MI DNR offers advice for those who find a feathered visitor nesting in their yard this spring

3 goslings in grass near body of water

Michigan residents may get a surprise this spring in their gardens, flower boxes or even in the landscaping by their office buildings. Bird nests can be found in some unusual locations.

Ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations that people may consider inappropriate. While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern.

“She will be a very quiet neighbor, and with her cryptic coloration she may go largely unnoticed,” said Holly Vaughn, Department of Natural Resources wildlife communications coordinator. “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.” Read more

Not your typical spring birding event – a woodcock walk at dusk

If you’re looking to get out and stretch your legs, a spring birding event might be just the ticket. Grab your flashlight and binoculars and join Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff before dusk for a short walk to hear the “peent” call of a male American woodcock just before it lifts off the ground in its spiral dance 200 to 350 feet in the air.

The woodcock walk will be held Thursday, April 27, at 8 p.m. in northern Gladwin County at the Lame Duck Foot Access Area GEMS, an area showcased as a fall ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting location. Read more

Arizona: Mexican Wolf Captured in Chiricahuca Area

PHOENIX — A female Mexican wolf originating from an ongoing reintroduction effort in Mexico was captured March 26 on private ranch land in southeastern Arizona by the Interagency Field Team (IFT) and relocated to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico, where it is in good health. Management agencies in the United States and Mexico will determine the most appropriate long-term management action for this wolf.

The wolf was first sighted in the United States on March 19 by an Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife manager and again on March 22 by ranch employees. In the latter instance, the wolf exhibited minor problem behavior by not retreating after the reporting party tried to haze it out of the area. The wolf is believed to have been traveling alone, as there have been no other wolf sightings in the area.

The wolf was initially described as wearing a GPS radio collar, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted an aerial telemetry flight on March 22 to detect any signal emanating from the collar; however, no signal was detected, and the collar was later found to be non-functional. Read more

Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium Opening Set

National celebration planned with commemorative events honoring positive conservation impact of hunters and anglers

Springfield, MO – Johnny Morris, founder/CEO of Bass Pro Shops and leading conservationist, in partnership with noted conservation partners from around the world, today announced the all-new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri will celebrate its grand opening on National Hunting & Fishing Day, September 21, 2017.

“I am proud and excited that this special facility dedicated to those who love the outdoors will open in the heart of America in our hometown, Springfield, Missouri,” said Johnny Morris. “We are deeply grateful to the many remarkably talented individuals and world-class conservation organizations that have come together for the past nine years to help make this vision a reality. It is our shared hope that the tremendous investment of time, energy and resources will have a profound, positive long-term impact on the future of hunting, fishing and conservation in America.”

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will be the largest, most immersive fish and wildlife attraction in the world. Read more

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.

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