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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Why worry about woodies?

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Dark silhouettes skittered across the calm surface of the river ahead of us as we motored through the thick, misty morning fog.

“What’s that,” my client asked with a tone of wonderment in his voice. “A bird?”

“Actually, several birds,” I answered. “Looks like a mamma wood duck and her babies. Let’s see, five, six, seven of ‘em, to be exact.”

“Look, honey. Just look at all of them,” he said poking his wife on her shoulder with one hand while pointing at the brood of ducklings with the other. I could tell by their awestruck stare that this was a duck species they’d seen before only in photographs.  more...


 



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Michigan refuge really for the birds

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It's no secret that Canada geese are thriving at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

So, too, are loons, bald eagles, ospreys and trumpeter swans.

The 95,455-acre refuge 35 miles east of Munising on Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a wetland-waterfowl wonderland.

The refuge hosts breeding birds as well as migrants passing through, and thousands of geese and ducks are on the refuge at a time.

In all, 239 species of birds may be found at the refuge, half of which breed at Seney.

Peak fall migration is from the end of September through October.

The refuge was created in 1935 by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps out of what was known locally as the Great Manistique Swamp.  more...

 



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Wolf survey fizzles; DNR discounts 'conspiracy'

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A two-week search for wolf tracks in northern Michigan did not find a single print, but Department of Natural Resources biologists say they are not really surprised.

The survey was taken Feb. 21-March 4 to find tracks in about 2,000 square miles between Rogers City and the north end of Torch Lake, near Elk Rapids.

DNR biologist Brian Mastenbrook said he wasn't surprised by the lack of success.

"With such a large area and a low density (of wolves), the chances were pretty slim," he said.

Mastenbrook said that about 30 employees and volunteers from the DNR, local Indian tribes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wildlife section and Central Michigan University's graduate wildlife program participated in the survey.   more...

 



Animals  Environment  

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Nesting eagles may produce bumper crop along Lake Erie

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Ohio's growing bald eagle population appears poised for another strong nesting season, especially along western Lake Erie, state wildlife officials said yesterday.

Staff members and volunteers who work for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have counted a record 117 nesting eagle pairs so far this year, up from 108 last year, said Mark Shieldcastle, project manager for the state Division of Wildlife.

"They're taking right off," he said. "We're still in pretty strong growth and probably will be for the foreseeable future."  more...

 



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Wolf killed in Lake County was rare visitor

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He was a lone wolf, looking for love in the wrong place -- Illinois -- and he died for his mistake.

That's how state biologist Brad Semel thinks a young male timber wolf ended up as roadkill in Lake County at Chain O' Lakes State Park.

The second wolf confirmed to have visited the state since the early 1900s, it now lies in a freezer at an Illinois Department of Natural Resources facility in Lakemoor.

Semel is preserving the carcass so the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service can do DNA tests that will positively identify the species and probably tell what wolf pack it came from. But Semel is certain it's a wolf and pretty sure it's from Wisconsin.  more...

 



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Regal butterfly facing lean times

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Monarch butterflies - those beautiful winged insects that have captivated generations of net-toting kids - may be hard to find in the Great Lakes region's tall grasses this summer.

Their numbers are way down in Mexico this winter, from where they migrate north in the spring and return in the fall, causing a flurry of finger-pointing.

The United States and Canada blame Mexico for excessive logging of trees that monarchs use for refuge during the winter. Mexico blames the United States and Canada for excessive use of pesticides and for condoning urban sprawl and mega farms, including the cultivation of crops that have been genetically modified.   more...

 



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Use the Razor in cougar search

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Michigan's Endangered Species Act doesn't say the Department of Natural Resources will simply protect animals on the list. It says it will work to propagate them, and my dictionaries define that word as "causing animals or plants to multiply or breed."

So the recent confirmation of a cougar in the Upper Peninsula by the DNR -- the third confirmed by the agency in the same small area in 20 years, by the way -- means it's time for the DNR to give up its decades-old mantra of "there ain't no cougars left in Michigan." It should face the fact that a few of these wildest of predators are roaming in some of our wildest places, and some that aren't so wild.

For the past few years, the DNR has adamantly rejected evidence from the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy that cougars exist in our state. The conservancy has DNA evidence from 10 scat (feces) samples found in eight counties in both peninsulas.    more...



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Tests confirm cougar in Upper Peninsula

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- DNA testing has confirmed that a large cat struck by a vehicle last year was a cougar, but it remains unclear whether Michigan has an established population of wildcats, a state wildlife official said Thursday.

A motorist reported hitting "a large cat" in southern Menominee County on November 2, 2004. The driver turned over hair samples collected from the bumper to biologists at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources field office in Escanaba.

The samples were forwarded to the Wildlife Division's pathology lab, then sent to Central Michigan University for analysis.   more...

 



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Mastodons vs. mammoths

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Elephant-like mammoths and mastodons were designed differently. Mammoths, of which the remains of one have been found in Cass County, were grazers.

Mastodons, more abundant in Michigan, were browsers.

Four surfaced in St. Joseph County. They were even more prevalent in Berrien County, where 18 finds dot a map, and Van Buren County, with a concentration of about a dozen.

Dr. Tom Goodwin, a paleobiology professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, riveted a capacity crowd at The Museum of Southwestern Michigan College's first spring lecture Wednesday night.

He expertly wove Ice Age detective stories from thousands of years ago when a glacier a mile thick covered Michigan.  more...


 



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Judge restores wolf protection

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WILDLIFE: Ruling ends the killing of problem wolves in Wisconsin, postpones state management in Minnesota.



NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went too far in 2003 when it reduced protections for timber wolves across much of the nation.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones in Portland, Ore., effectively restored most wolves to their endangered status under the federal Endangered Species Act.

And Jones' decision appears to reject the federal government's wolf-management philosophy of dissecting wolf population by region, saying the animals need more time to recover in more areas before their future is put back in the hands of state governments.   more...

 



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Bald eagle hunts in open area of river

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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) - An open stretch of the St. Joseph River has drawn a bald eagle this winter.

Residents first spotted the eagle hunting in the area last week. John Mroczek said he was reading a newspaper at his home when he first saw it.

''I was upstairs when he yelled, 'Come down and see the eagle,''' said his wife, Denise. ''I thought it was on the Discovery Channel until he started yelling, 'Come quick.''   more...


 



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Bald eagle population on the rise, state says

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PhotoOAK HARBOR, Ohio - Ohio's bald eagle-recovery efforts remain strong, with protected western Lake Erie's wetland marshes continuing to show their ecological value to America's once-endangered national symbol.

Sandusky, Erie, and Ottawa counties again posted the highest numbers in the state in the annual midwinter bald eagle survey. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources released results of the two-week survey Tuesday.

"Ohio's bald eagle population continues to expand throughout the state," said Steven Gray, the Ohio DNR's wildlife division chief.   more...

 



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Return to a traditional goose season won't occur without a price

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ANN ARBOR -- Joe Robison stood, holding a black-and-white flag by his side, watching as the geese to our south just kept winging away.

"Think they're getting smarter?" asked Robison, a Department of Natural Resources biologist and a confirmed waterfowl hunter. "Five or six years ago, we could have flagged those birds right in."

Neither flagging nor calling was doing much to attract geese to our spread in a corn field here. While there were plenty of birds flying, in anywhere from small groups to sizable flocks, they seemed to know exactly where they were going. And it wasn't where we were. Despite a nice spread of 100 top-notch decoys (including 50 Hard Cores, the most realistic-looking dekes on the market) we'd managed to attract just one quartet of giant Canadas within range so far. And we killed just two of them.  more...

 



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Cormorant study fuels the fire

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Are cormorants a victim of perception, or are they a conservation effort gone out of control?

Sport and commercial anglers got part one of a two-part answer this week when preliminary diet analysis research by University of Wisconsin graduate researcher Sarah Meadows was released.

Meadows sorted through the stomachs of 436 lower Green Bay cormorants shot under a federal permit between mid-May and mid-September 2004. She counted 4,712 fish.   more...

 

Yellow perch, 1,743 of them, topped the list of species. One cormorant had 80 perch in its stomach; another, a 23-inch walleye.



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Owls from far north gather in state

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A great gray owl overlooks the northern Wisconsin town of Oliver, near Superior, on Friday.Parliament is in session in Wisconsin, but there is not one powdered wig in sight.

That's because we're talking about a gathering of owls, not British politicians. And a gathering of owls is indeed called a "parliament," just as a gathering of larks is called an "exaltation" and a gathering of eagles, a "convocation."

But it's the owls that have birders in Wisconsin chirping this winter. Driven down out of their far northern haunts in Canada by deep snow and a crash in the population of meadow voles, rarely seen owls such as the great gray owl, the northern hawk owl and the boreal owl are being seen by the dozens in northern Wisconsin, especially around Superior.  more...

 



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