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Updated 07/03/20

 

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Teachers Find Quick, Creative Ways to Complete Salmon’s Journey

close-up view of salmon fry in a clear plastic cup of water, held by hands

03JUL20-The future of 45,000 baby salmon hung in the balance as schools across Michigan abruptly closed their doors in March. The normal date for releasing fish raised as part of the DNR’s Salmon in the Classroom program is between April 15th and May 15th, but the state’s Coronavirus emergency required a swift change.
This year’s program included nearly 300 teachers from across the state. Each classroom raises 150 Chinook salmon, from egg to smolt (the “young adult” phase of life) followed by a spring release in an approved waterway. Students help care for the fish, while teachers use provided curriculum to teach about ecology, Great Lakes concerns, natural resources stewardship and more.

When many teachers found themselves locked out of buildings and needed to quickly, and safely, release their fish, program coordinator Tracy Page worked with other experts at the DNR to create a plan. Page said the teachers jumped into action with “care and compassion for their classroom fish friends.”
Sarah Cartwright, seventh grade science teacher at Berkley’s Norup International School in Oakland County, had just 20 minutes to get fish out of the tank.
“That was a challenge, as they usually do not like getting caught,” Cartwright said. With her two young children in tow, she met the school’s sixth grade science teacher in Rochester Hills at the Clinton River – a site approved by DNR fisheries biologists – to release Norup International School’s 114 successfully raised and healthy fish.

back view of a girl and a boy pulling salmon fry from a classroom tankIn many areas of the state, some teachers were able to practice social distancing and use COVID-19 cleaning protocols that allowed them to enter buildings for short periods of time to feed fish, clean tanks and record educational content for students.
“I’m so appreciative of these teachers’ ingenuity and lengths they went to in order to educate their kids and care for this living resource,” Page said. “They created virtual lessons, used our Salmon in the Classroom activities, and showcased tank cameras and Facebook Live releases.”

Most teachers are heavily involved in scheduling field trips, guiding students and other program logistics, but many never get to release a fish. This year, teacher efforts include:

  • Amy Henning, teacher at Freeland Elementary in Saginaw County, worked fish releases into one-on-one virtual meetings with students, so each student felt like an integral part of the classroom project.
  • Iron Mountain teacher Robin Marttila – with the help of his son and daughter – released his classroom’s fish in the Cedar River. “Though we missed the seventh graders who wanted to take part in the final stage of this journey … we were able to release 117 fish safely,” he said.
  • Scott Steensma, teacher at Onaway Service Learning in Presque Isle County, made it a family adventure with his wife and two kids, releasing fish at Ocqueoc Falls.

Page praised teachers for making the most of a challenging situation and showing a true sense of project and resource ownership. She closed out this year’s program with virtual field trips to include students in the next steps for these fish. Future virtual programs are in the works, too. 

Looking ahead, 22 new teachers plan to join the program next year. Learn more about Salmon in the Classroom at Michigan.gov/SIC or contact Tracy Page at 989-277-0630.

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Creel Clerks Hope to Connect with Anglers This Summer

a DNR creel clerk measures a fish during a survey03JUL20-As this year’s open-water fishing season gets underway, anglers at many lakes, rivers and Great Lakes ports may encounter DNR fisheries staff members collecting data about their fishing experiences.

“The information we gather from anglers helps us get a clearer picture about fish health, movement and population trends throughout Michigan,” said DNR fisheries biologist Tracy Claramunt. “We really appreciate anglers taking a few minutes to talk with us.”

Creel clerks are stationed at boat launches and piers around the state, asking people questions as they return from fishing trips. Trip length, target species and number and type of fish caught provide valuable data for the DNR's statewide angler survey program. In some cases, clerks may ask to measure or weigh fish and to take scales or other body parts for aging – data that is key to helping the DNR manage state fisheries.

The statewide angler survey program is a long-term monitoring effort that estimates the amount of time people spend fishing and how many of each species of fish are caught and kept or released in Michigan waters. It's one of the most comprehensive angler survey programs in the country, with DNR creel clerks interviewing upward of 50,000 anglers in most years.

Information about where creel clerks are stationed and the data they collect is available on the DNR website or by calling Tracy Claramunt at 517-282-2887.

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Chippewa County Man Charged with 125 Wildlife Crimes

Snares-Chippewa-201903JUL20-A 56-year-old Pickford man was arraigned Wednesday morning ­in Chippewa County’s 91st District Court on 125 wildlife misdemeanor charges, following a months-long investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.
Kurt Johnston Duncan faces charges that include illegally harvesting 18 wolves over the past 18 months. Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list. Duncan, who today pleaded not guilty to all charges, could face:

  • Up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each wolf.
  • Restitution of $500 per wolf.
  • Up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine each for the other wildlife crimes.

Duncan was served four search warrants in March. Other species involved in the charges include deer, turkey, bear and bobcat. DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts, selling, or disposing of them, and stated that he was catching the animals because he could and “likes to do it.”
Conservation officers collected evidence to support the charges and identified additional suspects who are expected to be charged in the near future.
“We had a team of conservation officers that worked well together throughout this investigation,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved. I want to thank the prosecutors in this case who worked with our officers. We are happy with the outcome and hope this case sets an example to prevent future natural resource crimes.”
The Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is seeking $30,000 in restitution to the state for the illegally taken animals. Duncan’s cash bond is set at $500. Other conditions of Duncan’s bond include having no contact with co-defendants, no possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, and no engaging in hunting or fishing.
Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s
Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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When There Were No Fireflies

By RACHEL COALE - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

An adult bald eagle soars in a clear, blue sky.02JUL20-My coworker Kathleen says she remembers when there were no fireflies.
For me, it’s hard to imagine a hazy summer night without them floating luminously in the tall grass, winking out and reappearing as if powered by magic.
The thought of them going missing is unsettling. But researchers say that’s what is happening, pointing to light pollution, pesticides and habitat loss as drivers of the trend.
It’s easy to talk about the big events in environmental history: rivers aflame, piles of trash swirling in the ocean and oil spills blotting out rivers. But who would notice the absence of a fleeting glow on a warm summer night?
An eye for detail led Kathleen to her first career as a journalist, seeking the truth and finding the core of a story. She tells colorful stories of her experiences, weaving sights and sounds into words.

“Showing the details…turns a summary into a movie,” she has said.
A familiar anecdote from Kathleen is about the missing fireflies of her youth.
Unlike in my childhood, she didn’t have them in her neighborhood – they were just gone. The fireflies were likely the casualties of a since-discontinued pesticide spraying program, common at the time, that wiped out the good bugs with the bad.
Most of us know about the plight, and subsequent comeback story, of America’s bald eagles. With their eggshells weakened by the pesticide DDT, nests failed, and the species was in peril. At their lowest point in the late 1970s, there were only about 400 surviving eagle pairs in the lower 48 states. They’ve since recovered their place in the sky after a national ban on the pesticide and regulations enacted to protect eaglets.
But what about the smaller things, like fireflies?
At least in Kathleen’s neighborhood, she’s been able to spot the glow of fireflies where there weren’t any years before.

A picture of the author as a young girl along a beach is shown.In my case, I grew up in northern Lower Michigan, after bottle deposits, the Clean Air and Water acts of the 1970s and people’s demand for a cleaner world changed the landscape.
Things aren’t perfect; I still sometimes come across a dump site in the forest when I’m hiking. But for the most part, our woods and waters are much cleaner than they once were.
Growing up, my siblings and I caught fireflies in old jam jars, marveling at their blinking, greenish glow (the product of a chemical reaction). I was never afraid to proudly bring home and cook a bluegill I’d caught on a family fishing trip, or breathe in the night air on a campout and worry that there was anything in it other than the scent of dew and fresh grass.
Not that long ago, that wasn’t the case in many places. A lot of thought and effort has gone into making our actions less harmful to the ecosystem. While we’ve made progress, there is still more to do.

Today’s environmental issues remain challenging and vitally important, but perhaps not always as visible.
For the most part, you can’t see or smell contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a suite of manmade chemicals found in a wide range of items from nonstick cookware to weather-resistant clothing and fire retardants – or know how much carbon is in the atmosphere just by looking.

A group of monarch butterflies is shown resting while on migration in Delta County.Working for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, I have gained firsthand perspective on the ways my coworkers within the department, in our sister agency, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Environment, and people across the state who love the outdoors are continuing to work to keep natural resources healthy.
They are connecting with nature and taking steps to protect our interconnected ecosystems from threats like pollution and invasive species.
It doesn’t mean that we all must start exclusively wearing hemp and shunning deodorant, as stereotypes would have us believe. It just means being mindful, making smart choices and thinking about our connections with nature. To paraphrase poet and activist Maya Angelou, “when we know better, we do better.”

As hikers, hunters, anglers, birders and outdoors people of all kinds, we’re the ambassadors for outdoor spaces with the ability to share why these places matter. We can help ensure that kids can be captivated by nature’s magic, like fireflies, for generations to come.  
What will I be able to tell people 30 years from now?
Like the spark of a firefly, I hope we invite nature to quietly wink into our lives.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR

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Turning-in a Tagged Fish Could Net Cash Reward

Tag returns help biologists understand fish survival, age and movement

smiling family members, some in ball caps and sunglasses, hold up their fishing catch

02JUL20-People who regularly fish Michigan waters likely are familiar with the state’s marked and tagged fish program. Through assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Great Lakes states, including Michigan, are mass marking popular game fish (like steelhead, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and lake trout) before those fish are stocked.
As more anglers get out on the water this summer, the DNR reminds them that catching a trout or salmon with an adipose fin clip could be worth a $100 reward. The adipose fin is the small, fleshy lobe on the fish's back, just forward of the tail fin.
Most trout and salmon with an adipose fin clip also have a coded-wire tag in the snout. Because the tags are small – like the tip of a lead pencil – they must be removed by lab technicians. If anglers catch and want to keep an adipose fin clipped fish, they are asked to turn the head in at one of the
local drop-off stations.

Randy Claramunt, the DNR’s Lake Huron Basin coordinator, said the department relies on the help of anglers to supplement the marked and tagged fish program.
“We have limited capacity to take that important data from sport-caught trout and salmon,” he said. “We have creel clerks at some ports, but there are several areas – including some river systems with unique fisheries, like Atlantic salmon or steelhead – where we don’t have staff. To get enough tag returns to learn about these species, we’re asking people to take a little extra time to turn in those heads.”
The Great Lakes Salmon Initiative recognized the need for citizen science in this effort and teamed up with Captain Chucks II in Ludington and Moonshine Lures to sponsor 33 rewards worth $100 each. Fish with tags submitted before Nov. 1, 2020, will be eligible for the rewards, which will be randomly selected.

Additional details about the reward program:

  • Each head with a tag that is turned in equals one drawing entry.
  • Eligible tagged fish include steelhead, brown trout, and Chinook or Atlantic salmon.
  • The drawing will occur around January 2021.
  • Contact information (name, address, phone number) must be provided with each head.
  • Catch data (date, location and body of water) must be included with each head.
  • The head must be left at a Michigan drop-off location.

According to Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin coordinator, fish tag returns help biologists understand survival, age and movement of important sport fish.
“We are particularly interested in confirming how naturally reproducing Chinook salmon contribute to the fishery; the movement and wild contribution of steelhead in lakes and rivers; and survival and movement of Atlantic salmon,” Wesley said. “This reward program sponsored by Captain Chucks II, Moonshine Lures and the Great Lakes Salmon Initiative will help give anglers incentive to become citizen scientists, and that ultimately helps us collect valuable data.”

For more information on how to recognize a tagged fish and how to fill out the proper information, visit Michigan.gov/TaggedFish.

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Restoration Continues at Copper Harbor Lighthouse in Keweenaw County

By BARRY C. JAMES - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A view of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is shown.01JUL20-Standing as a silent guard at the very top of the Upper Peninsula, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse once guided vessels traveling in Lake Superior to safe harbor.
Originally built in 1848, the lighthouse site consisted of a 44-foot stone tower with a lantern room, a detached light keeper’s dwelling and landing dock.
By the 1860s, the Keweenaw Peninsula’s harsh winters and Lake Superior’s severe weather had taken their toll on the original buildings. The U.S. Lighthouse Service replaced the stone structures with a brick lighthouse and attached living quarters.
Beginning in 1866, the new lighthouse was manned by light keepers and their families until it was automated in 1919. By 1958, the lighthouse had become obsolete, and the U.S Coast Guard sold the property to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Today the lighthouse site, which is part of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, includes the original 1848 keeper’s quarters and the 1866 lighthouse. While time may have changed the lighthouse’s purpose, the need to protect the historic buildings from the elements is still pressing.
Michigan’s historic state parks offer visitors the unique experience to view, enjoy and learn about site histories and their significant structures. As stewards of these places, the DNR is responsible not only for telling their stories, but also for their preservation and maintenance.
This can be a challenging task when working on buildings that are almost 200 years old, as was the case at the Copper Harbor Lighthouse in the summer of 2019. The lighthouse is co-managed by the DNR’s Michigan History Center and Parks and Recreation Division. 
“For several years we had been monitoring brick and mortar issues within the fort and a brick spalling issue at the Copper Harbor Lighthouse,” said Fort Wilkins Historic State Park manager Bob Wild.

A historic photo shows the Copper Harbor Lighthouse in Keweenaw County.Brick spalling is when the surface of a brick flakes off.
“In addition to the lighthouse, the 1848 lighthouse keeper’s dwelling had some structural issues. It is the original keeper’s dwelling – arguably the oldest lighthouse related structure on Lake Superior,” Wild said.
Some of the maintenance and preservation issues are a result of past missteps in caring for the building. In order to remove decades of paint from the 1866 lighthouse’s surface in the late 1960s, park staff sand-blasted the lighthouse’s exterior.
Unfortunately, the work also removed the original brick finish, which eventually allowed water to leach into the brickwork. Over time, the natural freezing and thawing cycle caused pieces of brick to break, or “pop,” off the building. 
Fixing this problem was not simple. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and historic buildings require extra care and attention.

The west side of the original 1848 lighthouse keeper’s dwelling is pictured before repairs.

In accordance with Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office, all materials must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. With buildings, this includes working with original materials, including brick, mortar and paint colors.
Due to the scope of the project, which included repairs to the old keeper’s house foundation and walls, it was decided to bid out the project to a professional restoration firm.
Restoration work began on the Copper Harbor Lighthouse and 1848 keeper’s residence in September 2019 and lasted eight weeks. National Restoration Inc., of Milford, which has worked on several Michigan lighthouses, including Fort Gratiot and the Old Mackinac Point lighthouses, was the contractor that completed the work with the DNR.

“Approximately 1,000 bricks were replaced. In order to ensure historical accuracy, the replacement bricks included reclaimed light orange/pink Chicago Common bricks sourced from the Colonial Brick Company in Chicago and replica light yellow/milk cream Milwaukee Cream bricks sourced separately,” said Eric Cadeau, regional field planner for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

The south side of the original 1848 lighthouse keeper’s dwelling at Copper Harbor is shown after repairs.Regarding the light keeper’s residence, Cadeau noted the mortar had experienced extensive weathering on its windward sides.
“National Restoration performed deep re-pointing and stone masonry rebuilding of exterior walls. The repairs utilized local rock and local beach sand to ensure consistency with the historic materials,” he said.
Funding for the project came from DNR Recreation Passport Cultural Resource Stewardship and DNR Park Improvement/Park Endowment funds.
“We are pleased with the work that was completed,” Wild said. “With the repairs both structures should last another 150 years.”
With ongoing preservation, conservation and restoration efforts, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse buildings will continue as well-preserved examples of mid-19th-century lighthouse life on the northern frontier.


An interpretive sign is shown at the northern terminus of U.S. 41.The Copper Harbor Lighthouse is part of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park and is accessible only by water. The lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling will not be open to the public this summer due to the ongoing public health emergency.

Some fun facts about Michigan lighthouses and the Copper Harbor area:

  • Michigan has 126 lighthouses, the most of any inland state, and the DNR manages eight of those with partners.
  • Though these lighthouses are no longer managed by the Coast Guard, it is not because the Great Lakes have gotten any safer, but because technology has improved. Lighthouses no longer need several keepers and their families to manage the lights, which have been replaced by automated lights that do not need constant maintenance.
  • Copper Harbor was part of the ancestral home of the Ojibwe people for centuries until European-Americans began to arrive in the 1840s. Early white settlers came to mine the natural copper deposits. The Copper Rush of 1844 predated the more famous California Gold Rush by five years.
  • Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, of which the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is a part, was originally built in 1844 to ensure order during the copper mining rush. It was abandoned a few years later but was put back into service during the Civil War and regarrisoned from 1867-1870. By the 1870s, the fort was again abandoned. In 1921 the property was designated a historic landmark, and in 1923 it became a Michigan state park. Restoration efforts took place during the 1930s and 1940s. Today, 22 buildings survive in the historic 700-acre park, which also includes two campgrounds, trails and boat launches.
  • In addition to being the northernmost mainland point in Michigan, Copper Harbor also is the northern terminus of U.S. 41. The road connects Michigan to Miami, Florida, nearly 2,000 miles away.

For more information on Fort Wilkins Historic State Park and other historic Michigan parks, visit Michigan.gov/StateParks.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.

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Take Part in State Forest Planning Process

aerial photo of green forest with river running through it01JUL20-The DNR welcomes public input on its plans for Michigan’s 4 million acres of state forest.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the format has changed for 2020. Rather than attending face-to-face open houses, people interested in commenting can offer input online.
“We value public input, and we want to continue hearing from people while maintaining safe social distances,” said Jeff Stampfly, acting chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.

Here is how the process will work this year:

Go to Michigan.gov/ForestInput and click on the interactive map. Zoom in to your area of interest. As you zoom in, more details will appear. Sections of forest – referred to as “compartments” – under review for work to be done in 2022 are highlighted in bright green. Click anywhere within the compartment, and a pop-up screen will appear with more information.

You may submit comments by email or schedule a telephone appointment with a DNR staffer to discuss your comments or concerns during specific time periods in each management unit. Those time periods are:

  • Atlanta: June 9th through July 9th; contact Cody Stevens, 989-785-4251.
  • Cadillac: July 6th through Aug. 5th; contact Dave Fisher, 231-745-4651, ext. 6946.
  • Roscommon: July 27th through Aug. 8th; contact Patrick Mohney, 989-387-8189.
  • Pigeon River: Aug. 4th through Sep. 9th; contact Cody Stevens, 989-983-4101.
  • Traverse City: Aug. 10th through Sep. 9th; contact Dave Lemmien, 231-922-5280.
  • Sault Ste. Marie: Aug. 16th through Sep. 15th; contact Karen Rodock, 906-477-6048, ext. 2040.
  • Gladwin: Aug. 17th through Sep. 16th; contact Patrick Mohney, 989-387-8189.
  • Gwinn: Aug. 18th through Sep. 17th; contact Kristen Matson, 906-346-9201.
  • Shingleton: Sep. 1st through Oct. 1st; contact Bob Burnham, 906-452-6227, ext. 240.
  • Grayling: Sep. 1st through Oct. 1st; contact Thomas Barnes, 989-348-6371, ext. 7440.
  • Crystal Falls: Sep. 6th through Oct. 6th; contact Dan McNamee, 906-875-6622.
  • Newberry: Sep. 15th through Oct. 15th; contact Keith Magnusson, 906-291-0120.
  • Escanaba: Sep. 21st through Oct. 21st; contact Eric Thompson, 906-786-2354, ext. 142.

After public input is received and considered, final decisions will be made at DNR staff meetings known as compartment reviews. The public is welcome to listen to this year’s virtual meetings over the phone. Contact the listed unit manager for details on joining a compartment review phone call.

For more information on open houses, compartment reviews and instructions for using the interactive map, go to Michigan.gov/ForestInput.

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Historic Water Levels Affect Tawas Point State Park, Spur Other Closures and Safety Measures Throughout State

Father, son and dog at Tawas Point State Park24JUN20-Record-high water levels are taking a toll on infrastructure across the state as flooding and erosion continue to threaten shorelines, rivers and inland lakes. Michigan’s waterways face other associated challenges, too, including increased river flows, submerged docks and piers, swimming and boating hazards, and damage to wildlife habitat.
Several state parks and harbors are experiencing many of these issues. Tawas Point State Park – the popular destination along Lake Huron in Iosco County – has experienced unprecedented water levels, erosion and flooding over the last few years, as well as record-breaking rainfall last month.

As a result, Tawas Point State Park has closed or altered many amenities and services for the 2020 season:

  • The park’s one entrance road (which provides access to all park areas) is closed to vehicle traffic between the contact station and the day-use area, but the road is open to visitors on foot.
  • The park's day-use area is open for biking, hiking, bird watching and more. Limited parking is available near the contact station for visitors to park and walk or bike the roughly half-mile to the day-use area. Carpooling is recommended, and drop-off/pickup of visitors is allowed.
  • The pavilion, lighthouse and gift shop and Tawas Point Grille in the day-use area are closed for the season.
  • The modern campground is open, but many campsites are unavailable due to flooding. Updates on affected campsites will be posted each Thursday at Michigan.gov/TawasPoint..
  • The Fox Den and Tawas Bay cabins are closed for the season, but the yurt and two mini cabins are available for reservations.
  • Portions of the Sandy Hook Nature Trail are closed.

Micah Jordan, Tawas Point State Park supervisor, suggested that people who have difficulty finding desired reservations at that park should consider Harrisville State Park, just 30 miles north and offering many of the same park amenities.

For more information, contact Micah Jordan at 989-362-5041 or JordanM2@Michgan.gov.

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Other state park, harbor closures along Great Lakes

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers reported that Great Lakes levels likely will stay well above long-term averages, and that levels on lakes Michigan and Huron are 3 feet higher than average. Many DNR-managed sites and facilities have high water-related closures:

  • Hammond Bay State Harbor is closed for the 2020 season.
  • Ludington State Park's Jack Pine Campground is closed until further notice.
  • Muskegon State Park's Channel Campground will not take advance reservations during the 2020 season.
  • Lime Island Recreation Area is closed for the 2020 season due to submerged docks.
  • Mackinac Island State Harbor's electrical conduits are submerged; no electrical service is available this season.
  • A handful of campsites at Harrisville, Leelanau, Muskegon and Young state parks are closed.
  • More than 20 boating access sites are closed.

Bookmark the webpage Michigan.gov/DNRClosures for the latest information.

For more information about state harbors, contact Linnae Dawson, recreational harbor coordinator, at 517-290-2200 or DawsonL@Michigan.gov.

High-water safety information and resources

Higher waters create additional safety concerns. For example, wakes can cause overflow onto land or docks, meaning that someone could more easily be knocked off a dock. Extra caution is needed when swimming, boating or fishing, too, because higher waters can cause stronger, faster currents (especially around river outlets and piers), deeper and colder water, unpredictable conditions and more debris floating under the water’s surface.

When visiting state park swim areas, pay attention to the beach flag warning system and frequently check it for updated warnings; conditions can quickly change. Red flags indicate the water is unsafe and no one should swim in or enter the water.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov/HighWaterSafety, Michigan.gov/BeachSafety or Michigan.gov/HighWater.

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A view from above: DNR explores drone technology

By KATHLEEN LAVEY - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

DNR resource analyst Nick Dohm prepares for a drone flight in this photo.24JUN20-Wildlife biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources were looking for a bear.
Not just any bear. They were in search of a sow that had previously been used as a surrogate to raise orphaned cubs. But she had broken and slipped out of her radio collar.
So, they took advantage of one of the DNR’s newest programs and called for a drone.
“We know the general area where she dens, kind of this 40-acre spot,” said Kevin Jacobs, aviation manager for the DNR. “But there is a lot of heavy cover. We put a thermal camera on there and got a really good heat image that was the right size on the ground.”

Finding a surrogate mom for bear cubs is just one way that the DNR uses drones – often referred to as UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicles. Licensed DNR staffers also use the pint-sized choppers equipped with cameras to help manage and promote state forests, parks, wildlife and fishing.
The drone program, based in the department’s Forest Resources Division, has been expanding since it started with just three vehicles in 2016.
“The DNR entered this really at the front half of the drone industry. As far as commercial viability, we thought it was important to be at the head not at the tail,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs and DNR resource analyst Nick Dohm have shepherded the program since its beginning, paving the way for thoughtful growth.
“We didn’t want to get carried away at first,” Dohm said. “We’ve got good control over what the program is, what we’re looking for, where we want to grow in the future. We’ve been able to look at what worked and what didn’t work so far, and we can expand on that a little further.”
By the middle of 2017, the DNR program had three drones and a certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration. It’s the second Michigan agency to receive a certificate, after the Michigan State Police. 
“At that point, it was just sort of trial and error, ‘show me what these things can do,’” Dohm said. “Over time we have built up just how useful they are for the department.”
They can do a lot.
The DNR crew now includes seven licensed pilots and 10 drones of different sizes and capabilities. The team has explored using drones to assess forest health, look for various types of wildlife and get photos and video that show off Michigan’s glorious landscapes. They are currently preparing to fly a drone down a 4-mile stretch of the Tahquamenon River. They also have flown over harbors and shooting ranges to make promotional videos.

See examples of drone footage in videos about Palms Book State Park - Kitch-iti-kipi, the Rose Lake Shooting Range and the 2019 state parks centennial celebration.

Drones never can replace the DNR’s existing aviation program. Instead, the tiny aircraft complement what their larger, fixed-wing counterparts can do.

A drone is shown hovering over a wetland area where a project to locate tern nests was ongoing.“Drones will fly 20-35 minutes on a charge versus an airplane where we can fly six hours nonstop at 150 mph,” Jacobs said. “You’re really covering two different needs with those two different tools. The idea is to use both of those tools to their fullest.”
One advantage for drones: hovering. That makes it easier to use thermal imaging to search for animals, people or hot spots in wildfires.
“With the plane you would have to do continuous loops to look at the area,” Dohm said.
DNR drones have been used in joint projects with the National Audubon Society to search for tern nests and to do a survey of muskrat huts with Central Michigan University.

Equip a drone with the proper camera, and forest health staff also can get a deeper look at what’s happening in the forest, right down to single trees.
“We can fly a regeneration site that has 4-foot pines in it and get updated, high-resolution imagery and tell the health of individual trees,” Dohm said.
In a partnership with Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, DNR drones used high-resolution imagery to map an 80-acre stand of trees that had root disease moving through.
“You could see what trees were dead, but also give a perspective of which trees were suffering or in the process of dying that you couldn’t see with the naked eye,” Dohm said.
Once the images and global positioning satellite locations were loaded into an iPad, forest health experts could walk up to individual trees for an in-person assessment.
Michigan also is exploring the use of drones to fight wild land fire.

A drone view of a wetland area is shown.Once the images and global positioning satellite locations were loaded into an iPad, forest health experts could walk up to individual trees for an in-person assessment.
Michigan also is exploring the use of drones to fight wildland fire.
Dohm, Jacobs and other DNR staff members watched a demonstration of the IGNIS firefighting drone last fall and have purchased one for DNR use. Michigan is one of the first Midwestern states to adopt it.
“The tool is being used with great success nationally,” Jacobs said.
The drone is equipped with a carrier that contains hollow spheres filled with a mix of chemicals that will burn when mixed and dropped.
It can create fire breaks or start prescribed burns in terrain that firefighters find difficult to reach.
“These things can really cover a lot of ground versus somebody on foot,” Jacobs said. “When we do prescribed burns in some of these marsh areas, they’re lighting phragmites or cattails out of a canoe or we have to wait until there is ice so we can navigate through the wetland.”

Both Dohm and Jacobs see continued, strategic growth for the drone program.
They’re looking into even more possibilities such as using drones to plant new trees in clear-cut Kirtland’s warbler habitat and to spray herbicide, which is sometimes used to eradicate invasive species.
“We want to keep an open mind,” Jacobs said. “There are ideas that are continuously evolving, so we see what is popping up and available and what might fit our needs.
“There is a tremendous amount of potential in areas where we probably don’t even have a clue yet.”
While the DNR has just begun to explore the many ways drones might be used in its work, they already have proven to be a valuable tool in managing and promoting Michigan’s natural resources.
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at
Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.

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Spotted Lantern Fly Could be the Next Invasive Species to Threaten Michigan’s Agriculture, Natural Resources

Spotted lanternfly egg masses24JUN20-The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking the public to be on the lookout for spotted lantern fly, an invasive insect with the potential to seriously affect Michigan’s agriculture and natural resources. This insect could damage or kill more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops and hardwood trees. To date, spotted lantern fly has not been detected in Michigan.
First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, spotted lantern fly has been spreading rapidly across the nation. Infestations have been confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia.
“Spotted lantern fly could negatively impact our grape industry,” said Robert Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist for MDARD. “But it also has the potential to damage stone fruits, apples and other crops in Michigan’s fruit belt as well as important timber species statewide.”

spotted lanternfly wings open and closedSpotted lantern fly egg masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating. Hatched eggs appear as brownish, seed-like deposits. Spotted lantern fly nymphs are wingless, beetle-like and black with white spots, developing red patches as they mature. Adults are roughly 1 inch long. Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots. Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge.
“Prevention and early detection are vital to limiting the spread of spotted lantern fly,” said Miller. “Spotted lantern fly cannot fly long distances, but they lay eggs on nearly any surface, including cars, trailers, firewood and outdoor furniture. Before leaving an area where a quarantine is present, check vehicles, firewood and outdoor equipment for unwanted hitchhikers.”
If you find a spotted lantern fly egg mass, nymph or adult, take one or more photos, make note of the date, time and location of the sighting, and report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,
MDA-Info@Michigan.gov or phone the MDARD Customer Service Center, 800-292-3939. If possible, collect a specimen in a container for verification.

For additional information on identifying or reporting spotted lantern fly, visit Michigan.gov/SpottedLanternfly.

Michigan's Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

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‘Flat Smokey’ Aims to Raise Fire Safety Awareness

colored Flat Smokey, a printable template of the classic Smokey Bear forest and fire safety icon24JUN20-With warmer temperatures and increased fire danger, the DNR is getting a little help from a familiar face to boost the public’s fire safety smarts: Smokey Bear. But the department is sharing the 75-year-old icon in a new way – Flat Smokey!

Flat Smokey is inspired by the “Flat Stanley” children’s book series. In the books, a young boy is squashed flat by a falling bulletin board while sleeping, but he makes the best of his flatness and enjoys new adventures that include sliding under doors, flying as a kite and traveling cross-country in an envelope to visit friends.

Kids can experience Smokey in a different way, too. They can download the Flat Smokey template, print it on stiff paper like cardstock (or paste onto cardboard) and color. Take pictures and videos of family and friends practicing fire safety with cookouts, campfires, fireworks and more, and then share using the hashtags #FlatSmokey and #PreventWildfires. Share the fire safety fun by sending Flat Smokey in the mail to someone else.

Nine out of 10 wildfires in Michigan are caused by people. Taking simple precautions and using effective fire safety practices can save lives and protect property, wildlife and the environment. When burning, always have a water source, shovel and metal bucket nearby, never leave a fire unattended, and always thoroughly douse a fire until it is extinguished.

Get fire safety tips at Michigan.gov/PreventWildfires or contact Rachel Coale at 517-284-7269

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ICYMI: New Mapping Tool for Local Outdoor Recreation

View from the back, hikers with backpacks spaced out along a trail at Wilderness State Park24JUN20-As more sectors of Michigan's economy cautiously begin to reopen for business, state health officials urge the public to continue following guidelines that help slow the spread of the coronavirus. That means keeping social gatherings to no more than 10 people, limiting extensive travel and practicing social distancing – even when spending time outside. In case you missed it, the DNR recently announced a new online map that helps people find boating, fishing, hiking and other outdoor recreation opportunities close to home.

The Your Local Outdoors website is an easy-to-explore collection of state-managed outdoor recreation destinations: state parks, trails, boat launches and family-friendly fishing waters. Just enter your ZIP code and see all of the options that are just minutes away!

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ORV riders Reminded to Stay on Trails & Other Approved Routes

ruts and damage caused by off-roading at wetlands in Otsego County23JUN20-Keeping off-road vehicles on designated trails and routes is important throughout the entire season, but especially during holiday weekends when greater usage is expected. To help ensure rider safety and minimize possible damage to trails and surrounding areas, the DNR will increase conservation officer patrols along the trails, reminding riders to 'Ride Right.'
In past seasons, ORV riders operating in undesignated areas has been an issue that conservation officers are working to curtail. Last May, a group trail ride involving about 45 ORVs resulted in irreparable damage to state wetlands in Otsego County. The group leaders guided the participating ORVs off Geronimo’s Trail and through portions of Frenchman Creek and into surrounding wetlands.
Conservation Officers Charlie Jones (who patrols Kalkaska County) and Kyle Cherry (who patrols Otsego County) helped investigate that off-roading incident.

“In Otsego County, like in many other counties throughout the state, ORV riders can ride the shoulder of most county roads,” Cherry said. “It is critical – for their own and others’ safety, and for the protection of the environment – that ORV riders follow posted signs, stick only to designated trails and approved routes, and avoid areas that are closed to off-road use.”
DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said the department wants the public to enjoy the hundreds of miles of designated off-road trails, but to do so safely and responsibly.
“We know most ORV enthusiasts respect the rules and value Michigan’s natural resources,” Hagler said. “However, we cannot tolerate negligent behavior that puts people and the environment at risk. Every rider is responsible for knowing where they can and cannot ride. Our officers will be on hand to help answer questions and assist riders over the busy holiday weekend.”
Earlier this month, the
DNR shared ORV safety tips and cautions related to limited trail maintenance, too. For more information on the "Ride Right" campaign and trail closures, maps and safety, visit Michigan.gov/ORVInfo.

Questions? Contact: Lt. James Gorno, 989-732-3541

The above photo shows damage caused by off-roading into a wetlands area in Otsego County last year.

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Firefighters Knock Back 105-Acre Fire Near Jack Pines, Grayling

Firefighters attack M72 blaze 23JUN20-A total of about 70 homes near Grayling were evacuated Thursday, May 21st as firefighters battled a fire in privately owned jack pine stands in Crawford County, Michigan.

The M-72 Fire, estimated at about 105 acres, was reported at approximately 5 p.m. along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and S. Horseshoe Trail, about 8 miles east of Grayling. The fire, which burned a swath about 1 mile long and 0.2 miles wide, was contained around 8:30 p.m. Evacuated residents were able to return to their homes shortly after 9 p.m. Two outbuildings were destroyed.

Despite recent rain in the northern Lower Peninsula, after a few days of dry conditions, sunny skies and warmer temperatures, the fire danger in Grayling was high Thursday. Jack pine is one of the most prevalent tree species in the Grayling area and its seeds are released by fire, making it very fire-prone. It was this combination of weather and fuels that led to the M-72 Fire.

Multiple agencies cooperated to contain the fire:

  • The U.S. Forest Service provided critical air and ground support to DNR personnel. Air operations included four U.S. Forest Service Fire Bosses (single-engine air tankers), one U.S. Forest Service fixed-wing “Air Attack” aircraft, two U.S. Forest Service helicopters and a DNR spotter (detection) plane.
  • Ground operations consisted of 20 DNR firefighters, U.S. Forest Service firefighters and Grayling, South Branch, Beaver Creek and Frederic township fire departments.
  • Law enforcement also assisted, including the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, Grayling City Police, Michigan State Police, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and DNR conservation officers.

The cause of the fire is unknown and is currently under investigation.

Take precautions against fire

Fire risk is expected to be elevated today and Monday in parts of the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. The DNR reminds everyone to take precautions while doing yard work and engaging in outdoor activities this spring.

  • Get a burn permit at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit and check local weather and fire danger before burning debris.
  • Burn debris in barrels with metal screens, if possible.
  • Clear any vegetation around your burn area.
  • Make sure to have a source of water nearby whenever you burn.
  • Stay with a fire until it is completely extinguished.

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Join The #100in100 Forest Cleanup Challenge

Two men and a woman clean up dumped trash and debris from state forest land in Grand Traverse County, Michigan22JUN20-It is well known that regularly spending time in the woods does a body good. A strengthened immune system, reduced blood pressure, increased energy, boosted moods and greater focus – all thanks to trees. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to say thanks? This summer, you can.
Now through September 22nd, the DNR challenges nature lovers to spend some quality time among the trees and clean up 100 state forest sites in 100 days. It’s all part of celebrating 100 years of the National Association of State Foresters and that group’s work to ensure thriving forests for generations to come.
This cleanup effort is hosted by Michigan’s Adopt-a-Forest program, which tracks sites on public land where trash has been dumped and connects with volunteers to help restore the land. An
interactive map shows the locations and type of trash that needs to be cleaned up at more than 600 known sites. If a site has a large amount of debris or items that require special disposal, volunteers can request the assistance of program managers who will coordinate placement of appropriate trash bins.

How to join in:

  1. Visit CleanForests.org to find a dump site, learn about cleanup safety and sign the volunteer waiver.
  2. Gather your crew, get started and do some good!
  3. When you’re done, report the site as clean and spread the word on social media with #trashtag and #100in100 forest cleanup challenge to inspire others.

Contact Conor Haenni with questions and for assistance in coordinating a cleanup.

When getting together for a cleanup, be sure to follow guidance from health experts and practice social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It's also important to be on guard for ticks in the forest, so check out the next story for some helpful information.

Questions? Contact Conor Haenni at 989-429-5542.

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Help Track Valuable Tick Data With Mobile Health App

close-up view of blacklegged tick, photo courtesy of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control22JUN20-Why is it that some people seem to come into contact with ticks more often than others? How can I avoid ticks? Can the tick that has attached to me transmit Lyme disease? With the goal of helping people get answers to questions like these and developing better strategies to prevent tick bites and tick-borne diseases, a team from the University of Wisconsin, Columbia University and Michigan State University created The Tick App – a mobile health app that both provides tips on how to avoid ticks and invites users to share information about their own tick exposure.
Coordinators are hoping people who spend time outdoors will use the app throughout June to share details (and photos) about ticks they see, where they were and what types of activities they were doing. Besides being a handy resource for outdoor lovers, The Tick App also gives people 18 and older the chance to help shape a research study through true citizen science and the contribution of daily “tick log” posts.

Download The Tick App here or through GooglePlay and/or iTunes. You can also participate through the desktop version.

Questions? Send an email to TickApp@Wisc.edu or contact Jean Tsao, an associate professor in the Departments of Fisheries & Wildlife and Large Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University, at Tsao@MSU.edu.

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DNR Seeks Reports of Bull Elk From Menominee County

A young bull elk photographed recently in Menominee County.22JUN20-Wildlife biologists and technicians with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have been tracking reports of a bull elk spotted in the south-central part of the Upper Peninsula in Menominee County.
The young elk was reported first by a private landowner June 6th, within about 10 miles of the Wisconsin border. Since then, there have been several additional sightings, including some unconfirmed reports of an accompanying cow elk.
The presence of the bull elk has been confirmed with photographs.
Elk, like deer and moose, are mammals of the deer family, referred to as cervids.
“Our DNR biologists are monitoring the situation as we work to confirm the origin of this animal,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “Contact has been made with privately owned cervid facilities within a reasonable range of the sightings, and no elk from those operations have been reported missing. We have also checked with agency officials to confirm there have been no reports of elk missing from Wisconsin facilities.”

The bull elk has a three-digit orange ear tag in its left ear, which has not been seen clearly enough to read.
DNR biologists have been working closely with their counterparts at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to establish whether the elk may be from one of the state's two wild elk herds.
According to the Wisconsin DNR website, elk are found in two distinct ranges there. The largest, and oldest, elk herd in the state is the Clam Lake elk herd, which ranges across Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Sawyer and Rusk counties in northern Wisconsin. The other, the Black River elk herd, is found in the forested region of Jackson County in the central part of the state.
Michigan DNR wildlife biologist Karen Sexton said Wisconsin DNR wildlife staffers speculate the elk may be from the Black River elk herd.
"This is based on their knowledge of some of the Black River elk being reported outside of their typical range over the past couple of months," Sexton said. "It is also based on the color, style and placement of ear tag reported, along with the estimated age of the animal gathered from public reports and photos. We should be able to confirm the origin once we have an accurate report of the ear tag number."
The latest estimates put the Clam Lake elk herd at over 250 animals, with about 80 more in the Black River herd. 
Elk are known to have a large range and, like deer and other animals, likely move back and forth across the Michigan-Wisconsin border. Michigan’s native elk disappeared from the state around 1875.
In the northern Lower Peninsula, an elk herd has been well-established since seven animals were reintroduced to that area in 1918. Elk browse in the early morning and late evening, sharing similar habitats with white-tailed deer.
“We are interested in receiving location reports of the elk,” Pepin said. “It is important for anyone who may see the elk to observe it from a distance. Noting the time and nearest crossroads would be helpful.”
Elk weigh between 350 and 900 pounds and stand 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder. Calves weighing 25-30 pounds are born in late May through early June.
To report sightings, contact the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800, which is available 24 hours a day, every day.
“State veterinarians from Michigan and Wisconsin have been in contact and have confirmed that Wisconsin has been testing its elk population, with no positive cases of chronic wasting disease detected,” Pepin said.
Under a state wildlife conservation order, if the elk is determined to have escaped from a privately owned Cervid facility, the DNR has the authority to dispatch the animal after 48 hours. Similar rules are in place in Wisconsin.
“So far, the elk reports have not indicated the animal or animals have been causing any nuisance or public safety issues. Chances of the elk being positive for CWD are low,” said Ryan Soulard, a DNR biologist and Privately Owned Cervidae Program coordinator. “Given that evidence suggests the elk may be free-ranging, we are going to continue to monitor the situation. At this point in time, we are not planning to cull the elk.”

For more information on elk in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at Michigan.gov/Elk.

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Hot, Dry Weather Boosts Fire Danger Around the State

Campfire19JUN20-Weather across Michigan has been great in recent days, mostly warm, sunny and dry. But that means a higher risk of wildfires.
Most areas in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula currently are at elevated fire risk, and that is expected to continue through the weekend. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says permits for burning yard debris will be restricted, though campfires are still allowed.
“While there is a chance of rain over the weekend, it’s important to know the current risks and keep up to date on restrictions,” said Don Klingler, Lower Peninsula resource protection manager with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.
Burn permits are required statewide. Residents in the northern Lower and Upper peninsulas can get permission to burn by visiting
Michigan.gov/BurnPermit. Elsewhere, contact your local municipality or fire department.

So far this season, DNR fire staffers have fought more than 130 fires on nearly 600 acres.

To further reduce the risk of fire:

  • Be careful when using all-terrain vehicles, lawn mowers or other outdoor machinery. In dry conditions, even heat from a lawn mower or  exhaust pipe of an ATV can ignite dry grass. A trailer chain dragging on pavement can create sparks that ignite grass.
  • Never leave any fire unattended, even for a moment. Make sure all debris fires and campfires are extinguished before leaving the area.
  • Learn more about specific fire danger by region, or get fire prevention tips.

Looking ahead, state park campgrounds across Michigan open June 22. The DNR reminds campers that campfires are permitted only in designated fire rings; it’s best to purchase firewood at your destination, rather than bring firewood from home; and aerial fireworks and sky lanterns are not permitted at state park campgrounds.

Also, in a continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, anyone working outside this weekend is urged to practice safe social distancing of 6 feet or more when with others who live outside their households.

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Sharing Our Space With Urban Wildlife

By HANNAH SCHAUER - Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A close-up view of a woodchuck is shown.16JUN20-The term wildlife might conjure up thoughts of large, exotic mammals in faraway places. Or perhaps some of the larger mammals we have in Michigan, such as a moose or a black bear, may come to mind. 
But wildlife isn’t just the big, iconic animals we tend to think of – it includes smaller species like bumblebees and butterflies. Chances are, you have had first-hand experience with a wild animal no matter where you live.
Wildlife is all around us. We all share the same habitat and are connected as different parts of the same ecosystem.
Snakes, coyotes, hawks and owls all prey on smaller mammals, some of which people frequently view as pests, like mice and rats. Wildlife like turkey vultures could be considered a sort of clean-up crew as they scavenge and consume unsightly road kill.
Because wild animals of all sizes can be found throughout Michigan, they provide benefit to whatever habitat they live in, from forests and wetlands to farmlands and cities.

Living with our wild neighbors

A monarch butterfly is shown on a leaf.Amazingly, many species have adapted and figured out how to survive in human-altered landscapes. 
Wild animals have been able to find a way to meet their needs even within our inner cities. Whether we intend to or not, people have changed the available habitat – we have created new habitat for ourselves and in the process created new habitat for wildlife.
Not all species have been able to adapt to these dramatic changes to their landscapes, but many have.
We cannot exist apart from wildlife, so we should put in a little effort to coexist with our wild neighbors. 
If you enjoy watching wildlife, there are a variety of steps you can take to improve your property for wild animals, even in urban areas. 
Pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies – whose populations have declined dramatically in recent decades, threatening the food sources they pollinate – need places to stop to get food. You can plant a variety of plants in pots that can be attractive to these species, making even a small balcony a wildlife refuge.

Get started with tips and information for creating and maintaining wildlife habitat at
Michigan.gov/Wildlife and in the Landowner’s Guide.

Conflicts with wildlife

A group of turkeys is shown on a grassy area.As with any neighbor, you might not always get along with wildlife or approve of their behavior. Fortunately, there are some options to deal with an unwanted visitor to your area.
“If you wanted to attract wildlife to your property, you would consider what food or shelter you might be able to provide to them,” said Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist from Marquette. “Discouraging wildlife follows a similar thought process, but instead of adding things like food or shelter for the wildlife, you would want to remove it.”
Making your area an unappealing habitat is a good first step to take to reduce the potential for conflicts.
Roell suggests removing potential food sources, especially bird feeders, and not leaving pet foods outside – you never know who might come around looking for a free meal.
You can also try some “hazing” methods, which include tactics like making loud noises, to make the wildlife view you as the unfriendly neighbor and seek a quieter neighborhood. 

Check out our
How to Haze a Nuisance Coyote video for hazing techniques and tips that can work on more than just coyotes. 
Being a good neighbor to wildlife is as simple as being mindful about how your actions or property could be an attractive habitat. From there, you can make changes to either make your property more appealing to certain species or less so.
Tips and information on
how to handle conflicts with wildlife are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

When habitat changes are not enough

A turkey vulture is shown perched with its wings spread wide.There are always those situations where, no matter what you do, you cannot seem to discourage an animal from your area. Especially when it is one of Michigan’s well-adapted species like coyotes, deer, turkeys and geese, which seem to thrive in urban areas.
These animals may be well-suited for living in manmade habitats and hard to deter.
This is especially true of a species like coyotes, which are territorial and may be less keen on leaving “their” space to go elsewhere. Not only are coyotes found everywhere in Michigan, but they have healthy populations, so there probably are not many unoccupied territories left to choose from.
If you live in a more rural area where outdoor recreation activities like hunting and trapping are allowed, you can remedy some of these issues during the open season for the species causing the headache.

“Hunting and trapping seasons give landowners options for mitigating issues with wildlife, while still preserving them on the landscape,” said Adam Bump, the DNR’s furbearer specialist. “There are also some species that can be taken year-round.”
A doe and fawn cross a roadway.Bump says that coyotes, raccoons, woodchucks (groundhogs) and skunks can be killed at any time by landowners or their designees employing otherwise lawful methods if these animals are doing, or about to do, damage to private property.
Information on hunting in Michigan can be found at
Michigan.gov/Hunting. Species that have open trapping seasons and associated regulations can be found at Michigan.gov/Trapping.
What about urban areas where hunting is not an option? 
“The DNR issues permits to businesses that can provide wildlife removal services for certain species,” said Casey Reitz, wildlife permit specialist with the DNR.  “This helps give landowners an option for dealing with unwanted wildlife on their property, particularly in those areas where hunting is not allowed.
“Permittees use a variety of methods for removal that are safe in an urban or residential setting. They can help landowners with removal of species like coyote, fox, muskrats, opossums, squirrels, woodchucks and skunks, to name a few.”
Find the
Nuisance Wildlife Control Directory at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

 

The DNR also works closely with federal agencies to offer options for handling issues with Canada geese, a species protected by both federal and state laws, in urban areas. Specially permitted nuisance control companies can be hired to assist landowners with goose control programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services also offers removal assistance, such as nest destruction and relocation permits.

Aggressive animals

In those instances where there is an aggressive wild animal, particularly animals such as geese, swans, turkeys, deer and bears, landowners should get in touch with the nearest DNR Customer Service Center to let the local DNR staff know about the issue.  As each situation is unique, staff will first assess the problem and then determine the appropriate action based on the species and location.  
Landowners can contact one of the nuisance wildlife control permittees for assistance with removal of species such as coyotes, fox, raccoons, opossums and skunks.

Additional tips

Additional tips and information on how to handle conflicts with a variety of wildlife species are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife, under “Living with Wildlife.”
If you have found a baby animal in your yard, which is a common occurrence in the spring, it is best to leave it be. You can also get in touch with a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. Learn more about what to do if you find a baby animal at Michigan.gov/Wildlife, under Keep Wildlife in the Wild.

Learn more about Michigan’s wildlife species at Michigan.gov/DNREducation.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at Michigan.gov/DNR.

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DNR Conservation Officers Evacuate People and Pets During Midland County Flood

Midland flood-video cover11JUN20-Nearly 24 hours before the Edenville Dam in Midland County collapsed Tuesday, conservation officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began evacuating people in homes and businesses positioned downriver of the dam. With historic flood levels expected, the officers remain on scene and are providing emergency response as needed.
Shortly before dark Tuesday, the dam collapsed, creating life-threatening, flash flood conditions that forced a mandatory evacuation for the city of Midland, including residents, businesses, medical facilities and Dow Chemical’s headquarters – all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to assist with patrol vessels anywhere we can,” said Lt. Jeremy Payne, the DNR’s district law supervisor in Bay City. 

The initial dam breach caused the failure of a second area dam – the Sanford Dam. As a result, the Tittabawassee River is overflowing its 24-foot flood stage and is expected to crest around 38 feet today. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said the flood stage was over 34 feet and rising.
More than 20 conservation officers from throughout the region responded with 10 DNR patrol vessels and search and rescue equipment to help continue the evacuation of flood victims.
“Conservation officers are specially trained and strategically placed in communities throughout the state with the equipment they need to respond to natural disasters and emergency situations such as this,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “This is a difficult time for our state and the people in the Midland community affected by the flooding, and we are here to help.”
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at
Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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Chippewa County man charged with 125 wildlife crimes following DNR investigation

Snares-Chippewa-201911JUN20-A 56-year-old Pickford man was arraigned Wednesday morning ­in Chippewa County’s 91st District Court on 125 wildlife misdemeanor charges, following a months-long investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.
Kurt Johnston Duncan faces charges that include illegally harvesting 18 wolves over the past 18 months and killing and disposing of three bald eagles. Wolves are protected in Michigan and are on the federal endangered species list. Bald eagles are protected under state law, as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Duncan, who today pleaded not guilty to all charges, faces:

  • Up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each wolf.
  • Up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine for each eagle.
  • Restitution of $1,500 per eagle and $500 per wolf.
  • Up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine each for the other wildlife crimes.

Duncan was served four search warrants in March. Other species involved in the charges include deer, turkey, bear and bobcat. DNR law enforcement detectives said that Duncan was using the animals for a variety of reasons, including crafts, selling, or disposing of them, and stated that he was catching the animals because he could and “likes to do it.”
Conservation officers collected evidence to support the charges and identified additional suspects who are expected to be charged in the near future.
“We had a team of conservation officers that worked well together throughout this investigation,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “Investigations like this require a long-term commitment from everyone involved. I want to thank the prosecutors in this case who worked with our officers. We are happy with the outcome and hope this case sets an example to prevent future natural resource crimes.”
The Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is seeking $30,000 in restitution to the state for the illegally taken animals. Duncan’s cash bond is set at $500. Other conditions of Duncan’s bond include having no contact with co-defendants, no possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon, and no engaging in hunting or fishing.
Anyone witnessing a natural resources crime or having information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s
Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at
Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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Protect Trees & Forests From Invasive Species; Don’t Move Firewood

09JUN20-The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding the public about the risk of accidentally spreading invasive species while moving firewood. New infestations of invasive pests or diseases can be devastating and pose a serious threat to Michigan’s agriculture, forests and the environment.

Oak wilt fungus 1Harmful invasive species, some of which are invisible to the naked eye, can hide in or on firewood. While most cannot move far on their own, these pests and diseases can be transported undetected on travelers’ firewood, starting new infestations in locations hundreds of miles away. These invasive species threaten native tree species without natural defenses against these pests and diseases. Infestations also can destroy forests, lower property values and cost huge sums of money to control.
“It is nearly impossible to detect diseases – like thousand cankers disease, which affects walnut trees, or oak wilt in oak trees – just by looking at the wood,” said Mike Philip, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “Never assume wood appearing un-infested is safe to move.”
Jason Fleming, chief of resource protection and promotion in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division, said awareness of these tree pests and diseases and a commitment to not move firewood are especially important at Michigan’s state parks, where many trees and forested areas have been devastated.

“As camping resumes this year, we urge all campers to look to purchase firewood at the state park campgrounds, rather than bring wood with you,” Fleming said. “Typically, the firewood sold at state parks is affordable, locally sourced or heat-treated to eliminate pests and diseases."
One way MDARD safeguards Michigan’s natural resources against harmful insects and diseases is through plant pest quarantines, which limit the movement of certain plant material within, into or out of the state. 
“Over the last hundred years, invasive pests have killed tens of millions of trees in forests, cities and communities across the country,” added Philip. “Quarantines can help limit the movement of potentially infested wood, but everyone has to do their part to stop or slow the spread of invasive species.”

To limit the spread of invasive species, leave firewood at home and:

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Invasives and on MDARD’s plant pest quarantine webpage.

Michigan's Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

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DNR Seeks Hunter Input On Proposed 2020 Deer Hunting Regulations

head and shoulders view of a white-tailed buck in Michigan forest

08JUN20-A new package of deer hunting regulations designed to simplify rules and remove barriers to participation was introduced to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Thursday at the commission’s regular monthly meeting, which was conducted in an online and conference call format due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns. The regulations, proposed for the 2020 deer hunting season, are scheduled for an NRC vote in June.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources deer program experts say the regulations, if approved, will provide additional opportunities and cost savings for hunters and offer flexibility in how hunters pursue deer. The DNR uses existing and projected data to gauge the impact of proposed regulations. The data shows that the projected changes will not have a significant negative effect on the deer herd or the quality of deer hunting.
“These recommendations are aimed at making it easier for hunters of all ages and experience levels to enjoy a Michigan outdoor tradition, while at the same time facing the present and future challenges of managing the state’s deer population,” said Chad Stewart, the DNR’s deer, elk and moose program leader. “We hope that hunters across the state will take the opportunity to review the regulations and share their opinions, because their feedback is critical in shaping the future of deer hunting.”

Proposed regulation changes include:

Statewide

  • Change Liberty and Independence hunt qualifications to include deaf people.
  • Allow mentored youths (age 9 and younger), junior license holders (age 10-16) and apprentice license holders to be exempt from antler point restrictions in all seasons, in all deer management units (DMUs) and under all licenses.
  • Require a 60% support threshold from a survey to prompt the DNR to recommend antler point restrictions (APRs) to the NRC, as decided by the 2019 APR work group. This replaces the 66% support threshold recommended by previous APR work groups. Additionally, failed APR initiatives would face a 10-year moratorium before another initiative would be considered.
  • Change the statewide limit for antlerless license purchase to 10 per hunter. This limit offers maximum opportunity for those who wish to manage abundant deer on their property.
  • Require hunter orange to be visible on occupied ground blinds.
  • Standardize baiting practices (eliminate the requirement to use single-bite baits in select counties) during the Liberty and Independence hunts for hunters with disabilities.

Upper Peninsula

  • Allow Upper Peninsula archers to resume pursuing antlerless deer in all DMUs with their deer/deer combination license.
  • Remove remnant APRs on the deer license in parts of DMU 122.

Lower Peninsula

  • In addition to the archery season, allow antlerless deer to be taken on the deer/deer combination license during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons in all Lower Peninsula DMUs.
  • Open early and late antlerless seasons in all Lower Peninsula mainland DMUs.
  • Allow antlerless deer to be taken on a deer/deer combination license during both the early and late antlerless seasons in the Lower Peninsula.
  • Change antlerless quotas in select DMUs.
  • Shorten muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula to 10 days and extend the late antlerless season to provide consistency between all regions of the state.
  • Allow legal firearms to be used during the muzzleloader season in the southern Lower Peninsula.
  • Scale carcass movement restrictions to areas most affected by chronic wasting disease. This eases some of the movement restrictions in parts of the state with a lower risk of harvesting a CWD-positive animal while still applying those restrictions to areas with the highest risk.
  • Resume four-point restriction on combination license in select DMUs in the Lower Peninsula.
  • Continue the expanded archery season through Jan. 31 for one more year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Read the full NRC proposal memo or the justifications behind the 2020 proposed regulation changes at Michigan.gov/Deer.

Hunters are encouraged to review the proposed regulations and share their feedback either through an anonymous survey or by email to NRC@Michigan.gov. All comments must be received by June 5 and will be shared with members of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

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Invasive, Self-Cloning Marbled Crayfish Now Prohibited Species

Marbled crayfish brown08JUN20- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger approved the addition of marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) to Michigan’s list of prohibited species at yesterday’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Invasive Species Order Amendment No. 1 of 2020 was presented to the NRC at its April 16th meeting.
Marbled crayfish, also known as marmorkrebs and virgin crayfish, are increasing in popularity in the aquarium trade due to their unique ability to reproduce by cloning. All known specimens are genetically identical females that can produce up to 700 eggs per reproductive cycle without the need for fertilization.
Adding marbled crayfish to the state’s list of prohibited invasive species aligns Michigan with the
Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers’ list of “least wanted” aquatic invasive species, those that pose a serious threat to the environment and economy in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region.

What is prohibited status?

Species that are prohibited in Michigan cannot be possessed, introduced, imported, sold or offered for sale as a live organism, except under certain circumstances. Michigan's Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act (Part 413 of Act 451) established the list of prohibited and restricted species, which can be amended by invasive species orders from the DNR or the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The term "prohibited" is used for species that are not widely distributed in the state.

Why are marbled crayfish prohibited?

According to NREPA Part 413, a species can be listed as prohibited if it is not native or naturalized in the state and either can cause human or environmental harm or lacks effective management controls. Marbled crayfish have not been blue marbled crayfishdetected in the wild in Michigan. However, if a single marbled crayfish escaped captivity or was released into open water, it could have the potential of initiating an entire population because it can individually reproduce in large numbers.
“Marbled crayfish are believed to originate in the aquarium trade, and as such, they have no documented native range,” said Lucas Nathan, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator. “In some areas where they have been released in Madagascar and several European countries, they have become established and spread rapidly.”
Their reproductive capacity and aggressive nature may allow them to dominate lakes, ponds, streams and rivers in a short period of time. They feed on algae, plants, snails and amphibians, limiting food sources for fish and other aquatic species.
“Invasions in Europe indicate that these crayfish can likely survive in Michigan’s climate,” said Nathan. “Marbled crayfish are being listed as prohibited to prevent their future potential introduction, establishment and detrimental impacts in Michigan.”
What do they look like?

Marbled crayfish are considered medium-sized, ranging from 4 to 5 inches in length, with slender or narrow claws. Their distinguishing feature is a streaked or marbled coloration pattern, which is most visible on the back, or carapace. In the wild, most range in color from olive to brown, but in captivity, colors can include tan, red or blue.

What if I own marbled crayfish?

In order to comply with the new invasive species order, owners of marbled crayfish should humanely dispose of any specimens in their possession and clean tanks thoroughly to assure no eggs or young remain. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition provides recommendations for humane disposal of aquatic invertebrates including crayfish. Note that flushing an aquatic animal down a drain or toilet is not considered humane and does not necessarily kill the animal, but can introduce it into a water system.
“Disposing of marbled crayfish by releasing them into the wild should not be considered," said Nathan. “Marbled crayfish have an extremely high potential for becoming invasive due to their reproductive capacity. Their ability to move across land also increases their risk of spread.”
Now that these crayfish are prohibited under NREPA Part 413, knowingly releasing them into the wild is considered a felony offense.

Can I quickly sell my marbled crayfish?

As prohibited species, marbled crayfish no longer can be sold or traded in the state. Over the next year, the DNR Law Enforcement Division will be working to educate traders and sellers, including online retailers offering to ship from other states and countries, about the new status of marbled crayfish in Michigan.
Because selling the species from any location in Michigan, even to locations out of state, is prohibited, sellers of aquatic species in Michigan should immediately stop sales of marbled crayfish and humanely dispose of any remaining stock.

What if I find a marbled crayfish?

Those who suspect they have found a marbled crayfish in the wild should photograph it, record the location and time, and report the find to Lucas Nathan, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, at 517-284-6235 or NathanL@Michigan.gov. If it is possible to capture the crayfish, place it in a container in the freezer until it can be analyzed.
Native white river crayfish and calico crayfish are somewhat similar in appearance to marbled crayfish. To find information on identifying the marbled crayfish and distinguishing it from native species, visit
Michigan.gov/Invasives.

Michigan's Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

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Fire Wood Permits are Free in 2020; Apply Online Now

Fuelwood gathering

07MAY20-Michigan residents now can apply online for a free permit to cut fuelwood from dead and downed trees in approved areas of Michigan’s state forests.
Fuelwood season will begin May 1st, a month later than usual, because of statewide Department of Natural Resources office closures due to the COVID-19 virus.
DNR staff recommends that you visit the site where you plan to cut before applying for a permit. The quality and quantity of dead wood varies by location.
Current maps of areas where cutting will be allowed are available online. The permit form is at Michigan.gov/Fuelwood. Print it, complete it, and carry it with you when you are cutting wood. If you have already submitted an application and payment, your check will be returned to you along with your permit. Permits are good for 90 days after they’re issued; all permits expire Dec. 31st regardless of issue date.

Check fuelwood maps to make sure the area where you plan to cut is open for fuelwood. Permits are for use on designated state forest land in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Permits allow for collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household. Wood is for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. Wood must be dead and down within 200 feet of a road. No off-road use of vehicles is permitted to gather wood.
Permits normally cost $20 each; 2020 permits are free due to the effect of the COVID-19 virus on DNR staff availability. The DNR will assess the situation for 2021 after this fuelwood season has ended. Local DNR customer service centers and management unit offices are currently closed due to statewide measures against COVID-19. Staff is available by telephone.

If you have additional questions specifically regarding fuelwood permits, contact Doug Heym at 517-284-5867

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DNR Customer Service Centers

  • Baraga - 906-353-6651
  • Bay City - 989-684-9141
  • Cadillac - 231-775-9727
  • Detroit - 313-396-6890
  • Escanaba - 906-786-2351
  • Gaylord - 989-732-3541
  • Lansing - 517-284-4720
  • Marquette - 906-228-6561
  • Newberry - 906-293-5131
  • Plainwell - 269-685-6851
  • Roscommon - 989-275-5151
  • Sault Ste. Marie - 906-635-6161
  • Traverse City - 231-922-5280

DNR Field Offices

  • Crystal Falls - 906-875-6622
  • Gwinn - 906-346-9201
  • Naubinway - 906-477-6048
  • Norway - 906-563-9247

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Tired of the mad dash to get a good camping spot at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at Little Beaver Lake Campground, Twelve Mile Campground, or Hurricane River Campground?  These campgrounds now require reservations, after years of a "first come, first served" policy. Since visitation has nearly doubled in the last few years during the summer months reservations can now be made at recreation.gov.

   

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

DNR Public News is published here as a courtesy and does not represent the views or intent of the ownership of Carroll Broadcasting.

Copyright © 2019 Carroll Broadcasting, Inc., All rights reserved.

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