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Tag Archive | "DNR"

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.

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Michigan’s 2018 fishing license season kicks off April 1


 

A new fishing license is required April 1 to coincide with the 2018 fishing season. Anglers can pick up a license and a 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide at retailers located across the state.

Don’t forget—new license required

For those interested in going fishing in Michigan, a new license is required starting Sunday, April 1. That day is the kickoff to the state’s 2018 fishing license season, as well as the new fishing regulation cycle. All 2018 fishing licenses are good through March 31, 2019.

Anglers have eight options to choose from when making their purchase. All fishing licenses are good for all species.

  • Resident annual – $26
  • Nonresident annual – $76
  • Senior annual (for residents age 65 or older) – $11
  • 24-hour (resident or nonresident) – $10
  • 72-hour (resident or nonresident) – $30
  • Resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) – $76
  • Senior resident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) – $43
  • Nonresident combo hunt/fish (base, annual fishing, two deer) – $266

There are several regulation changes this year, creating many new fishing opportunities for anglers. The new regulations go into effect on April 1, 2018, including the following: 

  • Muskellunge harvest season has changed statewide to the first Saturday in June and includes a new catch-and-immediate release season open all year.
  • A new suite of waters has been added where anglers may retain an additional five brook trout in their daily possession limit of trout (10 brook trout possession waters).

Additionally, a new registration system has been put into place for anglers who harvest a lake sturgeon or muskellunge. The lake sturgeon fishing permit and harvest tag and the muskellunge harvest tags are no longer required or available. An angler who harvests a lake sturgeon or muskellunge is now required to report the harvest within 24 hours, either online at michigan.gov/registerfish, by calling the toll-free number 844-345-FISH (3474) or in person at any Department of Natural Resources Customer Service Center during normal state business hours with advance notice of arrival. Please note that fish registrations won’t be accepted at any state fish hatcheries or DNR field offices, only at DNR Customer Service Centers.

For more information on Michigan fishing licenses and regulation changes, check out the 2018 Michigan Fishing Guide—available at license retailers or online at  www.michigan.gov/dnrdigests. The online version is always up to date and available to download.

Don’t forget, there are two simple ways to buy a fishing license in Michigan:

Visit a local license retailer or DNR Customer Service Center and make a purchase in person.

Use the E-License system to buy a license online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just visit mdnr-elicense.com on your computer, smartphone or tablet to get started.

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DNR has new online form for reporting fish kills


 

Winter weather can create conditions that cause fish and other aquatic creatures to die

To simplify the public’s ability to report fish kills, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently developed an online form for reporting fish kills in quantities larger than 25 fish. A fish kill of this size could have more factors involved that need further DNR investigation. The new Sick or Dead Aquatic Species form can be found in the DNR’s Eyes in the Field application at michigan.gov/eyesinthefield.

Information requested in the form includes waterbody and location (both descriptive and latitude-longitude coordinates), observation details, and any available photos showing the fish kill. Close-up photos showing any external disease signs such as bloody patches, unusual wounds or odd coloration are particularly helpful to DNR staff as they try to determine the cause of the issue and its seriousness. Entered reports and associated images automatically are forwarded to fish health staff for quicker evaluation and action.

“In the past, the public has notified DNR staff by phone or email about a fish kill,” Whelan said. “While this input is hugely valuable and desired, it was not the most efficient way for us to get reports about fish kills and often delayed response. We have designed a simpler way for the public to get involved as our eyes and ears using the DNR’s Eyes in the Field.”

The DNR reminds everyone that after the ice and snow cover melts on Michigan’s lakes this winter, it may be common to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures. Severe winter weather can create conditions that cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

“Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill,” said Gary Whelan, DNR fisheries research manager. “Given the harsh conditions of winter with thick ice and deep snow cover, fish kills may be particularly common in shallow lakes and streams and ponds. These kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality.”

Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and mucky bottoms are particularly prone to winterkill. Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter, but may not be noticed until a month after the ice leaves the lake because the dead fish and other aquatic life temporarily are preserved by the cold water.

“Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring,” Whelan said. “Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.”

Dissolved oxygen is required by fish and all other forms of aquatic life. Once the daylight is greatly reduced by thick ice and deep snow cover, aquatic plants stop producing oxygen and many die. The bacteria that decompose organic materials on the bottom of the lake use the remaining oxygen in the water. Once the oxygen is reduced other aquatic animals die and start decomposing, the rate that oxygen is used for decomposition is additionally increased and dissolved oxygen levels in the water decrease even more, leading to increasing winterkill.

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DNR conservation officers offer snowmobile safety tips


 

With Michigan’s snowmobile season in full gear, Department of Natural Resources conservation officers remind riders that safety is key to enjoying their sport.

“Snowmobiling is a great way to spend the winter months,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR recreational safety programs supervisor. “But when operating a snowmobile or any type of vehicle, safety comes first. This includes riding within your own abilities, operating at safe and appropriate speeds for the terrain, always wearing a helmet and proper clothing, and never operating your machine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Other safety tips include:

Always keep your snowmobile in top mechanical condition.

  • Wear insulated boots and protective clothing, including a helmet, gloves and eye protection.
  • Only ride in designated areas and trails.
  • Check weather conditions before riding and be aware of changing trail conditions.
  • Pick safe places to stop off the trail and never park or stand in the trail.
  • Exercise additional caution when riding on an unfamiliar trail, or when riding at night.
  • Never ride alone; use the “buddy system.”
  • Keep headlights and taillights on at all times and keep them clear of snow, ice or other debris.
  • Be alert to avoid fences and low-strung wires.
  • Use caution when approaching a trail intersection, come to a complete stop when required, and look both ways for traffic before proceeding.
  • Stay clear of trail groomers, if possible. Never follow groomers, and give them the right of way.
  • Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water, when possible. If you must cross, never do so while riding in single file.
  • • Wear a life jacket if operating on frozen bodies of water.
  • • Don’t trespass. If you don’t know whose property you are on, you probably don’t belong there.
  • • Snowmobile safety education training and online safety courses are recommended for all snowmobile operators and are required for those who are 12 to 16 years old.
  • • Snowmobilers also should learn the rules and regulations for snowmobiling in Michigan, as well as the universal snowmobile trail signage developed by the DNR to help ensure safety on the trails.
  • A valid snowmobile registration from the Michigan Secretary of State, or another state or province, is required for all snowmobiles. Snowmobilers also must purchase a trail permit, which is valid for one year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), when operating on public trails.

Learn more about snowmobiling in Michigan at michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

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Plan to use an ORV on state forest roads? 


 

Check maps first

Many—but not all—state forest roads opened to off-road vehicle traffic on Jan. 1. Before riding, make sure roads are authorized for ORV use by checking online maps. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources forest roads maps are found at www.michigan.go/forestroads

“Due to frozen ground conditions, closed roads are not all marked yet,” said Deb Begalle, DNR Forest Resources Division chief. “Some roads remain closed to balance motorized recreational access with the need to protect our resources.”

Approximately 6,300 miles of roads in the state forest system in the northern Lower Peninsula will open to ORVs. About 1,200 miles of roads will remain closed.

Opening the roads to ORV use is authorized by Public Act 288, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in September 2016. Besides opening roads, the statute required the DNR to inventory and map all state forest roads. 

Examples of areas that will remain closed to ORV traffic include the Pigeon River Country State Forest, Jordan Valley, Mason Tract, Deward Tract, and Sand Lakes Quiet Area, all of which emphasize quiet recreation. Other roads will remain closed to reduce conflict with non-motorized uses and protect natural resources.

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Campground host applications being accepted for 2018 season


The DNR is accepting applications for volunteers to work as campground hosts in Michigan state parks and rustic state forest campgrounds during the 2018 season. It’s a great way to camp for free and get a behind-the-scenes park experience.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteer campground hosts in Michigan state parks, recreation areas and rustic state forest campgrounds for the 2018 camping season.

In exchange for 30 hours of service per week, including duties such as helping campers find their campsites, answering camper questions, planning campground activities and performing light park maintenance duties, campground hosts enjoy waived camping fees. 

Both individuals and couples may apply for volunteer positions that begin as early as April and last through October. Volunteer hosts must be 18 years of age and provide their own camping equipment, food and other personal items.

“For many visitors, the camping experience wouldn’t be the same without campground hosts,” said Miguel Rodriguez, promotional agent for the DNR. “These dedicated volunteers engage with park visitors by helping out around the campground, answering camping and park questions and even hosting kids’ crafts and fireside activities. All of this is accomplished while they are enjoying some of Michigan’s most beautiful outdoor destinations.”

Interested volunteers can click on “campground host” at  www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers to learn more about the volunteer host campground program, download an application and waiver, and view a vacancy host campground report, which is updated regularly and indicates when and where hosts are needed in specific parks.

Hosts are screened and interviewed by park managers and selected based on familiarity with the state park system, camping experience, special skills, availability and knowledge of the area. Hosts must participate in a two-day host training session within the first two years of being selected as a host. The 2018 training will take place June 6-7 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon.

For information, contact Miguel Rodriguez at 517-284-6127 or rodriquezm2@michigan.gov.

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Tips for a safe, enjoyable hunting season


As the Nov. 15 firearm deer season opener nears, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers encourage hunters to brush up on safety tips and hunting regulations to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience.

“Firearm deer season is a special time of year in Michigan,” Cpl. Dave Painter said. “It brings family and friends together in celebration of our state’s great outdoor heritage. Staying safe, knowing the laws and being good stewards of our resources will help hunters have a memorable outing.”

Painter reminds hunters that a mandatory deer check is in place within certain areas of the state due to the confirmation of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. Hunters harvesting a deer in these CWD areas must bring it to a DNR check station within 72 hours. Visit mi.gov/deercheck for a map and list of check stations.

Regardless of where deer are harvested in Michigan, the DNR encourages all hunters to voluntarily take them to the nearest check station to help with disease surveillance. In addition, big-game hunters who travel outside of Michigan should be aware of new regulations restricting the importation of harvested cervids. 

Painter also offered the following general safety tips:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are ready to fire.
  • Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire.
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing.
  • Know the identifying features of the game you hunt.
  • Make sure you have an adequate backstop. Don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
  • Unload the firearm before running, climbing a fence or tree, or jumping a ditch.
  • Wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated platform.  Use a haul line to bring the unloaded firearm up and down the raised platform.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages or behavior-altering medicines or drugs before or during a hunt.
  • Always wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange, visible from all sides, during daylight hunting hours, even if hunting on private land. The law also applies to archery hunters during firearm season.
  • Make sure at least 50 percent of any camouflage pattern being worn is in hunter orange.
  • Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you become injured or lost.
  • Carry a cell phone into the woods. Not only does it let you call for help if necessary, but newer phones emit a signal that can help rescuers locate you. Also consider downloading a compass or flashlight app.
  • Program the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) line (800-292-7800) in your phone contacts so you can alert conservation officers to any natural resources violations you may witness.

“These are simple, common-sense tips that can help prevent accidents and save lives,” Painter said. “The DNR encourages all hunters to review the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for other essential information before taking to the field.”

Michigan conservation officers are elite, highly trained professionals who serve in every corner of the state. They are fully commissioned peace offers with authority to enforce the state’s criminal laws. Learn more at  www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

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New state record cisco caught


Michael Lemanski holding his state-record cisco (formerly known as lake herring).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirmed last week that a new state-record had been set for the fish known as cisco (formerly known as lake herring). This marks the second state-record fish caught in 2017.

The fish was caught Friday, June 9, at 10 a.m. by Michael Lemanski of Florence, Wisconsin, on Lake Ottawa in Iron County in the western Upper Peninsula. Lemanski was still-fishing with a homemade jig. The fish weighed 6.36 pounds and measured 21.8 inches.

Jennifer Johnson, a DNR fisheries biologist in Crystal Falls, verified the record.

Robert Rogers, of Hartford, Wisconsin, set the previous state-record for cisco (lake herring) in 1992, when he caught one while trolling the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. That fish weighed 5.4 pounds and measured 25 inches.

“Although this fish was caught in June, we only recently verified it as a state record,” said Gary Whelan, the DNR’s fisheries research manager. “The reason for the delay stemmed from the fact we wanted to ensure this fish was not a hybrid between a cisco and a lake whitefish. These fish look extremely similar so we gathered DNA from the fish to test its compatibility with what we know about cisco. That test, done by Michigan State University, proved to be a match.”

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.

To view a current list of Michigan state-record fish visit  michigan.gov/staterecordfish.

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Black bears and humans: What you should know


A sow and two black bear cubs investigate a grassy area where garbage has been left. Photo by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

By Kevin Swanson and John Pepin

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

For many people, the opportunity to see a Michigan black bear in the wild is an amazing experience.

Black bears are Michigan’s only bear species. These animals prefer large hardwood or pine forests, intermixed with wetlands, and they can be colored black, brown or cinnamon.

Males live in areas that can be larger than 100 square miles, while females—which give birth to an average of two to three cubs every other winter—stay in smaller areas ranging from 10 to 20 square miles. Adult female black bears typically weigh 100 to 250 pounds.

Bears have sharp claws on their padded feet, used for climbing trees and searching for food, like tearing open rotted stumps and trees for insects.

Many wildlife watchers have a natural curiosity about bears, and the chance to see bears from a safe distance, especially when a sow is accompanied by cubs, often produces moments most people don’t soon forget.

Anglers, campers, hikers and others enjoying the outdoors in Michigan may also encounter a black bear. Typically, bears will run or walk away from humans if they become aware of their presence.

However, in some instances, bears do not run. In these cases, an adult male Michigan black bear—which can weigh more than 400 pounds and stand 5 feet tall—can present an imposing obstacle.

“When bears stand their ground, people should do the same thing,” said Kevin Swanson, a wildlife specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ bear and wolf program. “In these kind of encounters, you should make loud noises and back away from the bear slowly, giving the bear plenty of room to leave the area. Do not run from a black bear or play dead if one approaches.”

In rare cases, black bears can attack. If they do, fight back with a stick, a backpack, similar available items, or your bare hands. 

Fatal black bear attacks are extremely rare. According to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota, black bears have killed 61 people across North America since 1900. Bear experts there say your chances of being killed by a domestic dog, bees, or lightning are vastly greater.

According to the Center, “Most attacks by black bears are defensive reactions to a person who is very close, which is an easy situation to avoid. Injuries from these defensive reactions are usually minor.”

In Michigan, while cases of black bear attacks—like that of a 12-year-old girl who was attacked and injured while jogging at dusk in Wexford County in 2013—remain rare, reports of bear nuisance complaints are relatively common.

DNR bear nuisance complaints in the Upper Peninsula tallied a bit over 100 for each of the past two years, down from the peak of nearly 250 in 2004.

However, in the northern Lower Peninsula, bear complaints in 2016 numbered over 200, a new record for the region. Previously, complaints had peaked in 2003 in that part of the state at more than 160.

Numerous factors affect bear complaints, including available food sources and public attitudes toward bears over time as population numbers increase.

Many black bear nuisance complaints involve encounters between humans and bears, that were prompted by human behavior.

“Black bears eat plants and animals and seek out a number of different food sources, such as sedge, juneberry, blueberry, acorns, beechnuts, and animal protein that includes insects and occasional deer fawns,” Swanson said. “Bears also have big appetites, an excellent sense of smell and can remember the locations of food sources from one year to the next.”

Problems typically occur when humans feed black bears, intentionally or unintentionally. Bears eat foods left near campsites, garbage, or foods left out for pets or wild birds.

“The best way to avoid issues with black bears is to never feed them,” said Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist in Marquette. “It is very important that bears maintain their natural fear of humans. Bear problems are far more likely to occur when bears become used to finding food provided by humans.”

A DNR information flier on Michigan black bear details some helpful tips for avoiding conflicts with bears around homes and camps:

  • Never intentionally feed bears.
  • Remove potential food sources, like bird feeders, from your yard. Do not feed wild birds in the spring, summer and fall, when bears are most active.
  • Keep pet food inside or in a secured area.
  • Keep garbage and odor at a minimum by removing trash often and cleaning the can or other container used for garbage.
  • Keep garbage in a secured area or in a secured container with a metal, lockable lid until it is picked up or taken away.
  • Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
  • Bee hives (apiaries), fruit trees and gardens can be protected from bears by electric fencing.

There are additional tips for hikers and campers:

  • Keep a clean camp, limiting food odors and garbage.
  • Food and toiletries should never be kept in tents. Store these items in air-tight containers in a vehicle trunk or suspend food in burlap or plastic bags or backpacks from trees. Hang these bags or backpacks 12 feet off the ground, 10 feet away from the tree trunk and 5 feet from the nearest branch.
  • Always cook at a distance from your campsite and wash dishes and utensils shortly after eating.
  • Don’t sleep in clothes that have cooking odors or blood on them.
  • Store garbage as you would food. Burning or burying garbage attracts bears.
  • Travel in groups and make noise when hiking to avoid surprising a bear.
  • Carry bear spray.

“All of us who live and enjoy the outdoors in bear country share the responsibility of not doing things that will intentionally or unintentionally attract bears and create the potential for bear problems,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “As human and black bear populations grow in some areas, the possibility of human-bear interactions becomes more likely, making this shared responsibility even more important.”

Get more information on Michigan black bears at www.michigan.gov/bear.

See part 2 of this story in next week’s paper.

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DNR to hold town hall meeting on chronic wasting disease Wednesday in Montcalm County


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will hold a town hall meeting on chronic wasting disease Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ash Foundation Building, located within the Montcalm County Fairgrounds at 8784 Peck Road in Greenville, Michigan.

Earlier this month, the DNR announced that a free-ranging deer in Montcalm County’s Montcalm Township tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Michigan first discovered CWD within a free-ranging deer in May 2015. Since that time, the DNR has tested more than 15,000 free-ranging deer, and 10 have tested positive for the disease.

At the meeting, Dr. Kelly Straka, DNR wildlife veterinarian, and Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist, will provide information on the disease, its effects on deer and deer populations, and how the DNR has responded to the discovery of the disease. There will be plenty of time for questions.

The DNR hopes many hunters and concerned citizens will attend, especially those who hunt or reside in Douglass, Eureka, Fairplain, Maple Valley, Montcalm, Pine and Sidney townships in Montcalm County, and Oakfield and Spencer townships in Kent County. Local DNR staff members will be available to answer questions related to hunting in the area, including topics like mandatory deer checks, deer processing and new regulations.

“We have been receiving many phone calls from hunters,” said DNR field operations manager John Niewoonder. “We hope this meeting will help to clear up any misinformation and help hunters know the new check station locations and, in general, how they can help.”

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals.

To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals. Within seven days of submitting a deer head for testing, hunters will be able to find out the test results for their deer.

Learn more about chronic wasting disease at michigan.gov/cwd

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