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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Cormorant diet is subject of study

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Double-crested cormorants, those hook-billed fish eaters many anglers love to loathe, have long been blamed for the decline of yellow perch fishing in Green Bay.

“It’s like: They’re big, they’re black, they’re ugly — let’s kill ’em,” said state Department of Natural Resources biologist Paul Peeters of Sturgeon Bay, describing the way some fishermen feel about the protected predators.

But the blame might have been hasty.

In a historic effort to find out if anglers’ concerns are warranted, University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate researcher Sarah Meadows — working under the direction of UW wildlife ecologist Scott Craven — dug into the bellies of more than 400 Green Bay cormorants shot under a federal permit last year.   more...

 



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Area bird watchers flock together for annual count

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photo: localThe recent thaw played a role in a drop in species sighted during Sunday's annual Christmas bird count in the Holland area.

A preliminary count put the number of species found at 46, significantly lower than last year's record count of 66.

However, one team's findings won't be turned in until Tuesday, so the count may rise to a figure in the low 50s. A total of 22 people on five teams participated in the day-long count.   more...

 



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The Blue Water Audubon Society

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The Blue Water Audubon Society was founded in 1955 as a non-profit organization for outdoor experiences, promoting nature education and protection and conserving wildlife and the environment. The annual dues entitle you to receive our quarterly newsletter, "Nature Notes". Our meetings are from 6:45 to 9:00 pm the first Monday of each month. The location is the Port Huron Museum at 1115 6th Street Port Huron MI., from October through May. The club also sponsors field trips, including bird watching, wildflower walks and the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.   more...

 



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Cameras are on the hunt for cougars near dunes

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TRAVERSE CITY -- Are cougars on the prowl around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore? Scientists hope a few strategically placed cameras will help them find out.

Reports of cougar sightings have trickled into the park headquarters in Leelanau County for at least two decades, said Steve Yancho, chief of natural resources. "We're fairly confident that we've got something out there," he said Monday.

But it's unclear how many big cats there are, or whether they represent a resident, breeding population, he said. Wildlife biologists are debating similar questions about cougar sightings elsewhere in Michigan.

Scientists mounted motion-detecting, still field cameras in trees a couple of months ago at five locations around Sleeping Bear Dunes, which extends 35 miles along the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan.   more...

 



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Bald Eagle Population Soars

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Ohio's bald eagle population was up to 372 last year from less than a dozen 25 years ago.

State wildlife biologists are seeking help from eagle-eyed Ohioans. Through January 15th, the Department of Natural Resources is taking part in a national tally of nesting activity for bald eagles and golden eagles.

People are encouraged to report any eagle activity to the Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station at 419-898-0960. But remember that approaching a nest may cause the birds to abandon their eggs.   more...

 



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Eagle Watching

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While many animals take a long winter rest, bald eagles take to the skies. Wildlife watchers flock to Wisconsin to spy North America’s largest population of wintering eagles. The greatest concentration of the majestic birds is found at locks, dams and power plants along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. Top watching spots are Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, where the waters of the Wisconsin River flowing below the Prairie du Sac dam seldom freeze, making fish available as food for the birds. Head to Cassville and the Mississippi River for Bald Eagle Days, Jan. 29-30. Visitors can enjoy guided bus tours to prime sighting locations and other programs and exhibits devoted to the birds.  more...

 



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Cougars may prowl Michigan

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SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE, Mich. -- Chief ranger Larry Johnson was driving to a movie with his wife in June when he saw something he never expected to see here near the shores of Lake Michigan -- a mountain lion.

The cougar was crossing Highway 22, gliding smoothly and confidently as if on roller blades. It disappeared into a patch of red pine trees, not far from a house and a mailbox.

"I knew immediately what it was," said Johnson, a National Park Service ranger who has worked at seven parks over 21 years. "Still, you ask yourself: 'Could it really be what I think it is?' "   more...

 



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Otters make recovery in Ohio

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River otters have come a long way in Ohio.

The first 13 otters released in Ohio did not fare well at the Grand River Wildlife Area in Trumbull County in 1986 and 1987. They suffered internal injuries being captured in Arkansas and nearly all died.

It was an inauspicious start for Ohio's first attempt to reintroduce a species that was endangered in the state.

From 1988 through 1993, the Ohio Division of Wildlife released 110 additional otters from Louisiana. They were released along Killbuck Creek on the Wayne-Holmes county line and three other locations in eastern Ohio. The numbers slowly grew.

Today river otters have made such a remarkable recovery that the Ohio Division of Wildlife wants to allow limited trapping of them.   more...

 



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Hooked on quack

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Like Joshua Bell with a violin, Branford Marsalis with a saxophone, Yo-Yo Ma with a cello, or even Van Cliburn with a piano, Tony Workman practices regularly in anticipation of a virtuoso performance.

The others are professional musicians.

Workman blows duck calls, but to him there’s not much difference.

“I honestly believe a duck call is like a musical instrument,” the Fort Wayne resident said.

Stick a duck call in his mouth and Workman can pound out a melody that transitions breathlessly back and forth from an ear-splitting squeal to the staccato chuckling of hen mallards resting on a pond.   more...

 



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Homeowners, landscapers seek a perfect goose-chaser

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Fishing line strung across a pond. Recordings of wolves and foxes. A loud cannon or a hand-held laser gun. A floating alligator head decoy.

Those are some of the methods that aggravated homeowners and landscapers have turned to in their efforts to keep away geese and the mess they leave behind.

The birds number more than 100,000 in Indiana, and more than 4 million in the United States. Many schools, parks, golf courses and neighborhoods are plagued with the birds' Tootsie-Roll-size droppings, which cling to shoes like clumps of grease.   more...

 



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Healthy return, but it's too soon to cut protections

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Wolves did not fare well in the presidential campaign. In one of the Republicans' anti-John Kerry commercials, a pack of wolves -- symbolizing terrorism -- prowled through a forest as a voice warned that "weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm."

But as much as humans invoke wolves to arouse fear, these canines generally shy away from people. That they again range across the upper Great Lakes is testament to the Endangered Species Act and to dedicated activists, researchers and wildlife crews who fought for them.

The Upper Peninsula now hosts at least 77 wolf packs, and a wolf found near Rogers City this fall raises the possibility that they also are crossing the Mackinac Straits. This winter's census may answer that question.    more...

 



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Minnesota's wolf numbers stable

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Minnesota's population of wolves is steady or slightly growing, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey released Thursday.

The state has about 3,020 wolves, up 23 percent from the last survey in 1998 when an estimated 2,450 wolves roamed the state's woodlands.

But because of the large variability in the survey's margin of error, wildlife managers say they don't believe there really are 23 percent more wolves now than six years ago.

The new survey, conducted last winter, has a variability of anywhere from 2,300 wolves to about 3,700 wolves. That compares to the 1998 study, which had a range from 2,000 to 3,000 wolves.   more...

 



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Expansion of bird sanctuary trail draws opposition

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 HAMMOND — Before the city’s marina and the adjacent floating casino were built, a scrubby patch of trees was the most-visited area of Hammond’s Lake Michigan shore.

“There was nothing there,” said Carolyn Marsh, who first visited that stretch of lakefront in 1989. “The city had abandoned it.”

But birds knew about the woods growing out a pile of rubble next to the shore.

Every spring and fall then, as now, flocks of birds stopped there during their annual migrations.    more...

 



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Scientists eager to study area wolf population

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GAYLORD - Deep, dense and off the beaten track, northern Lower Michigan's forests provide shelter and sustenance for deer, elk, beaver and birds.
      And, it appears, the woods provide equally fine habitat for the gray wolf.
      A confirmed sighting of a wolf in northern Michigan last month - the first such documented find in nearly a century - has biologists, researchers and environmentalists excited to learn how many of the predators roam the wooded expanses south of the Mackinac Bridge.
      "I would like to hear a wolf howl in the Lower Peninsula," said Brian Mastenbrook, a state Department of Natural Resources biologist. "I think that would be a neat thing."
      Mastenbrook and fellow DNR biologist Glen Matthews said they weren't surprised to hear of an Oct. 23 incident in which a hunter and trapper killed a wolf near Rogers City in Presque Isle County.
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Gray wolf trapped, killed in the Lower

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Rogers City, Mich. — Residents and biologists have speculated in recent years about the presence of gray wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula. Those speculations were confirmed on Oct. 23, when a local trapper found what turned out to be a 70-pound female wolf in one of his coyote traps, about six miles west of Rogers City.
The trapper mistook the wolf for a large coyote and killed it on the spot. Finding a radio collar on the animal, he realized it was a wolf and contacted a local conservation officer, who transported the dead wolf to a wildlife biologist at the DNR’s Atlanta field office for positive identification.
DNR law enforcement and wildlife officials are investigating the incident. As of press time, no charges had been filed against the trapper for killing a threatened species.   more...


 



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