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Tag Archive | "DNR"

Tips for residents encountering snakes


 

The only venomous snake species found in Michigan, the rare eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy and avoids humans whenever possible.

The only venomous snake species found in Michigan, the rare eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy and avoids humans whenever possible.


From the Michigan DNR

This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan’s snakes. Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans.

There are two that are very similar and often cause a stir when people encounter them. Eastern hognose snakes, when threatened, puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.”) If this act is unsuccessful in deterring predators, the snakes will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans.

The Eastern massasauga rattlesnake the only venomous snake species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss. As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with other harmless species of snakes in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but also will buzz their tails if approached or handled.

Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes are shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as “swamp rattlers,” they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice. When encountered, if the snake doesn’t feel threatened, it will let people pass without revealing its location. If humans do get too close, a rattlesnake will generally warn of its presence by rattling its tail while people are still several feet away. If given room, the snake will slither away into nearby brush. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan (fewer than one per year), can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention immediately. To learn more about the massasauga and for more snake safety tips, visit http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/emr/index.cfm.

Those who encounter a snake of any kind should leave it alone and should not try to handle or harass the snake—this is primarily how snake bites happen. A snake can only strike roughly one-third of its body length, so it is physically impossible for people to get bitten if they do not get within 24 inches of the snake’s head. Michigan snakes do not attack, chase or lunge at people or seek out human contact. Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone.

To learn more about Michigan’s snakes, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife, click on the “Wildlife Species” button and select “Amphibians and Reptiles.”

Also, be sure to check out the DNR’s 60-Second Snakes video series for identification tips and information about Michigan’s snake species.

The DNR asks Michigan residents to consider reporting any reptile or amphibian sightings to the Michigan Herp Atlas research project to help monitor amphibian and reptile populations in Michigan and protect these valuable resources for future generations. Visit www.miherpatlas.org for more information.

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Fishing report from the DNR


 

As of May 14

SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA

St. Joseph: Fishing has slowed.  Pier anglers are catching a few freshwater drum and catfish when using crawlers on the bottom. Boat anglers are catching a few trout and salmon but the fish are scattered in 40 to 180 feet.

St. Joseph River: Is producing crappie and the occasional walleye.

South Haven: Pier fishing was slow for all species. Boat anglers are still catching lake trout in waters 60 feet and deeper.

Grand Haven: Fishing has slowed. The water is cold and fishing pressure has been slow because of the weather. Pier anglers are casting spawn for steelhead and brown trout. Some are throwing cast nets for alewife to use as bait however few were caught. Boat anglers were trolling in 25 to 75 feet of water with short coppers and lead core with small spoons in orange or gold. Perch fishing has slowed as the fish are beginning to spawn. Try the 60 foot holes with spikes, wigglers and minnows.

Grand River at Grand Rapids: The steelhead run has slowed however the fish run off and on during the spring depending on water temperatures. Smallmouth bass and suckers are dominating the daily catch.  More catfish are being caught as well.  No reports of any walleye caught at the 6th Street Dam.

Lake Lansing: Is producing some crappie. 

Jackson County: Many anglers are catch and release bass fishing.  Panfish activity picks up with the warmer weather and some anglers were getting near limit catches.

Clinton County: Lake Ovid is producing some crappie. A few catfish are being caught in the Maple River.  

Muskegon: Very few anglers have been fishing the piers. Boat anglers reported slow catch rates as the water is too cold.  Most are trolling between the piers with small spoons. No perch to report.

Muskegon River: The steelhead run is starting to come to a close but the brown trout fishing has picked up.  Small walleye have been caught right along with a fair to good number of bass.

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Spring weather has bears on the move


Cutline: Bird feeders are an easy source of food for hungry bears in the spring. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Cutline: Bird feeders are an easy source of food for hungry bears in the spring. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.


Bird seed and trash attract hungry bears

Spring is here, which brings warmer temperatures, longer days and wildlife emerging from their winter homes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that black bears are among those animals that are now awake and have left their dens.
At this time of the year, wildlife officials receive many calls about bear sightings and bears damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills.

“Bears are hungry,” said DNR bear specialist Kevin Swanson. “They are looking for food 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.” Bird seed especially is attractive to bears because of its high fat content and easy accessibility. 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 bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid problems is to take in their bird feeders and store other attractants like trash cans inside until garbage pickup,” Swanson 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 bird seed or garbage cans.”

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

“We ask landowners to do their part by eliminating the food sources in their yards,” said Swanson. “Given time and no food reward, a bear will move along on its own.”

Anyone who is experiencing problems with bears and has removed 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.

Learn more about Michigan’s black bear and how to prevent potential problems by visiting www.michigan.gov/bear.

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Prescribed burns Tuesday


Two burns will be in Fairplain Township. One is 160 acres and the other 41 acres. They will burn timber and grass for the Karner blue butterfly habitat, and grass for upland bird habitat.

The third burn is in Eureka Township (62 acres), also for Karner blue butterfly habitat enhancement.

The Karner blue butterfly is a federally listed endangered species in Michigan.

Other prescribed burns in the state are occurring in Arenac County (red pine management), Monroe County (upland bird habitat and native grasses), Oakland County (to stimulate oak regeneration), and Otsego (grass and shrubs for elk, deer and turkey.

Prescribed burns are planned to achieve specific objectives—often simulating the benefits of natural fires. The burns are conducted by highly trained DNR personnel in designated state-managed areas during appropriate weather conditions and in cooperation with the proper authorities and local units of government. Public safety is a top priority during all prescribed burns. Prescribed burns are used to:

Enhance wildlife habitat.
Help with forest regeneration.
Restore and maintain native plant life.
Control invasive plant species.
Reduce the risk of wildfires.
Although prescribed burns are planned, they can be canceled at the last minute due to careful monitoring of weather and wind conditions.

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Reminder to remove tree stands from public land


From the Michigan DNR

The deadline to remove scaffolds, raised platforms, ladders, steps and any other device to assist in climbing a tree from public land was March 1. The Department of Natural Resources reminds those who have not removed any of the previous listed equipment to please do so.

Public lands are available for the use and enjoyment of everyone. It is imperative that equipment is removed by March 1 to ensure the safety of all visitors. Owners of equipment that is left on public land past the deadline are subject to a 90-day misdemeanor and a fine from $50-$500.

For those who hunt on public land, tree stands must be portable and the hunter’s name and address must be affixed in legible English that can be easily read from the ground. Scaffolds, raised platforms, ladders, steps and any other device to assist in climbing a tree cannot be placed on public lands any earlier than Sept. 1, and must be removed by March 1. A permanent raised platform or tree stand may be used for hunting on private land, with the permission of the landowner. See pages 22-24 of the Hunting and Trapping Digest for more details on these equipment regulations.

For general questions, please contact your local DNR Customer Service Center. In our Region (4), it is the Plainwell Customer Service Center at 269-685-6851.

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DNR recommends charges in elk-poaching case



OUT-Elk-poaching-shield
Reward offered for other elk-poaching incidents

A Jackson County man has confessed to the illegal killing of a small bull elk during the firearm deer season in Otsego County, according to Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers who investigated the incident.

A passerby discovered elk parts dumped along a rural road Nov. 29, 2014. A DNR conservation officer investigating the scene located a grocery store receipt among the entrails of an elk. A six-week investigation ensued, and they identified and interviewed a suspect, who confessed. The Otsego County prosecutor is now reviewing charges.

According to Lt. Jim Gorno, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Gaylord, officers from southern Michigan, a diligent Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline dispatcher, and a detective from the department’s Special Investigations Unit assisted conservation officers from the DNR’s Gaylord Customer Service Ce nter in the investigation.

“This case started with very limited clues and evidence, but through solid investigative follow-up, in conjunction with excellent teamwork being displayed by several of our officers around the state, it was brought to a successful conclusion,” said Gorno. “It shows diligence and tenacity in investigating cases involving our high-value fish and game species.”

Elk poaching carries fines of up to $2,500, restitution to the state of up to $1,500, loss of the firearm used in the incident and loss of hunting privileges for up to three years.

Conservation officers continue to investigate a number of poaching-related incidents involving elk in northern Michigan. Anyone with information regarding any incident is asked to call the DNR Law Enforcement Division at the Gaylord Customer Service Center at 989-732-3541 or the 24-hour RAP Line at 800-292-7800.

Any fish, game or natural resources violation can be reported to the DNR’s RAP Line or with the online reporting form available at the DNR website www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

Information leading to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the Game and Fish Protection Fund. Information also may be left anonymously.

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DNR’s fire program celebrates 100 years


Historical photo depicts a pull-behind water unit connected to hand lines for fire suppression.



Historical photo depicts a pull-behind water unit connected to hand lines for fire suppression.

Historically, it’s the years with the large wildfires that garner the most public attention. For example, in 2012—the year of the Duck Lake fire—497 fires burned 23,814 acres.

In 2014, Michigan set a new record when it came to wildfires—a record low. This past fire season, 167 fires burned 550 acres across the state.
“The record low numbers for wildfires can be attributed to damp weather conditions,” said Paul Kollmeyer, who oversees the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ wildfire suppression and prevention efforts.
In addition to the wet weather conditions keeping fire numbers low, Kollmeyer said the DNR’s work to spread fire prevention messages has been key in helping to reduce the number of wildfires caused by people.

DNR fire tower near Arnold, Mich., circa 1965.

DNR fire tower near Arnold, Mich., circa 1965.

“Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people,” he said. “Our strategy has always been to get an educational prevention message out to folks of all ages. Through our efforts most people now take extra steps to be careful with fire. They also understand that they need to check if the DNR is issuing burn permits before they burn leaves and yard debris.”
Spreading the fire prevention message across the state requires a lot of boots on the ground at schools, parades, fairs and other events. The DNR has 68 fire officers deployed at 48 stations across the state who, in addition to suppressing wildfires on public and private land, join their friend Smokey Bear to remind folks to be careful with fire.
“Fire officers are required to have diverse job skills,” Kollmeyer said. “They might be interacting with elementary school kids one day and building a firebreak the next day. Their jobs require a lot of specialized training. It’s a job that has evolved a lot over the past 100 years.”

The historic low number of wildfires corresponds to another historic event in Michigan: 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of William J. Pearson being appointed as the state’s first full-time forest fire officer. Pearson developed the state’s fire control organization, starting with the aid of a few game, fish and forest wardens and some part-time assistance from a handful of temporary patrolmen, lookouts and fire wardens.
He also developed a system of lookout towers and telephone lines for spotting and reporting fires. These tools and techniques gradually evolved into the fire suppression organization the DNR has today.

Prior to 1914, forest fire suppression and prevention was handled by the timber industry, funded by a fee assessed on their ownership acreage paid to the Northern Forest Protective Association. By 1907, the Legislature authorized the employment of “not more than 10 district deputy game, fish and forestry wardens to employ firefighters, impress labor and enforce the fire laws.” But it was the appointment of Pearson in 1914 that really got the ball rolling. That year, there were 935 fires reported that burned 408,765 acres. The private fire associations began to fall by the wayside as the state stepped up fire prevention and suppression efforts. Tactics for fighting fires began to change at that time, too. When World War I began in 1914, horses were still being used to haul cannons and other heavy equipment; by the end of the war, tanks and other mechanized equipment had proved their value in navigating difficult terrain and began to be incorporated into firefighting tactics replacing horse drawn plows, axes and shovels. This was a turning point in the way Michigan battled wildfires back then and mechanized firefighting remains the most efficient means to combat wildfires today.

“The reason we don’t have million-acre fires anymore like we did in the 1800s is because we have mechanization and a road system to quickly respond with off-road firefighting equipment operated by skilled fire officers,” Kollmeyer said. But it didn’t happen overnight. In 1923, 1,336 fires burned 466,474 acres. Two years later, 3,887 fires consumed 733,750 acres. And in 1930, there were 4,690 fires reported, burning 290,300 acres. But gradually, both the number of fires and the destruction they wreaked were reduced.

A big change occurred in 1944, when Smokey Bear was adopted in a national campaign to engage the public in fire prevention.
“We still message with Smokey’s help, even after 70 years,” Kollmeyer said. “Our fire program is not just about fighting fires, it’s about preventing fires, too. People have changed and their mindset has changed.”
But the mission of fire officers hasn’t. “Fire officers were originally hired for prevention and coordination,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.”

Prescribed fire designed to enhance wildlife habitat or reduce hazardous and invasive vegetation has become a large portion of a fire officer’s duties in recent years.
“This year in Michigan, there were more acres of beneficial prescribed burn treatments than what we responded to for wildfires,” Kollmeyer said. “We conducted 105 burns for 10,488 acres to enhance wildlife habitat, improve forest regeneration, to control invasive plants and to reduce the risk of wildfires.”

When not actively suppressing fires, fire officers spend a lot of time training—maintaining their skills as well as developing new ones. “We cooperatively train rural fire departments in wildfire fighting techniques, maintain equipment and assist with the development of new equipment,” explained Dana Pelton, a DNR forest fire officer supervisor in Gaylord. “Additionally, we write plans outlining parameters that will provide the desired results for upcoming prescribed burns.”
Fire officers will also assist with other forestry activities—marking timber for sale, treating diseases and removing hazardous trees (such as at Belle Isle in Detroit this year), she said. A background in forestry is helpful for fire officers, but it isn’t the only attribute the DNR looks for when recruiting. Ability to communicate with the public, make presentations and mechanical aptitude all come into play.

“It’s a multi-faceted job,” Pelton said. “There’s a lot more to it than just driving around a fire truck.”
And, of course, fire officers will continue to work on enlightening the public to the dangers of wildfires. “You never know about the fire you prevented, but that’s the way we like it,” Pelton said. “And for those that aren’t prevented—we’ll be ready.”

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Men face charges in duck poaching case


Two Kawkawlin, Michigan men have been ordered to pay $4,000 each in restitution payments to the Game and Fish Protection Fund and $625 each in fines and court costs, and were sentenced to five days in jail for being over the bag limit for redhead ducks, according to conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Travis Vennix, 22, and Timothy Diehl, 22, both of Kawkawlin, in Bay County, admitted to shooting 20 redhead ducks while hunting Oct. 13. The bag limit for redheads is two per hunter. In addition to their fines, restitution and jail time, both had their hunting privileges for the remainder of 2014 revoked, along with the next three calendar years. They were sentenced last week by Judge Allen Yenior of the 81st District Court in Arenac County.

Vennix and Diehl were waterfowl hunting Oct. 13 when they encountered DNR conservation officer Nick Atkin, who was checking waterfowl hunters, at the Pine River boating access site in Arenac County. Officer Atkin noted they were acting nervous when he spoke to them, but because of the darkness and fog he couldn’t see that the pair hid a stringer of 18 redhead ducks under the boat dock at the site. When Vennix and Diehl arrived on shore with their boat, Officer Atkin noted they had two redhead ducks in the boat with them.

On Oct. 14, the DNR received a Report All Poaching (RAP) Line complaint from a hunter who found a stringer of 18 redhead ducks shoved underneath the boat dock at the access site. Officer Atkin and conservation officer Phil Hudson tracked down the hunters Officer Atkin had encountered the previous night and obtained a confession from them that they shot 20 redhead ducks while hunting that day.

Any fish, game or natural resources violation can be anonymously reported to the DNR’s RAP Line at 800-292-7800. Information also can be given through an online reporting form on the DNR website. Information leading to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the Game and Fish Protection Fund.

For more information on conservation officers and the work they do, go to www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

 

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Waterford man charged with elk poaching 


 

A 51-year-old man from Waterford, Michigan, has confessed to killing an elk on the opening day of firearm deer season, according to Department of Natural Resources conservation officers who investigated the incident.

A deer hunter hunting in Montmorency County, north of Atlanta, on Nov. 15, contacted the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Line to report he had found a dead elk. Conservation officers from the DNR’s Gaylord Customer Service Center responded and located the 4×4 bull elk and determined it had been killed by a single gunshot.

After a lengthy investigation by the officers, a suspect was identified and a confession was obtained. Charges currently are under review by the Montmorency County Prosecutor.

“Good old-fashioned police work by our officers brought this case to a successful end,” Lt. Jim Gorno said. “We continue to encourage the public to be diligent in watching out for our natural resources. Without the hunter calling the RAP Line to report this case, it could have gone unsolved.”

Conservation officers continue to investigate a number of poaching-related incidents involving elk in northern Michigan. Anyone with information regarding any incidents is asked to call the DNR Law Division at the Gaylord Customer Service Center at 989-732-3541 or the 24-hour RAP Line at 800-292-7800.

Any fish, game or natural resources violation can be reported to the DNR’s RAP Line or with the online reporting form, available at the DNR website www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

Information leading to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the Game and Fish Protection Fund. Information also may be left anonymously.

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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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