Cougar Confirmed in U.P.

June 21, 2010
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment today announced it has reviewed a Menominee County trail camera picture of an animal thought to be a cougar. Although the image is blurred, the photo is consistent with a cougar.

On June 11, DNRE Wildlife Technician Bill Rollo received a call reporting a trail camera picture that appeared to show a cougar. The photo was taken on May 26 near Wallace in the Upper Peninsula.

Rollo immediately went to the area to conduct a field investigation and verify the photograph location. The information Rollo collected was shared with the DNRE’s trained cougar team, and the consensus was reached that the photo and supporting documentation indicated the animal was a cougar. The image is blurry, especially around the head, but other characteristics of the animal are consistent with a cougar.

“This is the first confirmed cougar picture in Menominee County. We appreciate the cooperation of the caller who shared the photograph and contacted the DNRE,” said DNRE wildlife biologist Kristie Sitar, who is a member of the DNRE’s cougar team. “Other landowners who believe they have evidence of a cougar on their property, such as tracks or a kill site, are encouraged to contact their local DNRE field office as soon as possible, which allows staff to investigate before the evidence is compromised. Without good evidence, such as verifiable photographs or tracks, confirmation becomes increasingly difficult.”

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, originally were native to Michigan but were thought to have been extirpated around the turn of the last century. The last known wild cougar taken in Michigan was killed near Newberry in 1906. The Menominee County photograph represents the latest in a series of track and photo verifications of cougars in the Upper Peninsula. Since March 2008, five sets of tracks and two trail camera pictures have been verified in Delta, Chippewa, Marquette, Schoolcraft and now Menominee counties. The origin of the animal or animals is unknown. There have been no confirmations of breeding activity of cougars in Michigan in recent years.

Established cougar populations are found as close to Michigan as North and South Dakota, and transient cougars dispersing from these areas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory. Characteristic evidence of cougars include tracks, which are about three inches long by three and a half inches wide and typically show no claw marks, or suspicious kill sites, such as deer carcasses that are largely intact and have been buried with sticks and debris.

Reports of cougar tracks and other evidence should be made to a local DNRE office or by calling the department’s 24-hour Report All Poaching line at 800-292-7800. If a citizen comes into contact with a cougar, the following behavior is recommended:

– Stop, stand tall, pick up small children and do not run. A cougar’s instinct is to chase.

– Do not approach the animal.

– Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.

– If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.

– If a cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Do not play dead. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.

Cougars are classified as an endangered species in Michigan. It is unlawful to kill, harass or otherwise harm a cougar except in the immediate defense of human life. For more information about the recent cougar photo, call Kristie Sitar at 906-293-5131 or Adam Bump at 517-373-9336. To learn more about cougars and how to identify their tracks, go online to

Ash Tree Possibilities

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

Dear President Obama:

I am hoping you can help with a problem I am having with Emerald Ash Borers. I am not sure who to blame but I have learned that these killer bugs came from Asia and arrived in the Detroit area about 8 years ago. I only want to know who to blame for this terrible scourge on my towering ash trees. Somebody must pay! I realize you may not know how to fix the oil leak, which is destroying the Gulf Coast shorelines, but you sure know how to fix blame and hold people responsible. Can you do the same for me?…Your new best friend, Glen.

I’m sure not going to hold my breath waiting for some Obama bucks from his stash on this one, although Illinois Senator Durbin is seeking federal aid through some proposal. It’s time to salvage what we can from the millions of dying ash trees throughout the State of Michigan and I’m ready to do my part.

While I’m waiting, I better take that treestand down, which sits over 25 feet from the ground in a dying ash tree. I’m not sure how long these sick trees will stand but the handwriting is on the wall. I’m not going to push my luck anymore and will relocate to a pest-free tree.

Everyone knows that the majority of wood baseball bats used in professional baseball today are made from northern white ash. Hey, I’m willing to deal, so come and get it! I have an old ShopSmith, which easily converts to a wood lathe, that I’ll toss in, too. Call me. And, you congressmen and women could help out by outlawing aluminum bats in the lesser leagues. Come on! You did it with smoke. Everyone will understand that you’re doing it for the economy. We could start our own baseball bat factory right here in mid-Michigan. In fact, I know the Koskis over there in Saginaw County have a wood handle factory at the Mid-Michigan Old Gas Tractor Association grounds that could easily be converted. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Batter up!

I’ve been fighting the green movement long enough and maybe it’s time to reconsider my strategy. Yep. This heating season, I’ll do my part to become energy independent by joining the greenies. It’ll be green, white ash all winter long in the outdoor furnace. Just color me green. I realize there may be a little smoke involved, but with all the non-smoking facilities recently created in Michigan, things are sure to balance out. (Not recommended to city dwellers – certainly not for those in Owosso proper.)

And, in place of rock salt for melting ice, which we all know is bad for the environment, I’ll have plenty of ash ash to sprinkle atop the slippery ice surfaces around home this coming winter season. Just BYOB (bring your own bags) and I’ll hook you up.

I feel a bit sorry for the woodpeckers that have done their level best to eradicate the borers. Eventually they will lose a good source of protein, but it’s every man for himself.

Go green. Go white – ash, that is.

LASER GENETICS® Launches ND-3®x40 Laser Designator

Laser Genetics announces the ND-3®x40 Laser Designator.

Turn your scoped rifle into a powerful night hunter—the 532nm green laser light is an unparalleled source of illumination that makes animal eyes glow and clearly visible at extended distances without scaring them off.

Until now, hunting at night required a flashlight or spotlight with bulky, heavy batteries. Now you can pinpoint your target with virtually no loss due to flooding. Quick, one-handed adjustment controls the beam diameter and light intensity to focus light where you need it most. The 7-hour battery life allows you to handle a full night of hunting or a variety of emergencies.

For optimum night vision for hunting, pair the ND-3×40 laser designator with a high quality variable power scope having a 40mm or larger objective lens to provide maximum light transmission. The 40mm diameter lens at 100 yards it has a more powerful output that is 65% brighter than the original ND-3 and locates targets up to 400 yards away.

The included mounting system fits 1” scope tubes and provide full adjustment for windage and elevation alignment. A pressure sensitive switch, mount for weaver rails and a tripod mount included.


• Rotary Optical Beam Collimator – Quick adjustment of beam diameter and intensity
• 532nm Laser Light Frequency – Easiest light for the human eye
• Amplified Coherent Light – Most efficient light for long distance illumination
• Output Power: 30mW
• Lens Diameter: 40mm
• Range: 3.0 Miles
• FDA Class 2M
• 1 Year Warranty
• Hard Coat Anodized Finish
• Fully O Ring Sealed for Dust and Water
• Nitrogen Charged for Anti-fog
• 1” Tube Adapts to Many Mounting Systems
• Dimensions: 9.45”L x 2”Dia. objective x 1.0” Dia.Tube
• Weight: 20.64 oz.
• Power Supply: Two (2) – CR123A Batteries (provided)
• Battery Life: up to 7 hours

Laser Genetics utilizes exclusive patented optical laser technology to develop the lighting instruments of the future for civilian and professional use. Founded in 2006, Laser Genetics is one of the nation’s fastest growing manufacturers of personal-use laser lighting products. With its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Laser Genetics is dedicated to developing high efficiency laser illumination products specific for outdoors, hunting, marine, emergency, and home defense use.

GAMO OUTDOOR USA, INC. is a leading consumer products company that designs, manufactures and markets a diverse portfolio of sporting goods products under such world class brands as GAMO®, BSA Optics®, Laser Genetics®, Aftermath®, Stunt Studios®, BSA Guns™ and the exclusive licensee for Kahles® Scopes.


If you would like to learn more about this topic or about any other Laser Genetics products, contact Angela Scarbrough at 954-376-6246, email at or visit us online at

Deer Gun Exercise in Off Season

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

A friend of mine has been having trouble with foxes lately. Seems his newfound chicken raising has something to do with it. Funny thing for me, too. When I seeded a field with alfalfa and clover, I reckon somebody must have slipped a few woodchuck seeds in the bag, because they sprouted soon after the vegetation appeared. I guess if you plant it, they will come.

For me, it’s not a big deal to have a few of them devouring portions of the food plot, because none of it is harvested for cash; however, for a hard-working farmer, it’s a pig of a different color.

For example, a single woodchuck has the potential to consume up to an acre of beans in one season! And, it’s this time of year when they can do tremendous damage, because it takes plenty of small, tender bean plants to satisfy the appetite of an appropriately named groundhog. If you have difficulty locating woodchucks, active holes can be determined by simply looking nearby for a lack of vegetation in an ever-growing radius. It’s also easy to ask a frustrated farmer.

In addition to crop predation in hayfields and bean fields, these hogs create potentially dangerous leg-breaking traps for livestock and unsuspecting humans by digging their holes. They’ll also dull the knives on a haybine, when excavation mounds of dirt are run over. And, losing a wagon-load of hay, when it hits unseen obstacles, doesn’t endear them to farmers, either.

Hunting them this time of year can provide an opportunity to help farmers, while getting in a little practice with your favorite rifle. Many people don’t believe it, but any high-power, centerfire rifle caliber is legal anywhere in Michigan. Yes, it’s true that your .30-06 is illegal for deer in Zone III, but for ‘chucks, it’s good to go.

Certainly, high-stepping varmint rigs may be better for the job with their flatter trajectory, but if you don’t possess one, fear not; a deer rifle can do the trick with deer-hunting ammo, too. And, chuckin’ with your deer gun can help make it more familiar in November.

Begin by making sure you have enough ammo – the same type you’ll typically use for deer. Get enough of the same lot number, which is printed on each box so that you can sight it in properly and have lots left for the wily whistle pigs and the whitetails later this year. Acquiring the same lot number is important, because even ammunition made by the same manufacturer using the same bullets, may not shoot to the same point of aim, if you purchase more at a later date.

So many hunters only use their favorite deer gun once a year, that weird, kick-yourself-in-the-pants stuff happens when that big buck appears. One of those things is familiarity with the safety. How many shots are never attempted, simply because the once-a-year hunter fumbles away an opportunity? We’ll never know. But, the mere act of handling the firearm in off-season mode, may just prevent your being among the hapless.

So, get afield with your favorite firearm and help the farmers, while helping yourself in the process.

Program Helps Landowners Pay for Habitat Projects

For more information, contact Brent Lawrence at (803) 637-3106.

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Landowners nationwide have the opportunity to recoup costs of habitat improvement on their land through a recently extended federal program. The sign-up period for the Conservation Stewardship Program has been extended through June 25, 2010.

The program, which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. The voluntary program offers payments to landowners who exercise quality land stewardship and want to improve the effectiveness of their conservation efforts.

“This is a tremendous win-win opportunity for landowners and wildlife,” said James Earl Kennamer, chief conservation officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “By signing up for this program, landowners will be able to make critical habitat improvements, and can then be reimbursed for expenses. Improved habitat for wildlife is very important to many of our members and the CSP program is a valuable resource.”

Reimbursable expenses may include land management plans completed by NWTF biologists, and seed and seedlings purchased through the NWTF.

CSP pays participants based on conservation performance – the higher the performance, the higher the payment. Landowners get credit both for conservation measures they have already implemented and for new measures they agree to add.

CSP is available to all landowners, regardless of operation size, crops produced or geographic location. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a Native American tribe.

Potential applicants are encouraged to use the CSP self-screening checklist to determine whether CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist, which highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and payments, and additional information about CSP, may be obtained from the CSP website at

To apply, call or visit a local USDA Service Center, listed online at, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department. For information on seed, seedlings or for habitat plans, landowners can contact their local NWTF biologist or call 1-800-THE-NWTF.

About the NWTF: The National Wild Turkey Federation is a nonprofit conservation organization that works daily to further its mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage.

Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, spending more than $306 million to conserve 14 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-THE-NWTF.

Advice: Leave Wildlife Young Alone

GW: This from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; it’s good advice for us all. However, everyone knows (except Nebraska’s Game and Parks Commission) that animals can never have “babies.” Only humans are capable of that.

It is never a good idea for people to disturb or rescue young wildlife. These wildlife babies do not make good pets, and though they may appear to be abandoned, their parents frequently are not far away.

Most people are not equipped or knowledgeable enough to raise wildlife species, so taking them out of the wild is typically a death sentence for these creatures, despite the good intentions of the rescuer.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission offers other reasons for leaving wildlife babies alone:

— Some wildlife babies may appear to be abandoned, orphaned or injured, but their parents usually are feeding or drinking nearby.

— A doe will leave its fawn to keep it from being detected by predators. A fawn is well-camouflaged and difficult for predators to see when it is still. The doe is much larger and can be seen easily by predators as she feeds. She keeps the fawn hidden and leaves the area to draw attention away from the fawn’s location.

— The longer a young animal is separated from its mother, the slimmer the chance it will be reunited with her.

— Trying to raise a wild animal as a pet is a poor idea. As an animal matures, it becomes more independent and follows its natural instinct to leave and establish its own territory. Rescued animals are poorly prepared for life in the wild.

— Most wild animals are protected by state or federal law, and it is illegal to possess them.

— Wild animals may carry disease that can be transmitted to humans or pets.

— Once wildlife babies mature, they may become aggressive toward their handlers, such as deer during the rut.


By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Assoication

On a recent trip to West Virginia, my hunting partner, Steve McComas, and I spent most of the day in search of groundhogs (aka woodchucks). But, wherever we went, the consensus was the same: Coyotes got ’em all. Judging from groundhog numbers I have seen in the past in the wild and wonderful fields and hills of the Mountain State, there may be some truth in what the good ‘ol boys believe. The only one we spotted after searching high and low most of the day was in a field off limits to us. Too bad for Steve’s wife, Tiny, who wanted a “half-old” one for the skillet.

Steve and I agreed to give coyote hunting a try the next time around but still wanted to have a little fun before the end of the day. So we packed a couple of .22 caliber pistols in his 4-wheel drive pickup truck and headed up the mountain behind his house in Lincoln County along One Mile Creek Road for some target practice. I thought it would be a good idea to take a few photos, so I made sure to take my camera with me.

The truck muscled its way across the washed-out, rock-laden trail toward the top, where we were to plink away near his cabin site overlooking a small orchard on some rare flat ground. When we reached the top, Steve spotted a lone, mature doe standing broadside some 30 yards from us, which led me to comment that she probably had fawns nearby. We stopped briefly to get a good look and proceeded to the cabin, where we noticed a couple of wild turkeys feeding in the tall grass. We waited for them to clear the area and I began unloading gear on a picnic table for the shooting session, when Steve said, “Look! A couple of fawns!”

I swung into action with my camera hoping to get a photo before they rejoined their mother that we had seen just minutes before. They were partially obscured by a camper, so I slowly began to approach them for a clear photo angle. As I moved closer, one of the two fawns began to come directly toward me! I couldn’t believe my good fortune and clicked the shutter as fast as it would allow.

We were both in amazement, as the buck fawn came right up to me, while its sibling had lain down nearby in the open behind the cabin – still only 30 feet from us. I realize I probably shouldn’t have touched the little critter, but I couldn’t help but pet its head and back for a brief moment and took more close-up photos and even a short video clip. In short order, the youngster wobbled beyond me, as if it had been sampling a bit of local moonshine. There was no question that merely walking was quite a chore for the newborn, as the deer without fear joined its sibling in a bit of a crash landing.

Steve put the gear back into the truck and wondered aloud how we could get back down the mountain with the two at the edge of the trail, so I stood by the pair to make sure they wouldn’t get in the way, as he inched past us. I jumped in the passenger seat and our aborted plinking session was convened near the house far from our exciting encounter with nature.

A word to the wise: Confronting fawns in the wild this time of year is not uncommon and the best course of action is to assume that mother is near and that she will care for them when you leave.

Lake Erie Poachers Popped for $16,000

SANDUSKY, OH – Three Tennessee men and three Georgia men appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton Wednesday for sentencing for taking 141 more than the legal limit of smallmouth bass on Lake Erie last April, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

“The Western Basin of Lake Erie remains a prime location for anglers from around the country, and wildlife officers are working hard to keep it that way,” said Gino Barna, supervisor of the Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. “The 1-800-POACHER hotline is an important source of information for protecting this valuable natural resource.”

The six men pled guilty to 30 charges on May 3, 2010, and Magistrate Lou Wargo ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The six fishermen appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court on June 2, 2010 for sentencing. Magistrate Wargo ordered them to pay a combined total of $16,290 in fines, court costs and restitution.

The restitution included $50 for each fish taken illegally in accordance with legislation that places a value on wild animals unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold or possessed. The men were also ordered to forfeit three bass boats, three trailers and two freezers, which have an estimated value of $32,000. Including the forfeited items, the total cost for the six men was $48,290.

A total of 900 days in jail was handed down between all six men. Magistrate Wargo suspended the jail time pending completion of a probationary period of three years of good behavior. Their fishing licenses were revoked for three years and they will be entered into the Wildlife Violator’s Compact and most likely will lose privileges in 33 other states.

During a surveillance project by Division of Wildlife investigators in the Bass Islands area of Lake Erie between April 25 and April 30, investigators observed the men “double and triple tripping.” (“Double and triple tripping” refers to catching a limit of fish, returning to shore, then returning to the water the same day to catch an additional limit of fish.) The legal limit for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie is five fish per day from the last Saturday in June through April 30 with a minimum size limit of 14 inches.

Individual sentencing included:
Freelan C. Leffew, 66, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee – $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,300 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat, a trailer and a freezer.

Freddie Warren, 63, of Wildwood, Georgia – $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.

Charles H. Burkhart, 67, of Ringgold, Georgia – $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a freezer.

Samuel J. Carroll, 65, of Ringgold, Georgia – $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,000 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.

Herbert S. Stephens, 58, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee – $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,000 in restitution.

Michael T. Leffew, 38, of Hixon, Tennessee – $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,250 in restitution.

Gino Barna, ODNR Lake Erie Law Enforcement
419. 625. 8062

Big Bird Bites Dust

By Glen Wunderlich
Outdoor Columnist
Member Professional Outdoor Media Association

In real estate lingo, three words of wisdom apply to value: location, location, location. When it comes to hunting turkeys, no truer words were ever spoken. Extra-full chokes in big-bore barrels, innovative calling devices, camouflage clothing, face paint, magnum loads, concealment, decoys and any other trick one may employ to bust a bird mean nothing, if the turkeys dance the two-step in the next county.

Speculating why gobblers were not roosting where they had been for years made for good conversation but did little to satisfy my penchant for glazed drumsticks. Within our controlled environment, we even tried moving the portable blind; however, that proved as fruitful as moving the boat around in Lake Huron, when the goal was to land a tarpon. I wanted to believe that a gobbler would come looking for love, but time was running out in this late season.

Finally, I caught movement from the corner of my eye. No, it wasn’t ol’ Tom, but none other than neighbor John Buck, who I spotted walking across my home’s lawn. It turned out that John was looking for me to discuss business. Once we got the details ironed out, I asked him if anyone was hunting the turkeys on his land, which I had been observing in drive-by mode for several months. It was as if John had read my mind and when he offered the opportunity, I reacted in typical child-like delight, as his eyebrows jumped in response.

Never having the opportunity to hunt his land, I surveyed the situation from the road, purposely avoiding any chance at spooking anything while scouting for a hideout the evening before. A lone hickory tree surrounded by knee-high weeds in the newly planted field would be my backdrop. My plan was to call a bird within range from the field’s edge.

The rainy weather being predicted overnight for my new “opening day” compelled me to set up a portable chair blind in the 5-am darkness about 30 yards from my lone hen decoy. Attached to my Mossberg’s barrel was an innovative gadget called the V-Pod, by Hunter’s Specialties. The telescoping monopod with bipod feet attaches to the barrel, while a holster holds the gun’s stock hands-free at the ready. All of this allows the muzzle to be pointed to the target while calling. It was just the ticket.

My call for the trickery was a special one, too. I met inventor Jim Moss last year in St. Louis, Missouri at an outdoor media event and he explained how he used an oscilloscope to measure sound waves of his new Ring Zone ceramic call marketed by Hunter’s Specialties. He then opened a brand new package, took out a felt marker, signed the friction surface, and handed it to me. It was the only call chosen for this day.

Still dark, the gobbling commenced. So did the thrill, as the hairs on the back of my neck involuntarily responded. They kept it up; I smiled.

At first light I could make out movement on the ground 150 yards east of my ambush site. It was so dark, I couldn’t be sure they were even turkeys, let alone if a gobbler was one of the two in sight. The Ring Zone call established someone was interested, as a hearty gobble broke the silence of the misty, still air. I filled the heavy, moisture-laden air with notes of love and the two birds began their fateful stroll.

At 100 yards I could see that one bird’s beard was decidedly longer than the other’s and his dominance kept his subordinate pal behind him. The big fella was on a mission and his stretched out neck pointed the direction to my deceitful decoy. My heart pounded, while the slow-motion approach was now greeted with purposeful silence from the blind – that is, until the magnum load of 5s interrupted the solitude of the peaceful paradise.
I realized ol’ Tom was no lightweight, as I changed carrying positions several times while departing the field. And, my digital scale confirmed what I had already suspected: A hefty 21.13 pounds of feathers, breast meat and drumsticks. The beard measured just over 10 inches and ruler indicated a bit over 1-inch spurs – enough to minimally qualify as an entry into Commemorative Bucks of Michigan’s record book, if I choose to make it official. (Commemorative Bucks compiles records for not only bucks, but turkeys, too.)

Unlike fish, however, I can keep the evidence and still enjoy a wild-game dinner. And, that’s just what I’ll do.

Michiganders Can Kill Feral Hogs Anytime

Licensed hunters and landowners may now take feral hogs at any time, since a package of bills has been signed by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced today.

Hunters or individuals with concealed-carry permits may take swine running loose on public land or on private land with landowner permission. Landowners may take hogs on their property at any time.

The law also authorizes animal control officers and law enforcement officers to shoot hogs running loose on private or public property.

“Feral swine are known vectors for diseases that are transmissible to humans, livestock and wildlife,” said DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “This change in the law gives us another weapon for dealing with this unhealthy situation.”

The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) is in full agreement with the new law.

“Three years of hard work by many partners has paid off,” said Dr. Nancy Frank, MDA deputy director. “The joint resolutions by both the Natural Resources and Agriculture Commissions sent us in this direction. This legislation is key to preventing an environmental and animal health disaster.”

The new laws take immediate effect.

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