Department of Natural Resources

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A cougar was spotted in Gogebic County last month by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, making it the 39th cougar sighting in Michigan by the DNR since 2008.

Nearly all of those spottings have been in the Upper Peninsula.

The DNR says it's unlikely that there's a significant breeding population of cougars, otherwise known as moutain lions, in the U.P.

They say the animals likely emigrated to Michigan from South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska.

Volunteers count frogs for annual DNR survey

Jun 13, 2019
Creative Commons

Frogs and toads are highly sensitive to habitat degradation, and that makes them a good barometer for environmental health.

Every year volunteers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources do a listening survey to determine which species of frogs and toads are present and how abundant they are.

 

Volunteer Kathy Gray's survey route is on Old Mission Peninsula.

“Well, I do love the toads. I love the trilling toads," Gray says.

 

The Michigan DNR has proposed a partial ban on deer baiting in the U.P. among other recommendations, in advance of the 2019 hunting season.
Michigan DNR

A ban on deer baiting could spread to the Upper Peninsula for the 2019 hunting season.

Last year, the first deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in the U.P. and that prompted the recommendation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The deer was found in southern Dickenson County.

Chad Stewart, deer and elk specialist for the DNR, says the ban would not be across the entire U.P.

“We’re proposing just a small area focused around that index case that we identified last year,” he says.

Wikimedia Commons

Anglers across Michigan won’t be able to catch as many perch. Right now they can get 50 per day but this spring it will be 25.

Randy Claramunt with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says perch populations have been declining for decades.

"There’s a lot of pressure on them in specific areas," Claramunt says. "So this … recognizes the value that yellow perch are to anglers in Michigan."

Claramunt says anglers pushed for the change because it may increase perch numbers. The new limit takes effect on April 1.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Largemouth bass virus has been found in two more northern Michigan lakes. Samples from Beaver Lake in Alpena County and Avalon Lake in Montmorency County have tested positive. This follows a recent discovery of the disease in Cedar Lake in Iosco County. Both Beaver Lake and Cedar Lake have now seen fish kills related to LMBV.

Quick warming of Otsego Lake causes fish die-off

Jun 8, 2018
University of Wisconsin

A large number of dead fish have been washing up on the shores of a lake near Gaylord. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the dead fish along Otsego Lake are adult white suckers that have died after spawning.

DNR biologist Dave Borgeson says fish die-offs happen in Michigan’s inland lakes every year, but this one is unusually large.

“There’s a lot more suckers this year,” says Borgeson. “I think it had to do with a late spring and then that really rapid warm up, which caused it to be a little more dramatic this year.”

Dan Kennedy / Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Environmentalists will celebrate the return of the Kirtland’s warbler this weekend.

The small songbird has been on the brink of extinction since 1973. It was put on the endangered species list that same year.

Aaron Selbig

A state board recommends the State of Michigan buy 300 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline that’s currently owned by a sand mining company. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board of directors has voted to spend $7.5 million toward a new deal with Sargent Sand Company.

Sargent Sand has been mining sand on its property inside the borders of Ludington State Park since the 1930s. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has tried several times to buy the land back from the company but the deals have always fallen through.

Michigan is filled with winter enthusiasts, including people who ice fish.

Despite being a winter enthusiast himself, Stateside host Lester Graham has never sat out on the ice to catch fish. Evidently, he’s not alone.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have enough people out in the field to keep an eye on everything in nature, so it relies on hunters, hikers, anglers, and activists to report things that are out of the ordinary.

But there was a problem with the department’s method of getting that information: red tape. The DNR had 15 different observation forms.

But now, there's an app for that.

Max Johnston

Many people consider carp to be a ‘trash fish,’ but fly fishing for carp is very popular in northern Michigan. This year though, guides have cancelled trips and lost thousands of dollars because they can’t find the fish.

 

Some blame another growing sport: bowfishing.

 

 

When carp spawn in Grand Traverse Bay, their backs actually protrude from the water like a shark because there are so many packed in shallow waters.

 

Department of Natural Resources

A federal judge has dismissed a suit by Native American individuals who are fighting the loss of public land they've hunted and fished on for centuries. Judge Maloney says only tribes can sue, not individual Native Americans, according to an 1836 treaty. The treaty gives tribes the right to harvest natural resources from public land.

Firefighters take on wildfire in Marquette County

Jul 31, 2015
Department of Natural Resources

A wildfire has spread to roughly 70 acres at a logging operation in Marquette County. Department of Natural Resources and township firefighters had the fire 60 percent contained by Thursday night. 

Containment efforts will continue today. The cause has not been determined.

The danger of wildfires is high to extremely high in Michigan right now. 

Official at the Department of Natural Resources are inviting the public to comment on a draft plan for managing Lake Michigan islands.

“We are looking at developing a collaborative effort where we involve island residents and local governments and tribal governments and other interested stake holders in helping us, in the future, set priorities and then more importantly execute priorities. We can't do this ourselves, for some of this work we are outlining,” said Keith Kintigh, a field operation manager for the DNR. 

Last week, state officials confirmed they found chronic wasting disease in a wild deer for the first time. Michigan now joins 22 states and two Canadian provinces where the disease has been found.

Next month, a decision could be made on whether to sell thousands of acres in the Upper Peninsula to a Canadian mining company, Graymont Inc.

It would be the largest sale of public land in Michigan’s history.

The Michigan Historical Museum has a new collection of forestry artifacts from the early 1900s. The items belonged to Marcus Schaaf, an early pioneer in the reforestation of northern Michigan. The collection includes field instruments Schaaf used, like an old wooden dial compass and a 66-foot metal surveyor’s tape.

Ken Pott is field historian for the Michigan Department of Resources. IPR’s Aaron Selbig asked Pott about Marcus Schaaf’s place in Michigan history.

State officials recently updated the list of invasive species banned in Michigan. They added seven species to the list. That means you can’t have them in your possession or move them around.

This week, a Cheboygan District Court Judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy will go to trial for alleged fraud.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has accused the Oklahoma-based energy company of swindling landowners in northern Michigan.

Peter Payette is with our partners at Interlochen Public Radio and he has been covering this story.

How did all of this start?

Around May of 2010, the state auctioned off the right to drill for oil and gas on public land.

"And that auction saw prices that were astronomical. The state in one day raised as much money from the sale of oil and gas rights as it had raised in its entire history," Payette says. "And that's because out-of-state companies believed that by using these newer methods of horizontal hydraulic fracturing that they could make a lot of money by drilling deep down in the ground and taking out natural gas."

These companies went out to private landowners that summer and asked to explore their properties for oil and gas. The landowners signed leases. "And those promised what is called a 'order of payment' and in many cases the landowners did not receive payment and may say they were cheated and are owed money," Payette says.