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Tag Archive | "Department of Natural Resources"

Help keep Michigan black bears at a distance


 

Bear bird feeder: Bears commonly are attracted to bird feeders for their access to easy protein and fat calories. Food can erode the natural fear of humans that bears have.

The Department of Natural Resources asks Michigan residents to help keep the state’s up-north icon a wild animal by keeping bears at a distance. With many people (whether they’re seasonal visitors or year-round residents) outdoors and enjoying northern Michigan in the summer months, removing bird feeders is an easy answer to bear problems.

“When situations occur concerning a bear, some form of food has usually attracted the bear into the area,” said DNR wildlife communications coordinator Katie Keen. “The common element is usually a bird feeder—seed, suet and even hummingbird feeders. The good news is a homeowner can choose to take control of the situation.”

Michigan’s bear range: Much of Michigan’s bear population can be found in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula.

Michigan’s estimated black bear population is over 12,000 adult bears—2,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula and 10,000 across the Upper Peninsula. Typically, black bears are shy animals, but they have a great sense of smell and can remember a food source. As a result, a black bear will go places it normally wouldn’t if a food reward is available.

In addition to bird feeders, pet food, garbage, barbeque grills and beehives also can attract bears. Pet food should be stored indoors, as should garbage, until the time of pickup. Garbage that is set out the night before can attract bears and can have more of an impact than just an overturned garbage can.

“Bears are smart, so we have to be smarter,” said Keen. “They are wild animals that are unpredictable and can travel many miles. Your habits can affect those around you, and a bear that loses its natural fear of humans because food has been introduced can end up being bold or dangerous and may need to be put down.”

Michigan’s bear population generally is found in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and across the Upper Peninsula. Bears eat most items found in the forest, including plants, berries, nuts, acorns, insects and, occasionally, small mammals. Because bears will eat most anything, their behavior and normal travel patterns will change if an easy food source is discovered.

“Don’t wait for the first time a bear knocks down your bird feeder or garbage can; be proactive and don’t let a habit form,” said Keen.

Learn more about living with bears and ways to avoid attracting bears to your property with the DNR’s “The Bear Essentials” video on Michigan.gov/wildlife.

Bear population and distribution are managed through regulated bear hunting. Michigan’s bear hunting seasons vary by bear management unit, with the first 2017 season starting Sept. 8. A total of 7,140 bear hunting licenses will be available this fall. Bear hunting licenses are distributed through a preference point system.

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Public lands are Earth Day’s unsung heroes


Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Pollution prevention, water filtration among the natural benefits

Want to celebrate an Earth Day hero? Look no further than the nearest parcel of state-managed public land in any corner of Michigan.

Last weekend we celebrated Earth Day, and it’s a good time to appreciate our state-managed public lands for all they do to enhance quality of life in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources manages 4.6 million acres of land for the public’s use and enjoyment, including state forests, game areas, recreation areas and parks. Aside from the high-value cultural, recreational and economic opportunities they provide, Michigan’s public lands have enormous impact on the quality of our environment and natural resources.

The lands reduce air pollution, protect water quality, provide flood retention and offer critical wildlife habitat. Like true heroes, they do their jobs without fanfare.

“People usually associate public lands with outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or hunting,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “But they may not realize the tremendous natural benefits these spaces provide. Their contributions to the health of Michigan’s environment, natural resources and citizens are many. That’s why proper management of these valued public lands is so critical.”

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Ways in which public lands improve our environment, natural resources and even public health include:

Pollution prevention. Forests and wetlands on public lands benefit the environment by serving as natural “purifiers.” For example, trees help reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Wetlands play a vital role by filtering pollutants from surface runoff, and breaking down fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into less harmful substances.

Improved water quality.

Tree roots hold soil together and soak up moisture, which enhances water quality and prevents erosion. In addition to filtering pollutants, wetlands improve water quality by recharging groundwater supplies when connected to underground aquifers. They also contribute to natural nutrient and water cycles.

Storm water management.

In natural landscapes like forests, the soil absorbs water and pollutants resulting from runoff from hard surfaces such as driveways and parking lots. This is especially important in reducing flooding.

Wildlife habitat.

Fields, forests, waterways and wetlands provide Michigan’s wildlife with the vibrant ecosystems they need to thrive.

Better health.

Nature plays a huge role in the physical and emotional health of Michiganders. The ability of trees and grasslands to filter air pollution reduces negative health effects on people with respiratory ailments. Plus, state-managed public lands—offering trails, boat launches, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation options—provide any number of opportunities for exercise and fitness. Of course, trees, lakes and rivers offer calming effects that are emotionally gratifying as well.

Good stewardship.

Michigan’s public lands promote good environmental stewardship. They allow for initiatives such as Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, which provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities through the world-class management of the state’s seven premier Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas. The DNR also is pursuing an innovative wetland mitigation program that harnesses public lands to help offset the loss of wetlands.

“We’re a cleaner, healthier Michigan because of our public lands,” Creagh said. “So much of what they do for us happens without notice. But Earth Day provides a good opportunity to appreciate all our state-managed public lands do for the citizens of Michigan.”

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What to do if you find a bird nest in your yard


Goslings are a common sight in Michigan in the spring.

Goslings are a common sight in Michigan in the spring.

From the Michigan DNR

Michigan residents may get a surprise this spring in their gardens, flower boxes or even in the landscaping by their office buildings. Bird nests can be found in some unusual locations.

Ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may consider inappropriate. While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern.

“She will be a very quiet neighbor, and with her cryptic coloration she may go largely unnoticed,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.”

If she is successful and her eggs hatch, the mother duck will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water, often the day they hatch.

“Don’t worry if you do not live near water, the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it,” said Vaughn.

The female mallard will sit on the nest for about a month prior to the eggs hatching. If the nest fails on its own—something that happens regularly—Vaughn advises to just wish her luck on her next attempt.

Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water. Similar to mallards, Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch. Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder. If possible, try to avoid the area. If this is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away.

Those fortunate enough to have a bird’s nest built in their yard, in a tree, or on the ground, may have noticed that the baby birds are starting to outgrow their nests. Baby birds learn to fly through trial and error. They may feel they are ready to fly, but their flight feathers might not have fully grown in yet. It is common to find baby birds on the ground after an attempt to fly. If this is the case, please do not touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.

Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.

In the event that you find a chick on the ground that is sparsely feathered, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to fledge (learn to fly). If you know where the nest is, you can put the chick back in the nest only if you can do so safely.

Migratory birds, their nests, and their eggs are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and must be left alone. Unless you have a license, taking a baby bird or eggs from the wild is breaking the law.

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

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

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

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Suspect CWD deer harvested in Eagle Township, Clinton County


 

It’s critical that hunters have deer near this area checked 

A 1.5-year-old buck taken Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Clinton County’s Eagle Township is likely the ninth free-ranging deer in Michigan to test positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

A hunter took the animal within an area where deer check is mandatory and brought the deer to a Department of Natural Resources check station. Preliminary tests conducted by the DNR came back positive for CWD. The animal currently is being tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to finalize confirmation of the disease. Confirmation will take a couple weeks.

The DNR reminds hunters that bringing harvested deer to a DNR check station is critical to helping the state understand the extent of CWD in Michigan.

“This latest suspect deer reinforces how critical hunters are in battling this disease,” said Chad Fedewa, DNR wildlife biologist. “We are counting on hunters to bring their deer in for testing so we have a better understanding about disease distribution. If this hunter had not followed the law, we would have no idea that the disease has traveled farther west.”

The DNR has tested nearly 9,000 deer since the first free-ranging CWD-positive deer was found in May 2015; thus far, eight cases of CWD have been confirmed. This new suspect, if the disease is confirmed, would bring the total to nine.

The DNR reminds individuals that they must check all deer they harvest in the Core CWD Area, which includes 17 townships. This area, which is referred to as Deer Management Unit (DMU) 333, consists of Lansing, Meridian, Williamstown, Delhi, Alaiedon and Wheatfield townships in Ingham County; DeWitt, Bath, Watertown, Eagle, Westphalia, Riley, Olive and Victor townships in Clinton County; Woodhull Township in Shiawassee County; and Oneida and Delta townships in Eaton County. Hunters harvesting deer in these townships are required to submit deer heads for testing within 72 hours of harvest.

With the discovery of this new suspect positive, hunters harvesting deer in three additional townships are strongly encouraged to have their deer checked. These townships are: Portland and Danby townships in Ionia County and Roxand Township in Eaton County.

“Although we won’t make any regulations changes this late in the year,” said Fedewa, “we can’t emphasize enough how much we need hunters in the new townships to have their deer tested so we can determine if there are more deer in the area with the disease.”

There are five check stations accepting deer for CWD testing within DMU 333. These check stations will be operating seven days a week (excluding major holidays). A complete map of check stations, including locations and hours of operation, is available at www.michigan.gov/cwd.

Deer feeding and baiting is prohibited throughout the Core CWD Area and CWD Management Zone, which includes Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia and Shiawassee counties.

A fatal neurological disease, CWD 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 the carcass of a diseased animal.

Some chronically 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; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.

To date, there is no evidence that CWD presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. 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.

Anyone interested in learning more about how Michigan is managing CWD can view the biweekly CWD updates the DNR provides online at mi.gov/cwd. Announcements of additional CWD-positive deer will be posted online as well.

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Muskegon River multi agency enforcement task force


 

Newaygo County Sheriff Pat Hedlund announced that deputies, state troopers, conservation officers and Newaygo City police officers are again patrolling the Muskegon River this summer to curb rowdy behavior. Police Officers are on the water in boats and along the river corridors in marked cruisers. “This is a proactive enforcement approach to keep the river safe and keep rowdy behavior under control,” Sheriff Hedlund said.

Past problems on the river have included underage drinking, intoxication, lewd behavior, trespassing, littering, disorderly conduct, drug use and damage to private property. Hedlund said the program is now in the third year of operation and illegal issues have been dramatically reduced when compared to past years.

The sheriff’s department also created a program called River Watch, a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan State Police, and the Newaygo Police Department. River Watch relies on homeowners and volunteers along the river who report violations of the law.

Bridgeton Township Supervisor Michael Reagan wanted river users to “please consider our citizens, property owners and families when floating the river.”  Reagan added that he encourages people to come and use the river, but cautioned that they should be respectful of other people and private property to avoid problems with law enforcement.

Hedlund said his deputies and other police officers are actively looking for people who act outside of the law. “We want people to have fun and enjoy Newaygo County. We only ask that they do it responsibly and respectfully.”

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Free youth rabbit hunt Jan. 16 in Belding 


Participants in the Flat River State Game Area’s 2015 youth rabbit hunt. This year’s hunt is set for Jan. 16.

Participants in the Flat River State Game Area’s 2015 youth rabbit hunt. This year’s hunt is set for Jan. 16.

Register by Jan 12

The Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Mid-Michigan United Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Belding Sportsman’s Club, the Montcalm County Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association and several other sporting groups and local businesses to sponsor a youth rabbit hunt at the Flat River State Game Area Saturday, Jan 16.

The day will kick off with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and will conclude with lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Belding Sportsman’s Club, located at 10651 Youngman Road in Belding, Michigan.

There is no fee to participate, and maps of potential hunting hot spots on the 11,000 acres of nearby public hunting land will be available. Participating youths will be eligible for a number of raffle prizes, including several firearms.

“This event is possible thanks to the cooperation of many partners with an interest in keeping Michigan’s hunting tradition going strong,” said DNR wildlife biologist John Niewoonder. “We hope that getting new hunters out in the woods and exposed to the fun and camaraderie of rabbit hunting will encourage them to become lifelong hunters.”

Hunting parties should register by Jan. 12 and must have at least one member younger than 17 years of age. For more information or to register, contact the Flat River State Game Area at 616-794-2658.

Participating hunters must have a valid base license or mentored youth hunting license, available online at www.mdnr-elicense.com or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.

To learn more about youth hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting.

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Muzzleloader deer season opens 


 

The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that the 2015 muzzleloader deer season opened across the state on Friday, Dec. 4.

Zones 1 and 2 will remain open to muzzleloading until Dec. 13. Zone 3 is open to muzzleloader deer hunting until Dec. 20.

Hunters are reminded that archery deer season also is open statewide during this time. Archery season started Dec. 1 and runs through Jan. 1, 2016.

Hunters should be aware of any applicable antler point restrictions in the areas where they are hunting. Check the antler point restriction map and chart on pages 32 and 33 of the 2015 Hunting and Trapping Digest for details.

In the Upper Peninsula, only deer hunters with a certified disability may use a crossbow or a modified bow during the late archery and muzzleloader season. This restriction applies to the Upper Peninsula only.

All deer hunters are required to wear hunter orange when participating in the muzzleloader season. The hunter orange requirement does not apply to those participating in the archery season.

For more information about deer hunting in Michigan, visit mi.gov/deer.

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Wildlife officials ask hunters to help  eliminate chronic wasting disease 


DNR wildlife pathologist Tom Cooley and Julie Melotti test deer at the MSU Wildlife Disease Lab as a result of a CWD-positive deer found in Meridian Township./

DNR wildlife pathologist Tom Cooley and Julie Melotti test deer at the MSU Wildlife Disease Lab as a result of a CWD-positive deer found in Meridian Township./

From the Michigan DNR

The 2015 Michigan deer season is the first being conducted following a finding of chronic wasting disease in a free-ranging deer in Michigan. The disease was first detected in an Ingham County white-tailed deer this past spring.

Wildlife officials are optimistic, however, that CWD can be eliminated in Michigan and are asking for hunters’ assistance.

So far, public response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Chad Stewart, the Department of Natural Resources deer and elk specialist.

“Most people right now are on board with what we are doing,” he said. “They seem to understand the regulatory changes we’ve made. Not everyone likes them, but they understand them.”

DNR summer interns Anthony Klein and Kurt Wolf collect deer carcasses along I-69 and U.S. 127 in Dewitt Township, Clinton County.

DNR summer interns Anthony Klein and Kurt Wolf collect deer carcasses along I-69 and U.S. 127 in Dewitt Township, Clinton County.

In April, Meridian Township police dispatched a 6-year-old female deer that was exhibiting signs of neurologicaldisease. An initial screening at the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory identified the deer as a CWD suspect. Soon, the National Veterinary Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the DNR’s suspicion: Michigan became the latest state to have found CWD in its free-ranging deer herd.

CWD is a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The disease is an always fatal affliction for cervids—deer, elk and moose—that attacks the brain, causing lesions, which leads to emaciation, loss of fear of humans, loss of body control, drooling and, ultimately, death. It is not caused by bacteria or virus but by prions, which are mutated proteins. It is spread by animal-to-animal contact with saliva, urine, feces, blood or infected soil. There is no treatment for CWD in deer. The ailment has never been shown to cause illness in humans. For more than two decades, CWD has been present in free-ranging populations of mule deer and elk in Colorado. During this time, there has been no known occurrence of a human contracting any disease from eating CWD-infected meat.

Because of the occurrence of CWD in other states, the Michigan DNR has been vigilant about testing for the disease. Since 1998, tens of thousands of free-ranging deer have been tested in the state. The Meridian Township deer marked the second time CWD was identified in Michigan. In 2008, a single deer was found to be CWD-positive in a captive cervid facility in Kent County.

With the most recent finding, the DNR immediately instituted a policy that called for reducing deer numbers in the area of the infected deer and testing all deer—those taken by federal animal damage control officials as well as road kills—from the area for CWD.

In July, a 2-year-old buck found less than a mile from the initial CWD-positive female tested positive. In August, a 5-year-old CWD-positive female was found in close proximity to the other two. Genetic testing showed all three positives were related. Finding deer with CWD within the same extended family is not uncommon.

Wildlife officials are encouraged that so few additional CWD-infected animals have been found and that those found were closely related.

“When we found the first one, we didn’t know what we would find,” Stewart said. “Given that that deer was symptomatic—it obviously had the disease for some time—we expected to find additional animals. It’s encouraging that the ones we’re picking up are from the same family group and relatively close to where we found her. But we still have a long road ahead of us.”

Last week, a suspect positive deer was found in DeWitt Township, which is still pending final testing.

Prior to deer season, the DNR established a CWD Management Zone consisting of Ingham, Clinton and Shiawassee counties, as well as a nine-township Core CWD Area (also known as Deer Management Unit 333). The nine townships—Lansing, Meridian, Williamstown, Delhi, Alaiedon and Wheatfield in Ingham County; DeWitt and Bath in Clinton County; and Woodhull in Shiawassee County—have stringent regulations relating to possession of deer.

It is illegal to salvage a deer killed by a motor vehicle, and no rehabilitation of deer will be allowed within DMU 333. Hunters who shoot deer in the core area are required to bring the entire carcass to one of three DNR check stations within 72 hours. The DNR will retain the head for testing; if it’s a trophy-caliber animal, the DNR will work with the hunter to make sure the trophy is not marred but the necessary tissue is made available for testing.

Once the deer has been checked, it may be processed. All leftover parts should be disposed of in the garbage, a landfill, or the dumpster provided by the DNR at check stations.

Negative test results will be posted online at www.michigan.gov/dnrlab within a week after the head has been submitted for testing.  Hunters with deer that test positive will be notified by telephone. And although human health effects have not been documented for people eating CWD-infected deer, the DNR recommends that only healthy animals be consumed.

Hunters are reminded that there is no baiting or feeding of deer allowed in the three-county CWD Management Zone. Nose-to-nose contact of deer can spread the disease. Hunters who travel out of state to hunt deer, elk or moose are reminded that there are restrictions on bringing carcasses back from states or provinces where CWD has been found. Only deboned meat, antlers, hides and skullcaps that have been cleaned of all brain or muscle material may be brought into Michigan.

Any hunter who has been notified by out-of-state authorities that a deer, elk or moose they brought into Michigan tested positive for CWD must contact the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Lab within two business days and provide details. The DNR can dispose of any meat from a CWD-infected animal.

Extensive testing of deer from the CWD-infected area is ongoing. As of Nov. 13, of the 1,403 deer tested in DMU 333—and another 337 in the three-county area—only three have been determined to have chronic wasting disease, with a fourth suspect positive waiting final testing.

All 141 tested from other counties have been negative. Hunters who harvest deer outside DMU 333 and are concerned about CWD may submit their deer for testing at any DNR check station. (A list of check stations is available at www.michigan.gov/deer).

For more information on CWD in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/cwd.

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Be an ethical hunter: buy a license before you go out 


OUT-deerAnd don’t loan kill tags

From the Michigan DNR

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources urge deer hunters to engage in an ethical hunt: buy a license before going out and don’t loan kill tags.

Every deer hunting season, DNR conservation officers encounter individuals engaged in unethical hunting practices and tackle many cases of individuals buying a hunting license after harvesting a deer or loaning kill tags to a friend or relative.

“Each year, we see cases of individuals waiting to buy licenses until after they have shot a deer,” said Dean Molnar, assistant chief of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “We remind all hunters that you must buy your license before you go out to hunt and have it in your possession when afield. Buying a license is not only the ethical and responsible thing to do, it is the law. Harvesting a deer without a license is poaching.”

Deer poaching in Michigan carries a restitution payment of $1,000 per deer, a $200 to $1,000 fine and jail time up to 90 days. In addition, a violator’s hunting privileges are suspended for three years. Under the new law that took effect last year, antlered deer are assessed an additional $1,000 in restitution plus the standard $1,000 for illegally killing any deer. In addition, deer with eight points but not more than 10 are $500 a point, while deer with 11 points or more are assessed a penalty of $750 per point.

Additional years of hunting privileges will be revoked for violators, depending on the number of points on the illegally harvested deer. Michigan also participates in the Wildlife Violator Compact, which includes hunting revocation in participating states.

Another unethical practice encountered frequently each hunting season in Michigan is the loaning of kill tags to an unlicensed individual who has harvested a deer.

“Loaning kill tags is among the top violations we see while on patrol, and is often done for friends or relatives who are from out of state to avoid paying the nonresident license fee,” said Molnar. “Kill tags must be validated and attached immediately to your harvested deer and visible for inspection. It is unlawful to loan out or borrow kill tags.”

For more information on deer hunting in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/deer.

To report a natural resource violation, please call the Report all Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/rap.

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. To learn more about the work of conservation officers, visit www.michigan.gov/conservationofficer.

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Pheasant season offers growing opportunities for hunters


OUT-pheasant

With pheasant hunting just under way, the Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that there are a growing number of opportunities to take part in this treasured Michigan tradition.

Pheasant hunting season runs Oct. 10-31 in the Upper Peninsula in Menominee County and portions of Iron, Marquette, Dickinson and Delta counties; Oct. 20-Nov. 14 in the Lower Peninsula; and Dec. 1-Jan. 1 in selected areas of Zone 3 in the southern Lower Peninsula. The bag limit is two male pheasants daily, with four in possession. A base license is required to hunt pheasants.

“A few years ago Outdoor Life magazine rated Michigan’s Thumb among the top 10 places in the country to go pheasant hunting, which points to the fact that pheasant hunting is still alive and well in our state,” said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “The DNR and our partners are making progress toward creating more quality pheasant hunting opportunities with the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort to revitalize Michigan pheasants.”

The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative aims to create small-game hunting opportunities, increase wildlife populations, improve hunter satisfaction and help Michigan’s economy. Landowners can get involved – and can get technical and financial assistance—by forming cooperatives to create and enhance pheasant habitat.

“It has been exciting to see what the MPRI coalition of partners has been doing over the last few years to improve pheasant habitat, pheasant numbers and pheasant hunting in southern Michigan,” said Bill Vander Zouwen, Pheasants Forever representative and Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative Coalition co-chair. “For example, the DNR bought 917 acres and improved thousands of acres on state game areas, Pheasants Forever provided 75,000 acres of habitat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture farm programs provided nearly 100,000 acres of habitat, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped landowners improve close to 3,000 acres. I am really looking forward to seeing what the next five years will bring.”

The best counties for pheasant hunting are in south-central Michigan to mid-Michigan and into the Thumb. There are some localized concentrations of birds elsewhere, based on habitat availability. Stewart advises hunters to look for warm-season grasses, especially idled farm fields. Late-season hunters can have success in cattails and shrub lands adjoining picked agricultural fields.

Hunters may be interested in the recently published 2015 Michigan Ring-Necked Pheasant Status Report. The report, along with more information on pheasant hunting and the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, can be found at mi.gov/pheasant.

The DNR asks hunters to help monitor pheasants and quail in Michigan by becoming a “hunter cooperator” and filling out a survey form, which provides important information about the status of these game birds. The form should be returned by Oct. 28 for the early season, and by Jan. 5 for the regular season.

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