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community weblog - [ Animals ]

Crane counters ready for rite of spring

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In less than two weeks, 2,500 people across five states and 100 counties will rise before dawn to participate in what one volunteer called a ritual of spring.

On Saturday, April 17, they'll be posted around bogs and marshes to listen for the trumpeting calls that nearly vanished from Wisconsin in the 1930s.

"It's a thrill to listen to the cranes," said Joy Eriksen, Columbia County's coordinator for the Annual Midwest Sandhill Crane Count since the mid-'80s. "Just living in Wisconsin, I've found cranes to be such a fascinating bird."  more...

 



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Sandhill cranes on move over Southwest Michigan

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ST. JOSEPH -- The big birds seen flying around south St. Joseph the last few days are no refugees from "Sesame Street."

They're sandhill cranes, an increasingly common visitor to Southwest Michigan.

"Right now is a really big migration window," said Kip Miller, the naturalist at the Love Creek Nature Center in Berrien Center. "I saw hundreds and hundreds of them over the Bridgman area on Sunday."

Miller says the migrating cranes often fly over open water but were pushed closer to the Lake Michigan coastline by the prevailing winds. They were probably on their way to nesting grounds in Canada or northern Michigan.   more...


 



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You needn't visit the ocean for shells

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When folks visit the world's oceans, it's virtually certain that they'll bring home a few seashells and other items picked up while walking along the water's edge.

But you don't have to take a long journey to find the mid-Michigan version of water's edge curiosities. Snail shells are all over the place, and they're easy to spot this time of the year, before the spring and summer plants come up.   more...

 



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Sea Lion Grabs Fisherman Off Boat

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PhotoANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 19-year-old fisherman is recovering from an encounter with a sea lion that leaped out of the water, grabbed him as he worked on his grandfather's docked boat and pulled him into the harbor at King Cove. 

"It happened so fast, I forgot what I was doing," said Ray Dushkin Jr., who was not seriously injured in the abduction Tuesday.

Dushkin spent a few moments beneath the water's surface before the hefty animal let go. Dushkin's left buttock sports an inch-and-a-half scrape, but no bite mark, he said. His coveralls were torn through, as were the pants worn beneath them.  more...

 



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Bears given refuge in U.P.

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NEWBERRY - The black bear cubs Bonnie and Clyde, who at one time faced euthanasia, have a new home in a private bear sanctuary in the Upper Peninsula.

State wildlife biologists unsuccessfully searched for a den in which to place the young bear cubs, so the cubs went to Oswald's Bear Ranch in Newberry.

The bears were left homeless after a timber operator ran a skidder over their den during a February logging operation in Montmorency County, killing one cub and causing the mother to flee.

Their future had been uncertain until they went to Oswald's. Regular zoos, including Potter Park Zoo, wouldn't take them for fear of bovine tuberculosis, which cannot be detected in live animals.   more...

 



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Fish of the Week: Rainbow Smelt

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SMELT, RAINBOW Osmerus mordax.
Other names: American smelt, frostfish, leefish, toothed smelt, freshwater smelt; French: éperlan du nord.

One of the most prominent members of the Osmeridae family of smelts, the rainbow smelt is an important forage species for predatory fish and a principal target for inland and coastal commercial fishing. It is the subject of some recreational activity, particularly via dipnetting in the spring during spawning runs and ice fishing for landlocked populations in some lakes.

The rainbow smelt is a close relative of the eulachon of the Pacific, the pond smelt (Hypomesus olidus) of the western Arctic, the capelin of the Atlantic, and the European smelt (Osmerus eperlanus).

Originally an anadromous coastal species, smelt were first stocked inland in 1906, in streams and lakes feeding Lake Michigan in order to provide forage for salmonids. Eventually large smelt populations were found in all the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. There is some evidence that the smelt inhabiting Lake Ontario were not a result of these stockings but of an independent movement from Lake Champlain stocks.   more...

 



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Description and Origin of the Alaskan Husky

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Husky ready to goThe "Alaskan husky" is a term so widely used by mushers and dog fanciers to describe a racing sled dog typically found in the northern dog yards of Alaska and Canada that I presumed it would be an easy job to journalize the development and description of this unregistered breed of working dog. However, I soon discovered that the ideas we take so much for granted around our peers and colleagues may seem strange and convoluted to others with a different viewpoint. While we may talk in exactly the same terms, for example, about the Alaskan husky with sled dog enthusiasts around the world it is very possible that we mean two different things.   more...

 

 

 

 




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DNR won't trap wolverine sighted in Huron County

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BAD AXE -- Nobody knows how the wolverine got to the Thumb, but it’s welcome to stay.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say they don’t plan to trap the wolverine first spotted last week by coyote hunters in Huron County. It was the state’s first confirmed sighting of the forest predator in the wild since reports by fur traders dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

“There are no plans to do a research project on this single animal,” Pat Lederle, section supervisor with the DNR’s wildlife division, told the Huron Daily Tribune this week.

Lederle said trapping the animal would not answer the DNR’s most intriguing questions, such as where the wolverine came from or how long it’s been in the area.

“Our main concern is to protect it and get reports from citizens on it,” he said.  more...

 



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Global warming may be affecting Isle Royale's wolf, moose population

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TRAVERSE CITY -- The moose population on a remote Lake Superior island chain is down sharply while gray wolf numbers have jumped -- a population shift likely caused by global warming, a scientist says.

Rolf Peterson, a wildlife biologist with Michigan Tech University in Houghton, has studied predator-prey interaction between the two species at Isle Royale National Park every winter for 34 years.

His recently completed survey turned up about 750 moose, down from 900 last year and 1,100 in 2002. Meanwhile, the number of gray wolves jumped from 19 last year to 29, matching the highest total recorded on the island since 1980.   more...

 



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Wolverine sightings spread in Michigan

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The confirmed sighting of a wolverine near Bad Axe last week has been followed by several other sightings of what apparently is the same animal.

And it also has elicited a half-dozen other recent sightings by people in other parts of the state, most of whom never mentioned their experiences for fear of being ridiculed. This raises the possibility that a few of these rare predators might occasionally wander into Michigan from their home territory in northern Ontario.

"My wife, Eileen, and I were walking in the woods near Tahquamenon Falls a couple of years ago when I heard something coming toward us," said Alan Monaco, who lives in Flint.    more...

 



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Wolverine State finally has one . . . but how?

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We're the Wolverine State. University of Michigan athletes are nicknamed Wolverines. And Ohio folks called us Wolverines during the Toledo War in 1835. But there never was a confirmed sighting of a wild wolverine in Michigan -- until Tuesday.

I couldn't believe it," said Wayne Steerzer, one of a group of hunters whose dogs ran a big wolverine for 18 miles in Huron County before treeing it. "It was so big and beautiful. And it was so graceful. It had moves like Barry Sanders."

The coyote hunters eventually chased the wolverine into an open field, where they and state Department of Natural Resources biologist Arnie Karr saw it at close range and got some good pictures. more...

 



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Herons return to Summit site

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Romance is on the wing in the Cuyahoga Valley -- a sign that spring is getting closer.

The great blue herons are mating and building nests at the popular rookery along the Cuyahoga River in North Akron.

Between 50 and 60 of the birds with spindly legs and wingspans of up to 5 feet can be spotted in the treetops along West Bath Road between Riverview and Akron-Peninsula roads.

The first bird showed up at the rookery this year on Feb. 16, said Andrea Irland, who works for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and has been monitoring the herons as a volunteer.   more...

 



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Fish of the Week: Rock Bass

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BASS, ROCK Ambloplites rupestris. Other names: black perch, goggle-eye, red-eye, rock sunfish, goggle-eye perch: French: crapet de roche.

The rock bass is actually a member of the sunfish family and is not a true bass. Rock bass are fun to catch because they can be caught on many types of bait and lures and they put up a decent fight on ultralight tackle. Its meat is white and firm and makes good eating. However, because rock bass prefer protected waters, they may taste muddy or host numerous parasites. Rock bass are known to overpopulate small lakes, making population control measures necessary.   more...

 



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Nesting season is under way

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OAK HARBOR -- Six pairs of bald eagles have already begun incubating eggs in three Ohio counties along Lake Erie indicating that the 2004 nesting season is underway, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.

A pair in Sandusky County began sitting on eggs in early February and since then, five other pairs are known to be incubating in Sandusky, Ottawa and Huron counties. Especially significant this year is incubation at a nest on Middle Bass Island.

"This is the first active nest on the Lake Erie islands -- with actual egg-laying -- since well before Ohio's eagle populations declined during the 1960s and '70s," said Mark Shieldcastle, eagle project leader at ODNR's Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station.

Biologists have identified 94 nest territories in the state, six of which are new this year. Nesting at these sites is expected to begin between now and mid-April.   more...

 



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Dragonfly decline prompts suit

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TRAVERSE CITY — Several environmentalist groups sued the federal government Wednesday for failing to designate critical habitat for the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly.

The Center for Biological Diversity and four other organizations filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington.

“It’s too bad that citizen groups have to move into the courts to force the Department of Interior to do what they should be doing on their own,” said Daniel Patterson, an ecologist with the center.   more...

 



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