining bilges and live wells before leaving a site. Allow boats and equipment to dry for at least five days before moving to another water body.”

Walters said that even waders, fishing nets and inner tubes can harbor invasive species and should be thoroughly dried in the sun or cleaned with a 2-percent bleach solution before being used at a different location.

What if I see European frogbit?

Anyone can help by reporting suspected European frogbit. The easiest way to report this harmful invasive plant is through the MISIN website, at www.misin.msu.edu or by downloading the MISIN app to a smartphone.

First, become familiar with identifying the plant. MISIN offers a short identification tutorial which helps distinguish between European frogbit and similar aquatic plants.

If you encounter European frogbit on the water, take some photos. These can be uploaded on the MISIN website or attached to a report via the MISIN app. Reports are directed through MISIN to DNR and DEQ aquatic biologists.

For more information on European frogbit and other invasive species, visit Michigan’s invasive species website at www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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Insect or wind pollinated

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Showy attractive flowers tend to be insect pollinated. Flowers that do not capture our attention are typically wind pollinated. The size of pollen is a critical factor between the wind and insect pollinated flowers. Large pollen weight causes it to fall to ground near the parent plant when dislodged. An insect or bird is needed to carry heavy pollen from flower to flower in order for the plant to have successful fertilization. Tiny pollen is easily carried long distances by wind to improve chances for pollination.

When a bee, butterfly, beetle, other insect, or hummingbird carries pollen from one flower to another, the pollen sticks to the top of a pistil if it is ripe and receptive. Male pollen is equivalent to sperm in animals. When it is released from a flower’s anther, an animal carries it to another flower. Animals that carry pollen improve the chances for pollination because pollen on their bodies has the best chance of reaching a flower of the same species. Wind carried pollen rides the wind wherever it goes.

We notice yellow pollen on a honeybee’s body. Showy flower petals attract the attention of insects. When insects approach a flower, they see “lighted runway” landing strips. They are not as noticeable to our eyes because petals reflect ultraviolet light we do not see. Insects see a broader visible spectrum. We might see dark or light lines on the petals that lead toward the center of the flower.

Those lines are runways that direct the travel of insects like airport runway lights help a plane’s pilot on the landing strip. As the insect walks toward the center of a flower to probe for nectar, it brushes against an anther that sits atop a thin string-like filament that bends when bumped. If the anther is ripe, pollen will be released onto the body of an insect and sticks to its “hairy body.”

The female part of the flower usually ripens later than its flower’s anthers and is not receptive when the pollen is released. This helps prevent inbreeding. The part of the flower pistil that captures pollen has a sticky top called the stigma. Pollen on it digests its way through a long neck called the style and when it reaches the ovule (egg) in the ovary it will fertilize it. The fertilized ovule becomes a seed.

The same process occurs in wind-pollinated flowers like corn, grass, sedges, and ragweed. Ragweed blooms at the same time as showy yellow goldenrod flowers in a field. The pollen on goldenrod is large and fewer in number than minute pollen cells released from ragweed. Goldenrod pollen will not be carried far by wind and falls to the ground. It is insect dependent for pollination. Ragweed pollen, like corn pollen, can float in a gentle light breeze. It will go wherever the wind goes and is less efficient at reaching a flower of its own species. More pollen is produced by wind-pollinated plants and compensates for the lower efficiency.

Pollen from the nondescript green ragweed flowers makes it to our nose and sinuses where it causes an allergic reaction we call “hay fever.” People unjustly blame goldenrod for “hay fever.” Goldenrod pollen is unlikely to get in our noses unless a bee enters our nose. If that occurs, the bee will be of greater concern than the pollen.

Some insect pollinated flowers are green but the insects find them. I wonder if they reflect ultraviolet light. Some flowers can utilize both wind and insect pollination. How I wish I knew more about the secret workings in nature niches. There is always something new to discover outside. Do not blame the insect-pollinated goldenrod for “hay fever.”

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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Rare butterflies make news

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Human health is aided by rare butterfly protection. Long term human economic interests are protected by aiding endangered butterflies. There are short term economic expenses that create concerns whether effort should maintain healthy habitats that serve people, butterflies and other organisms. Maintaining components of an ecosystem does not make sense to some people.

Paul Ehrlich described the importance well. He said if you are flying on a jet and a rivet pops off, it is not too concerning. When additional rivets holding the plane together come off, passenger concern increases. When enough rivets disappear the plane will dismember and crash, killing all on board.

Species in habitats are like rivets on a plane. There is little concern when one species disappears. As more disappear, our human economy and health falters when ecological services fail. Many cases document ecosystem simplification that caused human economic loss and death. The famous potato famine is just one example causing massive human death and a country’s economic collapse.

In 2000, a West Michigan Butterfly Association member, Kathy Bowler, discovered a population of the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly along the White Pine Trail in Algoma Township. Kent County was not known to have this species. Mo Nielsen and I verified the identification. Successful efforts by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan established the Maas Preserve to protect the habitat.

The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Leon Uplinger and me. Leon was Algoma township supervisor at the time. The press reported Leon thought all the fuss over a few butterflies is a waste of time and he did not expect the township to join any preservation efforts. He further stated, “I take the position that I would rather help a human life rather than another creature.”

I was invited to address community members in the Berrien Springs area regarding a different endangered species back then. The least expensive highway construction would likely impact the survival of the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly and possibly push it to extinction. An alternative that protected the environment costed more money but protected the environment, sustaining human community health. Some people felt like Leon did about the Karner Blue and some thought the habitat needed protection.

When our focus is narrow, we do not recognize how other creatures and the environment maintain economic, social, and environmental health for us, our kids, and future generations. The Karner Blue and Mitchell Satyr are rivets in the local ecosystem. Losing them is like losing two rivets from a jet. Environmental components needed by butterflies are also needed by humans. Nature Niches are connected in ways that are not obvious but they serve humans and other creatures.

The Mitchell Satyr depends on groundwater instead of surface water to support its habitat. The water picks up minerals and carries them to surface wetlands that support a unique variety of fen organisms that would not otherwise survive. The fen water feeds surface streams maintaining water quality. The wetlands serve human uses beyond simply saving a few butterflies. The least expensive highway proposed would damage surface habitat and groundwater with negative impact on human communities.

The short view was that greater expense to protect the environment and butterfly hurt people economically. The long view was that a greater expense protected the butterfly, community groundwater supplies, filtered pollutants from getting into surface water, enhanced fishing and hunting habitat, protected farmland, maintained pristine habitat for human enjoyment and maintained essential ecological functions provided by many species. Do you support the short or long view? Protection of the Endangered Species Act takes the long view. Efforts continue to undermine and eliminate the Endangered Species Act. Political parties are now separated by short and long view efforts.

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

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Smallmouth bass state record broken

 

Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Michigan’s existing state record for smallmouth bass was broken Sunday by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida.

A longtime angler with a cottage in Indian River, Cheboygan County, Kraemer said he’s been fishing Michigan waters since 1965, but this is his first state-record catch. Using night crawlers for bait, Kraemer landed a 9.98-pound, 23.10-inch smallmouth bass while out on the Indian River.

“I usually spend June through the end of September up here at the cottage,” Kraemer said. “I’ve got some great fish stories and some nice fish, but nothing like this.”

The record was verified by Tim Cwalinski, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Gaylord.

The previous state record for smallmouth bass was set in October 2015 when Greg Gasiciel of Rhodes, Michigan, landed a 9.33-pound, 24.50-inch fish from Hubbard Lake in Alcona County.

Prior to Gasiciel’s catch, the smallmouth bass state record had stood since 1906. That fish was a 9.25-pound, 27.25-inch fish from Long Lake in Cheboygan County.

“In just the last four years, anglers have caught a total of 16 state-record fish, a remarkable number of big fish in a relatively short time,” said Jim Dexter, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. “This is just more evidence that Michigan is home to a healthy, robust fishery—a resource and sporting opportunity that continues to draw people from all over.”

Kraemer, the new smallmouth bass state record-holder, agreed.

“I keep coming back to Michigan for a lot of reasons,” he said. “The weather, the clear, cold water, good fishing…it’s just nice up here.”

Michigan fishing 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.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, including other state-record catches visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Liberty Hunt this weekend

 

Youth Hunt and Hunters With Disabilities

The Liberty Hunt, a firearm deer hunt consisting of both the Youth Hunt, and Hunters with Disabilities, will take place this weekend, September 17 and 18.

Youth ages 16 and under, veterans with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities who qualify as stated below, may participate in this hunt.

To qualify, an individual must fit one of the following criteria:

*be a veteran who has been determined to have 100-percent disability, or is rated as individually unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

*have been issued a permit, by the DNR, to hunt from a standing vehicle.

*have been issued a permit by the DNR to hunt using a laser-sighting device.

*be blind as defined by MCL 393.351.

During this two-day hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler Point Restrictions do not apply. A Deer Management Assistance (DMA) permit may also be used to take one antlerless deer only, if issued for the area/land upon which hunting. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange.

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Catch of the Week

out-catch-of-week-mabieEmerson June Mabie, age 7, daughter of Ryan and Koree Mabie of Ada, caught her first trout—an 11-1/2 inch brown—while fishing at the bridge on Cedar Creek with her grandfather, Kurt Mabie, on Memorial Day weekend.

Way to go, Emerson! You made the Post Catch of the Week!

 

It’s back—get out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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Become a DNR conservation officer

The conservation officer academy recruits ran the first leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Michigan.

The conservation officer academy recruits ran the first leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division is actively seeking recruits for its next conservation officer academy, which begins July 16, 2017, at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Dimondale.

“The DNR, an equal opportunity employer, is seeking a diverse applicant pool, including military veterans,” said Sgt. Jason Wicklund, recruit school commander.

Certain criteria apply. All recruit applicants must:

  • Be able to lawfully possess a firearm in Michigan.
  • Be a United States citizen.
  • Be at least 21 years of age before graduation from the academy.
  • Become a resident of the state of Michigan by completion of the Probationary Training Program.
  • Possess a valid Michigan driver’s license.
  • Possess a satisfactory driving record.
  • Possess a clean criminal record absent of any felony convictions.
  • Submit to a thorough background investigation measuring the applicant’s suitability for law enforcement work.
  • Be able to pass the MCOLES physical fitness test. Go to http://www.michigan.gov/mcoles and click on “physical fitness test.”

To apply, for the job, complete the online application at https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/michigan/jobs/1525399/conservation-officer-10-statewide.

Recruits spent time learning conservation law, including how to identify various features of game fish common to Michigan waters.

Recruits spent time learning conservation law, including how to identify various features of game fish common to Michigan waters.

When submitting an application, download and complete the Job Fit Questionnaire and Location Preference Sheet found in the “Additional Requirements and Information” section of the “Description” tab. Attach completed Job Fit Questionnaire, Location Preference Sheet, cover letter and resume to the application. Applicants not completing and submitting all requested materials will be screened from the process. The State of Michigan is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, disability or other factors prohibited by law.

Recruits are classified as State of Michigan employees during the academy and receive pay for their training. The 22-week academy culminates in graduation and is then followed by an additional 20 weeks of field training throughout the state while paired with experienced conservation officers.

At the completion of training, the new officers are assigned to one of the state’s 83 counties where they will work and live.

During ice safety training, recruits jumped into an ice hole and learned to use their issued ice picks to maneuver out of the hole. All safety precautions were taken during the exercise to ensure recruit safety

During ice safety training, recruits jumped into an ice hole and learned to use their issued ice picks to maneuver out of the hole. All safety precautions were taken during the exercise to ensure recruit safety

“DNR conservation officers serve a distinct role in Michigan’s law enforcement community,” Wicklund said. “They are certified police officers with the authority to enforce all Michigan’s laws.”

Conservation officers have unique training in a wide variety of areas related to the protection of Michigan’s citizens and natural resources. This includes extensive training in game, fish, and trapping enforcement and recreational safety and enforcement.

They also receive extensive training in firearms, precision and off-road driving and survival tactics.

Conservation officers also serve the public in life-saving capacities, including ice-rescue, search and rescue and first-aid. Often, and especially in rural communities, they are the first to respond to an emergency.

For more information on the application process and how to apply to the conservation officer academy, contact Sgt. John Meka at mekaj@michigan.gov or 517-284-6499. To learn more about the conservation officer hiring process, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers and click on the link below the “Hiring Process” subheading.

Learn more about the academy by reading the 2016 Conservation Officer Academy blogs for Recruit School No. 7. Visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers and click on “Conservation Officer Academy” under the “Hiring Process” subheading to read about each week of training, view training photos and watch videos of recruits persevering.

Subscribe to the conservation officer academy blog, also posted on the Michigan DNR Facebook page, which follows these new officers during their challenges and accomplishments throughout field-training and beyond. Intermittent posts continue past graduation.

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

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-AbbottGrace Abbott, 10, daughter of Bob and Mindy Abbott of Cedar Springs, caught this whopper 28-inch pike on Rainbow Lake in Trufant, while visiting a family friend’s cottage. Way to go, Grace! You just made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Neighborhood Nature Niche

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

How far must you travel for basic food, water, and shelter needs? Are they readily available in the neighborhood? Who fills your specialized nature niche to provide essentials that keep you healthy?

I reminisced about my early childhood with such thoughts. I grew up in a city of 100,000 people that provided many of our neighborhood family needs within a half-mile home range. Ecologically a “home range” is the area an organism roams in pursuit of basic needs. In addition to food, water, and shelter those needs must be arranged into an appropriate living space.

Until I was two, we lived in an upstairs apartment at my grandparent’s house. My dad built a house across the street from Grandpa and Grandma’s. My older brothers recall the move but I was too young. I remember going to my grandparent’s. A friend of my dad’s moved his family into the apartment we vacated. I played with his daughters Kris and Lynn. With those girls and other neighborhood kids, we learned social and life skills that supported life in our small neighborhood community nature niche.

Two houses to the south of ours, brothers Paul and Gus Herm had their home. Paul owned the Texico gas/service station located at the corner to the north where several businesses supplied our needs. I do not know where Paul’s employee’s lived but I expect they lived nearby. Three houses to the north from ours was Dr. McCarty’s dentist office where he lived in half and had the office in the other half. Across the street from that office lived Mr. Art Persale, who had a remnant small farm.

The farm was near the Texico service station at the intersection of State and Bay Streets in Saginaw. A privately owned Strand Drive-in restaurant, comparable to an A&W, was on one corner, our barbershop on another, and Granger Nitz Pharmacy on the fourth. Rupprecht’s Meat Market was next to the pharmacy, followed by Miller Bakery. The bakery smell was the best smell in the neighborhood. People would line up for the fresh baked bread in the morning. Mr. Miller would not cut it until it cooled, otherwise it would crush in the slicer. I still cannot find pineapple or cinnamon rolls as good as he made. An appliance, furniture sales and repair shop was near the bakery.

Across the street was the Daniel Theater that showed double feature movies preceded with the “News of the World and two cartoons. Between the movies when film reels were changed people bought popcorn and candy. I liked the Chuckles candy in its five-piece packet or a box of Milk Duds. White’s Bar, owned by my friend Bill’s dad, was next to the theater. Whites lived near Fuerbringer Elementary School that was a half-mile walk from my home. There were other neighborhood businesses that I do not remember that supplied things I did not use like a women’s beauty parlor and tax service. Not every person used all the services available. Specialized services met the needs for different people similar to services provided to organisms in natural wild habitats.

Behind our house was an extensive field that had been a farm field before my memory. We could see the row homes across the field on Avon Street where the Filiatrauts lived. My dad went to school with Mrs. Filiatraut and I went to school with her daughter Jane. The field was our playground full of rabbits, insects, excavated holes and forts we constructed.

Some essential products came and went from greater distances like city water and city sewage removal.

Neighborhood raspberry, strawberry, corn, potato, and tomato gardens supplied personal needs. A local farmer with his horse drawn fresh produce wagon visited weekly. The milkman came often to deliver milk and it was necessary to bring it in from the milk box before it froze on cold winter mornings.

Utilize the local farm markets, support local producers and neighborhood suppliers for basic needs. In turn become the supplier that maintains healthy wild nature niche needs for native plants and animals in your yard.

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

 

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