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Cormorants straining West Sister Island ecosystem

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WEST SISTER ISLAND -- Ohio's sole national wildlife refuge is being besieged by double-breasted cormorants, a burgeoning bird species that's wrecking the ecosystem with its corrosive droppings.

West Sister Island is an uninhabited, forested sanctuary, located nine miles offshore from Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. Roughly 40 percent of the heron and egret populations in the Great Lakes region use the 82-acre island as nesting ground. But cormorants are now threatening to muscle out the island's native birds.    more...

 



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STUDY: ANGLERS TO BLAME FOR EARTHWORM INVASION

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Earthworms invading forests around the Great Lakes are probably being introduced by anglers. That's the conclusion of a new study.Earthworms are good for gardens. But in forests they eat up the thick layer of leaves on the forest floor.   more...

 



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Lakeshore tackles deer glut

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 PORTER — For the first time in its 37-year history, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is putting together a plan to deal with its burgeoning deer population.

Communities like Beverly Shores and Dune Acres and the Indiana Dunes State Park have struggled over what to do with the animals since the mid-1990s.

The Lakeshore has thus far stayed clear of the debate, but now is formally beginning a lengthy process to put together a plan.   more...

 



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Better habitat means more ducks

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its breeding duck population and pond numbers from its 2003 survey, and concluded that the number of birds and habitat conditions have improved greatly over what was observed in 2002.

In cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said overall duck numbers are at 36.2 million birds, up from the 31.2 million birds estimated in 2002.

The index for breeding habitat conditions stood at 5.2 million ponds, or 91 percent above the 2.7 million counted last year.

"These results pretty well confirm what our staff and others in the breeding areas have been observing this spring," said Dr. Bruce Batt, Chief Biologist with Ducks Unlimited (DU), based in Memphis, Tenn.

Batt said the extraordinary snow and rains that started in April have provided much-needed moisture that will benefit waterfowl and the farming community. That precipitation, along with the habitat put in place by DU and other groups, and vital federal habitat program like CRP are combining to produce an effective recipe for duck production."

Each of the 10 most common species of ducks is up this year. Of note in the survey, mallards populations were up 7.9 million birds this year, or 6 percent more from this time last year. Other birds: Gadwell (up 14 percent); Wigeon (up 9 percent); Green-winged teal (up 15 percent); Blue-winged teal (up 31 percent); Shoveler (up 56 percent); Pintail (up 43 percent); Redhead (up 13 percent); Canvasback (up 15 percent; and Scaup (up 6 percent).

Another species of concern, the Scaup, had a slight rise: from 3.5 million to 3.7 million. While the cause of scaup numbers is still not fully understood, management approaches are also not yet readily available.The fall duck flights should be improved as a result of the conditions.



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Jack Russell Takes Up Water Skiing

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Part-X and owner JP Eatock surf in Falmouth /PAThis daredevil Jack Russell Terrier, named Part-X has also tried cliff jumping, kayaking and surfing.

He originally expressed an interest in extreme sports when his owner went surfing and he jumped on board.

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Help Needed to Track Osprey

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Osprey chicks in hack boxThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking the public to report any sightings of osprey in southern Lower Michigan, particularly in the areas of the Maple River north of St. Johns, and Kensington Metropark near Brighton. For the last five years, the Natural Heritage Program has transferred osprey chicks from the northern Lower Peninsula (LP) to south-central Michigan in a reintroduction effort. Osprey once lived throughout Michigan. Loss of habitat and the use of DDT and other pesticides are two major factors that led to their decline in the southern region of the Lower Peninsula. Osprey are currently listed as threatened in Michigan.   more...

Any sightings of ospreys in southern Lower Michigan can be reported online.

 

 



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Common Loon (Gavia immer)

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One of five species in the family Gaviidae, the ancestral roots of common loons can be traced back over 100 million years. They are goose-sized, long-bodied water birds with stout, sharp beaks. Breeding adults (males and females) have black heads and necks with a "necklace" of black and white stripes, black and white checked back and wings and a white breast. Immature birds and wintering adults have gray backs with a white breast. Their red eyes may help with underwater vision. Averaging around nine pounds, loons reach nearly three feet in length with a five foot wingspan. Common loons are best known for their almost violent mating dances and eerie wails, that make them symbolic of our wild northern lakes and marshes.  more...

 



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The Sandhill Crane

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Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis

Fossils over six million years old found in Nebraska make the sandhill crane the oldest still-living species of bird. Sandhills are native to Wisconsin and much of North America and eastern Russia. There are six subspecies, or races, of sandhill cranes. The greater, lesser, and Canadian subspecies are migratory, while the Mississippi, Cuban, and Florida are not. All three non-migratory subspecies are classified as either threatened or endangered. The subspecies living in Wisconsin is the greater sandhill crane. 

Range: The greater, Canadian, and lesser subspecies summer in a broad belt across North America from Ontario and Michigan west to British Columbia and north to Alaska and eastern Siberia. Outlying populations exist in western Pennsylvania; eastern Ohio; northern California and south central Oregon; and southeastern Idaho, southwest Idaho, and northern Utah. Most of the Midwest's sandhills winter in Florida. Lessers, Canadians and the rest of the greaters winter in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Mexico.  more...

 



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