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Tag Archive | "Wildlife Division"

DNR Upper Peninsula wolf survey shows healthy wolf population


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Living Resources patches available for purchase 


 

The 2016-2017 Michigan’s Living Resources patch featuring the American robin, along with several patches from previous years, will be available for purchase through the end of September.

Through end of September

The 2016-2017 Michigan’s Living Resources patch featuring the American robin, along with several patches from previous years, will be available for purchase on the Michigan e-store at https://media.state.mi.us/MichiganeStore/public/Home.aspx through the end of September. (Go to the home page, then click on Patches, Mugs, and t-shirts.)

The Living Resources patch program has raised awareness of Michigan’s nongame species for over 40 years, with the first Living Resources patch issued in 1975 featuring the Kirtland’s warbler.

Proceeds from the sale of these patches goes into the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund, which provides a source of funding for projects vital to the needs of Michigan’s endangered, threatened and nongame animals, plants and their habitats.

Funds for these important management efforts also have been raised through voluntary check-off contributions on the state income tax form, sales of the wildlife habitat specialty license plate and direct donations.

Today, those interested in contributing can support the fund through purchase of a wildlife habitat license plate, making a tax-deductible donation or purchasing a patch.

Those who would like to request a mail-in order form can contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division at 517-284-WILD (9453).

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DNR confirms cougars in eastern Upper Peninsula


This trail camera photo of a cougar was taken on public land in western Mackinac County in early November. Another photo was confirmed in Chippewa County in late October. 

Cougar evidence confirmed in U.P. 26 times since 2008

 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed two recent photos of a cougar in the eastern Upper Peninsula, marking the 25th and 26th times cougar evidence has been verified in the U.P.

One of the photos was taken with a camera phone in late October on private property near Chippewa County’s Raber Township. The other was taken in early November by a trail camera on public land in Mackinac County near Garfield Township (see above). The DNR has not received permission to release the Chippewa County photo.

With the verification of these two photos, the DNR has now confirmed the presence of cougars in 11 Upper Peninsula counties 26 times since 2008. The animals are believed to be young individuals dispersing from established populations in the Dakotas in search of new territory; there is no evidence of a breeding population of cougars in the state.

The DNR’s Wildlife Division welcomes citizen reports of possible cougar evidence or sightings. Cougar photos and other evidence, such as tracks, scat or cached kills, should be reported to a local DNR office or through the DNR’s online reporting form at www.michigan.gov/cougars.

 

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Black bear education program for grades 6-8


OUT-black-bearThe Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Wildlife Division is offering a fun way for educators to integrate Michigan’s unique flora and fauna into their curriculum while still meeting the required educational standards. Teachers and their students now have an opportunity to experience A Year in the Life of a Michigan Black Bear.

Throughout the school year, students will learn about the life cycle of the Michigan black bear, general black bear biology and behavior, and how the DNR manages and maintains a healthy black bear population. An educator guide with activities and video lessons will be provided.
Classes also will have the chance to “follow” a black bear by using actual data points from a radio-collared bear to track it through its seasonal movements and see what a year in a bear’s life is really like.

This program is free of charge and open to all interested educators of grades 6, 7 and 8. Classes will need access to a computer lab and the Internet in order to use the mapping application to follow the bear. Educators also will need access to the Internet (YouTube) in their classrooms as well as a projector to make it easier for all students to see the video lessons.

Classrooms that participate in the program will be eligible to enter the Year in the Life of a Bear contest, where students can use what they learned to tell the story of a year in the life of a Michigan black bear. Students can choose to retell the actual journey of the bear they followed or get creative and use the information to interpret a typical bear’s yearly activities. Contest winners will be awarded prizes, provided by the Michigan Bear Hunters Association and the DNR, for their classrooms. Prizes are limited to one per school.

For more information and to sign up, please visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife and click on the “Education” button. Applications are due by Aug. 1 in order to receive the materials for the upcoming school year.

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Michigan DNR fighting frog-bit


Response to new invasive species under way in Alpena, Bay and Chippewa counties

 

OUT-frog-bit-closeupThe Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division is leading response efforts to control a new aquatic invasive plant, European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae). Until recently, this free-floating plant had only been reported in a few localized sites in the southeastern Lower Peninsula. Through recent statewide monitoring efforts, this species has been detected in Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Munuscong Bay in Chippewa County.

This new invasive species was detected as a result of an Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) pilot project funded through a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. The project relies on collaboration with partners, including Michigan State University and Cooperative Weed Management Area groups.

Using the new State of Michigan’s Rapid Response Plan for Aquatic Invasive Species, developed jointly by the DNR, DEQ and MDARD, these new reports were verified, an on-site assessment was conducted and a response plan was formulated. Control measures are under way, including physical removal (1,500 pounds removed beginning in mid-September) and trial treatments with herbicides

“Responding quickly to a new invasive species is critical to increasing our chances of success, and it requires a well-organized, collaborative effort between multiple agencies and other partners,” said Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason.

Education, outreach and future control activities are being planned with local stakeholders and partner groups. A complete outline of the EDRR program, including future stages, is defined in the newly revised SOM Aquatic Invasive Species State Management Plan at www.michigan.gov/aquaticinvasives.

European frog-bit was accidentally released into Canadian waters between 1932 and 1939, and has since spread throughout Ontario, New York, Vermont and other eastern states. It forms extremely dense vegetative mats that cover the available open water surface. Frog-bit shades out submerged native plants, reducing invertebrate and plant biodiversity, disrupts natural water flow, inhibits watercraft movement and may adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat.

European frog-bit resembles a miniature water lily (lily pad), with leaves about the size of a quarter or half-dollar. It produces a small white flower, usually in June. Frog-bit is typically found in slow moving, shallow waters (1-3 feet), typically within cattail and bulrush stands. Additional identification information is available at the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network at www.misin.msu.edu.

If you suspect that you’ve seen European frog-bit, report sightings to www.misin.msu.edu or to Matt Ankney, EDRR coordinator, at ankneym2@michigan.gov or (517) 641-4903.

For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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