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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Soft-shell turtle not often seen

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Michiganders sometimes confuse a snapping turtle (a tiny one, that is) with a musk turtle, a painted turtle with a red-eared slider or an eastern box turtle with a Blanding's turtle. But there's no mistaking the spiny soft-shell turtle.

Michigan's only turtle with a pancake-like soft shell and pig-like snout favors rivers, impoundments and large lakes. A sandy and muddy bottom is preferred, where the soft-shell uses its snout to bury itself and await unsuspecting prey.

Soft-shells live in all but the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, but nowhere in the Upper Peninsula.  more...

 



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Ohio's trumpeter swan program surpassing goal

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In less than a decade the Ohio population of the largest waterfowl species in North America, the trumpeter swan, has gone from zero to at least 17 breeding pairs in a successful restoration program.

Adult trumpeters, which are white with black bills, weigh 20 to 30 pounds, stand four feet tall, and have a wingspan of seven feet.

They are a third or so larger than tundra swans, the arctic species which they resemble and which pass through the region on migration.   more...

 



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Cormorant Controversy

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The illegal shooting of birds on Little Charity Island in 2000 initiated research and rules. Is it enough?

The charter crew was fishing Lake Huron near Alpena when a green blip registered on the boat's radar.

"Storm approaching," the captain said. The blip looked like any other storm cloud they'd encountered on Thunder Bay.

But on this particular summer day in 1996, a different black cloud - 20 years in the making - had come to roost in northern Lake Huron.

"It was cormorants," Alpena fishing guide Brad MacNeill recalled on a recent day. "A mile-long string of big, black birds. Flying low to the water. We watched them come in, coordinate and gang up on the forage fish. It was an amazing sight."   more...



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Committee OKs city ban on feeding gulls

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Feed the birds; starve the gulls.

To combat the growing gull problem in Sheboygan, the Common Council’s Public Protection and Safety Committee endorsed an ordinance Tuesday night that bans people from knowingly feeding gulls within the city limits.

Committee members, however, made it clear it would be OK under the ordinance for people to put bird feeders, suet balls or other food sources out for common birds. Gulls normally do not consume common bird foods.

“We wanted to assure the public that they could still feed the wrens, the robins and the cardinals and all that,” said Ald. Marilyn Montemayor.   more...

 



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Ohio officials in a flap over increasing numbers of cormorants

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The double-crested cormorant is wearing out its welcome in Ohio.

The return of the black-feathered, long-necked diving bird that eats lots of fish was hailed as an environmental comeback on Lake Erie. But that's changing. The goose-sized birds are everywhere, and problems are growing.

The cormorants, with their highly acidic droppings, are destroying key Lake Erie habitats used by other birds.

That led the Ohio Division of Wildlife in May to shoot 500 of the birds for the first time on two islands in western Lake Erie, wildlife biologist Mark Shieldcastle said.

The state wants to kill thousands more cormorants next year, he said.

At the same time, cormorants are spreading to inland lakes.  more...

 



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Many give thanks for worms

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Perhaps no other creature of such a small stature that never leaves the ground helps fellow animals and people more than earthworms. Need proof? Ask a gardener, an angler or a robin.

There are 17 native and 13 introduced species of North America earthworms, with the night crawler being the largest, fastest-moving and most well-known.

The reddish-brown night crawler can grow to 10 inches long -- and in the case of yard-hopping robins, anglers, farmers and gardeners, the longer the better.

The night crawler's name is derived from the worm's propensity for leaving its burrow after dark and crawling along the top of the soil or turf in search of an organic snack. A spring or summer rain will increase the number of worms poking through the surface.   more...

 



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DNR: Minnesota duck population in decline

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The Minnesota duck population has declined 37 percent from last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The state's breeding mallard population was estimated at 238,500, adding to hunters' fears of another poor waterfowl hunting season this year.

Because of poor weather, the spring survey was mostly conducted after May 15, which means some migrating waterfowl may have already left the state.

This could be partly responsible for the decline, but biologists said Minnesota's duck population has fallen 24 percent since 1995.   more...

 



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Eagles being taken off endangered list

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While the Ontario government is proposing to reduce areas in the province where the bald eagle is considered endangered, and remove the peregrine falcon from endangered species status, the eagle population in and around Lake of the Woods remains strong.
“I think we’ve always had a good population here in relation to other areas,” said Scott Lockhart, Ministry of Natural Resources resource liaison for the Lake of the Woods Area.
Under the MNR proposal, the bald eagle will stay listed as endangered, but only in the Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and upper St. Lawrence watersheds. North of these areas, including Northwestern Ontario and Lake of the Woods, the eagle’s status would change to special concern. The ministry is posting the proposals on the Environmental Registry for 30 days for public comment.
Lockhart said the proposal was the result of a report by several MNR biologists from across Ontario, including himself and Bruce Ranta, on the status of eagles and their throughout the province.   more...


 



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Falcon chick rules the roost

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The first peregrine falcon born in Macomb County was banded Wednesday and named Alexa in honor of Alexander Macomb -- a war hero who is the county's namesake.

The female peregrine falcon chick was born approximately 19 days ago on the 11th floor of the old Macomb County Administration Building in Mount Clemens.

"This is the first ever peregrine chick born in Macomb County," said Kariann Reno, southeast Michigan falcon coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

"This is history in Macomb County," Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nancy White said. "It's a day to remember."   more...

 



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DNR seeks public's help in reptile, amphibian count

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Many of the world's reptiles and amphibians are disappearing, and what's especially worrying biologists is that they don't know why. It could be loss of habitat. It could be increased predation. It could be several factors working together. But so far, no one has been able to explain the losses.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is doing its part to get a handle on the local reptile population by creating a statewide database to provide a baseline for future studies, and it's asking the citizenry at large to take part.

The Herp Atlas study began three years ago in cooperation with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, and through 2007, the DNR wants everyone interested to fill out cards listing the frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders and lizards they spot at various places in the state.   more...

 



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Wolf, cormorant programs may get funds

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MARQUETTE - U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak was among federal lawmakers who recently earmarked more than $15.7 million for Michigan projects including funding to control cormorants, wolves and the emerald ash borer.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Department of Agriculture Appropriations bill recently.

"A large part of protecting the environment and the agricultural industry in Michigan is controlling the damaging effects of overpopulated species and ecological changes," Stupak said. "I am pleased to announce this funding to help control many of these harmful elements that have been affecting farming, fishing and hunting in recent years."

Stupak said the House action is the first step in securing these needed funds.

The gray wolf population in northern Michigan has been troublesome for farmers who have watched as their livestock are increasingly preyed upon each year, Stupak said.

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DNR: coyotes spotted in area

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Coyotes have been seen on the outskirts of Ypsilanti. Residents have reported seeing this intelligent member of the dog family on S. Grove Road and in other areas along the south side. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources confirms coyotes are in the Ypsilanti area.

Coyotes are the size and shape of a medium-sized German Shepherd, with similar marking. Its tail, which is round and bushy, is carried straight out below the level of the back. Its ears are pointed, somewhat larger than a dog's, and stand erect. It will usually weigh no more than 45 pounds.

Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals in the world, which accounts for it having spread over the majority of North America. The near extermination of the gray wolf also aided that expansion.   more...

 



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Be on the watch for piping plovers

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CHEBOYGAN - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking those who visit beaches along the Great Lakes this summer to be aware of the presence of the piping plover, an endangered bird protected by federal and state law.

The small, stocky and sandy-colored bird with a single ring around its neck and a black band across the forehead from eye to eye often nests along the beaches of the Great Lakes, said DNR spokeswoman Lisa Gamero.

"When moving, the piping plover blends very well with the background of the open, sandy beaches where it feeds and nests, making it very difficult to see. Eggs are laid in small clutches directly onto the sand beaches and blend in well with small stones in sand," she said.  more...


 



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So long, Sparty

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You gotta be kidding me...

U-M fans win wolverine name debate

ROYAL OAK — Detroit Zoo staff learned the only thing more ferocious than a wolverine under attack may be a University of Michigan Wolverine who feels insulted.

U-M alumni apparently missed the joke when the zoo named its wolverines Bucky and Sparty in honor of longstanding U-M foes the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans.

After a furor, the zoo agreed this week to rename its kits, ceding victory to U-M alumni and fans who bleed blue and gold.

Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan e-mailed a letter to complainants Monday notifying them that kits Sparty and Bucky were renamed Tamarack and Tilia in honor of Michigan trees.

The name change came after U-M Alumni Association members started a letter-writing campaign in which some threatened to stop financially supporting the zoo or boycott it altogether.   more...

 



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  • Anybody suprised the panty wearing, wedge assed, alumni association for UM got t...more
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Turtles dot local roads

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It's June, and turtles are hitting the road.

Looking for love? Well, no, they've already found that.

What the scads of mainly female turtles wandering across roads and driveways and through back yards are looking for is a safe place to lay their eggs.

"This is the time of year when the female turtles are up trying to find the perfect place to lay eggs," said Andy Snider, curator of reptiles at the Detroit Zoo. "The zoo gets literally dozens of calls this time of the year, every year."

It's not just one species of turtle with wanderlust.

"It's all kinds of turtles," said Snider. "At this time of year, things like painted turtles, Blanding's turtles, snapping turtles, lots of native Michigan turtles are up wandering, trying to find adequate places to lay their eggs."   more...

 



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