Get SMART about Michigan’s urban coyotes

Many suburban and urban Michigan residents have had an encounter with a coyote. A glance out a window may result in a shock when locking eyes with a large, gray-brown canine standing in the backyard.

A backyard or city park is certainly no place for a coyote, right?

Coyotes can be found everywhere – forests, fields, farmlands, backyards, neighborhoods and cities.

Resourceful members of the dog family, coyotes have used human development to their advantage.

“Coyotes have learned how to survive in urban landscapes, even near people. They take advantage of abundant natural foods that can often be found in urban and suburban areas,” said Hannah Schauer, a Michigan DepartmentCoyotes have a life span of 6 to 8 years and they maintain a home range in urban settings of 2 to 5 square miles. (USFWS photo) of Natural Resources wildlife technician. “Because they are highly adaptable, coyotes have expanded their range throughout North America, and can be found in every county in Michigan.”

Urban Coyote SMART

The DNR offers a few reminders (in the form of the acronym “SMART”) for those who have seen a coyote in their neighborhood.

Safe to enjoy from a distance.
Make noise if they are too close.
Accompany pets outside.
Remove bird feeders; these attract small birds and mammals, a coyote’s natural food.
Take in the trash, pet foods and other possible attractants. Read more

Women Continue Outdoors Trend

Fernandina Beach, FL. – As overall numbers of hunters and anglers have remained relatively steady in recent years, one thing is certain; within that group of adventure-seeking outdoor enthusiasts, the number of women participants continues to climb. Today, women make up more than one-quarter of all anglers (nearly 27 percent), while just over one in 10 hunters (11 percent) are women. As a result of their growing numbers, women hunters and anglers are increasingly a force outdoor businesses are attempting to reach. To help those companies and organizations seeking to understand the modern sportswoman, Southwick Associates has created their annual “Women in the Outdoors in 2015” which is available for free on their website.

Key statistics and findings in the updated report include:
  • Forty-four percent of female anglers who fished freshwater fished for largemouth or spotted bass.
  • Seventy-two percent of female freshwater anglers used artificial lures, the most by far. Second was live bait, used by 59 percent of female anglers.
  • Fifty-six percent of female anglers who fish saltwater do so for any fish that bites.
  • Ninety-six percent of female anglers fish with rod and reel, more than those who fly fish, ice fish, bow fish, noodle or fish with a cane pole combined.
  • Just as with male hunters, the whitetail deer is the most sought after North American game animal by women (60 percent).
  • A higher percentage of men (76 percent) than women (59 percent) shoot rifles, but a larger percentage of women (47 percent) use shotguns than men (43 percent).
  • A larger percentage of women (28 percent) also enjoy archery than men (23 percent).
  • Ammunition was the most purchased hunting/shooting equipment in 2015 by both women (82 percent) and men (83 percent).    Read more

How to Make the Best Hunting Spots With Small Food Plots

Deer hunting tactics using food plots with the team: Watch and learn their techniques for planting small, hidey-hole food plots and improving the soil at the same time. Small food plots make great stand locations and better soil will produce more forage to attract and feed deer. Stay tuned to see more on mineral stations and “how to” on necessary maintenance for your shotgun post turkey season. Click here to watch this online video today! Read more

Buckwheat Fills the Gap

By Glen Wunderlich

With the recent and predictable news of the expansion of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management areas in southern Michigan, the handwriting is on the wall.  The practice of deer baiting, as we’ve known it, is on the way out.  Certainly, the producers of carrots, beets, etc. will not be happy, as the convenience store/gas station demand is sure to drop in the affected areas.  So, you want change?  It’s here.

While baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula becomes less acceptable, food plots are a sure-fire means to increase one’s hunting chances in the fall, if you have access to private land.    One who works the land not only gains an advantage for hunting purposes, he has the ability to provide nourishment to wildlife throughout the year.  With the proper balance of perennial and annual plots, deer, turkeys, rabbits, pheasants, and other game animals may just call your habitat home.

Deer like variety in their menu.  To add to a whitetail’s choices before fall planting, I’ve chosen a small strip of land that can be an attraction until then by planting buckwheat.

Buckwheat Seed

Buckwheat Seed

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a warm-season annual forb that can provide several benefits to a whitetail food-plot program. Frost will kill it, so it’s important to sow the seed when the danger of frost is past. Likewise, in the fall the buckwheat leaves will vanish with the first frost, so it will only be available for the summer months, or even less if your plan includes planting more hardy species in August, such as brassicas.

The Quality Deer Management Associaiton notes that buckwheat produces well in poor soil and actually builds weak soil for future plantings. Buckwheat matures very quickly – approximately 10 weeks after germination and will begin to bloom within two weeks of germination. Crude protein levels in buckwheat forage are quite impressive, ranging from 15 to 25 percent in well-managed soils. The plant residue increases organic matter and releases a significant amount of phosphorus that will be available for your fall plantings, improving the nutritional quality while reducing fertilizer costs. If you have a relatively small area you’d like to experiment with and have no need for a 50-pound bag, locally Family Farm and Home sells buckwheat in bulk at a cost of approximately $1.70 per pound. If planting in marginal seedbed conditions, consider slightly increasing your seeding rate to account for reduced germination.

Once buckwheat is planted, its rapid germination and growth rate is an excellent weed suppression mechanism. It quickly forms a dense leaf canopy, suppressing many weeds due to the shading/smothering effect.

Many site locations require lime to increase the ph level so that plants can grow vigorously, but only a soil test will tell the story.  For best results, get the lime into the soil as early as possible – 3 months or more before planting.

In any case, time’s a wasting, if you’d like to reap the rewards of a fall planting.  For a good reference, check out Ed Spinazolla’s book, Quality Deer Food Plots or his website

The State of North America’s Birds 2016 Report Released

Washington D.C. – Wednesday, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) published The State of North America’s Birds 2016, the first comprehensive report assessing the conservation status of all bird species that occur in Canada, the continental United States and Mexico. The report was released by NABCI partners at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada, on behalf of all three countries, with a simultaneous event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, in partnership with International Migratory Bird Day. NABCI was created by Canada, the United States and Mexico as a tri-national commitment to protect birds and their habitats.”This report will allow us to base conservation actions on the best available science on the status of birds and their habitats in North America,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada Minister Catherine McKenna. “It is an unprecedented continental analysis, drawing on the efforts of tens of thousands of citizen-scientists from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.” Read more

Black bear killed in Wexford County, MI determined to be bear that mauled Cadillac-area teen

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today 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. Read more

Watch nesting barn owls through IN DNR webcam

A show of companionship and survival will play out live before the public in a DNR webcam that offers a peek into the lives of a barn owl pair raising chicks. The webcam is at

Barn owls are a state-endangered species. The pair on this webcam has been living in a DNR-built nest box inside a metal pole barn in southern Indiana since 2009. These owls have nested every year since 2009. Read more

Boone and Crockett Club Celebrates New Home of North American Conservation

GW:  I was given a sneak preview of the new Bass Pro Shops facility in Missouri and this will become a worthwhile destination for sportsmen and women for years to come. 

MISSOULA, Mont. – The Boone and Crockett Club commends Club member and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris on his continuing conservation efforts and the upcoming opening of one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world – Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. The 315,000 square-foot exhibit sits adjacent to Bass Pro Shops flagship store in Springfield, Missouri, and will soon serve as the new home to North American conservation when it opens later in 2016.In 2015, Boone and Crockett Club joined more than 25 of the country’s leading conservation organizations to contribute to the creation of the attraction. The nationwide collaboration brought together conservation leaders to discuss fun and engaging ways to motivate public appreciation for wildlife and conservation efforts. The attraction will highlight past successes and share important conservation messages to a national audience.

“The museum and aquarium continues the legacy of dedicated professionals and individuals who truly care about ensuring the future of wildlife through conservation practices,” said Morrison Stevens, Club president. “It will serve many generations to come with an immersive, educational experience that focuses on the benefits of long-term conservation and the positive effects on wildlife. The motto ‘Conservation had a beginning, but has no end,’ is fitting to describe the opportunity presented by this attraction.” Read more

DNR: U.P. survey results indicate no significant change in Michigan’s wolf population

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife division officials said today 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.

A wolf walks through the Upper Peninsula woodlands. “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.” Read more

The Magic & Myths of Fawns

GW:  This information is from QDMA’s Sam Leatherman and provides some facts we may not have known.

The Magic & Myths of Fawns

Photo by Ralph Hensley.

I always look forward to seeing the first newborn fawn of the year. Without fail, social media will begin to fill with pictures of these beautiful, wobbly-legged creatures, and understandably so. Very few things in nature are as beautiful as a newborn fawn in a lush, green field. But these photos are often accompanied by misinformation and bad advice. Let’s look at the magic and myths of whitetail fawns.

Magic: For the first seven to 10 days of life, a fawn will spend up to 95 percent of its time bedded. While bedded, a fawn has a very rapid heartbeat of around 175 beats per minute. When a fawn senses danger is close, it will lower its head and drop its ears, the heart rate will fall to around 60 beats per minute, and the breathing will become slower and deeper – all to try and avoid detection by predators. The first few days of a fawn’s life are a critical time. Most fawns that fall to predators die in their first 10 days of life.
Myth: “I found a fawn that didn’t run away. Something must be wrong with it.” More than likely you have found a very young deer. The fawn will lie perfectly still, barely even blinking, until you move on. Oftentimes, at this young age the fawn will even let you touch it or pick it up, but it is best not to. More on this in a moment.

Magic: Within a few hours of being born, Read more

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