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Crying fowl over copious cormorant

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Middle Island, Ontario -- Black birds swirl around this uninhabited Lake Erie island just north of the Ohio border, testimony to all that has gone wrong with the Great Lakes invasion of the double-crested cormorant.

Once considered an environmental success story, the cormorant has gone from near extinction to overpopulation. Middle Island is ample evidence why the cormorant is now reviled as a bird that destroys habitat, gobbles game fish and pollutes air and water.

The schools of Lake Erie walleye, the big lake's most popular game fish, are dominated by 15-inch fish from the spectacular class of 2003. Those walleye, lament fishermen worrying about their fish of the future, are plentiful and the perfect size for hungry cormorant.   more...

 



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NESTING SEASON FOR PIPING PLOVERS

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In the last century, the increase in shoreline development has driven a small and rare bird close to extinction. Each spring, the Piping Plover nests along the shores of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Tom Kramer gives us an update on the effort to protect the bird:

The Great Lakes population of Piping Plovers has been on the endangered species list since 1986, when the number of nesting pairs dwindled to 17. These days the number of nesting pairs is up into the 50's. But biologists say the bird still needs protection.

Lisa Gamero coordinates the Piping Plover Patrol for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Gamero says nesting sites are becoming scarce as the birds compete with people for lake frontage.

"Their habitat needs are basically, kind of a wide open beach, with a lot of small pebbles or cobbles, sand, and they usually have to be within a hundred feet of the water, and the nearest vegetation needs to be about a hundred feet away from where they decide to put their nest."

The plover will remain on the federal endangered species list until its numbers increase to 150 healthy nesting pairs, for 5 consecutive years.   more...

 



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Peregrine falcons find home in Neenah

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NEENAH — A pair of endangered peregrine falcons has produced two young in a manmade nest atop Minergy Corp.’s plant overlooking Little Lake Butte des Morts.

Wisconsin has about 20 pairs of nesting peregrine falcons, but Riot and Karla, as the birds have been named, are the first known to have taken roost in the Fox River Valley.

“I think it is very significant,” said Greg Septon, a peregrine expert who initiated Wisconsin’s peregrine recovery program in 1986. “It’s very exciting.”

Two eggs hatched about a week ago, and a third egg remains in the nest. Hope for a third nestling, or eyas, is diminishing with each passing day, however.   more...


 



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Wildlife Officials to Kill 4,000 Cormorants

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WALKER, Minn. - Chris Anderson is only half-joking when he offers a solution for the hungry cormorants that are eating the fish in Leech Lake - and taking money out of his pocket. "Kill them all," he says of the voracious, predatory birds.

At Anderson's Cove, Anderson's resort on the western edge of the lake, just three of 11 cabins were rented for this month's walleye opener, after six years of strong opening weekends. Over the next month alone, Anderson figures he'll lose $40,000 or more through mid-June because of cabins standing empty.   more...

 



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Cormorants: The heart of the problem

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CormorantDouble-crested cormorants don't get much respect these days. While I don't expect to generate much sympathy for the cormorant, I do wonder about the recent level of disdain and disgust often associated with the mere mention of this fish-eating bird's name.

Cormorants never were all that popular. While people might speak highly of a great blue heron or pelican or common loon — all birds that also eat fish — cormorants seldom receive that same kind of admiration.    more...

 



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Cormorants take a legal hit

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Aerial surveys at the Les Cheneaux Islands in northern Lake Huron last summer found less foraging pressure by cormorants, the black, goose-sized diving birds that each eat a pound of fish a day.

The decrease followed an experiment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Natural Resources to reduce cormorant numbers in selected areas. Some adult birds were killed, and thousands of eggs in nests were oiled to prevent them from hatching.   more...

 



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$500,000 fence planned to save our nesting turtles

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Spring is the cruelest season for turtles that live in the Muskegon River marsh.

Driven by the need to breed, scores of turtles migrate across the marsh in search of nesting sites that are high and dry. That journey often leads to the highest spot in the sprawling river delta, a 11/2-mile section of U.S. 31 built atop levees that bisect the marsh.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens when turtles cross paths with vehicles traveling 70 mph or faster.

State officials said they believe that section of U.S. 31 is Michigan's deadliest stretch of road for turtles.   more...

 



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Michigan to cull UP's growing wolf population

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The state Department of Natural Resources announced plans Tuesday to trap and kill as many as 20 of the Upper Peninsula's burgeoning population of gray wolves this summer in an attempt to limit attacks on domestic livestock and pets.

DNR officials said their goal is to assure a healthy future for wolves in Michigan, which might otherwise be threatened by public backlash against wolves in backyards and farm fields.

Todd Hogrefe, DNR endangered species coordinator, said wolves have attacked three dogs in recent weeks, including one chained up in its yard near Pelkie, near the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula.   more...

 



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Wolf management focus of meetings

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MARQUETTE - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host a series of meetings next month aimed at guiding revision of the state's wolf management plan.

The schedule of meetings, slated to begin May 2 in Watersmeet, includes additional Upper Peninsula sessions in Houghton, Escanaba, Newberry, Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie.

The meetings will provide the public with an opportunity to identify important issues and express opinions regarding wolves and wolf management in the state.

"Social input is a critical component of our planning process with the DNR," DNR Director Rebecca Humphries said in a written statement. "We realize the importance of understanding public perceptions and concerns when it comes to managing the wolf population."   more...

 



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Turtle aid sought for site

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The sighting of four Blanding's turtles last year on and near the shuttered Johns Manville Corp. plant in Waukegan that polluted the lakefront with asbestos has prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ask for additional conservation measures during cleanup.

Although it is unclear whether eggs have been laid or more turtles may soon be roaming the site, EPA officials said Tuesday that the provisions are necessary to prevent any harm that could come to the threatened species during the construction season.

"We don't know if there are any Blanding's turtles, but we're going to assume that there are and play it safe," said Brad Bradley, who oversees cleanup of the site for the EPA. "We need to have this conservation plan to make sure ... we don't injure or kill any turtles."   more...


 



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Lights take toll on birds

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It's not as bird-brained as it sounds.

Turning out the lights or closing blinds in office towers and other tall buildings throughout Toronto at night could save thousands of migratory birds from crashing into them, causing death and injury, say councillors and a citizens' group.

Councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Joe Mihevc will ask city council next week to authorize a staff report to look at ways — voluntary or mandatory, including a possible bylaw — to save more than 10,000 birds that die across the city annually.

"In this big, big, beautiful city of ours we have this silent, invisible, needless tragedy of migrating birds coming through our city and meeting their deaths," said De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre).   more...

 



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Cranes are on their way back

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By Scott De Laruelle - BARABOO - While folks in Sauk County were shivering and shoveling their way through a Wisconsin winter, a dozen young whoopers from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge were enjoying the warm weather of sunny Florida. The group left Friday, and workers from Baraboo's International Crane Foundation will help track them as they make their way north.

ICF outreach coordinator Joan Garland said 11 of the 12 surviving whoopers that followed an ultralight to Florida this fall left their winter home at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. She said the group only got about 14 miles before they had to stop due to heavy rains.

There are also 14 other birds there from previous years. One crane from last year's ultralight was killed by a bobcat, as was one from the 2002 group.   more...

 



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Big cats - really big - are slinking east to Ohio

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A different kind of cat may lurk in the wilds of Ohio. A really big kind of cat. An eat-your-pet-dog kind of cat.

Recent reports of a black panther roaming eastern Geauga County are the latest in a long line of ferocious-feline sightings around Ohio. Residents in this area and around the state have phoned authorities numerous times over the years to warn about the kitties.

Nobody ever seems to find the animals, but that doesn't mean they're not here . . . or on the way, researchers say.

Mountain lions have been detected as close to Ohio as Illinois and Michigan over the past few years. The predatory animal - also known as a cougar, panther or puma - seems to be wandering from its Western habitat into the nation's midsection.   more...

 



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City tries to avoid being bird death trap

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Weighing no more than a quarter-ounce and barely 4 inches long, the Blackburnian warbler still is hardy enough to make a 2,000-mile flight every spring from the jungles of Central America to breeding grounds around the Great Lakes.

But the tiny songbird, known for its fiery orange throat, is no match for the glass and steel jungle of downtown Chicago.

Thousands of warblers, thrushes, finches and other birds flying over the city this spring will end up crashing into the towering walls of glass, mistaking the reflection of trees and sky for the real thing. Or the bright lights of the big city will throw off their internal compasses, luring them into an untimely death on the migratory highway that funnels birds along the southern tip of Lake Michigan.   more...


 



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Isle Royale moose population slump continues while wolves feast

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Mercilessly hounded by blood-sucking ticks, the Isle Royale moose herd is on a downward spiral — and the wolf packs that roam the national park in Lake Superior are taking advantage.

The moose population fell to about 540 this winter, down from 740 last year and 1,100 during the winter of 2002-03, wildlife biologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Tech University said Tuesday. Meanwhile, wolf numbers jumped from 19 to 29 last season and reached 30 this year.

Although at their lowest ebb in nearly a decade, the moose have not reached a crisis point, Peterson said. They bounced back in the mid-1990s after plummeting from 2,500 to 500 within a couple of years.  more...

 



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