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community weblog - [ Animals ]

When a Squirrel is a Mole?

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Eastern Gray SquirrelStartling new evidence is emerging that the recent discovery of 100 or more squirrel bodies on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan may be linked to a controversial military communications system.

Project ELF, was a Navy project with the mission of allowing Trident and Poseidon submarines to remain undetected at operational speeds while remaining in continuous communication with the President and Secretary of Defense. This was accomplished with the use of "Extremely Low Frequency" (ELF) radio transmitters. Until quite recently, the Navy operated two huge transmitters in the Chequamegon National Forest near Clam Lake, Wisconsin and in Upper Michigan's Escanaba River State Forest.

On September 30th, the Navy abruptly shut off these transmitters. This move stunned peace activists and environmentalists who had campaigned against the transmitters since research began on them in the 1960s. More troubling though is the fact that the decommissioning of the transmitters is linked to what Michigan DNR biologists are calling “a mass squirrel die-off”. In the days leading up to the closing of the facility, hundreds of squirrels have begun washing up on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

To the casual observer these events would appear unrelated. A closer look reveals troubling evidence of a connection between the squirrels and America’s national security.  More...



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  • Maybe squirrels are just bad swimmers. Maybe we should make lifejackets manditor...more
    - [editor@h2onotes.com]

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Botulism to blame for deaths of fowl

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Bay City, Mich. — Abnormally warm late-summer temperatures may have been a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 200 ducks and geese in early September near Saginaw Bay, the DNR said.
The waterfowl, which included both adult and juvenile mallards, green- and blue-winged teal, and Canada geese, died after becoming infected with Type C botulism, a lethal type of food poisoning often associated with periods of hot weather, high water temperatures, or low or changing water levels, said Adam Bump, a DNR wildlife biologist in Bay City.
The birds were reported to the DNR by personnel at a Richland Township sewage treatment facility near Hemlock on Sept. 8.
“Barry Silva and Jim Horwath, two of our wildlife technicians, found the carcasses floating in various states of decomposition on two of the facility’s water treatment ponds in northern Saginaw County,” Bump said. “A few more were brought in by people from the sewage facility a few days later.”   more...



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Northern wood ducks before the southern migration

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By Dan Esterline
When the first cool nights of late summer and early fall hit, I think about many different things, like the goose hunting I’ll be doing, or where to place my favorite deer stand. But most of all I think about those small, beautiful screaming birds, the wood ducks. I absolutely love these magnificent birds. They are vocal, fast on the wing, and give me a rush that sends chills up my spine during those gloomy morning hours of early duck season.
I prefer to hunt woodies by sitting by a river or a beaver pond in morning darkness and anticipating what could be in store that day.
My brother and I last year took our friend Doug to a favorite woodie hot spot on opening day of duck season. Doug had never hunted wood ducks and didn’t know what to expect.   more...



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Government promises to protect habitat for endangered dragonfly

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Prodded by a lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to designate critical habitat for the endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly.

The federal agency reached a settlement with five environmental groups that accused the government of shirking its responsibility to protect the dragonfly, found only in a few Wisconsin and other Midwestern wetland areas.

A federal district judge in Washington, D.C., signed an order last week to implement the agreement, said Brent Plater, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

It "will force the Bush administration to put the developers' interests aside and rely on science, protecting our region's precious natural heritage," Plater said Tuesday.   more...

 



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Bird lovers descend on Lake Erie Metropark to witness bird migration

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BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Thousands of people converged on Lake Erie Metropark over the weekend for the 15th annual Hawkfest, a two-day event to celebrate the annual migration of birds of prey.

Pleasant weather and a cloudless blue sky provided plenty of opportunity for those attending day one Saturday, The Monroe Evening News reported.

A rare osprey soared and whirled over the park's Marshlands Museum, where Gerald P. Wykes of Monroe, museum curator, sat at a picnic table. He used a microphone to call the crowd's attention to the attractions overhead.   more...

 



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Cormorants perch on Council agenda

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CHEBOYGAN - The number of double-crested cormorants residing in a stand of trees along South Main Street has attracted the attention of the Cheboygan City Council.

The Cheboygan Sportfishing Association will petition the Council at today's 7 p.m. meeting to send a letter to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, to seek funding for control of the distinctively-winged birds.

"There is possible funding available for control measures for these birds," City Manager Scott McNeil said Monday. "The process involves coating the eggs within the nesting areas, I believe."

Oil has been used to coat the eggs so that the young will not hatch in several states, including areas near the Les Cheneaux Islands in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.   more...


 



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A FOWL PROBLEM Cities look for ways to keep geese from parks

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In Fennville, geese are celebrated with a parade and festivities the weekend of Oct. 8.

In Greenville, the same birds will face the cold kiss of hot lead if they venture onto a golf course.

Wyoming is looking for the middle ground -- harassing the geese, hoping they will find somewhere else to hang out than city parks.

With 69 acres, Lamar Park is one of the most-used of Wyoming's 17 parks. It includes a softball field, a disc golf course, a baseball stadium, playgrounds and a pair of large ponds.

Those ponds are favorites for nature lovers and increasingly for Canada geese on their way north or south, or hiding from hunters.    more...

 



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Early goose season comes, but geese don't cooperate

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UNIONVILLE -- A steady parade of goose-less waterfowl hunters pulled their boats up to the ramp at Fish Point Lodge and hauled them from the water, bemoaning the fact that their sport is one of the few where the weather can be too nice.

"You know you probably aren't going to do much when you're hunting geese in shorts and a T-shirt," said Alan Skunda of Flint, who hunted on Saginaw Bay with his son, Keith Skunda of Lapeer, and Michael Kale of Burton.

The younger Skunda and Kale are partners in a new waterfowling boat they launched for the first time during this early Canada goose hunting season.   more...

 



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Errant cranes finally find the exit from Michigan

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Three wandering whooping cranes finally found their way home to a Wisconsin nature refuge after a two-month tour of Michigan, but five other directionally challenged birds have stayed in the state this summer.

Another crane that flew to Michigan fell victim to the laws of nature -- attacked and killed by another animal, probably a coyote.

"It's tough to lose one, but the other animal was just doing what it's meant to do -- and that's survive," said Heather Ray, administrative director for Operation Migration, a nonprofit company that is working to increase the number of the endangered species in the United States.   more...

 



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COST OF TAKING EAGLE OFF ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST

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With more than 7600 breeding pairs in the continental United States alone, the American Bald Eagle has made a remarkable comeback. A new proposal to remove the bird from the Endangered Species list is expected soon. But that means removing a powerful safety net that can affect future research, monitoring and habitat protection. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Sally Eisele reports:

In the history of the Endangered Species Act, only a dozen or so of the more than 1200 plants and animals listed as threatened or endangered have actually recovered. The eagle may be the latest to join that little group.   more...

More about the Endangered Species Act

More about the delisting process

The National Wildlife Federation's eagle page

 



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Bye-bye, black birds? Not soon enough for cormorant

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Cormorant are destroying the islands of Western Lake Erie and feasting on its bounty of fish, but no one seems willing to kill them in order to reverse the rapid population growth of the black birds on the limestone rock islands.

Ohio has a plan that includes killing the birds with smallbore rifles. It will not be implemented for a year, or two, at the earliest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the rules for controlling double-crested cormorant but is slow to assess the Lake Erie problem and allow the birds to be killed. Ontario officials still are studying the Lake Erie cormorant explosion, although they have joined New York in controlling Lake Ontario populations.    more...

 



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Whoopers are lost near Great Lake

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Five endangered whooping cranes are still trying to find their way home after flying too far east of their destination.

Sixteen whooping cranes left the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 16. Three of the birds returned from Michigan July 28, but the five others remain perplexed by Lake Michigan, which sits between them and their home. Only seven of the birds returned as expected this spring, after one was apparently killed by a coyote. Joan Garland, outreach coordinator at the International Crane Foundation, said the birds are part of a group of eight that flew too far east on their return trip from Florida.

In December, all 16 cranes landed safely at their winter home at Florida's Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, finishing a 54-day, 1,200-mile journey. They followed an ultralight to Florida, but returned on their own, soon encountering a problem.   more....

 



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Soaring back Increased bald eagle sightings have some pushing to change 'endangered' status

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Peter McNicholl says he doesn't doubt the bald eagle is less of an endangered bird these days.

McNicholl, who lives on North Dease Lake in Ogemaw County, said he was even endangered himself by a bald eagle while flying a small airplane.

"I came within probably 25, 30 feet of having a collision with one. It was pretty much head-on," said McNicholl, 70, adding that the bird had a wingspan of about 7 feet.

"And it was just a small little airplane. A collision with an eagle like that would probably put the plane down. That was kind of a scary moment for me."

McNicholl's not the only one reporting increased sightings of bald eagles throughout Michigan and the nation.    more...

 



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  • So can we expect Eagle hunting season to open soon?
    - [editor@h2onotes.com]
  • I hear they taste like chicken!
    - [editor@h2onotes.com]

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Counting cormorants

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Larger view

Duluth, Minn. — Don Carlson and Nancy Drilling circle around Knife Island in Lake Superior and choose a place to land.

"Nancy, if you want to start the count right here, I'll walk through the brush down the center and through the backside," Carlson says. "And I should meet you right over there, at the end of the island."

Carlson hooks the anchor on a rock on the shore.

Cormorants share this island with hundreds of gulls. When the humans land, most of the cormorants fly off. But the gulls hang around, complaining about the intrusion.   more...

 



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Eagles no longer rarity in area skies

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WEST MICHIGAN -- Two decades ago, the only certain place to find a bald eagle in West Michigan was on the back of the $1 bill.

Today, as the effect of now-banned pesticides and industrial chemicals subside, the majestic bird is growing in numbers along the area's river corridors and forests.

"When you saw an eagle 20 or 30 years ago, it was a pretty big event," Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Nik Kalejs said. "Now, it's still exciting, but not as rare. And that's nothing but good."

The eagles' gradual resurgence in West Michigan, and across the United States, comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looks to take the national symbol off the federal list of threatened and endangered species.    more...

 



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