Duck numbers remain high

Memphis, Tenn. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Tuesday released its report on 2017 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Overall duck numbers in the survey area remain high. Total populations were estimated at 47.3 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year’s estimate of 48.4 million and is 34 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average. The projected mallard fall flight index is 12.9 million birds, similar to the 2016 estimate of 13.5 million.The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes of the prairies and the boreal forest. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2017 breeding population survey were generally similar to last year with a few exceptions. The total pond estimate for the United States and Canada combined was 6.1 million, which is 22% above the 2016 estimate of 5.0 million and 17% above the long-term average of 5.2 million. Read more

Browning Trail Cameras: Perform Like A Pro

The 2017 Strike Force HD Pro camera is the most enhanced addition to the best-selling, small, high-performance trail camera line in the hunting industry. The 2017 Strike Force HD Pro cameras feature an incredible .3 second trigger speed and .5 second recovery time and users will enjoy the remarkable high-end performance and 18MP picture quality along with a new video processor that produces incredible quality 1280 x 720 HD video clips with sound.

The Strike Force HD Pro game camera also takes night pictures using Browning Trail Camera’s “Zero Blur” technology which eliminates motion blur from wildlife in your pictures up to a range of 120-feet at night.

Additional features include a Smart IR video detection system, which allows the camera to continue recording video footage for up to 5 minutes during the daytime and up to 20 seconds at night as long as the game continues to move in front of the camera, and an SD card “memory management” option that allows users to simply overwrite older images on the SD if the memory is full. And as if all of that were not enough, new for 2017 the Strike Force HD PRO 850 is able to work with 512 GB SDXC memory cards, has an impressive 1.5″ color viewing screen, offers innovative selectable IR settings and utilizes a handy adjustable tree mount. Read more

Weasel: One Mean Killer

By Glen Wunderlich

Standing in the doorway of my garage, I couldn’t help but notice movement at my feet.  The conspicuous black-tipped tail gave its identity away:  weasel.  It appeared to have something in its mouth, as it scurried along the foundation of the garage and later reappeared – this time inside.  It seemed oblivious to the presence of us two humans present, as it went about its business of survival, yet vanished before a photo opportunity.

Pound for pound, they may be the toughest and most prolific killers in Michigan.  Able to kill animals 10 times their size, the weasel is listed along with other nuisance animals in the hunting digest such as opossum, porcupine, red squirrel, skunk, ground squirrel, woodchuck, feral pigeons and others.  There is no closed season and no limit on take.

Michigan is home to three distinct types of weasels:  the least weasel, short-tailed weasel, and the long-tailed weaselAnd, anyone with chickens or rabbits knows how vulnerable they are to the weasels’ penchant for killing – many times much more than they can consume, at least immediately.  However, this seemingly wasteful behavior is crucial for their survival, as they stockpile food for winter.

The ermine and the long-tailed weasel exhibit delayed implantation – mating in summer or autumn.  Interestingly, the fertilized eggs span a short development period and then lie dormant within the female until spring, when they implant themselves in the uterine wall; approximately 25 days later, young are born. This delayed implantation assures that litters arrive at a time when prey is abundant and competition for food is lessened.  Female weasels give birth to 4 to 12 young, usually in underground nests.

Their senses of sight, smell and hearing are keenly acute, and they are aggressive, quick, and relentless in their pursuits, while finding prey mainly by scent.   Weasels pounce on their prey and bite at the base of the back of its skull, as they hang on with all four legs.

Weasels become white in the wintertime as an adaptation to camouflage themselves from other predators, but that black tip on the tail remains.  The white fur has been used to produce luxurious linings in coronation cloaks and crowns and the small, tanned ermine pelts go for as much as $30 to $40 on today’s retail market.

It may be my imagination, but the ground squirrels do not seem as numerous in and around the bird feeders this year and I may now have a clue relative to their welcomed and lowered population.

August is Tree Check Month

Check trees for signs of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle

The U.S Department of Agriculture has declared August as national Tree Check Month – time to be on the lookout for invasive, destructive pests threatening Michigan’s urban and forest landscapes.

The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources are asking people to take just 10 minutes this month to check trees around homes for Asian longhorned beetle or any signs of the damage it causes.

What do they look like? Read more

MI DNR launches ‘Eyes in the Field’ app for reporting fish and wildlife observations

The Department of Natural Resources invites Michigan residents to contribute to conservation efforts by reporting their fish and wildlife observations with the new Eyes in the Field application. Available at, the application replaces 15 separate observation forms the DNR had been using to gather important information about the state’s fish and wildlife populations.

“Observation is a key part of managing Michigan’s diverse natural resources, and we rely on the public as additional eyes in the field to help in our monitoring efforts,” said Tom Weston, the DNR’s chief technology officer. “This new application is a one-stop shop where citizen scientists can report what they observe while spending time outdoors.”

Eyes in the Field includes forms for reporting observations of diseased wildlife, tagged fish, mammals such as cougars and feral swine, fish such as sturgeon, birds such as wild turkeys, and reptiles and amphibians such as eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. Additional observation forms will be added in the future. Read more

Wildgame Innovations’ improved Terra Series digital scouting cameras

Wildgame Innovations’ improved Terra Series digital scouting cameras offer enhanced features and compact reliability at astonishingly low, hunter-friendly prices

Grand Prairie, TX – Wildgame Innovations has released the remarkably reliable and easy-to-use Terra 5 camera last year, which featured a surprisingly low retail price below $50. Lauded as a premier example of a camera providing the functionality hunters want at a price that makes developing a complete network of scouting cameras affordable, the Terra 5 ‘s strong battery life, compact size and capable features made this dutiful and economical performer a huge success. Read more

Arizona: Tripod, the Three-legged Desert Tortoise, Others Ready for Adoption

PHOENIX — A brutal round with a dog resulted in an amputated leg, but Tripod the three-legged desert tortoise is ready for a new home.

The surgery was conducted at the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital and since then, Tripod – as he is affectionately known – has recovered at the Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Center, where he and 50 other desert tortoises are in desperate need of a forever home.

“When this tortoise was brought into the veterinary clinic, the damage was so severe that it’s left front leg needed to be immediately amputated,” said Tegan Wolf, AZGFD Tortoise Adoption Program coordinator. “Tripod has since recovered nicely and gets around perfectly fine on three legs.” Read more

Court Ruling on Western Great Lakes Wolves

By Glen Wunderlich

On August 1, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handed both sides of the battle to manage Western Great Lakes (WGL) wolves a victory. Impossible? It all depends. The anti-hunting throng celebrates the fact that WGL wolves must remain on the endangered species list. Sportsmen, on the other hand, now have a way forward to delist wolves in areas where a distinct population segment (DPS) is undeniably recovered.

“Folks in the animal-rights community would like believe that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a one-way ratchet. In their world, you can only put species on to the Endangered Species List based upon a distinct population segment. However, we know that this is not how the ESA is written,” continued Heusinkveld. “This distorted view of the DPS policy is simply emblematic of their view of the ESA as a whole. They view this as a means to enshrine federal protections in perpetuity, as opposed to a tool to help those in need recover and be returned to state management.”

Although the court’s ruling did not change the current status of the WGL wolves, the opinion included some positive elements for sportsmen. For example, the court of appeals held that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has the authority to delist a recovered population segment of a species that the Service had previously listed as endangered or threatened throughout a larger area.

The court agreed with the FWS’s interpretation of the Endangered Species Act because “to alter the listing status of segments rewards those States that most actively encourage and promote species recovery within their jurisdictions.” This important element of the court’s determination has broad implications and will assist with the delisting of other recovered populations of more broadly listed species.

Folks at the Humane Society of the U.S. et al. cling to a vestige of a previous Washington D.C. court’s ruling to protect all wolves, even though specific areas of their range are more than recovered according to established goals. In true form and typical HSUS’ speak, it uses some of the following terms to describe ethical hunting with language meant to garner support from followers: reckless killing programs, fear-based killing programs on wolves, trophy hunters, and killing spree, to name a few.

In this latest case, Safari Club International (SCI) joined as a defendant-intervenor along with the NRA, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

For the Western Great Lakes wolves, the fight is not over. The court’s ruling presents several options for an eventual WGL wolf delisting that include the following avenues:

a)  The FWS proposing a new rule that addresses the problems identified by the court.

b)  The Defendants and Defendant-Intervenors in the lawsuit (FWS, States of Michigan and Wisconsin, SCI, NRA and Sportsmen’s Alliance) petitioning for a review of this ruling “en banc” (i.e., by the full D.C. Circuit) and/or by the U.S. Supreme Court.

c)  Congress passing a law that would direct the FWS to delist the WGL wolves (as Congress has already done for the wolves of Montana and Idaho).

So, grab some more popcorn before the show resumes.

RMEF: Silver Linings in Great Lakes Wolf Ruling

MISSOULA, Mont.—Unlike its decision earlier in 2017 upholding efforts to delist wolves in Wyoming, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia chose not to do the same in the Western Great Lakes states.

“We are disappointed with this latest ruling, but the court wholeheartedly rejected a number of claims by environmental groups regarding wolves and wolf management,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The court undid a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

Positive points from the decision:

· Rejected an environmental group argument that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not use the best available science

· The Endangered Species Act allows the FWS to delist a distinct wolf population segment

· Supported FWS’s reliance on state management of wolves and other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes states

· Upheld the FWS’s determination that disease and human mortality do not pose a significant threat to the wolf population

· There is no permanent barrier to delisting wolves Read more

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