MI DNR monitors waterfowl populations from the sky

Earlier this year, Department of Natural Resources staff took to the sky in small aircraft to observe and count ducks, geese and swans on southern Michigan waterways. DNR Wildlife Division staff observed 148,521 ducks, 49,840 geese and 5,103 swans in 2017’s survey.

In the 2016 survey, 157,028 ducks, 33,468 geese and 5,896 swans were observed. Goose observations increased in 2017, while duck observations were down about 5 percent and swan observations down 13 percent.

Though duck observations were slightly down, biologists believe that duck populations in Michigan are stable. The 5-percent decline can be attributed to cold arctic blasts in late December and early January pushing birds southward, with some ducks bypassing Michigan altogether. Read more

Witness Nature’s Wonders with NestWatch

Anna’s Hummingbird by Eric Pittman

Purple Martin hatchlings by Richard Winegar.

Ithaca, N.Y.—Around the country, birds are singing, partnering up, and looking for great nesting sites. Spring is a busy time of year for birds, and they are much more visible as they flit about their activities. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology welcomes anyone who finds a bird’s nest of any species to report their observations to NestWatch, a free citizen-science project focused on breeding birds.

“I joined the NestWatch program for the 2016 season and monitored six nest boxes that housed three different species,” says Diane Cherbak, a citizen scientist and active bird watcher. “I was happy to find the NestWatch program so I could stay involved in bird watching throughout the summer months.”

Participants report the location of a nest, the species using it, number of eggs laid, and other important milestones as the birds incubate, raise, and fledge their young. Register for the project at NestWatch.org. Read more

MI DNR requests road-killed deer in southern Mecosta, northwestern Montcalm counties to be reported for sampling

The Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development announced the finding of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a Mecosta County deer farm in late January 2017.

As part of the CWD surveillance effort in the area, the DNR requests that road-killed deer within specific townships in Mecosta and Montcalm counties be reported to a wildlife disease hotline. Samples are being collected from road-killed white-tailed deer found within Mecosta, Austin, Morton, Hinton, Aetna and Deerfield townships in Mecosta County, and Cato, Winfield and Reynolds townships in Montcalm County. To report road-killed deer in these townships ONLY, call 231-250-2537. Leave a voicemail (or text) with location information, and staff will collect the deer as soon as possible. Read more

Arizona Study: Social Tolerance, Genetic Diversity Equally Important to Mexican Wolf Recovery

*AZGFD study: Social tolerance, genetic diversity equally important to Mexican wolf recovery Cross-fostered pups into wild packs increase genetic diversity, lowers human conflict

PHOENIX –The success of Mexican wolf recovery across Arizona and New Mexico hinges more immediately on maintaining social tolerance than on genetic diversity, according to a recently published peer-reviewed study.

The study was published in Biological Conservation, a leading international conservation science journal. In it, the authors, which include Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists, conclude that maximizing genetic diversity in Mexican wolf recovery must be strategically balanced against impacts and concerns from local communities or the entire recovery program might be compromised.

“It has become increasingly evident that recovery of Mexican wolves will need to consider and weigh both the social concerns voiced by local communities and the numbers of wolves required for sustainable populations in the wild,” the study states. Read more

MI DNR awards $100,000 in U.P. deer habitat improvement grants


Eleven projects funded across 13 countiesThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded a total of $100,000 in deer habitat improvement grants in the Upper Peninsula. The funds will be allocated to 11 grant award recipients.

The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a competitive grant program designed to enhance deer habitat on non-state-managed lands in the U.P.

“This year’s grants are for excellent projects designed to address local and regional deer habitat needs,” said Bill Scullon, grant program administrator and DNR field operations manager from the Norway Field Office. “Many of the projects funded in this latest grant cycle focus on improving long-term cover in deer wintering complexes (deer yards) and improving foraging opportunities for deer going into and coming out of stressful winter conditions.”

Projects have been approved for partnering organizations in Iron, Gogebic, Dickinson, Schoolcraft, Menominee, Iron, Ontonagon, Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac, Baraga, Marquette and Delta counties.

The grant proposal recipients selected for 2017 are:

    • U.P. Whitetails Inc. – $6,829
    • Ontonagon County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited – $8,000
    • Dickinson Conservation District – $12,000
    • Gogebic Conservation District – $5,811
    • Camp Debby LLC. – $10,000
    • Sustainable Resources/ Forest Park School District – $5,360
    • Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District – $10,000
    • Iron-Baraga Conservation District – $13,000
    • Marquette County Conservation District – $13,000
    • The Forestland Group and U.P. Whitetails Inc. – $10,000
    • Schoolcraft Conservation District – $6,000

    Read more

    Michigan Cranes on the Menu

    By Glen Wunderlich

    Ribeye of the sky is what they’re known as in the Central flyway of the United States.  Before running for cover, there are no reports of cattle taking to the air, but for those hunters in the Central states it doesn’t matter, because they’ve found a delectable substitute:  sandhill cranes. 

    Michigan has no sandhill crane hunting season, but Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ (MUCC) agenda includes proposed resolutions to change that.  However, what some folks don’t realize is that they are already being hunted in Michigan under federal nuisance permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Depredation permits, however, require that any birds killed cannot be kept for any purposes and must be disposed of, typically in a landfill or buried. 

    Farmers applying for permits must first demonstrate that other non-lethal methods have been attempted unsuccessfully to keep cranes from eating or otherwise destroying crops.  And, permit numbers are growing commensurately with the sandhill crane population.  Nuisance cranes typically appear in farm fields in spring, where they uproot young corn sprouts and eat the kernel often requiring replanting of entire fields.  Also, affected are wheat fields, where even mature plants are stripped of grain.

    The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports a growth rate of 10.5 percent per year over the past 50 years for the once-endangered species.  That’s astonishing success!

    If Michigan is ever to approve a hunting season for sandhill cranes, it won’t come without certain turmoil, just as was the case with our short mourning dove season a few years ago.  Discussions are certain to focus primarily on emotional arguments, in opposition to scientific reasons to the contrary, though. 

    One legitimate argument against hunting of the majestic birds centers on the possibility of killing endangered whooping cranes by mistake.  Whooping cranes and sandhill cranes are similar in size and shape, but whooping cranes are white with black wing tips. The penalty for shooting a whooping crane is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in prison.  An online test for all sandhill crane hunters must be completed to minimize identification mistakes.

    It seems immoral to kill them and bury them, however.  Plus, since no game animal has ever been threatened with species survival in the history of regulated hunting, there simply is no reason to believe that if crane hunting in Michigan is legalized, crane sustainability will be threatened.

    The arguments will surface eventually and there is undoubtedly going to be plenty of fireworks, when the proposal is put on the table; we’ve been there with wolves and doves.  By the way, doves are on the MUCC menu, too and we could see this controversial issue raised, once again.

    In any event, the anti-hunting fraternity from Washington D.C. is sure to bring out the long knives and the fake-news TV celebrities foisting their typical emotional rhetoric upon us all.  Meanwhile, sandhill cranes will continue to be hunted from Canada to Mexico, while we enjoy another round of popcorn.

    Spring birding tours at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders


    trumpeter swanNothing says spring like the “conk-a-ree” call of a red-winged blackbird or the raucous sounds of a sandhill crane. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites birdwatchers and other nature enthusiasts to celebrate spring and explore Michigan’s wetlands with a birding tour at one of the Wetland Wonders or Signature Wetlands around the state.

    Highlights of the birding tours may include diving and dabbling ducks in full breeding plumage, trumpeter and tundra swans, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and many others. The tours – led by DNR Wildlife Division staff members, as well as volunteers from Ducks Unlimited and Audubon Clubs – may include a “sneak peek” driving tour into refuge areas that normally are closed. Read more

    Moultrie Introduces S-50i Game Camera


    for Hunters Who Demand Nothing but the Best
    The S-50i game camera boasts an incredible 0.3-second trigger speed
    and an unparalleled 100-foot flash range.Birmingham, AL – Moultrie®, the best-selling brand of trail cameras, game feeders and wildlife management products, introduces the S-50i?? as a part of its industry-leading Signature Series of high-end game cameras. If pictures are worth a thousand words, then a camera that captures those pictures—as well as video with sound—with incredible speed and accuracy will become priceless in your scouting arsenal. ???????

    With the Signature Series line of cameras from Moultrie, you are getting a camera that
    Dan Moultrie inspired, because he knows that accuracy and consistency are essential when it comes to planning the minute details of your hunting strategy. The extended battery life of this camera allows for 28,000 images to be taken on 12 AA batteries, which can result in more information to inform your season. When it comes to your approach to the hunting season, you can go in prepared, or you can go in blind. Read more

    Artists sought for residence program at Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

    March 31 application deadline set; artists notified by April 21

    Applications are being accepted for the Porcupine Mountains Artist-in-Residence Program for the 2017 spring, summer and fall and 2018 winter residencies.

    The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to artists and artisans whose work can be influenced by the unique northern wilderness setting of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

    The Presque Isle River flows through a wintry landscape toward its mouth at Lake Superior at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Michigan’s largest state park encompasses 25 miles of wave-washed shores, four inland lakes, entire river systems, countless waterfalls, enchanting wooded peaks, and an escarpment, which rises slowly from the edge of Lake Superior until it plummets abruptly into the Carp River valley.

    Still, the park’s most impressive feature – and the reason for its creation – is the virgin forest of eastern hemlock and northern hardwoods and the variety of flora and fauna that it supports. Because of these attributes, the park is an ideal location to inspire creativity.

    The Artist-in-Residence Program offers writers, composers and all visual and performing artists an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the park and to express it through their art form. Each year a number of artists will be selected for residencies lasting a minimum of two weeks. Read more

    MI DNR says fish kills may be common during spring thaw

    The Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that after the ice and snow cover melts on Michigan’s lakes this early spring, it may be common to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures. Winter conditions often can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.

    “Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill,” said DNR Fisheries Division Hatchery Manager and fish health expert Martha Wolgamood. “As the season changes it can be common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. 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 soft bottoms are prone to this problem. Canals in urban areas also are quite susceptible due to the large inputs of nutrient run-off and pollution from roads and lawns and septic systems that flow into these areas, particularly from large storm events. Read more

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