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Tag Archive | "DNR"

Nongame Wildlife Fund helps aid comeback success stories


 

Most of us recognize the American robin. With its cheery song bringing a welcome sign of spring, these red-breasted birds are a common sight in Michigan; so familiar and appreciated, in fact, that the robin was named the state bird in 1931.

But there was a time after World War II when robins had become less common due to the damaging effects of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) and other pesticides.

Fortunately, robin populations bounced back after DDT use was banned in the United State in 1972. However, many other nongame species—meaning wildlife that isn’t hunted—have needed, and continue to need, help to protect them from becoming rare or even extinct. That’s where the Nongame Wildlife Fund comes in.

Mechanics and administration

The fund, which is coordinated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division, assists with the division’s goals by identifying, protecting, managing and restoring Michigan’s biological diversity.

The Nongame Wildlife Fund is responsible for initiating, developing and implementing critical projects vital to the needs of Michigan’s endangered, threatened and nongame animals, plants and their habitats.

Since its inception, the Nongame Wildlife Fund has raised nearly $24 million in support of critical projects for nongame species, which includes more than 80 percent of Michigan’s wildlife.

“The fund aims not only to restore populations of endangered and threatened species but to maintain present populations of animals and plants and to promote appreciation of Michigan’s nongame wildlife,” said Hannah Schauer, a DNR wildlife technician.

Funds have been raised for these important management efforts through voluntary check-off contributions on state income tax forms (the check-off ended when the fund reached $6 million, as dictated by state law), sales of the wildlife habitat specialty license plates and direct donations.

Another component of this approach has been the Living Resources Patch program. Proceeds from the sale of these patches also are directed to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

For more than 40 years, the patch program has raised awareness of Michigan’s nongame wildlife species. The 2016-2017 Living Resources Patch, which will be the final one issued in the series, features the American robin.

“The state bird seemed fitting for the final patch, since 2016 is also the centennial for the Migratory Bird Treaty, which has benefited the robin, as well as many other nongame bird species,” Schauer said.

American robin patches, along with several previous years’ patches, are available for purchase on the Michigan e-store website.

Kirtland’s warbler

The effort to bolster Michigan’s nongame wildlife has yielded some notable progress over the last few decades.

One of the most significant success stories—and one that’s unique to Michigan—stars a rare songbird called the Kirtland’s warbler, one of the original species to be listed as part of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Visitors come from all over the world to see these birds, which nest in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, a few sites in Wisconsin and Ontario, and nowhere else on Earth.

The DNR and many partners manage the specific type of jack pine habitat that the Kirtland’s warbler requires by logging, burning, seeding and replanting on a rotational basis.

Trees aren’t cut down until they’re mature and large enough to be economically valuable, which helps maintain nesting habitat for the warblers while supporting the commercial harvest of jack pine.

Several million jack pine seedlings are planted each year. The birds have specific nesting requirements which include reliance on young jack pine trees.

“The population of the rarest warbler in North America has increased dramatically through management and protection of more than 150,000 acres of jack pine habitat in Michigan,” said Dan Kennedy, DNR threatened and endangered species specialist.

The annual Kirtland’s warbler census, which tallies the number of singing males, has shown a significant increase in the species’ population over the last 40 years, from approximately 200 singing males in 1972 to 2,300 this year.

“The recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler is a real success story for endangered species management,” Kennedy said. “This conservation effort has benefited Michigan’s economy, including jobs associated with tourism and timber products, and helped conserve our biological legacy.”

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Osprey

Many of Michigan’s nongame wildlife conservation victories involve birds, more specifically birds of prey. One notable example is the osprey.

Once nearly absent from much of Michigan due to the effects of DDT, other pesticides and habitat loss, Michigan’s osprey population is making a comeback thanks in part to the DNR’s osprey reintroduction program.

Started in 2008 and supported by the Nongame Wildlife Fund, this reintroduction program removed chicks from active nests in northern Michigan and reared them in man-made towers in southern Michigan, a process called “hacking.”

In 2015, at least 60 active nests were identified in southern Michigan – a substantial increase from the single active nest reported in 2002.

“Each year we have new nests, and we have already exceeded our original goal of 30 active nests by 2020,” said Julie Oakes, a DNR wildlife biologist. “We have been able to remove ospreys from the threatened species list to a species of special concern and restore their numbers in Michigan.”

The DNR and several partner organizations monitor the revitalization of this species by outfitting osprey chicks with “backpack” GPS telemetry units and tracking their movements and migration patterns.

Anyone can follow along and find out where the birds have been by looking at the Michigan Osprey website, www.michiganosprey.org.

Falcons and eagles

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons and bald eagles—two other birds of prey whose populations were decimated by pesticides—also are on the upswing as a result of similar conservation efforts.

Peregrines, virtually eradicated from eastern North America by the middle of the 20th century, today are successfully nesting in urban centers of southern Michigan, on the most iconic bridges across the state and along the Upper Peninsula’s rocky Lake Superior shoreline.

In 2015, biologists recorded 33 active peregrine nests, which produced 73 wild chicks.

The bald eagle’s numbers declined dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s until there were fewer than 1,000 nesting eagles remaining in the U.S. by 1963. Today, the species has recovered to a point where its existence is no longer imperiled.

With over 800 active eagle nests in Michigan, eagles can be found in almost all of the state’s 83 counties.

Moose

 In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Most of the mammal successes have been so successful that we have seasons on them: marten, fisher, deer and elk,” said Chris Hoving, adaptation specialist with the DNR Wildlife Division. “At one time, they were nongame, or at least not hunted.”

Although moose are not an example of a species that has rebounded to the point where it can be hunted, one memorable nongame endeavor was the reintroduction of the species to Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.

Native to Michigan, moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula.

In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose—using helicopters, in an operation remembered as the “moose lift”—from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, and released them in Marquette County.

A 2016 moose population survey estimates a population of 323 moose in the western U.P.

Reptiles and amphibians

As for reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herpetofauna or “herps,” ongoing projects include the Michigan Herp Atlas, which aims to collect data about Michigan’s native amphibians and reptiles in order to document their distribution and changes in their populations statewide, and the annual spring volunteer frog and toad survey.

“We have collected a large, valuable data set to help us evaluate Michigan’s frog and toad populations,” said DNR nongame wildlife biologist Lori Sargent. “We’re now able to start watching trends and thinking about how to slow down some of the species’ declines and, hopefully, increase awareness of their plight so that conservation efforts will be enacted in the future.”

Distinctions

Schauer said it’s important to remember that not all nongame animals are threatened or endangered species, or even species of special concern.

“Nongame also includes animals that aren’t harvested but aren’t necessarily listed as special concern, threatened or endangered—a good example of that would be the American robin,” she said. “One of the primary goals of the Nongame Wildlife Fund is to keep these common species common.”

Pitch in

Want to help Michigan’s nongame wildlife? There are several ways to contribute: by purchasing a wildlife habitat license plate or Living Resources patch or by making a tax-deductible donation.

Learn more about the Nongame Wildlife Fund at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Construction impacting White Pine Trail use


 

From Friends of the White Pine Trail

OUT-White-Pine-trail-construction

In the southern area of the tail, in Plainfield Township, there will be trail disruptions during this summer and fall.

In Comstock Park there will be equipment in and adjacent to the trail due to sewer line work for the next few weeks, and possibly into the fall. Please be very careful in this area and do not interfere with the construction activity. If you encounter someone directing you around construction, please follow their directions.

Between Belmont and Rockford there will be some equipment on the trail for the next month or longer.  There will be persons directing traffic whenever there is equipment on the trail – please cooperate with these folks that are doing their best to keep the trail open, you safe, and get the project done. The Trail Will Not Be Closed For Extended Periods in this area unless there are unforseen circumstances.

If you have questions regarding trail conditions please contact us. We will do our best to keep everyone informed.

Check our FaceBook page for up-to-date information.

If you see any problems that you feel needs attention please contact us as soon as possible—we need your help!

In Howard City Area, Montcalm County

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials announced that construction of the Rice and Tamarack Creek bridges on the White Pine Trail in Howard City will begin Monday Aug. 8.

The White Pine Trail is actively utilized by non-motorized users throughout the year and snowmobile users in the winter months. Bridge construction will include abutment replacement and pier removal, as well as the placement of a 60-foot-prefabricated bridge over Rice Creek and a 84-foot-prefabricated bridge over Tamarack Creek.

The White Pine Trail has been temporarily re-routed to Federal Road bypassing both bridges. The detour is posted. Construction is anticipated to be completed in November.

Questions about the trail closure may be directed to Scott Slavin, DNR unit supervisor of White Pine Trail State Park, at 231-775-7911 or slavins@michigan.gov

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Fishing Tip: Fall in love with fishing: hook, line and sinker


Have you ever wanted to learn how to fish? Partake in the DNR’s Hook, Line and Sinker program and you’ll be equipped with the skills to become an excellent angler!

This program is available weekly at more than 30 state parks and fish hatcheries from mid-June until the end of summer. The program teaches participants casting and fishing basics and equipment and bait are provided.

Participants under the age of 17 do not need a fishing license. Programs are free, but a Recreation Passport is required for entry.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/hooklineandsinker.

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New regulations affect personal collection of bait in Michigan


New regulations affect personal collection of bait in Michigan

The Natural Resources Commission recently approved new baitfish regulations that affect personally caught bait in Michigan waters. Any personally caught bait now must be used within the same body of water, or connecting bodies of water, where it was captured.

What that means for anglers is that bait can be caught within a tributary of a lake and used within the lake that is connected to the tributary. This principle also applies to chains of lakes that are void of barriers. However, if a man-made dam exists on a tributary that prevents free movement of baitfish between the lake and other connected waters, baitfish may not be moved or used within those nonconnected waters.

For example, if bait is captured in a small stream that is connected to a lake or network of other rivers and lakes, it can be used in any of those bodies of water. The general rule of thumb is if the baitfish can swim freely from the capture location to the location of use, the angler is in compliance.

The DNR has heard from anglers across the state who are concerned with this regulation. Fisheries Order 245 was put in place in 2007 to protect Michigan’s waters from the movement of fish diseases and aquatic invasive species. Viral hemorrhagic septicemia is one of many diseases that can be moved from one body of water to another through the movement of baitfish. To protect the state’s fisheries from this threat, the DNR requires commercial baitfish catchers to test their baitfish for diseases prior to sale.

Further, aquatic invasive species significantly affect Michigan’s fisheries and there are many invasive species that easily can be introduced to new waters through baitfish collection. Species like rusty crayfish and round goby have been spread by anglers collecting their own bait for use in a different location.

“The ecological and economic impact of diseases and aquatic invasive species is very significant in Michigan and across the Great Lakes Region,” said Todd Grischke, assistant chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. “These updated regulations provide our fisheries with further protection.”

For more information on Michigan’s baitfish regulations, visit Michigan.gov/fishingguide.

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Fire, jack pine and aspen: understanding a historic relationship


A Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighter conducts a controlled burn. Photos courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighter conducts a controlled burn. Photos courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The connection between healthy forests and fire may be firmly established and  understood by foresters and wildlife managers, and helpful to countless wildlife species. However, not everyone outside those occupations has the same understanding.

Recall the late 1980s, when wildfires blackened much of Yellowstone National Park. Conservation professionals argued then that long-term, the effects of the fires would be very positive for the ecosystem for a number of reasons.

The public at large wasn’t necessarily convinced. This is understandable, because  for decades government officials had actively campaigned against fires.

Remember Smokey Bear’s motto? “Only you can prevent forest fires.” That message has been edited in recent years from “forest fires” to “wildfires,” which allows that all fires are not necessarily bad.

In Michigan forests, there are several tree species that have a long history of dependence on fire, though newer forestry techniques have helped to diminish this need.

Jack pine cones are sealed with resin. Often, the cones do not release their seeds upon maturity, but rather, after an environmental trigger, including fire.

Jack pine cones are sealed with resin. Often, the cones do not release their seeds upon maturity, but rather, after an environmental trigger, including fire.

Aspen and jack pine are two Michigan species that historically relied on fire for survival and regeneration. These species are well-adapted to regeneration following any stand-replacing disturbance, such as wind throw (trees being uprooted or broken by wind) or timber harvest.

“Both species exist in Michigan because of fire prior to European settlement,” said Keith Kintigh, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources field operations biologist in the northern Lower Peninsula. “They evolved to respond to fires.”

Kintigh said aspen and jack pine require 50- to 70-year tree stand level disturbance for them to be maintained. They are short-lived species that like lots of sunlight.

“When the surveyors came through Michigan in the 1800s, they found that in certain places, major wildfires were occurring frequently, at least every 60 years,” Kintigh said. “Some ecologists believe that this frequency could not be explained by lightning strikes alone.”

Kintigh said Michigan has a bunch of wildlife species that are associated with those disturbances.

Scientists have concluded that Native Americans used fire to manage forests and grasslands. Aspen forests, and the associated flora and fauna—including white-tailed deer and ruffed grouse—would have benefited from these fires.

Native Americans would have found better blueberry crops in the years after jack pine forest burns, as many people do today.

Historically, jack pines were especially dependent on fire because of their reproductive mechanism. Jack pines sport cones sealed with resin (these are known as serotinous cones).

Often, the cones do not release their seeds upon maturity, but rather, after an environmental trigger. In the jack pines’ case, that trigger can be fire. The cones remain tightly closed until heat from fire or sunlight melts the resin and opens them, allowing the cones to release their seeds for spreading by gravity and winds.

The DNR maintains significant amounts of young jack pine forest in Michigan’s state forests, as it is the only viable breeding habitat for the federally endangered Kirtland’s warbler. However, fire is not a preferred way to regenerate jack pine today in the northern Lower Peninsula where most all of the Kirtland’s warblers nest.

“We’re using logging to maintain Kirtland’s warbler habitat in the absence of fire,” Kintigh said. “There are homes, cottages and schools mixed into, or situated next to, state forest and the trees have value. We can’t just have wildfires across the landscape.”

Prescribed burns are still being used for various purposes, but not generally for aspen or jack pine regeneration.

“We burn jack pine after it’s harvested,” said Keith Murphy, the DNR’s Forest Resources Division fire management specialist for the Upper Peninsula. “We have to be careful because jack pines are the most highly volatile fuel out there.

“In the spring of the year, it’s at its worst when there’s little moisture in the needles, usually in mid-May, but we burn it after a timber sale to get the cones to release their seeds or to remove branches and treetops to make it easier to trench (plow) the site.”

In the northern Lower Peninsula, foresters and wildlife biologists have found they can best produce the high-density stands required for Kirtland’s warbler nesting habitat by planting.

After a jack pine stand has been harvested, the stand is trenched and replanted from nursery stock grown primarily in the Upper Peninsula.

Aspen is also well-adapted to fire as it reproduces from suckers that spring up from the root stock, so any event that removes the trees will lead to regeneration.

These days, aspen managers generally use clear-cutting to stimulate regeneration. Murphy said that’s just as well because aspen does not burn as readily as jack pine. Aspen has moist leaves and thick stems, which are comparatively not as combustible as the dry needles and twigs of jack pines.

Getting forest producers to harvest aspen is not a problem.

“There’s a lot of demand for aspen,” said Tim Greco, a timber management specialist with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division in Gaylord. “It’s used in OSB (oriented strand board) chip material. The fibers are very good for holding glue and strength for OSB.”

Forest products mills that use aspen are also an important part of rural communities in Michigan and they provide a building material that’s in demand for new homes.

Aspen also has great utility for use in writing paper, cardboard, hardboard and pallet lumber. Some manufacturers even use veneer from aspen for certain products, like paint sticks.

“We very rarely have a problem selling aspen timber sales,” Greco said. “The demand is very good. Combine that with wildlife values and it’s an all-around win-win situation.”

Prescribed burning of aspen is often done to improve habitat for upland gamebirds and white-tailed deer.

“But it doesn’t have to be a fast-burning, rip-roaring fire,” he continued. “If you crack the bark you can kill it. And we will burn it to regenerate it for grouse habitat—a lot depends on what DNR Wildlife Division wants to do with it.”

According to the U.S. Forest Service, though aspen forests do not burn readily, aspen trees are extremely sensitive to fire.

A fire intense enough to kill the aspen forest overstory will stimulate abundant suckering, though some suckers arise after any fire. The Forest Service said as many as 50,000 to 100,000 suckers can sprout and grow on a single acre after a fire.

Get more information on DNR fire management in Michigan at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Bear that mauled teen in 2013 killed in Wexford County


Black bear attacks on humans are highly unusual, according to the Michigan DNR, but can occur if a sow is protecting her cubs.

Black bear attacks on humans are highly unusual, according to the Michigan DNR, but can occur if a sow is protecting her cubs.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday, May 11,  that a black bear recently shot and killed in Haring Township, north of Cadillac in Wexford County, is the same bear that mauled a teenage girl, Abby Wetherell, in that same township in 2013.

The DNR confirms a 9-year-old female black bear was killed April 30 by an individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, acting in self-defense. The individual let out a dog, which then immediately ran after what appeared to be a bear cub. The dog was stopped at the end of the tree line barking when the owner saw a bear appear and attack the dog. The individual went to assist the dog and the bear ran off. As the owner attempted to render aid to the injured dog, the bear retuned to the scene and approached the resident, who then shot the bear. The situation was reported to the DNR and investigated. It was determined to be a justifiable killing of the bear.

The bear carcass was sent to the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing for pathology review. DNA samples were sent to Michigan State University for genetic testing. MSU’s Jeannette Kanefsky of the Molecular Ecology Laboratory did the genotyping.

“The results of the genetic testing are consistent between the sample from the 2016 shot black bear and the evidence at the 2013 black bear mauling scene,” said Kanefsky. “The genotypes obtained from the samples are a match.”

The Wetherells were informed late Tuesday of the findings.

Through a process called “cementum annuli analysis,” DNR wildlife biologists examined the bear’s teeth to assess her age and number of litters. They determined this bear had three litters throughout her lifetime, including in 2013 when the mauling took place. It remains uncertain whether cubs were in the vicinity when the attack on Abby occurred.

After the attack on Abby, the DNR put extensive effort into setting traps and responding to bear activity in the area.

“DNR staff is relieved to have this matter resolved for both the Wetherells and the community,” said Keith Kintigh, field operations manager for the DNR’s Northern Lower Region. “Over the last three years, we have been highly responsive to multiple bear issues in the hopes of catching this animal.”

Michigan has an estimated black bear population of approximately 11,000 bears, with roughly 80 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula. There is an established bear population in the area of Wexford County. The DNR reminds the public that black bears generally are fearful of humans and usually will leave if they become aware that people are present. Bear attacks on human beings are highly unusual and in most cases occur because a sow is protecting her cubs.

Here are some important facts to remember when in an area where bears may be present:

• To avoid surprising bears, travel in small groups and make noise.

• If you encounter a bear, stand your ground and then slowly back away. Do not turn away. Do not show fear and run. Do not play dead.

• Make yourself look bigger and talk to the bear in a stern voice.

• If actually attacked, fight back with a backpack, stick or bare hands.

For additional information on living with bears, visit the DNR website atwww.michigan.gov/bear.

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$5,000 reward offered for info on Turkey Tracts vandalism 


Vandals destroyed this sign just three days after a celebration of the opening of the new Turkey Tracts kiosk.

Vandals destroyed this sign just three days after a celebration of the opening of the new Turkey Tracts kiosk.

The Department of Natural Resources and local law enforcement agencies are seeking information on the vandalism of the new “Turkey Tracts” kiosk located at Allegan State Game Area in Allegan County, Michigan.

The National Wild Turkey Federation is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for destroying the sign.

On April 15, vandals destroyed the sign located on 126th Avenue, just three days after partners, volunteers and individuals celebrated the opening of Michigan’s first Turkey Tracts site.

“Vandalism on state game areas not only destroys the hard work of volunteers and partner organizations, but can hinder the ability to make improvements on the game area,” said Maria Albright, DNR wildlife technician. “Hunter license dollars may end up being spent making repairs from the destruction of public property instead of making improvements for all users to enjoy.”

Lt. Gerald Thayer of the DNR felt confident the vandals would be found. “Our officers are trained for these types of situations and rely on assistance from the public to catch the culprits,” he said. “We are interested in any information regarding this illegal act.”

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call the 24-hour DNR Report All Poaching (RAP) line at 800-292-7800. Information may be left anonymously.

Turkey Tracts are unique turkey hunting areas across the Lower Peninsula that provide great hunting opportunities for a variety of hunters, including youth, adults new to the sport, veterans with disabilities and seniors.

“I’m very disappointed with the blatant disregard for this significant public-use facility,” said Jonathan W. Edgerly, with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and a member of the Michigan Accessibility Advisory Council. “Sites like this are important to our veterans with disabilities. I’m thankful that law enforcement agencies and the National Wild Turkey Federation are taking these crimes seriously and for their determination to bring the offenders to justice.”

The kiosk included helpful information for hunters visiting the Turkey Tract, such as maps of the area, project sponsors and information on wild turkey habitat management.

Learn more about turkeys and hunting turkey in Michigan at mi.gov/turkey.

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Survey: Michigan’s wolf population stable


A wolf is shown in the Upper Peninsula woodlands. The DNR’s latest survey has shown no significant change in Michigan’s wolf population.

A wolf is shown in the Upper Peninsula woodlands. The DNR’s latest survey has shown no significant change in Michigan’s wolf population.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife division officials said this week that the size of the state’s wolf population has not changed significantly since the last survey was conducted in 2014.

DNR wildlife researchers estimate there was a minimum of 618 wolves in the Upper Peninsula this winter. The 2014 minimum population estimate was 636 wolves.

“The confidence intervals of the 2014 and 2016 estimates overlap, thus we can’t say with statistical confidence that the population decreased,” said Kevin Swanson, wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s Bear and Wolf Program in Marquette.

Confidence intervals are a range of values that describe the uncertainty surrounding an estimate.

Swanson said, based on the 2016 minimum population estimate, it is clear that wolf numbers in Michigan are viable, stable and have experienced no significant change since 2014.

“Currently, deer numbers in the U.P. are at lows not seen in decades and we wondered if there would be a decline in wolf numbers as a result of this reduction in their primary source of prey,” Swanson said. “We also did not observe a significant difference in the number and average size of wolf packs as compared to 2014.”

This latest minimum wolf population estimate was compiled recently after surveys were conducted over the past few months, beginning in December. The wolf survey is completed by DNR wildlife division and U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services staff who search specific units for wolf tracks and other signs of wolf activity.

“While the survey is primarily a track survey, when available, we also use aerial counts of packs that contain radio-collared animals. In addition, the movement information we collect from the radio-collared wolves helps us interpret the track count results,” said Dean Beyer, a DNR wildlife researcher in Marquette. “Taken together, these methods allow us to estimate the minimum size of the wolf population. In 2016, approximately 63 percent of the Upper Peninsula was surveyed.”

After wolves returned naturally to the U.P. in the 1980s, through migration from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, the population rebounded remarkably until recent years when growth began to level off.

Over the past few years, Michigan’s minimum population estimate has hovered between 600 and 700 wolves.

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.

“Clearly, the Michigan wolf population has maintained levels surpassing these state and federal recovery goals for more than a decade,” said Russ Mason, DNR wildlife division chief.

In January 2012, citing wolf recovery in the region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took gray wolves off the federal endangered species list in Michigan and Wisconsin and the threatened species list in Minnesota.

The ruling allowed Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to manage wolves according to their wolf management plans. Michigan’s plan was crafted with the help of a panel representing a wide span of interests ranging from Native American tribes to trappers, hunters and environmentalists.

The 2008 plan, which the Department updated in 2015, allowed for lethal means to control a limited number of wolves each year where conflicts had occurred. Michigan law allowed citizens to kill wolves that were actively preying on their hunting dogs or livestock.

However, Michigan’s laws on wolf depredation and the ability of wildlife managers to use lethal means, including hunting, to control wolves was suspended in December 2014, after a ruling from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

In a lawsuit challenging the federal delisting, the court ruling found in favor of the Humane Society of the United States, ordering wolves returned to federal protection. Wolves have since remained classified as an endangered species in Michigan and Wisconsin and threatened in Minnesota.

Because of the federal endangered species status, Michigan citizens may only legally kill a wolf in defense of human life.

After the court’s finding, Michigan, Wisconsin, some private groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appealed the decision, filing their initial legal briefs in the case late last year. The court has not yet released a timeline of its deliberations.

Legislative efforts in the U.S. Congress have also been underway to try to again delist wolves in the Great Lakes Region.

“We have limited management options available to us at this time,” Mason said. “We sincerely hope that our ongoing appeal or current Congressional efforts will be successful in removing wolves from federal protection.”

Swanson said, “If federal protections are removed, Michigan and other involved states would have the ability to manage wolves in a sustainable manner, by utilizing sound scientific principles as we currently employ with other valuable game species, such as bear and bobcat.”

For more information about wolf management in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.

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DNR seeks info on Turkey Tract vandalism


 

Last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation gathered with other partners, volunteers and individuals to celebrate the opening of the first Turkey Tracts hunting area, located at Allegan State Game Area in Allegan County.

Sadly, the new Turkey Tracts kiosk, which is a large information station built by volunteers, thoughtlessly was vandalized and destroyed Friday night. It stood for only a few days.

“Vandalism on state game areas not only destroys the hard work of volunteers and partner organizations, but can hinder the ability to make improvements on the game area,” said Maria Albright, DNR wildlife technician. “Hunter license dollars may end up being spent making repairs from the destruction of public property instead of making improvements for all users to enjoy.”

The kiosk included helpful information for hunters visiting the Turkey Tract, such as maps of the area, project sponsors and information on turkey habitat management.

The destruction of the Turkey Tract kiosk is not the first case of vandalism to the Allegan State Game Area. Gates, protecting important wildlife habitat improvements from being damaged, have been torn out of the ground and sometimes even stolen completely.

“These gates are very costly to repair and replace,” added Albright. “Not to mention the cost of damage to wildlife habitat.”

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call the 24-hour DNR Report All Poaching (RAP) line at 800-292-7800. Information may be left anonymously.

Turkey Tracts are unique turkey hunting areas across the Lower Peninsula that provide great hunting opportunities for a variety of hunters, including youth, adults new to the sport, and seniors. Learn more about hunting turkey in Michigan at mi.gov/turkey.

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Leave wildlife in the wild 


 

A white-tailed deer fawn waiting for its mother to return. Although fawns may appear to have been abandoned, that’s rarely the case, and leaving them alone will help them survive.

A white-tailed deer fawn waiting for its mother to return. Although fawns may appear to have been abandoned, that’s rarely the case, and leaving them alone will help them survive.

Do not take baby animals from the wild this spring

Spring is nearly here, bringing warmer temperatures and the next generation of wildlife.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds those who are outside enjoying the experience of seeing wildlife raise its young to view animals from a distance, so they are not disturbed.

It is important to remember that many species of wildlife “cache” (hide) their young for safety. These babies are not abandoned; they simply have been hidden by their mother until she returns for them.

“Please resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned baby animals,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife technician for the DNR. “Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.”

Schauer added that some rescued animals that do survive may become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild.

“Habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behavior. For example, habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they get older and reach breeding age.”

White-tailed deer fawns are one of the animals most commonly rescued by well-intentioned citizens. It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn, which allows the fawn to go undetected by nearby predators. While fawns seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way. The best chance for their survival is to leave them in the wild. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, as this might leave your scent and could attract predators. Give it plenty of space and leave the area quickly. The mother deer will return for her fawns when she feels it is safe, but may not return if people or dogs are present.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please remember, a licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators must adhere to the law and have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals. Licensed rehabilitators will work to return the animal to the wild, where it will have the best chance for survival.

A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting mi.gov/wildlife or by calling your local DNR office.

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