MI DNR sends firefighters to British Columbia as part of an international crew

Firefighters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are joining international crews this week to battle wildfires raging in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. According to the British Columbia Wildfire Service, more than 930,000 acres have burned since April 1.

Eight Michigan firefighters will join two, 20-person international teams that also include staff from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario. They’re slated to spend two weeks in British Columbia, working up to 16-hour days. Read more

Projects for pollinators: habitat enhancement projects that benefit pollinating insects occurring throughout Michigan

Pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly and the rusty patched bumble bee (listed in March as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), recently have made headlines due to declining populations, primarily from habitat loss. These insects play a critical role in the ecosystem, as well as people’s lives, and human intervention is needed to help keep these pollinator populations abundant and healthy.

Grasslands, vitally important to many species including pollinators, have become increasingly rare.

“Making sure pollinators have habitat that supports milkweed and other native, flowering plants is important to preserving these key species,” said Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Through several habitat enhancement projects, the DNR – along with many partners, organizations and volunteers – is working to increase habitat for pollinators in Michigan.

In southeastern Michigan, DNR staff is seeding wildflowers on 7.5 acres at the Shiawassee River State Game Area in Saginaw County to help restore pollinator habitat. Read more

Pesticide May Be Outlawed

(Photo: Mountain Plover by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions)

(Washington, D.C., July 25, 2017) We applaud the U.S. Senators who today introduced a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that has been killing birds and poisoning the environment for the past half-century: Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). We’re also grateful to Representatives Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who have offered a companion bill in the House.

The “Protect Children, Farmers & Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act” would prohibit all chlorpyrifos use by amending the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that oversees food safety.

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate related to sarin nerve gas, is used in production of common crops such as strawberries, apples, citrus, and broccoli. In addition to the pesticide’s well-known threats to human health, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is concerned about the pesticide’s effects on birds, including to declining species like the Mountain Plover (shown). A recent draft biological evaluation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that chlorpyrifos is likely to adversely affect 97 percent of all wildlife, including more than 100 listed bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
ABC has been calling for a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos for years. EPA scientists agreed and were on course to ban the pesticide from use on all crops. In March 2017, however, the EPA administrator reversed the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists and extended chlorpyrifos’ registration for another five years. Read more

The Firminator Is the Perfect Partner in Your Warm-Season Food Plot Plan

Warm season food plots, which are extremely attractive to deer, are part of superior management programs for serious hunters.

The Firminator is ideally suited for putting in warm-season crops. It combines a heavy-duty disc harrow, a true agricultural-grade cultipacker and a precision ground-drive seed system in one unit that you can pull behind an ATV or a tractor.

It’s a simple all-in-one system that discs the ground, puts the seeds in at the rate and depth you choose, and then packs the ground to assure good seed-to-soil contact. It’s everything you need to put in a food plot. You do the driving, the Firminator does the planting. Read more

Campsites or Cabins? Find Camping Variety on National Wildlife Refuges

Ready to fall asleep under a sky filled with stars? Raring to ditch the fast-moving, competitive world for unspoiled nature — at least for a few days?

Maybe now’s the time to get away, go camping and be captivated by the nation’s national wildlife refuges.

National wildlife refuges from Alaska to Florida offer camping opportunities that allow visitors to see wildlife up close in a variety of natural habitats.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, works to conserve America’s treasured wildlife species and their habitat, providing unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities for all Americans.

Here’s a sampling of camping options: Read more

Study: Greatest Threat to Eastern Forest Birds Is Habitat Loss on Wintering Grounds

Rose-breasted Grosbeak photo by David Brezinski, USFWS. .

Ithaca, NY—Within the next few decades, human-caused habitat loss looms as the greatest threat to some North American breeding birds. The problem will be most severe on their wintering grounds, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Global Change Biology. By the end of this century, the study’s authors say predicted changes in rainfall and temperature will compound the problem for birds that breed in eastern North America and winter in Central America.

This animation shows where the 21 study species are found throughout the year. They spend more time on Central American wintering grounds (bright yellow) than on their northern breeding grounds (green to purple). Map by Frank La Sorte.

“This is really the first study to measure the combined impact of climate change and land-use change over a bird’s full annual cycle,” says lead author Frank La Sorte at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Typically, studies tend to focus on the breeding season. If you do that, you’re missing the real story which is inherently dynamic and complex.”

Migrant wintering grounds are vitally important because the birds spend a greater proportion of the year in these places.

“We found the species we studied spend up to 60 percent of the year on their wintering grounds in Central America, where they occur in higher numbers and densities,” says La Sorte. “That means more individuals of more species are likely to be exposed over a longer period of time to habitat loss as people continue to convert forests to cropland or grassland.”

The scientists ran dozens of scenarios to predict what the future might look like for 21 species, most of them flycatchers, vireos, and warblers. They used observations that volunteers entered into the eBird database from 2004 through 2014 to establish where and in what density the species are found throughout the year. Then, they layered in modeled climate change projections (temperature and rainfall) and habitat data (land-use changes and the location of protected areas).

The study finds loss of wintering habitat in the near future will likely be magnified by the long-term effects of climate change. By the end of this century the study species are expected to encounter several significant changes:
Greater warming on the northern breeding grounds and during autumn migrations—a surface temperature increase of about 9°F (5°C) with uncertain consequences for breeding and migration success; a smaller increase of about 5.4°F (3°C) is projected for their wintering grounds. Read more

Gardening Off the Grid

By Glen Wunderlich

Growing fruit and vegetables in a remote-area garden has been challenging over the years.  Mother Nature plays a big role in success or failure of such an endeavor, but this year has proved to our best effort to date to fend off wild animals from taking part in any bounty.

Learning what deer, rabbits, and myriad other creatures crave is relatively easy to determine.  If plants vanish or are otherwise damaged or destroyed by voracious vermin, any successful gardener must take action to salvage anything for him or herself.  Here are some tips for the do-it-yourselfers.

Choosing a site for its rich, sandy loam soil was priority number one, but because it was off the grid, watering would be a challenge.  The first year, we figured we could catch rain water in barrels and transport it to the site, but it didn’t take long to discover how impractical the concept was.  The challenge was met by installing a pitcher pump at the garden site, and although some extra effort is involved, it has been a good answer – even last June when drought conditions would have wiped out the plants.

The next challenge would be to keep uninvited critters from helping themselves to our supply of fresh food.  And, this would be no easy task, insofar as the garden site was right there with food plots to attract wildlife – especially deer.  A solar-powered electric fence charger and several strands of electrified wire kept the wily whitetails away all summer.  Never once were there any signs of deer browsing a single plant. 

However, the fence had to be taken down to prep the soil for this year’s experiment, and it was decided not to install it this season.  The reason was simple:  Since we’ve learned what deer really like, we simply avoided planting anything that would attract them. 

Garlic was planted last November and much to our delight, 70 plants have already been harvested. 

Garlic Harvested in July

Potatoes were planted during the heat wave of February and have gone unmolested.  Onions got an early start, as well, and should be ready for harvest within the next few weeks.

Red, Yellow and White Onions

Pumpkins, watermelons, and cantaloupes are thriving – also without protection. 

Cantaloupe

We have had some damage to pumpkins over the years, as they begin to mature, but by then its harvest time and little is lost.

For melons we’ve used woven weed blocking fabric around them and it appears to be a type of deterrent, as well.  My hunch is that it may spook the deer under foot, and to this date not one deer hoof print has been found in the expansive space.

Rabbits, on the other hand, always found their way through strands of electrified fence and wiped out dill, cabbage, broccoli and other vegetables.  Instead of fighting them, a small wire cage with a removable top was constructed to house their preferred foods and has done the job.

As far as tomatoes, beans and other favorites not planted, the local farmers’ markets have been good reliable alternatives to fighting and losing.  The end result is that the frustration level has dropped by working smarter – not harder.

Enter to Win ALPS OutdoorZ Raptor X Optics Pack on Facebook

In an effort to unite, promote and educate people on conservation initiatives, ALPS OutdoorZ is gearing up to give away FREE Raptor X optics packs through their “Capture Conservation” social campaign.

ALPS OutdoorZ is gearing up to launch their “Capture Conservation”social campaign on Facebook. The goal is to encourage members to share how they contribute to wildlife conservation through storytelling and photos. ALPS OutdoorZ knows there are endless ways to contribute to conservation. Whether it’s establishing food plots, providing clean water sources, supporting conservation organizations that help us protect our hunting traditions or by simply buying a hunting tag each season, ALPS OutdoorZ wants to promote and educate others to the fact that hunting truly is conservation.

With the support of RMEF, they will be announcing the campaign through a variety of media outlets that will be sent out to all RMEF members encouraging them to follow links to a pinned post on the ALPS OutdoorZ Facebook page. Participants enter to win a FREE Raptor X optics pack by commenting on the post, making sure to include the hash tag #CaptureConservation along with a summary of their conservation efforts. The campaign is open to all, not just members of the RMEF. Winners will be announced via Facebook two weeks after the start of the campaign. Click here to enter http://bit.ly/2s1QFdV.

Boone and Crockett Club: Wildfire Funding Fix Picks Up Support

MISSOULA, Mont. – The group behind the creation of our national forest system – the Boone and Crockett Club – applauds Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) for introducing a bill to fix the chronic funding shortfall for catastrophic wildfires. The National Flood Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2017 includes a title allowing the Forest Service to tap disaster funding, appropriately treating catastrophic wildfires like hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Fighting forest fires is the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service, as is maintaining these lands for the betterment of the people. In a bad fire year fighting wildfires eats up to 53 percent of the Forest Service’s annual budget. The consequence of which is the Forest Service’s inability to do the forest thinning work necessary to keep fire events small and contained in the first place. Read more

Of Mice and Moles

By Glen Wunderlich

From time to time, innovative products come to market that are game-changers.  If you are bothered by moles or mice, here are two inventions that have become my go-to tools to control these nuisance animals.

Recently, ground moles have become active in search of their food sources near the surface of the soil and are doing substantial damage to lawns and gardens.  Although poisons can be used to kill their food sources such as grubs, they can also wipe out beneficial earthworms.  Apart from the exorbitant cost of such products and their limited usefulness on larger tracts of land, who wants unnecessary poison to leach into the ground water that many of us rely upon for drinking?

The best American-made mole trap has been improved since last I wrote about it years ago:  the Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Mole Eliminator Trap.  Although the older model of this trap was effective, often times it was temperamental to set. The folks at Wire Tek solved this issue by upgrading the trap’s base to a flat steel design instead of the previously used round rod concept.  In addition, the trigger mechanism has been enhanced.

 

Once mole activity is discovered, the raised tunnels must be tamped down and marked in some visual manner.  (Those utility flags work great!)  When particular runways reappear, that’s where to set the traps.  However, there’s no need to purchase numerous traps – at least not initially – because one mole can damage up to 18 feet of lawn per hours.  When one varmint is caught, you’ve accomplished a lot.

Product features include safely setting the trap with foot motion only – no digging.  And, since the business end of the trap is underground, it is safe around pets and youngsters.

The cost is under $40 shipped from online sources such as Ebay and Amazon.  If you find them substantially cheaper, watch out!  They are most likely imitations from China with very similar names, or they are the older discontinued models that don’t perform as well.

When it comes to mice, most of us have had experience with antiquated wooden and wire traps that are difficult to set, or even some more modern models made of plastic.  Certainly, there are other methods to control mice, but nothing has impressed me more than a recent discovery:  the Tomcat Press ‘N Set Mouse Trap.  I’ve been using these traps for a number of weeks in my hunting shacks and each time one of these modern marvels is sprung, it contains one very dead mouse.  These traps have a trigger design that’s astonishingly light but at the same time easy to set.  Once set, slide them into a small box fashioned to force mice in from the front direction rather than just leaving them in the open.

A little peanut butter in the small cup and that’s it.  And, mice can be released without touching them and the trap can be reset. 

Sometimes “new and improved” is just that!

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