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Tag Archive | "DNR"

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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Second state-record fish caught this month


A white perch in Muskegon County

 

Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the catch of a new state-record white perch on Friday, Jan. 24. This is the second state record caught in the month of January.

The white perch was caught by Aaron Slagh, of Holland, Mich., on Tuesday, Jan. 21, on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon County at 11 a.m. The fish weighed 1.93 pounds and measured 13.25 inches. Slagh was ice fishing with a spoon when he landed the record fish. The record was verified by Rich O’Neal, a DNR fisheries biologist, at the Muskegon field office.

The previous state-record white perch was caught by Kyle Ryan, of Reese, on Lake Huron, in Tuscola County, on July 13, 2002. That fish weighed 1.88 pounds and measured 13.25 inches.

“It was just another normal day on the ice for me, as I get out as much as I can,” said Slagh. “We were actually targeting yellow perch and I thought I had a walleye. When we pulled it up we thought ‘Holy cow—that’s a big white perch!’”

State records 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.

“This winter, despite the extreme weather most of Michigan has been experiencing, is shaping up to be a great time for many anglers,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “This latest state record once again showcases the quality of the state’s fisheries.”

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

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Not everyone goes south for the winter


For some, the Great Lakes are a winter destination

Did you know the Great Lakes have thousands of feathered friends floating out there right now? Have you ever wondered how duck, geese and swan populations are tracked?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with many other states in the nation, estimate duck, geese and swan populations (waterfowl) by looking at areas that traditionally hold birds in January—the open water.

“Anytime Mother Nature causes wildlife to naturally group together, surveying can be much more efficient,” said DNR wildlife biologist Mark Monroe. “Looking for birds by truck or plane at the same time across the nation gives agencies a great feel for populations and habitat trends.”

From Jan. 5-11, DNR staff visited (either by plane or truck) the same areas that have been surveyed in the past, not just to count waterfowl but also to identify the species. Mallards were the most common duck observed, although many “diving ducks” or sea ducks—such as canvasbacks and redheads—were counted.

“I’ve been flying this survey in the northern Lower Peninsula for quite a few years,” said Monroe, “and I have seen thousands of ducks every year out in the open water; it’s really neat to see.”

The northern Lower Peninsula area was flown by plane. One DNR pilot and two DNR observers spent the day traveling over 750 miles, searching out large groups of waterfowl in water that still remains open. The Manistee River, Lake Michigan from Pentwater to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the inlet at Elberta and the Grand Traverse Bay area are locations in Northern Michigan where large numbers of birds are traditionally found. The crew revisits other “hot spots” where they have found waterfowl populations in the past, conducting flyovers at elevations of 200 to 500 feet. The Great Lakes and large rivers hold thousands of ducks that will spend the winter here, either because they are resident birds and do not migrate or because they have migrated to the Great Lakes from farther north. That’s right—some waterfowl that breed near the Arctic will actually head south to the Great Lakes to winter!

“In the northern Lower Peninsula we counted just over 12,000 ducks, just under 100 geese and more than 300 mute swans,” said Monroe. “It’s amazing how many birds are out on the water that’s still open.”

Winter waterfowl surveys can help detect any significant changes in the populations as well as help determine results of recent waterfowl hunting seasons and help dictate further regulations for future seasons. The January waterfowl survey also provides the best information on the number of mute swans in Michigan so population trends can be established for yearly comparisons.

To learn more about the different wildlife surveys completed by the DNR, visit the Wildlife Surveys page on the DNR website or contact DNR wildlife outreach technician Katie Keen at 231-775-9727.

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Anglers no longer required to keep baitfish receipts


The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to inform anglers about new viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) regulations that went into effect Thursday, Jan. 9. The changes result in simpler regulations for anglers who purchase and use minnows as bait by removing the retail sales receipt provision.

Anglers will now no longer be required to possess their bait receipts while fishing and retail minnow sellers will no longer be required to provide anglers with detailed receipts for minnows.

VHS is a serious viral disease that has spread into the Great Lakes region and caused large-scale fish kills. VHS was first identified in the Great Lakes in 2005 and has caused mortalities in a number of fish species in the Michigan waters of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair and Detroit rivers, Lake Erie, and inland in Budd Lake near Harrison and Base Line Lake near Pinckney. It has also been found in Lake Michigan waters of Wisconsin.

The DNR actively monitors for VHS throughout the year and as other areas are identified positive for VHS, they will be listed online at www.michigan.gov/vhs.

Receipts were previously used for educational and enforcement purposes to direct anglers to places where their bait could be used based on purchase location and whether or not it was certified as disease-free.

VHS regulations have been in effect for several years and, after careful review, the DNR determined the retail receipt provision could be removed because anglers are more knowledgeable about the risks associated with baitfish use.

There is no known treatment for VHS, so preventing the spread of disease is the best way to protect Michigan’s fish. Anglers can help prevent the spread of VHS by keeping the following tips in mind when using baitfish:

Learn to identify the species of baitfish you are using. Species known to be susceptible to VHS and typically used as live bait include emerald shiners, spottail shiners and white suckers. Other species occasionally used as bait that are susceptible to VHS include bluntnose minnows, trout perch, gizzard shad, shorthead redhorse and silver redhorse.

Request that your local bait store sell certified disease-free baitfish.

Purchase and use only certified disease-free baitfish.

Never move live fish between bodies of water.

Disinfect your bait bucket, livewells and bilges between uses with a bleach solution (half-cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water) or allow equipment to dry thoroughly before using in a different body of water.

Properly dispose of all bait containers including worms and soil, crayfish and minnows in a trash receptacle.

Protecting Michigan’s world-class water resources is everyone’s responsibility for now and future generations. All boaters need to drain their livewell(s) and bilge of their boat upon leaving the waterbody because it’s the law.

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The sound science of clear-cuts


Clear-cuts are used to help regenerate species that can’t compete in mature forests. Two of the most notable species that are clear-cut are aspen and jack pine. In order to maximize regeneration, aspen (pictured) must be clear-cut.



Clear-cuts are used to help regenerate species that can’t compete in mature forests. Two of the most notable species that are clear-cut are aspen and jack pine. In order to maximize regeneration, aspen (pictured) must be clear-cut.

The Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Resources Division is in charge of managing the timber on state forest land. The DNR’s Wildlife Division is in charge of managing the critters. But because forestry practices have a big impact on wildlife habitat, the two divisions co-manage state forests to benefit both timber and wildlife. And although the divisions sometimes have different ideas, both agree on one, often misunderstood, technique: clear-cutting.

“Clear-cutting is a sound scientific management technique for harvesting and regenerating certain forest types,” explained Deb Begalle, forest planning and operations section manager with the Forest Resources Division. “Usually it’s for shorter-lived species—such as aspen and jack pine—which are also sun-loving species. They need a lot of sunlight to establish and grow.”

Clear-cutting involves removing virtually all the timber from a stand, which encourages regrowth of the preferred species. But it doesn’t involve stripping the landscape as it did during the timbering era.

“Clear-cutting isn’t what it was 100 years ago,” Begalle said. “We leave some trees in place for a variety of reasons—for wildlife, for aesthetics, sometimes in clumps, sometimes individual trees.

“People are averse to the look of clear-cuts. They see a lot of slash (branches, logs and other debris from natural occurrences or logging operations) on the ground and find it unsightly. But the slash puts nutrients back into the ground as the branches decompose. It also provides micro-habitat for wildlife species, such as salamanders, and brush piles for rabbits.”

DNR wildlife biologist Mark Sargent says young aspen is important to a host of species – grouse, woodcock, deer, rabbits, hare, moose, elk and numerous songbirds.

“In the case of grouse, young aspen stands provide brood-rearing and nesting habitat and, as they grow older, they produce winter food via buds,” he explained. “But young aspen also provides browse for deer, elk and moose—leaves, stems, tops and bark. As the trees grow larger, they grow out of the reach of the animals.”

But along with aspen, Sargent said, come other shade-intolerant plants—raspberries, forbs, dogwood and hawthorns—that provide food or cover for wildlife, too.

“A clear-cut can create outstanding browse and still provide habitat for grouse and woodcock,” he added. “It’s a win-win situation.”

The most critical characteristic of clear-cuts is that they really don’t last long. “We always assure trees are going to grow back quickly,” Begalle said. “In the case of aspen, it will come back so quickly that within a year we have seedlings all over the place.”

Aspen is typically managed on 40- to 60-year rotations for several reasons. That’s not only when the trees have good timber value, but when they’re prime for regenerating.

“The older it gets, the less well aspen regenerates,” Begalle said. “Aspen sort of uses up its vitality. It regenerates through its root system and if it’s losing vitality, it won’t produce as many sprouts.”

While the cuts are well-planned, one of the things the DNR is sometimes criticized for is not leaving buffer areas around clear-cuts.

“We usually do not leave buffers along private property lines, because people then think that’s the property line,” Begalle explained. “A lot people utilize or build on that uncut area because they believe the cut is the property line. And if we left buffers along all the property lines, that would leave thousands of acres unmanaged.

“We try to keep aesthetics in mind,” she continued. “If we have long-lived tree species, such as white pine and oak, we will try to leave those along roadways and private property.”

Clear-cuts do not work for all trees, such as hardwoods or saw-log conifers, but where short-lived, shade-intolerant species are concerned, both Wildlife and Forest Resources division staff agree: Clear-cuts are clearly the way to go.

For more information about how the DNR manages Michigan’s state forest land, visit www.michigan.gov/forestplan.

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DNR seeks Lower Peninsula bear den sites for ongoing research


 

While out in the field in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, hunters and trappers might come upon a denned black bear. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for locations of denned bear in order to fit them with a radio collar for ongoing bear research.

“Information gathered from female bears helps us to manage the black bear population,” said wildlife biologist Mark Boersen. Currently, only three female bears are being monitored in the northern Lower Peninsula through the use of radio-tracking equipment.

“We would like to have a few more female bear collared throughout the area,” said Boersen. “Hunters are all over northern Michigan right now, and they provide a great set of eyes for information on denning locations.”

After locating a denned bear, biologists will determine if the animal is a good candidate for radio-collaring. Only female bears are selected. They will be sedated by a biologist and fitted with a radio-tracking collar and ear tags. Hair samples will be taken for DNA analysis, and a small tooth will be collected to determine the bear’s age. Upon completion of the short procedure, biologists will carefully return the bear to the den where it will sleep through the remainder of the winter months.

People who encounter bear dens are asked to record the location, with a GPS unit if possible, and contact Mark Boersen at the DNR Roscommon Operations Service Center at 989-275-5151. The public is reminded that they should not disturb a bear den or disturb, harm or molest a bear in its den.

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Ladies’ guided pheasant hunt Oct. 27 in Belding


Ladies, grab your shotgun, ammo, boots and hunter orange and join a guided pheasant hunt this fall.

On Sunday, Oct. 27, the DNR and Gourmet Gone Wild—along with Pine Hills Kennels and Sportsman’s Club and the Barry County, Grand Valley and Montcalm County chapters of Pheasants Forever—will, host a ladies’ pheasant hunt at 3329 Johnson Road in Belding.

Registration and coffee begins at 9 a.m. The day’s events will include warming up with shooting at sporting clays, hunting with a guide for two pheasants, learning to clean your birds, enjoying a gourmet lunch and taking home a gift.

Beginners are welcome, and guns can be made available if needed. Registration is limited to 12 ladies 18 years of age or older. The cost for the day is $35 per person.
Pre-registration is required. Please call Scott Brosier at 616-874-8459 to sign up.

Established in 1975, Pine Hill Sportsman’s Club offers its members some of the finest in upland bird hunting anywhere on four farms totaling over 600 acres. Pine Hill’s intensive land management program not only benefits the population of free-ranging upland birds, but also enhances the habitat for deer, turkey and waterfowl.
Gourmet Gone Wild (GGW), a partnership between the DNR, Michigan State University and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, introduces Michigan’s urban and suburban young professionals (between the ages of 21-39) to conservation, stewardship, hunting and fishing through the locavore movement. Gourmet wild fish and game tastings bring young professionals together and help connect them to hands-on experience and mentorship. To learn more about Gourmet Gone Wild and Gourmet Gone Wilder programs, visit www.gourmetgonewild.org.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 740 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, making it the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

 

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Newaygo County toddler found safe


Amber Rose Smith was reported missing from her home in Paris, Michigan on Tuesday, October 8.

Amber Rose Smith was reported missing from her home in Paris, Michigan on Tuesday, October 8.

An Amber Alert that was issued Tuesday for a 2-1/2 year-old Newaygo County girl resulted in over 100 police and volunteers combing woods, swamps and fields for 24 hours to find the toddler, who was finally found safe on Wednesday, about 1-3/4 miles southeast of her home.

According to the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Amber Rose Smith was reported missing from her home at 8227 E. 13 Mile Road, in Paris, about 2 p.m. October 8.

Her father, Dale Smith, reported that he had gone into a different room in the residence and when he returned, Amber was gone. He and his wife, Diane Smith, searched the residence and immediate area for about a half hour and could not locate her, so they called 911. Officers arrived on scene and immediately began searching the area with police canines and an MSP helicopter. Search parties were formed with dozens of volunteers.

Reportedly close to 100 people searched overnight for the girl, but did not find her until Wednesday afternoon. DNR Conservation Officer Mike Wells, who was assisting with the search for Amber, located her on the edge of a two-track near 12 Mile Road and Cedar Avenue, approximately 1-3/4 miles south east of the residence she left from.  Amber was standing and alert. She was transported to Spectrum Health Hospital in Big Rapids.

The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, FBI, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Forestry Service jointly investigated her disappearance.

 

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Men arrested for baiting waterfowl


 

Four men from Allegan and VanBuren Counties and another from Ontonagon County were all arrested last week for hunting waterfowl with the aid of bait.

According Lt. Timothy Robson, a DNR Law Enforcement officer, Conservation Officers from four counties investigated an anonymous tip that corn was being placed to hunt geese prior to the September 1 early goose season opener at a golf course located in Cheshire Township in Allegan County.  Conservation Officers verified the corn was at the location and then observed five men take eight geese over the baited area on the morning of September 1. The five subjects were issued appearance citations for hunting with the aid of bait. One subject was additionally cited for using toxic shot while waterfowl hunting and a second subject was additionally cited for using a shotgun capable of firing more than three shotgun shells.

The men ranged in age from 44 to 73.

If convicted, the state statute provides for fines of $100 to $500 (plus court costs), and restitution of $100 to $500 to the State of Michigan for each illegally taken goose, with the restitution being paid to the Fish and Game Protection Fund. Forfeiture of the firearms involved will be determined by the district court judge after the criminal proceedings are completed.

The DNR reminds you that you can call the Report All Poaching Hotline at 800-292-7800 to report any natural resources violations, including hunting and fishing violations.

 

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