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Tag Archive | "Department of Natural Resources"

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

OUT-Oak-wilt

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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Muskegon River walleye egg collection to occur this spring


 

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds Muskegon River anglers that Fisheries Division personnel will be taking walleye eggs below Croton Dam this spring.

The DNR plans to collect approximately 62 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River in 2014 that will result in 13.4 million fry for transfer to rearing ponds throughout the Lower Peninsula. These walleye will be raised to fingerling size and stocked in late spring or early summer in lakes and rivers throughout the state.

Lake Michigan walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula depend on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs, as well as many inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula. The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is presently about 40,000 to 50,000 each year. DNR crews will strip milt and eggs from approximately 700 adult fish, which will be returned to the river, except for 60 that will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing.

“This adult population consists of mostly stocked fish,” said Rich O’Neal, fisheries biologist for the Central Lake Michigan Management Unit. “The Muskegon River has the largest run of walleye in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay.”

The DNR plans to collect walleyes with an electro-fishing boat beginning as early as the week of March 24 and concluding by April 15. Eight days of fish collections are planned during this period. The actual date when collections will begin depends on water temperatures and the presence of ripe fish. This schedule can change on a daily basis for many reasons, but it is anticipated most work will be completed during the last week of March through the second week of April.

Sampling using electro-fishing usually begins each day at Croton Dam at about 8:30 a.m. and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street access site.

Egg collection and fertilizing is conducted at the Pine Street access site, about 2 miles downstream of Croton Dam. This process generally begins between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to observe how the eggs are removed from the fish and fertilized before they are packed and shipped to Wolf Lake and Platte River state fish hatcheries.

Anglers who wish to avoid the walleye collection activities should fish downstream of the areas of the river previously noted. The DNR asks anglers to exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boats. Wading anglers will be asked to exit the water when the boat approaches to ensure anglers’ safety during the electro-fishing work. The DNR appreciates angler cooperation during this critical egg take operation.
Learn more about fisheries management and fishing opportunities at the DNR website www.michigan.gov/fishing.

 

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Portions of snowmobile trails will not be groomed until drifting snow can be managed




OUT-SnowmobileDepartment of Natural Resources (DNR) officials announced today that various sections of snowmobile trails in Cheboygan, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Ottawa counties will not be groomed due to the extremely large snow drifts blocking the trails. The affected sections of snowmobile trails include:

  • Trail #9 from Cheboygan to Mackinaw City, and sections of Trail #9 on the east side of Mullet Lake;
  • Trail #5 in parts of Kent, Mecosta and Montcalm counties, from Polk Road to Russell Road; and
  • Trail #19 in Ottawa County and Ravenna Township.

Snow drifts as high as 5 feet to 8 feet tall are making it impossible for the grooming equipment to lay down a smooth trail surface. Current grooming equipment is designed to smooth out the trail surface, and not designed for plowing through tightly compacted snow drifts.  

The DNR and local snowmobile clubs are looking at options to break through the drifts, including bringing in heavy equipment such as front-end loaders and backhoes to remove the drifts.  

Grooming will commence once trails are sufficiently cleared to allow the grooming equipment to run without getting stuck. Snowmobilers are urged to either avoid these sections of trail, or use extreme caution if riding in these drifted areas. 

Questions may be directed to Todd Neiss, DNR trails specialist, at 231-775-9727 ext. 6045. Information regarding other snowmobile riding opportunities may be found on the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

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Snowmobile Violations – Leaving the scene of a property damage accident.


OUT-Snowmobile-Conservation-officer-logoby Sgt. John Jurcich

 

The Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division, continues to seek information related to a hit and run snowmobile crash which killed one dog and seriously injured a second dog along Simonelli Road in Fruitland Township of Muskegon County on the evening of February 16th 2014.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. two Fruitland Township residents were at the end of a driveway while snow was being cleared and mail was being retrieved from a mailbox along this lightly traveled rural road. Two vehicles were visible at the end of the driveway with tractor lights illuminating the road at the time of the incident.  Two Brittany Spaniels, owned by one of the residents, briefly ran into the gravel roadway and were returning to the drive when a lone snowmobile approaching from the north, traveling the center of the roadway at a high rate of speed appeared. The snowmobile continued at high speed striking both dogs within twenty feet of the owner and witness. The suspect vehicle did not slow or brake prior to or after the collision.  One dog died on scene after being thrown 114 feet, and the second dog required emergency care and surgery in Grand Rapids with veterinary bills totaling more than $6,000.

The snowmobile was last observed at the intersection of Simonelli and Lakewood Roads. Conservation Officers and local law enforcement have been working leads related to this incident but continue to seek additional information. Investigators may be seeking a mid to late 1990s, Polaris snowmobile, dark in color, being operated by a lone occupant. This snowmobile may have left the Berry Junction Trail or the City of Whitehall just prior to the incident and may have been returning to Fruitland or the Laketon Township area at the time of the crash.

Snowmobiles in Muskegon County may operate to the extreme right of the “right of way” or plowed portion of the roadway.  Speeds may not exceed those posted or designated to normal vehicular traffic.  Under Michigan Snowmobile and Motor Vehicle Code laws, snowmobiles involved in a crash causing property damage or human injury, must stop at the scene to provide information.

Information may be provided to the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 1 800 292-7800 or the Muskegon Silent Observer at 72-Crime.

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