web analytics

Tag Archive | "DNR"

Largemouth bass virus re-emerges 


Largemouth bass virus affects the fish’s swim bladder, making it difficult for them to swim correctly. Photo from Michigan DNR.

After a 15-year hiatus, largemouth bass virus has re-emerged in a new northern Lower Peninsula water. This virus has been confirmed as a factor in a fish kill in Cedar Lake in Alcona and Iosco counties, Michigan, with additional lakes in the area being examined. This virus previously affected adult largemouth bass in the early 2000s in southern Michigan lakes.

Largemouth bass virus is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish and is closely related to viruses found in frogs and other amphibians. Its origin and how it is spread are unknown, but anglers are considered a likely path for transmitting the virus through the movement of live, infected fish from one water to another, or by using contaminated and uncleaned gear or boats in uninfected waters. LMVB is not known to infect humans, and infected fish are safe to eat as long as the fish is thoroughly cooked.

LMBV usually causes fish kills during periods when fish are most stressed. Potential stressors include very hot weather, intensive recreational fishing, and possibly aquatic weed or other treatments made during hot weather. Anything that can be done to minimize stress on fish will reduce the effects of this virus and subsequent fish deaths.

There are few outward signs that a fish has LMBV. The virus has been found in lakes with no reports of disease or mortalities of fish. Affected fish usually appear normal, although they may be lethargic, swim slowly and be less responsive to activity around them. Dying fish often are seen near the surface and have difficulty remaining upright. Upon internal examination, infected fish usually have bloated and yellowish swim bladders.

“Largemouth bass virus appears to infect other related fish species, including smallmouth bass, bluegill and black crappies, but to date is only known to kill largemouth bass,” said Gary Whelan, the DNR’s fisheries research manager. 

“The disease typically kills large adult fish and die-offs affect approximately 10 to 20 percent of these fish in a given lake.”

LMBV cannot be eradicated from lakes, nor can infected fish be treated. The best way to halt the virus is by anglers and boaters properly cleaning their equipment and doing their part to prevent the spread:

  • Clean all fishing equipment between trips.
  • Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.
  • Handle bass gently if you intend to release them.
  • Don’t keep bass in live wells for long periods of time if you plan to release them.
  • Minimize the targeting of largemouth bass during very hot weather
  • Report dead or dying adult largemouth bass, particularly when they are in numbers of 25 or more. Reports can be made online at michigan.gov/eyesinthefield.

For more information on fish diseases, visit the DNR’s website www.michigan.gov/dnr. 

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

State-record hybrid sunfish caught in southwest Michigan


Joel Heeringa of St. Joseph, Michigan, caught a new state-record hybrid sunfish July 9, 2018, on Lake Anne at Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County). The fish (confirmed as a hybrid sunfish by University of Michigan fish experts) weighed 1.8 pounds and measured 11.7 inches.

Michigan has a new state-record hybrid sunfish, out of Lake Anne in Grand Mere State Park in Berrien County. Joel Heeringa, of St. Joseph, Michigan, caught the fish July 9, while still fishing with a crawler. The record fish weighed 1.8 pounds and measured 11.7 inches.

Brian Gunderman, a DNR fisheries unit manager for southern Lake Michigan, verified the record. Because the fish was believed to be a hybrid, additional identification was required, delaying final confirmation. University of Michigan fisheries experts also examined the fish and confirmed it was indeed a hybrid sunfish. 

According to Gunderman, Michigan has several sunfish species in Michigan that can hybridize with each other. This group includes native species such as bluegill, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, and warmouth. It also includes redear sunfish (native to the southern United States), which he said were stocked in a number of lakes in southern Michigan during the 1990s-early 2000s. 

“Hybrid sunfish commonly occur in nature, and we catch hybrids during most of our lake surveys in this region of the state,” he explained. “Hybrid sunfish (usually male bluegill and green sunfish female crosses) also are produced in private fish hatcheries for stocking in ponds. There is a common misconception that hybrid sunfish are infertile. Hybrid sunfish are fertile. However, about 80-90 percent of hybrid sunfish are males, so it is rare for two hybrids to mate with each other. They are more likely to spawn with a purebred of one of their parent species.”

Gunderman said the new state record definitely was a hybrid sunfish, but it is not possible to conclusively identify the parent species without genetic testing. “The external characteristics were consistent with a bluegill/green sunfish hybrid. For the purposes of our State Record and Master Angler programs, all types of hybrid sunfish are lumped into one category.”

The previous hybrid sunfish state record actually was a tie between two fish: one caught May 28, 1988, by Daniel Manville on Arbutus Lake in Grand Traverse County and one caught June 1, 1988, by Lloyd Jarman, Jr. on Doan’s Lake in Allegan County. Both fish weighed 1.44 pounds.

State records in Michigan are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

For more information, visit michigan.gov/masterangler or contact Brian Gunderman at 269-685-6851, ext. 145.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species


Boaters and anglers who use their equipment in multiple bodies of water without properly cleaning it, easily spread many aquatic invasive species’ non-native plants and animals that can disrupt the natural ecosystem, tourism and the economy.

As part of efforts to manage aquatic invasive species, a habitat enhancement project at Fort Custer Recreation Area in Augusta, Michigan, recently kicked off. The DNR is working with Kieser & Associates, an environmental science and engineering firm in Kalamazoo, on a plan to enhance the recreation area’s habitat by managing aquatic invasive species in its lakes. The project is funded through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment as part of the settlement levied against Enbridge Energy in connection with the July 2010 oil release on Line 6B into the Kalamazoo River.

In addition to aquatic plant surveys, which have found invasive species in all of Fort Custer’s lakes, the three-year project will include several different treatments to control these species. This will help determine the best long-term, cost-effective options for invasive species management in the lakes. The project also involves a public outreach and educational component to help park visitors understand their role in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

You can help by following these simple steps:

  • Clean boats, trailers and equipment.
  • Drain live wells, bilges and all water from boats.
  • Dry boats and equipment.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Learn more about preventing the spread of invasive species at michigan.gov/invasives.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

Showcasing the DNR: Getting wild in the classroom


Aspen Ridge fifth-grader Kendra Scherer tries to determine the height of a tree by gazing through a clinometer, while classmate Athena Kinnunen follows the line of sight. Students Madelyn Reader, Ella Brand and Catherine Bartanen are also pictured, from left. Wheels to the Woods helped fund transportation for the Forestry Field Day outing. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

By Hannah Schauer, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Connecting children to wildlife and other natural resources can be one of the most exciting, rewarding and fulfilling endeavors for educators and students.

With another school year beginning, some people may not know the Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides numerous opportunities to help teachers make those valuable connections between the state’s natural and cultural resources and students of all ages.

Elementary students get wild

Through the Go Wild for Michigan’s Wildlife curriculum, elementary school educators can introduce young learners to Michigan’s wildlife species and their habitats. 

“Go Wild for Michigan’s Wildlife brought an excitement into my class that I wasn’t anticipating,” said Charlotte Simpson of Shettler Elementary, part of Fruitport Community Schools in Muskegon. “My youngest of learners–kindergartners–were engaged in the lessons and materials and were making connections to their beautiful home state.”

Critter cards, featuring 19 different Michigan wildlife species, are included with the Go Wild for Michigan’s Wildlife curriculum. The facing card shows a painted turtle, Michigan’s state reptile. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Included with the lesson plans and activities, are “critter cards,” featuring 19 different Michigan wildlife species.

While each educator receives a PDF version of the cards, the DNR also prints a limited supply of the cards, so students can have a set to keep. The available card sets are distributed to Michigan teachers on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Throughout many lessons, I would hear, ‘I’ve seen that animal before’ or ‘I’m going to look for that animal tonight when I get home,’” Simpson said. 

During the 2017-2018 school year, over 800 kindergarten through fifth-grade educators registered to receive this free curriculum.

Middle school is for the bears (and ducks) 

Using actual location data from radio-collared Michigan black bears, middle school students can find out what bears are up to throughout the year. 

A Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear provides lessons, videos, activities and bear location data to help students learn more about bear behaviors and habits at various times of the year. Like other DNR wildlife classroom curricula, this program is offered free of charge.

Sixth- through eighth-graders will learn all about bear biology, as well as the DNR’s role in managing bear populations in Michigan. This year, additional bear location data have been added to the curriculum and educators can choose which bear, or bears, they want their class to “follow.”

Educator Brandy Dixon, from Holy Ghost Lutheran School in Monroe, said she uses the curriculum in her classroom and she loves the program.

“It was a great way to show my students how there are people in the state of Michigan whose job it is to protect our natural resources. It encouraged them to think about how to maintain our environment, and it taught them about bears,” Dixon said. “They gained in-depth knowledge about these creatures, and I think that knowledge – because it was spread through an entire school year – will stick with them for the rest of their lives.”

With knowledge and experience comes greater understanding.

“I had some students who started in my class dead set against hunting,” Dixon said. “I think they now have more of an understanding as to why hunting, in particular, is an effective management practice for our Michigan wildlife.”

Classes that participate in the curriculum also have the option to enter a Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear contest. 

After learning all about black bears in Michigan, students can create a way to share the story of a black bear’s journey throughout the year. Educators representing the top three projects are awarded gift certificates to purchase science supplies for their classroom.  

Prizes for the contest are provided by the Michigan Bear Hunters Association and the DNR. 

The DNR also offers middle-schoolers curriculum centering on wetlands and some of the birds that live there.

Michigan’s Wondrous Wetlands and Waterfowl offers an opportunity to learn about the ducks, geese, and swans found in Michigan, as well as the critical importance of wetland habitats. 

Lessons include several activities. Students can become a bird in a migration simulation that illustrates the perils that waterfowl encounter during their bi-annual flights. Students also will engage in land-use planning, and analyze Michigan waterfowl population data. 

A Michigan elk is shown. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

High-schoolers become elk managers

Michigan once had elk across the state, but by the late 1800s, all the native elk had disappeared due to unregulated hunting and drastic landscape changes that led to a lack of habitat.

In 1918, seven elk were brought from the western United States to Wolverine, Michigan to re-establish our state’s elk population. 

Now, 100 years later, Michigan has a healthy and abundant elk population resulting from intentional land management and increased law enforcement.

Students can learn more about this conservation success story and celebrate elk in the classroom with Elk University.

“This educational program gives high school students to chance to step into the role of a wildlife manager,” said Katie Keen, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. 

Students will learn about elk, their habitat needs, Michigan history, wildlife disease and forest management. They also will explore social considerations for wildlife management.

“I was really impressed with the way Elk University uses real data, video and photos to teach biology concepts, but doesn’t ‘preach’ or ‘tell’ information to the kids,” said Chad Miller of Hamilton High School in Hamilton. “Instead, it was clear that whoever designed the lessons understood inquiry learning and the art of getting kids to ‘uncover’ concepts. It is so rare to find – especially in free, pre-written programs – this approach used so well.”   

Elk University is offered free of charge to ninth through 12th-grade educators.

Lakeview: Students from Lakeview Community Schools pose for a photo after visiting their school forest. Wheels to Woods provides field-trip funding to forests for pre-K through 12th-grade schools in Michigan. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Forests and field trips

“Forests are critical habitat for many species, such as bear and elk, and a field trip is a great way to have students experience these resources first-hand after learning about them in class,” Keen said.

For those teachers hoping to get their students out for some forest exploration there is funding available to schools for field trips through a program called “Wheels to Woods.” 

Any pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school in Michigan is eligible to apply for funds to go on a field trip to a school forest, private forest, public forest or forest products company.

“Wheels to Woods pays for the bus so that students, teachers and parents can go on an educational field trip to explore a nearby forest,” said Mike Smalligan, DNR forest stewardship coordinator. “Teachers are free to use any topic about forests that fits in with their lessons and curriculum.” 

For more information and an application form, visit treefarmsystem.org/wheels-to-woods. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

If a field trip is not feasible, educators can incorporate trees, forests and more into the classroom with Project Learning Tree.

With this award-winning outdoor curriculum that meets both state and national standards, educators can find lessons and activities for learners of all ages to incorporate into classrooms and other educational settings. 

Learn more about Michigan Project Learning Tree at www.michiganplt.org. 

More ways to bring natural resources to the classroom

Project WILD workshops offer professional development for bringing hands-on natural resources-related activities to classrooms. Several Project WILD guide books for kindergarten through grade 12 are available. Find out more at michigan.gov/michiganprojectwild. 

Get salmon in the classroom. Caring for young salmon encourages third- through 12th-grade students to think and care about conservation and creates a connection between caring for their fish and caring for their local environment. Learn more about the Salmon in the Classroom program at michigan.gov/sic. 

The DNR’s Academy of Natural Resources, a week-long program offered in two locations during the summer months, gives teachers the opportunity to learn about Michigan’s diverse natural resources and how to bring that knowledge to the classroom. Learn more at michigan.gov/anr. 

To register for wildlife classroom curricula and learn about additional opportunities the DNR has to offer educators, visit michigan.gov/dnreducation.

To get the latest education updates from the DNR, sign up for DNR emails at michigan.gov/dnr and choose “Education and Outreach” to subscribe to the Essential Educator newsletter.

The Michigan DNR offers numerous opportunities for the state’s schoolchildren to learn about wildlife and natural resources in closer, more involved and more in-depth ways.

These opportunities offered for today’s youth may cultivate a bumper crop of wildlife and natural resources stewards for tomorrow. That’s what the DNR is aiming for.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

New program to elevate state’s best trail resources


The DNR now is accepting applications for the Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation program, due Oct. 1, 2018.

The DNR and Travel Michigan announced Monday the official launch of the Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation program. It’s an effort aimed at acknowledging Michigan’s position as the Trails State, showcasing an array of quality trails (including water trails) and trail-centered communities, and recognizing extensive collaboration of state and local governments, nonprofits, foundations and volunteers that develop and maintain the trails.

“The concept behind the Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town designation is a welcome addition to the state’s trails program,” said Bob Wilson, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. “Having first worked on enabling legislation in 2014 and now seeing the Pure Michigan designation come to fruition, it is an exciting time for all those who believe in trails in our state.”

Local units of government, trail authorities or nonprofits primarily responsible for the proposed nonmotorized or motorized trail or trail town may apply for the designation. Applicants must demonstrate that the trail or trail town:

  • Offers a high-quality trail or trail town experience.
  • Provides clear information for users.
  • Enjoys broad community support.
  • Has a sustainable business, maintenance and marketing plan.
  • Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town logo and graphic

“This Pure Michigan designation will help to shine a light on some of the best and most scenic trails across the state, as well as the communities enhanced by these trails,” said Paul Yauk, DNR state trails coordinator. “Recognizing these valuable outdoor assets as part of this program also will help us further anchor Michigan’s position as the nation’s Trails State.”

Michigan offers a network of more than 12,500 miles of state designated trails, with new connections in process every year. It’s an interconnected trails system that provides plentiful recreation opportunities for bicyclists, hikers, ORV riders, snowmobilers, equestrians, cross-country skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“Highlighting the vast network of trails throughout our great state will continue to draw attention to one of Michigan’s greatest assets, our abundant natural resources,” said David Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan. “Residents and visitors alike will have additional access to resources, maps and information to highlight both motorized and nonmotorized trails as well as natural resources around the state.”

Information on the Pure Michigan designation program—including an overview, the application process, designation criteria, frequently asked questions, a handbook and other related resources—can be found at michigan.gov/dnrtrails.

“We all know the benefit of being associated with the Pure Michigan brand and its direct tie to our nation’s leading trails system,” said Wilson. “It reinforces both the value of the trails and the value of the brand.”

All Pure Michigan Trail and Trail Town applications must be received by Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. During the following review and evaluation period, the DNR may ask applicants for supplemental information or documentation.

Questions and completed applications can be submitted via email to Mike Morrison at morrisonm4@michigan.gov or via traditional mail to: Pure Michigan Trails Designation c/o State Trails Coordinator, Parks and Recreation Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 30257, Lansing, MI 48909.

Questions? Contact Paul Yauk at 517-284-6141 or Kriss Bennett at 248-431-1265.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

New deer regulations related to chronic wasting disease


Included is a ban on baiting and feeding in CWD Management zone, including Kent County

Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission approved new hunting regulations last week aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The action came after months of commission members and Department of Natural Resources staff hearing from hunters, residents and others interested in the long-term health of the state’s deer population, and a thorough review of the best available science on chronic wasting disease.

“We hope that by setting these specific CWD regulations we can limit the movement of this disease in Michigan,” said Vicki Pontz, NRC chairperson. “We appreciate all the comments we have received from across the state. Michigan hunters are very passionate about deer and deer hunting, and I look forward to working with them as we continue to confront this threat to wildlife and our valued hunting tradition.”

CWD is a fatal neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in cervids—deer, elk and moose. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and produces small lesions that result in death. There is no cure; once an animal is infected, it will die.

The disease first was discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in May 2015. To date, more than 31,000 deer in Michigan have been tested for chronic wasting disease, and CWD has been confirmed in 60 free-ranging deer in six Michigan counties: Clinton, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm.

The approved deer hunting regulations, which will be in effect for the 2018 deer seasons unless noted otherwise, include:

  • Reduced the 4-point on-a-side antler requirement on the restricted tag of the combination license in the 16-county CWD Management Zone. Under the new regulation, a hunter in the CWD Management Zone can use the restricted tag of the combination license to harvest a buck with antlers as long as it has at least one 3-inch antler. 
  • Created a discounted antlerless license opportunity in the CWD Management Zone on private land; if purchased, the license will expire Nov. 4, 2018.
  • Effective immediately, a statewide ban on the use of all natural cervid urine-based lures and attractants, except for lures that are approved by the Archery Trade Association.
  • An immediate ban on baiting and feeding in the 16-county area identified as the CWD Management Zone. This area includes Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Shiawassee counties.
  • A ban on baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula, effective Jan. 31, 2019, with an exception to this ban for hunters with disabilities who meet specific requirements. The start date on this regulation is intended to allow bait producers and retailers time to adjust to the new rule.
  • Effective immediately in the CWD Management Zone and four-county bovine tuberculosis area (in Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Oscoda counties), hunters with disabilities who meet specific requirements can now use 2 gallons of single-bite bait, such as shelled corn, during the Liberty and Independence hunts.
  • Allowance of all legal firearms to be used in muzzleloader season in the CWD Management Zone.
  • A purchase limit of 10 private-land antlerless licenses per hunter in the CWD Management Zone.
  • Restrictions on deer carcass movement in the five-county CWD Core Area (Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties) and the CWD Management Zone.
  • Antlerless options on deer licenses/combo licenses during firearms seasons in the five-county CWD Core Area.
  • Expansion of early and late antlerless seasons in select counties.
  • Changes to regulations regarding wildlife rehabilitators.

In addition, the commission asked the DNR to move forward with:

  • An experimental mandatory antler point restriction regulation in a five-county CWD Core Area, including Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties. The restriction would begin in 2019, provided a survey of hunters shows support for the requirement and specific department guidelines are met. This is intended as a tool to evaluate the effects of antler point restrictions on the spread and prevalence of CWD, along with deer population reduction.
  • A hunter-submitted proposal for mandatory antler point restrictions in Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, St. Clair and Lapeer counties. If hunter surveys support this regulation and specific department guidelines are met, it would be implemented in 2019.

These regulations come after much collaborative work to better understand the scope and pathways of CWD and best management actions. In October 2017, Michigan hosted a CWD symposium that brought together roughly 200 wildlife scientists and other experts from across the country.

Recommendations and public outreach

Shortly after the symposium, the DNR and the Natural Resources Commission announced the creation of a nine-member Chronic Wasting Disease Working Group. This group was charged with developing recommendations on additional steps and actions to substantially mitigate CWD in Michigan, and in January presented initial recommendations centered around messaging, partnership funding, regional management, and the importance of continuing a solid science-based approach.

Throughout April and May of this year, the DNR hosted a series of public engagement meetings in Bay City, Cadillac, Detroit, DeWitt, Gaylord, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Newberry and Rockford. These meetings provided many opportunities for the DNR to share the latest information and recommendations about CWD, while encouraging the public to offer their best ideas on how to slow the disease.

During this outreach period, more than 650 peopled attend public engagement meetings, and the DNR received comments and suggestions via 361 hard-copy surveys and 135 online surveys.

More information on regulations

Details on all regulations will be added next week to the online hunting digests on the DNR website, and DNR staff will be available at deer-check stations during the hunting seasons, too.

More information about these regulations also will be posted next week to the michigan.gov/cwd website. For additional questions, contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

DNR seizes record amount of illegal crayfish


Michigan DNR conservation officers seized more than 2,000 pounds of live, illegal red swamp crayfish in 55 bags, the largest aquatic invasive species seizure by the DNR.

More than 2,000 pounds of live, illegal red swamp crayfish recently were seized by Department of Natural Resources conservation officers on July 13—the largest aquatic invasive species seizure by the Michigan DNR.

Growing from 4 to 7 inches in length, red swamp crayfish are dark red with bright red, raised spots on their claws and a black wedge-shaped tail that is a black or dark blue color underneath.

Red swamp crayfish are prohibited in both Michigan and Canada. They burrow and create shoreline erosion, creating instability. Additionally, they compete with native crayfish, reducing the amount of food and habitat available for amphibians, invertebrates and juvenile fish.

Conservation officers in St. Clair County were notified Friday, July 13, by U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when a commercial hauler transporting red swamp crayfish was denied entry into Canada and would be returning to Michigan. The commercial hauler was stopped by Canadian officials at the Sarnia, Canada, border crossing in an attempt to leave the United States.

“Our officers have great working relationships with professional law enforcement partners across the U.S. and Canada. This is a fine example of how important those relationships are in protecting Michigan’s natural resources,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Assisted by customs officials, DNR conservation officers stopped the truck and obtained 55 bags of live crayfish. After interviewing the driver, the officers learned the truck originated from Canada and made stops in Maryland and Arkansas to pick up cargo prior to attempting its return to Canada. The driver did not have appropriate records, other than a few purchase receipts. DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Great Lakes Enforcement Unit is conducting further investigation. It currently is unknown if any stops or sales were made in Michigan.

The first concern regarding red swamp crayfish in Michigan was in 2013, when conservation officers learned the illegal crayfish was being used as bait in southwest Michigan. The first live infestations in Michigan were detected and reported in 2017. Confirmed infestations include locations in southeast Michigan.

Native in southeast states of the U.S., red swamp crayfish are the most widespread invasive crayfish in the world, and often are used in classrooms as teaching tools and at food festivities such as crayfish boils. Any possession of live red swamp crayfish in Michigan is illegal. The DNR is working to increase awareness and reporting of the illegal crayfish, in addition to removing infestations from confirmed locations.

 

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

DNR Upper Peninsula wolf survey shows healthy wolf population


Two wolves on a winter trail from a previous wolf survey. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division officials said earlier this month that the state’s wolf population has remained relatively stable over the past four wolf surveys, the most recent of which occurred this past winter.

DNR wildlife biologists estimate there was a minimum of 662 wolves found among 139 packs across the Upper Peninsula this past winter. The 2016 minimum population estimate was 618 wolves.

“Based on our latest minimum population estimate, it is clear wolf numbers in Michigan remain viable and robust,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s wildlife division. “A similar trend is apparent in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The western Great Lakes states’ wolf population is thriving and has recovered.”

Fifteen more wolf packs were found during this past winter’s survey than in 2016, but pack size has decreased slightly and now averages less than five wolves.

The survey was conducted from December through April, before wolves had produced pups, and when the population is at its lowest point in the annual cycle.

“As the wolf population in the Upper Peninsula has grown and spread out across the region, packs are situated closer together,” said Dean Beyer, a DNR wildlife research biologist who organizes the sampling and generates the wolf population estimate for the biannual survey. “This makes it harder to determine which pack made the tracks that were observed in adjacent areas.

“Movement information we collect from GPS-collared wolves helps us interpret the track count results, because these data allow us to identify territorial boundaries. The minimum population estimate we generate is a conservative estimate, which takes these factors into account.”

The wolf survey is completed by DNR Wildlife Division and U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services staff who search specific survey areas for wolf tracks and other signs of wolf activity, such as territorial marking or indications of breeding.

In 2017-2018, approximately 63 percent of the Upper Peninsula was surveyed.

After wolves returned naturally to the U.P. through migration from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario in the 1980s, the population rebounded remarkably over time. The pronounced long-term increase in wolf abundance is evident, despite human cause-specific mortality, such as poaching.

However, over the past few years, Michigan’s minimum estimate has hovered between 600 and 700 wolves, which could be indicative of a stabilizing population.

“Research suggests prey avail ability and the geographical area of the U.P. are the key limiting factors of wolf population expansion,” said Kevin Swanson, a wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s Bear and Wolf Program in Marquette. “This is proving to be true.”

Since the winter of 1993-94, combined wolf numbers in Michigan and Wisconsin have surpassed 100, meeting federally established goals for population recovery. The Michigan recovery goal of a minimum sustainable population of 200 wolves for five consecutive years was achieved in 2004.

Wolves in Michigan remain a federally-protected species which may only be killed legally in defense of human life.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

Operation Dry Water emphasizes boating safety leading into holiday


Michigan DNR conservation officers again are participating in the national Operation Dry Water campaign, aimed at reducing the number of people boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs, keeping the water safe for everyone.

As the July 4th holiday nears, DNR conservation officers will focus on keeping boaters safe through heightened awareness and enforcement of “boating under the influence” laws.

It’s part of the Operation Dry Water campaign, June 29-July 1, in coordination with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other partners. The annual campaign starts before the holiday weekend, when more boaters take to the water and alcohol use increases.


Boating safety takes center stage during Operation Dry Water June 29-July 1, 2018, when Michigan DNR conservation officers focus on keeping boaters safe through heightened awareness and enforcement of “boating under the influence” laws.

“The best way to safely enjoy a day on the water is to avoid alcohol,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, Michigan’s boating law administrator. “Using alcohol impairs reaction time, balance and judgment. Please don’t put yourself and others at risk. Be smart and stay sober when boating.”

In Michigan, a person operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or having a blood alcohol content of .08 grams or more, can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500, community service and up to 93 days in jail. It also can result in loss of boating privileges for at least one year.

If a person is killed or injured due to a driver operating a boat while under the influence, the driver could be charged with a felony, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.

Boaters can do their part by:

Boating sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. The effects of alcohol and certain medications are increased on the water due to added stress factors such as the sun, heat, wind, wave motion and engine noise.

Wearing life jackets. Nearly 85 percent of drowning victims in the U.S. were not wearing life jackets.

Taking boating safety courses. The DNR recommends a safety course for anyone who plans to use a boat or personal watercraft. Convenient, affordable classes are offered at locations throughout the state and online.

Learn more about boating regulations, safety and where to find marinas at michigan.gov/boating. For more on Operation Dry Water, contact Lt. Pete Wright, 906-228-6561.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments (0)

DNR reminds boaters to put safety first


 

National Safe Boating Week runs May 19-25 and Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers urge boaters to follow important safety tips for an enjoyable time on the water.

National Safe Boating Week set for May 19-25

As boating season nears, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers encourage boaters to protect themselves and others by following important safety tips.

Saturday, May 19, marks the start of National Safe Boating Week and the DNR wants all Michigan residents and visitors to have fun while exercising caution and obeying the law.

“Michigan offers countless boating opportunities,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, boating law administrator for the state of Michigan. “But having fun on the water also means being safe. Taking simple precautions, always staying in control of the vessel and following the law will help ensure an enjoyable outing.”

Boaters born after June 30, 1996, and most personal watercraft operators must have a boater education safety certificate.

Wanless encourages boaters to:

Wear a life jacket. About 83 percent of drownings resulting from boating accidents in the U.S. are due to people not wearing life jackets. In Michigan, anyone under age 6 must wear a life jacket when on the open deck of any vessel, but wearing a personal flotation device is recommended for everyone.

Avoid drinking alcohol. Nationally, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents where the primary cause was known. 

Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working order. In addition to legally required equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor. Make sure navigation lights work properly.

File a float plan. Always inform family or friends about the details of your trip. Let them know when to expect you back. Give them phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in case you don’t return on time.

Stay alert. Watch for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and when visibility is restricted.

Carry a cell phone or marine radio. Be prepared to call for help if you are involved in or witness an accident, your boat or the boat of another becomes disabled, or you need medical assistance.

The DNR also recommends a boating safety course for anyone who plans to use a boat or personal watercraft. Classes are offered at locations around the state and online, making it convenient and affordable.

Visit michigan.gov/boating for more information on boating safety, enrolling in a safety course, boat registration, and boating access at Michigan’s parks, campgrounds, harbors and marinas.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

advert
Kent Theatre
Ensley Team Five Star Realty
Advertising Rates Brochure

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!