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Tag Archive | "Department of Natural Resources"

DNR’s annual frog survey marks 20th year


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The Department of Natural Resources announced this week that its 20th annual statewide Frog and Toad Survey would begin this spring. Michigan’s survey is second only to Wisconsin’s in longevity.

The DNR Wildlife Division coordinates and analyzes data for the survey, while volunteers throughout the state conduct the field work for the survey. These annual survey efforts help biologists monitor frog and toad abundance and distribution in the state.

“We have collected a large, valuable data set to help us evaluate Michigan’s frog and toad populations,” said Lori Sargent, the DNR’s survey coordinator. “We’re now able to start watching trends and thinking about how to slow down some of the species’ declines.”

For example, Sargent pointed out that over the past 19 years Michigan has seen a decline in Fowler’s toads and mink frogs, two species that have a limited range in the state, unlike most of the other species that occur statewide.

Declining populations of frogs, toads and other amphibians have been documented worldwide since the 1980s. Studies suggest amphibians are disappearing due to habitat loss, pollution, disease and collection.

Volunteer observers conduct the surveys along a statewide system of permanent survey routes, each consisting of 10 wetland sites. Observers visit these sites three times during spring, when frogs and toads are actively breeding, listening for calling frogs and toads at each site, identifying the species present and making an estimate of abundance.

“We could still use some new volunteers in all parts of the state,” Sargent said. “Please consider joining us for a fun, educational time every spring and adopt a route. The continued success of the program is dependent on strong volunteer support.”

Those interested in volunteering should contact Lori Sargent at SargentL@michigan.gov or 517-284-6216 and provide their name and address.

More information on the Frog and Toad Survey and other projects supported by the Nongame Wildlife Fund is available at www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

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Winter free fishing weekend


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February 14-15

The Department of Natural Resources wants to remind everyone the annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14, and Sunday, Feb. 15. That weekend, everyone—residents and non-residents alike—can fish Michigan waters without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Michigan has celebrated the Winter Free Fishing Weekend every year since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing is a perfect match.

“Michigan’s winter months offer excellent opportunities to enjoy our state’s great outdoors, and fishing is a popular option for all ages,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The Winter Free Fishing Weekend is an easy, low-commitment way for anglers of all experience and skill levels to explore and enjoy Michigan’s world-class natural resources and one of our state’s most beloved outdoor traditions.”

To encourage involvement in the Winter Free Fishing Weekend, organized activities have been and continue to be scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others. A full list of these events can be found online at www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

The website also offers online tools to help those interested in planning and promoting local events.

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Changes to Master Angler program for 2015


 

The Department of Natural Resources recently announced that, effective Jan. 1, 2015, multiple changes have been made to Michigan’s Master Angler program, which allows anglers to submit large fish they have caught for recognition. The program has been in place since 1973.

The Master Angler program recognizes two categories of catches: catch-and-keep and catch-and-immediate-release. Previously, the catch-and-keep category was determined by the weight of the fish caught, but that requirement has been removed and replaced with a length requirement. Now recognition in both categories will be awarded based on an established minimum length for each recognized species. Verified entries will receive the Master Angler patch. Only one patch will be awarded for both catch-and-keep and catch-and-immediate-release entries. No more than one patch per species will be awarded to each angler per year.

“Eliminating the weight requirement for part of the Master Angler program really helps to streamline both the application and the verification process – especially as anglers will no longer have to find a certified scale to have their catch weighed,” explained Lynne Thoma, the program’s coordinator. “We hope this change will make it even easier for anglers to have their large fish recognized.”

In addition to the change to the category criteria, some changes were made to the submission procedures. A witness signature is no longer required and each application must have a color photo submitted with it. Anglers can now submit their applications in hard-copy or electronic formats.

Please note, state-record fish still are recognized by weight and still require identification by a DNR fisheries biologist.

The 2015 Master Angler entry application is available online at www.michigan.gov/masterangler.

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Firearm deer harvest down from last year


The 2014 firearm deer season wrapped up Nov. 30, and challenging conditions and lower deer numbers in some areas likely have led to fewer deer being taken this year. Each year the Department of Natural Resources generates preliminary estimates of the firearm deer harvest shortly after the season closes. Those estimates are later replaced by a rigorous assessment of harvest and participation over all deer seasons using an annual hunter mail survey.

The 2014 firearm deer season harvest appears to have decreased in all regions this year, but particularly in the Upper Peninsula. Experiences can differ widely within regions. DNR biologists estimate that, compared to 2013, the harvest was down approximately 30 to 40 percent across the Upper Peninsula, decreased perhaps as much as 10 percent in the northern Lower Peninsula, and was down about 5 percent in the southern Lower Peninsula.

Deer populations in the Upper Peninsula are down after two severe past winters. The DNR significantly reduced antlerless quotas prior to this season and has invested in habitat improvement and research assessing the role of predators, habitat and weather conditions in driving U.P. deer abundance. The 2014 deer season forecast indicated hunters should expect to see fewer deer in the region, and some locations also saw more than 40 inches of snow accumulation before the firearm season opened, making hunting access challenging and driving deer to migrate out of such areas earlier than normal.

“The number of deer brought to our check stations declined as much as 60 percent in some locations, though hunter success was somewhat better in areas with higher deer densities,” noted Upper Peninsula Regional Supervisor Terry Minzey. “Winter severity has moderated since then, but we’ll continue to monitor conditions and regional deer populations through the months to come.”

Deer harvest did not decline so dramatically in the Lower Peninsula. “The tough winter last year did not impact deer populations below the bridge as it did in the Upper Peninsula,” noted Ashley Autenrieth, Wildlife Division deer biologist for the northern regions. “But reduced antler size this season indicated deer condition was affected.”

Concentrations of standing corn that provide secure cover for deer contributed to adverse hunting conditions in some locations. Brent Rudolph, Wildlife Division research specialist, also shared that “department research in one southern Michigan study area indicates deer numbers are still only slowly rebounding following an extensive outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease several summers ago.” The research project is being conducted in collaboration with Michigan State University, with assistance from many hunter volunteers, and also has received financial support from Safari Club International.

Rudolph also stressed the importance of cooperation with Michigan’s hunter harvest survey, what he called “a vital tool for Michigan’s deer program, and another important way in which data provided by hunters contributes to our information base.”

Hunters who do not receive a survey in the mail but who wish to provide their hunting and harvest information may visit www.michigan.gov/deer and select the “Complete a Deer Harvest Survey Online” link. Hunters should only provide this information once they have completed all of their 2014 deer hunting activities.

For more information about hunting opportunities or deer management in Michigan, go online to www.michigan.gov/hunting or www.michigan.gov/deer.

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Do not move firewood between state parks 


Lethal tree infection caused by transport of firewood

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Oak wilt outbreaks are increasing in Michigan and the Department of Natural Resources has conducted treatment at several state parks to halt the spread of the disease.

Oak wilt is an introduced disease that causes rapid death of infected trees. The fungus is easily transported by beetles from infected wood to nearby wounded trees. Trees cannot be cured of oak wilt, and once a tree is infected the disease can rapidly spread to neighboring trees through underground root graft connections. The loss of large numbers of oak trees in parks can be dramatic, both for the park visitor experience and the ecology of the natural habitat.

“The likely cause of the oak wilt outbreak at Michigan state parks is the movement of infected firewood into campgrounds,” said DNR natural resources steward Heidi Frei. “Campers and other park visitors can help prevent the spread of the oak wilt fungus by not moving firewood between campgrounds.”

DNR Parks and Recreation Division staff has been working the last several years to stop the spread of oak wilt at Michigan state parks throughout the state, including P.J. Hoffmaster, Otsego Lake, Interlochen, Warren Dunes and Hartwick Pines state parks; and Fort Custer, Rifle River, Waterloo, Brighton, Pinckney and Island Lake recreation areas.

Treatments in 2014 included using a vibratory plow fitted with a special blade (designed and fabricated at the DNR’s Forest Fire Experiment Station in Roscommon) that severs grafted tree roots, isolating healthy trees from infected trees. Treatment also included the application of fungistats, which inhibit the growth and reproduction of fungi, and which have been used in areas declared critical dune habitat.
“If left unchecked,” Frei said, “oak wilt will continue to spread and result in large pockets of standing dead oak trees, which may be hazardous to park visitors.” Some parks, such as P.J. Hoffmaster, have experienced considerable losses. More than 100 large red oaks, including the most picturesque grove of red oaks in the campground, have been killed by oak wilt.
For more information on oak wilt prevention and stewardship, visit www.michigan.gov/foresthealth or contact Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov.

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Bring deer by DNR deer check station


The Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to stop by a DNR deer check station after their successful harvest, for DNR staff to collect important data from their deer and to receive their 2014 cooperator patch. Photo from DNR.

The Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to stop by a DNR deer check station after their successful harvest, for DNR staff to collect important data from their deer and to receive their 2014 cooperator patch. Photo from DNR.

Receive deer cooperator patch

 

The Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to stop by a DNR deer check station after their successful harvest, for DNR staff to collect important data from their deer and to receive their 2014 cooperator patch. A deer head (antlers must still be attached on bucks) or entire carcass must be presented to receive a patch. Data the DNR collects at check stations contributes key information to aid in management decisions made throughout the state. As part of continued efforts to be mobile-friendly, the DNR now has made it easier to find locations to check deer. Smartphone users now can text “Deer Check” to 468311 and they will receive a text back with a link to the DNR’s interactive deer check station locator map. Hunters can utilize their smartphone’s GPS function to find the deer-check location closest to them and then get turn-by-turn directions to that location to have their deer checked. For questions on hunting and firearm rules and regulations, please contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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Four Michigan conservation officers honored for lifesaving efforts


Four Michigan conservation officers were honored last week for their role in the search and rescue operation that eventually recovered Newaygo County toddler Amber Smith, who had been lost in the woods for nearly 24 hours in October 2013. Pictured here (L to R) are Officer Brian Lebel; Officer Mike Wells; Officer Jeff Ginn; and Sgt. Mike Bomay.

Four Michigan conservation officers were honored last week for their role in the search and rescue operation that eventually recovered Newaygo County toddler Amber Smith, who had been lost in the woods for nearly 24 hours in October 2013. Pictured here (L to R) are Officer Brian Lebel; Officer Mike Wells; Officer Jeff Ginn; and Sgt. Mike Bomay.

The Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division recently honored four Department of Natural Resources conservation officers who worked as part of a search and rescue operation and who ultimately found a missing 2-1/2-year-old child in the woods in Newaygo County last year. The officers were honored at last week’s meeting of the Natural Resources Commission in Cadillac, Michigan.
Sgt. Mike Bomay and conservation officers Jeff Ginn, Brian Lebel and Mike Wells were presented with Lifesaving Awards by DNR Director Keith Creagh and DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler for their role in locating Amber Smith, a toddler who disappeared Oct. 8, 2013, from her Barton Township home.

“Our officers go through extensive training to locate lost persons in the woods and they are experts in the areas where they work, knowing the terrain better than anyone,” said Hagler. “I would like to congratulate all of the officers involved for their diligence on this search. Some had already worked a full shift when they were requested to help and did not hesitate to assist.”

The DNR conservation officers responded to a request from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department to assist with the search of the heavily wooded area around the girl’s home. The area is part of national forest land and contains a maze of two-track roads and power lines. The officers searched the area until 1 a.m. and then were relieved by another search team. The conservation officers reported back once the sun came up and continued their search, locating the little girl approximately 24 hours after she was reported missing.

The conservation officers used an off-road vehicle and utility task vehicle in their search. As they searched, the officers retrieved items that were potential evidence and turned them over to an evidence collection team. After a brief meeting at an intersection of two-track roads, the officers separated to continue the search and, shortly after that, while cresting a hill, CO Ginn stopped short, got off his ORV and walked into the woods and returned carrying the toddler, alert and unharmed. CO Wells immediately contacted Incident Command to report the missing girl was found and that she was alive.

To learn more about Michigan conservation officers and the work they do, visit the DNR website www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers

 

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DNR reminds deer hunters of license changes 


 

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

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

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

Deer licenses available include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Muskellunge harvest tag issue


The Department of Natural Resources has found a key error on this year’s muskellunge harvest tag.

The tag is legally required for anglers to be in possession of a muskellunge (including tiger muskellunge) harvested in Michigan waters. The months of April, May and June were omitted from the tags. Anglers are requested to write the date of harvest and harvest location on the line provided on the tag, if they harvest a muskellunge during this time frame. Anglers who harvest muskellunge after June can use the tag as indicated.
The muskellunge harvest tag is free (except for those under 17 years of age and nonresident anglers, who would need to purchase a DNR Sportcard to obtain the tag) and available at all license agents. Those fishing on Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters using a Wisconsin fishing license are also required to use the tag if they harvest a muskellunge in Michigan waters.

All muskellunge shall be immediately released unless the fish is to be tagged for harvest. If harvested, it should be tagged with a valid muskellunge harvest tag. The possession limit for muskellunge (including tiger muskellunge) is one per angler per fishing season (April 1 through March 31). While registration of muskellunge harvest is not required, registering all harvested fish greatly assists the DNR with management of this important species and is encouraged. For more information or to register a fish, visit www.michigan.gov/muskie.

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Spring weather has bears and other wildlife on the move


 

Although some areas of the state may still have several feet of snow on the ground, Michigan’s wildlife knows the spring season, with an increase in daylight hours, is here. Animals are beginning to wake up from winter hibernation; bears are among those starting to emerge from their dens.

Food and mating are the two drivers behind the increase in wildlife that Michigan residents may be seeing lately. Since bears typically mate in June or July, food is the primary cause for the increase in bear activity during the spring.

“At this time of year, bears are looking for food,” said Department of Natural Resources bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “They are hungry after spending months in their dens. While we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may.”

Each spring, as bears leave their winter dens and resume daily activity, wildlife officials begin receiving calls about bear sightings and even the occasional bear damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills.

Birdseed, because of its high fat content and easy accessibility, is especially attractive to bears. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed.

“The majority of complaints we receive about nuisance bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid creating a problem is to take in their bird feeders and store other attractants, like grills, trash cans and pet food, in a garage or storage shed,” Bump said. “Once the woods green up, bears tend to move on to find more natural sources of food, as long as they haven’t become habituated to the birdseed or garbage cans.”

Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard can become habituated to these food sources unintentionally provided by people. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yard during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.

DNR Wildlife Division staff members are unable to respond directly to each nuisance bear complaint and instead ask that landowners do their part to help reduce potential food sources in their yards before calling for further assistance. The trapping of nuisance bears is only authorized by DNR wildlife officials in cases of significant property damage or threats to human safety when other techniques have failed.

Anyone who is experiencing problems with nuisance bears and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/bear.

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