DNR Reports Moose Survey Results to Michigan NRC
this winter’s moose survey, wildlife biologists said the western Upper
Peninsula moose population is growing at a long-term average of about 2
percent each year, with an estimated 509 animals living in that part of
Michigan Natural Resources Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason reported the
survey results Thursday to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission at a
regular NRC meeting at the Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire.
“The growth rate for this moose population is low, but remains positive,”
Mason said. “Moose are continuing to maintain a foothold in the western
Upper Peninsula, continuing to further extend the lineage of a population
airlifted to the area from Canada in the mid-1980s.”
The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles in parts
of Marquette, Baraga, and Iron counties. The eastern U.P. population of
moose is not surveyed but is estimated to be fewer than 100 moose. This
population includes animals living within the Seney National Wildlife
Refuge and Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
The aerial survey was completed in early February. Moose surveys are
conducted every other winter by the DNR, with gray wolf surveys taking
place during the interim winters.
“Overall, flying conditions were difficult, with flights cancelled on 23
days, primarily because of snow and high winds,” said Brad Johnson, a DNR
wildlife technician who coordinates the survey. “On the days we could fly,
conditions were good; snow covered most of the stumps and down logs and we
had some snow on the conifers for most of the survey, all of which aided
Winter weather conditions preventing some survey flights did not allow
wildlife staffers to complete the winter 2017 moose survey. This precluded
the DNR from estimating moose abundance throughout the entirety of the
western U.P. moose range.
However, an estimate was calculated for the core range, which in the past
has supported 80-90 percent of the population. The moose estimate was 378
animals in that western U.P. core area.
Researchers think that if the survey had been completed, it would have
yielded a total western U.P. moose population estimate of between 420 and
With the Moose Hunting Advisory Council’s recommendation to only allow
hunting if a growth rate of greater 3 percent is maintained, the DNR is
not recommending implementing a harvest at this time.
The same was true over the past several years.
For more information on moose in Michigan, visit
DNR Conservation Officers
Play Vital Role in Capture of Child Abduction Suspects in Chippewa County
18MAR19-Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers
located a 5-year-old boy who was abducted Wednesday night, helping to
arrest the suspected kidnappers as they tried to flee with the youth
across the ice of Whitefish Bay to Canada.
The incident began about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, when the Chippewa County
Sheriff’s Office received a report of a domestic dispute at a residence
that involved a stabbing.
Investigators went to the home
and began to
piece together the details of what had happened.
George Stephen Cunningham, 53 – who is the boy’s biological
father and a registered sex offender on a tether – and 68-year-old Jon
Scott Stygler had gone to the house armed with knives, chemical spray and
The residence is located on Whitefish Road in Paradise, in the northeast
corner of the Upper Peninsula. The boy was reported to be at the home with
his aunt, a man and three other children.
Police said Cunningham and Stygler bound and gagged a woman outside the
home, and then placed her in a parked vehicle. The two men then went
inside, spraying the occupants with chemical spray, taping their mouths
shut with duct tape and binding them using zip ties.
While the suspects searched the house for the boy, one of the victims was
able to get free and stab at least one of the suspects. The men then left
the house, taking the child.
They were reported heading north in a camouflage pickup truck. The vehicle
was found parked in a driveway at a home on Blueberry Lane, situated about
5 miles north of the house.
about 10 p.m., sheriff’s deputies contacted Michigan Department of Natural
Resources Conservation Officer Corporal Kevin Postma, asking for help
because of a concern the suspects may resort to traveling with the child
Postma contacted Conservation Officer Calvin Smith for assistance.
Smith hauled patrol snowmobiles to Postma’s location. While getting ready
to begin their 60-mile drive to Paradise, the conservation officers were
told to meet up with officers from several other agencies at the house on
Police established a perimeter around the house and contacted the
homeowner, who had no connection to the suspects or the child. After
learning that the child and suspects were not at the house, Postma and
Smith began looking for their tracks in the snow.
“There is only one road,” Smith said. “There is no other way to get
away unless you have a sled.”
Smith and sheriff’s Deputy Doug Mitchell located the suspects’ tracks and
began following them. The footprints led to Whitefish Bay.
“The ice was turning to slush – if we got off our sleds, the slush was up
to our knees,” Smith said.
Following the zig-zagging path about 3 to 4 miles across the slushy ice,
the three officers caught up with the suspects.
Cunningham and Stygler were traveling on foot, pulling the child on a
sled. The boy was in a sleeping bag, with instant meals the suspects had
Cunningham had cut his tether off.
At about 1:10 a.m. Thursday, the officers stopped Cunningham and
Stygler, who were arrested without incident. The officers confiscated the
weapons and belongings the two men had with them.
Postma and Smith transported the child, Deputy Mitchell
and the suspects on the DNR patrol sleds back to the house on Blueberry
Lane, where deputies, Michigan State Police troopers and Whitefish
Township EMS personnel were waiting.
“There was no way they were going to make it all the way to Canada,” Smith
said. “They would have eventually fallen through the ice, which had
recently been broken for ships by an ice breaker. They were not dressed
for the conditions, especially with the wind. One of the suspects was even
beginning to show signs of hypothermia.”
The suspects did not require medical treatment and were released to the
custody of the sheriff. The young boy was cold, but in good condition.
“In addition to being prepared with equipment to navigate difficult
terrain, conservation officers have received specialized tactical TRACKING
training,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division.
“This is the second situation this week that our officers have worked with
local law enforcement agencies, utilizing their search and rescue skills.
I’m thankful to hear that our officers and Deputy Mitchell were able to
rescue the child, and that he is doing well – given the situation.”
Cunningham and Stygler were arraigned Thursday on multiple charges in
Chippewa County District Court in Sault Ste. Marie. Cunningham was jailed
without bond; Stygler is being held on a $1 million bond, with a tether
required should he post bail.
Deputies said the child has since been returned to his legal guardians and
is doing well.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace
officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational
safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties
and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.
For more information about
conservation officers, visit
DNR Issuing Supplemental Deer Feeding Permits in
13MAR19-Except within its chronic wasting disease surveillance areas,
the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has agreed to issue
supplemental deer feeding permits in the southern part of the Upper
The action comes with average U.P. snow depths measured across the region
nearly double that of a 15-year average for late February and March.
Feeding deer large quantities of food to supplement natural winter food
resources – termed “supplemental feeding” – is allowed by permit in the
northern U.P. counties beginning in January each year.
This type of feeding differs from “recreational feeding,”
which is limited daily to 2 gallons of feed, placed within sight of a home
or camp. Recreational feeding is allowed year-round across the U.P.
In southern U.P. counties – which typically exhibit milder
winter weather conditions – free permits are issued for supplemental
feeding dependent on weather conditions.
“The DNR uses total accumulated snow as an index of the severity of the
winter,” said Terry Minzey, DNR U.P. regional wildlife supervisor. “In
typical winters, impacts to the deer herd in the southern part of the
region, based on snow accumulation measurements, can be forecasted by
said when conditions suggest the potential exists for significant winter
deer mortality, regulated supplemental feeding is authorized by the DNR.
This winter, the early part of the winter was fairly moderate, but
conditions deteriorated in February.
Therefore, supplemental feeding permits are being issued in the southern
U.P., except within chronic wasting disease core and expanded surveillance
zones set up last October, after a doe tested positive for the disease in
Dickinson County’s Waucedah Township.
As of March 4, there have been 56 days this winter with greater than a
foot of snow accumulated on the ground in the U.P.
“We are monitoring deer in select areas,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer, elk
and moose management specialist. “At this time, most of the deer across
the U.P. seem to be in fair shape.”
More snow is forecast for the region this weekend as temperatures warm,
with the potential for rain and snow next week. Weather forecasters are
predicting the snow pack to last on the ground into April, with
temperatures trending in long-term forecasts to remain below average.
Stewart said peak winter mortality typically happens from late March
through early May, and the factor most often attributed to high winter
deer mortality is the length of the season.
the intensity of a winter can play an important role in deer survival, the
length of winter before spring green-up is often the most critical
factor,” Stewart said. “At this point, it is too soon to know whether this
winter will have a high negative impact on the deer herd.”
The DNR will continue to monitor the situation.
“Some deer have already succumbed to the winter; this is not uncommon and
occurs every year,” Stewart said. “The DNR has more than 250 animals
collared presently in the U.P., so if a large deer mortality event does
occur, we will have an understanding of the magnitude.”
Stewart said it is important to remember the deer herd in the U.P. can
suffer losses naturally with extreme winter conditions. Difficult winters
have negatively impacted herd numbers previously – notably during the
mid-1990s – and are expected to impact herd numbers in the future.
A lack of available high-quality deer wintering habitat remains a factor
limiting the deer herd in the U.P.
“Extreme winter conditions can highlight just exactly how important our
deer wintering complexes are in aiding survival of the U.P. deer herd,”
Minzey said. “The department has recognized the importance of this habitat
and is working collaboratively with sportsmen’s groups, private landowners
and others on identifying, creating and managing this habitat to help
mitigate the impacts of severe winters.”
Supplemental deer feeding permits are available
contacting DNR offices located in Baraga,
Marquette, Crystal Falls, Escanaba, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie and
For more information on chronic wasting disease
in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/CWD.
Find out more about white-tailed deer and deer hunting at
Do You Sell Live Aquatic Organisms? Annual
Registration Now Required
later this month, pet shops, nurseries and other businesses or individuals
selling live, non-native aquatic species must register annually with the
DNR. The requirement comes as part of legislation finalized at the end of
last year that amended Sec. 41329 of Act 451, P.A. 1994, effective
starting March 21, 2019.
Under the new requirement, a person or entity without this registration
shall not sell or offer for sale or possess for the purpose of sale or
offering for sale a live, non-native aquatic species.
Registration must be updated every year and
expires Dec. 31 of the issuing year. It can be completed online at
Michigan.gov/SellAquatics. The registering
seller will receive a confirmation number that must be retained and
conspicuously posted at the selling location. The DNR also has provided
Michigan.gov/Invasives under the Laws tab) a
downloadable certificate that sellers can
print and add their registration number to, for easier posting.
"Annual registrations will give us a clear picture of the types of live
aquatic species being sold in Michigan, which can help identify potential
invasive species threats that could result from releasing unwanted pets or
other aquatic organisms available in trade into Michigan's waters,” said
Seth Herbst, the DNR’s aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager.
Joanne Foreman, 517-284-5814 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
DNR Wildlife Pathologist Cooley Earns MSU
Outstanding Alumni Award
the DNR, Tom Cooley’s name is indelibly tied to Michigan wildlife. A
40-year veteran employee of the department, Cooley is a wildlife
pathologist at the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory housed at the
Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lansing.
Recently, Cooley’s body of work was honored with the Michigan State
University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Alumni
Award, given to those who have distinguished themselves by obtaining the
highest level of professional accomplishments and who possess the highest
standards of integrity and character.
DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said the award is well-deserved.
“Tom is a key employee who is very effective at his job," Mason said. "We
rely heavily on his knowledge and his insights about wildlife disease and
DNR Wildlife Disease Lab is responsible for
monitoring the health and well-being of Michigan’s wildlife. It is known
worldwide and provides critical, detailed information on diseases in the
state that affect wildlife.
Cooley plays an integral role in that work. In
the past decade alone, he has served as lead pathologist on more than
10,000 cases of wildlife mortalities. He also has authored or co-authored
hundreds of publications and peer-reviewed papers, been interviewed as an
authority about wildlife diseases, and written and taken photos for the
Wildlife Disease Manual.
Cooley’s award was presented earlier this
ANR Week, an annual event hosted by the
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
MSU Extension and
Holly Vaughn, 313-396-6863.
Master Angler program's popularity takes off
love to fish Michigan waters. According to the state’s Master Angler
program, they’ve been reeling in some real keepers the last few years. The
program, managed by the DNR, enjoyed another successful year in 2018,
accepting 2,698 fish.
The program has been in place since 1973 and recognizes large fish
caught by recreational anglers. There were 522 more fish submitted in 2018
than in 2017, with anglers representing 28 states and Canada being
recognized. The program has more than tripled in the last four years.
Of the entries accepted, 1,564 were in the catch-and-keep category,
while 1,134 were in the catch-and-release category. Just over 500 anglers
received certificates for fish that placed in the top five spots for both
The most popular 2018 Master Angler entries by species included:
238 Chinook salmon.
140 rainbow trout.
137 smallmouth bass.
Master Angler entries for 2018 included two new state records, a
1.80-pound hybrid sunfish caught in Lake Anne in Grand Mere State Park
(Berrien County) by Joel Heeringa of St. Joseph, and a 46.54-pound black
buffalo caught on the Grand River (Ottawa County) by Brandonn Kramer of
The Master Angler program runs on the calendar
year (January 1st to December 31st). Submissions already are being accepted for 2019
and will be until Jan. 10, 2020. Because program requirements may change
year to year, be sure to carefully read the application before submitting
it. A downloadable application and more program details are available at
Lynne Thoma, 517-284-5838 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
Coyote Sightings and Tips to Prevent
time of year, it’s not uncommon to hear about an uptick in coyote
sightings around the state. That’s because coyotes are more visible during
their breeding season (January to March), as well as in the spring and
summer months when they’re caring for pups.
Coyotes are extremely adaptable and can be found just about everywhere: in
forests, fields, farmlands, backyards, neighborhoods and cities. They’ve
learned to survive in urban landscapes throughout Michigan. When food
sources are available – things like trash bins, bird feeders and pet food
– coyotes may become more comfortable around people.
To minimize potential conflicts and protect your small pets, DNR furbearer
specialist Adam Bump has a few suggestions.
“The first thing to remember is never to intentionally feed or try to tame
a coyote; leave wildlife in the wild,” Bump said. “Remove those appealing
food sources, fence off your gardens and fruit trees, clear out wood and
brush piles, and accompany your pets outdoors rather than letting them
Additionally, there are some hunting and removal options:
Coyote hunting is open year-round. Michigan
residents need a valid base license to hunt them. See the current-year
Fur Harvester Digest for coyote hunting and
On private property where coyotes are doing or about to do damage, a
property owner or designee can take coyotes year-round; a license or
written permit is not needed.
permitted nuisance control business can
assist in the safe removal of problem animals in urban or residential
Get more tips on understanding this species in
Coexisting with Urban Coyotes video or on the
DNR’s coyotes webpage. Questions? Contact
Hannah Schauer, 517-388-9678.
The Power of Silence
By JOHN PEPIN - Michigan Department of
“But my words like silent raindrops fell, within the wells of
silence,” – Paul Simon
the shadows fell and the world turned, I watched the stars – in their
intriguing constellations – move across the cold skies of a late winter’s
I made my observations over a period of hours, stepping outside the door
of the woodstove-warmed cabin to stand and stare into the heavens.
I was feeling satisfied, full of supper. We cooked some bratwurst and hot
dogs over the woodstove fire, and we warmed some chili in a cast-iron
Dutch oven on top. I don’t know what it is, but there’s always something
earthy and good about eating chili at a wooden table inside a cabin.
For the full effect, it’s best to eat the chili with a wooden spoon like
Tuco and Angel Eyes did in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. For
some reason, it always tastes better that way.
The later it got, the more the sounds from the black-topped highway – like
a blaring ambulance siren and the whirring of the wheels of fully loaded
logging trucks rolling east – died down. This surrendered the night to the
sounds contained within the tall maples and pines that stood along the
other nights, these sounds had included the faint hooting of a great
horned owl, the yipping of coyotes and my whistling in hopes of contacting
a little saw-whet owl that was no doubt hiding amid the dense forest,
along the pathway, down by the river.
By midnight, the Big Dipper had moved into place almost directly overhead,
a good distance from where it had been earlier in the evening.
I followed an imaginary line from its leading edge straight out into the
blackness to the bright shine of the North Star – which is the last star
on the handle of the Little Dipper.
The big and little dippers are each part of bear-shaped constellations
called Ursa Major (the Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (the Lesser Bear),
Not far away in the sky was the “W” marking Cassiopeia, named for the vain
queen of the same name from Greek mythology. To humiliate the queen,
Neptune placed her in the sky on her throne with her head nearest to
Polaris – the North Star. Doing this would force the queen to spend half
of every night upside down.
It was much colder, the sky clearer.
the nighttime turned into early morning, we inched closer toward 2 a.m. –
the moment when the minute hand on the clock would spin ahead to 3 a.m.
and we all would go tumbling, falling forward toward spring.
On this trip outside the cabin, an icy blue curtain had dropped over
everything. The snow crunched loudly as my boots moved through the snow.
Once I stopped walking, there was a deep, penetrating silence.
Or was there?
American composer John Cage said there is no such thing as silence. He
composed a controversial piece of music called “Four Thirty-Three,” which
refers to the length of the music.
“Four Thirty-Three was conceived as a three-movement composition written
for any instrument (or combination of instruments),” said conductor
Charles Olivieri-Munroe in a 2011 essay on Cage. “The score instructs the
performer not to play the instrument during the three movements (the first
being 30 seconds, the second being 2 minutes and 23 seconds and the third
being 1 minute and 40 seconds.)”
composed the piece in 1952. At a performance hall in Woodstock, New York
that same year, pianist David Tudor lifted the lid of his piano and sat
for 4 minutes, 33 seconds without playing anything.
The audience was confused.
“The music, Cage explained, was whatever sound the audience heard in the
background,” a passage at poetry.org read. “Silence, he said, doesn’t
exist, when one listens carefully.”
From as far back as 1897, pieces of music had contained phrases with blank
measures, but nothing like this.
“Four Thirty-Three stands apart from these other experimental works in
that it took the most radical approach in its experiment with silence,”
Olivieri-Munroe wrote. “It basically pulled the painting from within its
frame and had the viewer observe a blank space. It switched off the lights
and left the listener in the darkness.”
was much the same circumstance I found myself in standing in the cold
winter’s night, listening hard for what the woods would offer, enchanted
by the starlight.
A year before Cage wrote his ground-breaking composition, he visited an
anechoic chamber at Harvard University – a specialized room sound-proofed
externally and designed so the walls, ceiling and floor absorbed all the
sound in the room.
Cage was surprised to not find silence in the room.
“I heard two sounds, one high and one low,” Cage wrote. “When I described
them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my
nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation.”
Cage concluded we are all making music all the time.
“Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my
death,” Cage wrote. “One need not fear about the future of music.”
Olivieri-Munroe said Cage’s realization of the impossibility of silence
led to his composing “4’33”.”
Cage said the audience experiencing the premiere of his piece missed
“There’s no such thing as silence,” he said. “What they thought was
silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental
sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first
movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and
during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting
sounds as they talked or walked out.”
With Cage’s intention for the piece in mind, the composition sounds
different each time it is performed.
My own version of “Four Thirty-Three,” performed under the glittering
stars, on a chilly night in Marquette County, yielded the sounds of my
heart beating, a sound in my ear as though the silence was roaring – like
when you hear the “ocean” through the horn of a seashell – and what I
could swear was the sound of a meteor sputtering across the black sky.
Back inside the cabin, the warm orange glow of the fire still pulsed
through the smoky glass on the woodstove door. On my last walk outside, a
little later, the moon had risen low in the eastern sky.
This time, I heard the cracking sound of a hardwood splitting from the
cold. The abrupt noise came from way back in the tree stand near the
cabin. Not far away – and so loud it smashed the relative quiet into a
million pieces – came the yacking yelp of a gray fox.
I imagined he had climbed into a tree and was saying his piece to the moon
shining in third quarter. I put my hands into my jacket pockets and
crunched back through the snow to the cabin door.
The woodstove smoke slowly wafted from the stone-fashioned chimney. One
last look around and then I ducked inside the cabin, hoping to get at
least a little bit of sleep before the sun would stretch its long golden
arms up over the horizon – bringing on the challenge of another day.
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR
stories in our archive at
Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing
articles, sign up for free email delivery at
Northern Michigan and UP Ice Shanty
Removal Dates are Approaching
Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that mandatory
ice shanty removal dates are approaching. Regardless of the date, shanties
must be removed before the ice is unable to safely support them. In warmer
weather, the ice quickly can become unsafe for anglers to retrieve their
The deadline for removal from waters in the northern Lower Peninsula is
midnight Friday, March 15. Counties in this area include Alcona, Alpena,
Antrim, Arenac, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford,
Emmet, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau,
Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Newaygo,
Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and
Ice shanties in the southern Lower
Peninsula may be used daily as long as the ice is safe, and they are
removed each day.
On Michigan-Wisconsin boundary
waters, ice shanties must be removed by midnight Friday,
For all Upper Peninsula counties,
shanties must be removed by midnight Sunday,
Following the mandatory removal
dates, ice shanties still may be used but must be removed daily from the
Shanty owners whose structures fall through the ice are subject to
penalties of up to 30 days in jail, fines of $100 to $500, or both. If a
shanty is removed by a government agency, the court can require the owner
to reimburse that agency for an amount up to three times the cost of
DNR conservation officers also remind individuals going onto the ice to
use extreme caution as temperatures begin to rise in the spring. The
repetitive thawing and refreezing of ice weakens its integrity, decreasing
its ability to support additional weight from people, snowmobiles, ORVs
and shanties. Deteriorating ice, water currents and high winds increase
the probability of pressure cracks, which can leave anglers and others
stranded on ice floes or at risk of falling through the ice.
For more information, watch the
Michigan DNR ice safety tips video.
The Michigan Department of Natural
Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use
and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current
and future generations. For more information, go to Michigan.gov/DNR.
DNR Reminds Snow Mobile Riders to Watch for
snowfall across much of the Upper Peninsula this winter is making
conditions fantastic for snowmobiling, but not so great for moose and
deer, resulting in riders and wildlife winding up on the same trails.
“The deep snow conditions can make using the packed snowmobile trails and
roads attractive to wildlife, particularly deer and moose, because using
trails makes it much easier for them to move,” said DNR wildlife biologist
Brian Roell. “We are getting reports from across the Upper Peninsula about
deer and moose not wanting to leave the roadways or trails.”
In portions of Marquette and Baraga counties where moose are concentrated
–particularly along Trail Nos. 5 and 14 – snow mobile riders are reminded to be
on the lookout for moose on the trails.
Trail No. 5 runs north from southern Marquette County past the Silver
Lake Basin and the Yellow Dog River, where it connects with Trail No. 14,
which runs west past Mount Arvon to L’Anse in Baraga County.
“Moose will use the trails to avoid the deeper snow,” Roell said. “If
snow mobile riders encounter a moose while riding, they should observe it from a
distance and not chase the animal.”
Moose are not frightened by snowmobiles or other vehicles.
“Moose may stand their ground and refuse to leave the trail and could
become aggressive,” Roell said. “Trail users encountering a moose on the
trail should pick an alternate route or wait for the moose to move out of
the trail before proceeding.”
Riders should not approach moose.
“If the animal shows interest by slowly walking towards you, or has its
ears laid backwards, or the hairs on its back raised, put some space
between you and the moose by backing up or turning around and leaving the
area,” Roell said. “There are fines for harassing wildlife. It’s best to
remember wildlife always has the right of way.”
For more information on moose in Michigan, visit
the DNR’s webpage at
Dead Fish May Show Up as Ice
Begins to Thaw
conditions – very cold temperatures and heavy snow over ice, for example –
can kill fish and other aquatic creatures like turtles, frogs, toads and
crayfish. When ice and snow start to melt in the spring, it’s likely that
people will begin to discover those deaths.
"Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill," said Gary Whelan, the
DNR Fisheries Division’s research manager. "As the season changes, it can
be common in shallow lakes, ponds, streams and canals. These kills are
localized and typically don’t affect the overall health of fish
populations or fishing quality."
Shallow lakes with excess vegetation and soft bottoms are prone to
winterkill. When aquatic vegetation under ice and snow dies from lack of
sunlight, it uses up dissolved oxygen as it decays, and that creates fish
kill conditions. Canals in urban areas also are susceptible due to run-off
and pollution from roads and lawns and septic systems, again using up
dissolved oxygen through the decay of vegetation and organic materials in
“Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter but may not
be noticed until a month after the ice melts, because the dead fish are
temporarily preserved on the lake bottom by the cold water. Once the water
warms up, bacterial activity results in the dead fish coming to the
surface,” Whelan said. “Fish also are affected by rapid water temperature
changes due to unseasonably warm weather, leading to stress and sometimes
Fish can get easily stressed as they often have low energy reserves in
late winter and food is scarce. That equals less adaptability to low
oxygen and temperature swings.
Anyone spotting a fish kill in
larger quantities – 25 fish or more – should report it using the Sick or
Dead Aquatic Species form available under the fish icon at
People also can
contact local DNR offices.
It’s important to report observations as soon as possible, allowing
fisheries staff to collect the best-quality fish for analysis.
For more information, visit
Don't miss Conversations & Coffee with DNR
where the walleyes are? Sizing up salmon this season? Looking to lock down
the ins and outs of local regulations? If you’re interested in talking
with DNR fisheries staff about local and statewide issues important to you
and your community, stop by one of the upcoming “Conversations & Coffee”
events around the state this month and next.
The DNR has hosted those outings the past several years to give people an
opportunity to meet with Fisheries Division managers and biologists,
discuss local issues and management activities and get answers to specific
questions. To encourage conversation, the meetings are very informal; at
many, no formal presentations are planned. Refreshments will be provided.
These forums also are great opportunities to catch up on local and
statewide fishing regulation changes that affect anglers.
The meeting schedule includes:
March 25th, 6 to 8
March 26th, 6 to 8
p.m. (Central), Iron Mountain
April 2nd, 6 to
7:30 p.m., Newberry
April 4th, 6 to
7:30 p.m. (Eastern), Munising
April 8th, 6 to 8
April 9th, 2 to 3
p.m., virtual meeting
(courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant)
starting 6:30 p.m., Bay City
April 10th, 6:30
to 8 p.m., Waterford
starting 6 p.m., Sault Ste.
April 23rd, 6 to 8
p.m. (Central), Ironwood
April 24th, 7 to 9
April 25th, 7 to 9
more detailed information about the meetings
or other questions, visit
Michigan.gov/Fishing or contact
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839
Become a DNR Off-Road
Vehicle Safety Education Instructor
05MAR19-If you love to ride the trails and you know how to do it
safely, you could be the right fit for the DNR’s ORV safety education
program. The DNR is recruiting instructors for this volunteer opportunity
that lets ORV enthusiasts share their love and knowledge of the sport with
new riders, while emphasizing safe, responsible ORV operation for a great
All volunteer ORV instructors must attend a three-day academy – all
expenses paid – to learn policy and procedure, classroom management and
teaching concepts. Attendees will explore many aspects of ORV operation,
including basic hands-on skills on off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain
vehicles, utility-type vehicles and winching recovery equipment. Active
instructors also are invited to brush up on knowledge and skills and
experience changes in equipment.
Each academy is limited to 24 students; enrollment is first come, first
served. Academy, lodging and meals will be provided if the candidates use
the DNR-provided accommodations. Two ORV instructor academies are offered:
May 3rd - 5th,
Roscommon, at the Ralph A.
MacMullan Conference Center.
June 7th - 9th,
Escanaba, at the state
interested in becoming certified ORV instructors must:
Be at least 18 years old.
Be a high school graduate or have a GED.
Have no felony convictions.
Have no misdemeanor convictions within the past
Have no convictions that resulted in the
revocation of ORV-operation privileges within the last five years.
(Other convictions of natural resource law violations are subject to
review and may result in the rejection of an application.)
Maintain a high moral, ethical and mental
To receive an application, call Erica Moore, 517-284-5991. After a
completed application is submitted, a background check will be conducted.
Successful applicants then will be contacted to schedule their attendance
at one of the ORV instructor academies.
Cpl. John Morey, 989-619-3784.
Battling Oak Wilt Disease
By KATHLEEN LAVEY - Michigan Department of
state forests and on urban streets, the oak is a mighty tree. Towering
nearly 100 feet tall, it can live up to 150 years and offers plenty of
shade under its heavily-leafed, spreading branches.
But oaks – especially trees in the red oak family – face a threat from a
disease known as oak wilt, caused by a fungus with microscopic spores that
can infect and kill a red oak within weeks.
“The leaves begin to turn brown, with parts of them still green,” said
James Wieferich, a forest health specialist with the Michigan Department
of Natural Resources. “When the leaves start dropping in the middle of
summer, that’s when we get a lot of oak wilt calls.”
Wieferich said there’s good news and bad news about oak wilt.
The bad news: you cannot save a red oak that is already showing symptoms.
The good news: simple actions, such as refraining from pruning oak trees
between April 15th and July 15th and covering accidental bark wounds with
paint, can help keep healthy trees from being infected.
city streets, those steps help keep tree loss to a minimum. In state
forests, plows and selective cutting help keep the disease at bay.
People who spot a tree with symptoms of oak
wilt – in the city or the forest – are encouraged to check the DNR’s
interactive oak wilt map at
Michigan.gov/ForestHealth to report it.
So, what is this infection that can take down a towering
Oak wilt is caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum. It
spreads from tree to tree by underground root contact, through tiny,
sap-feeding beetles that carry spores from fungal pads on infected trees
into wounds on healthy oaks.
Spores also can be found on recently cut firewood from trees that died of
oak wilt. This is one of the reasons why the DNR and other agencies advise
against moving firewood.
Oaks in the red oak family, including black oak, northern red oak and
northern pin oak, are most susceptible to the disease, which kills trees
by interrupting the flow of sap.
in the white oak group are less susceptible because they have a different
internal cell structure that prevents rapid spread of the infection
through the tree. Trees in the white oak group have rounded leaf edges and
include white oak and swamp white oak.
The highest risk of infection occurs from April 15 through July 15, but it
is prudent to avoid pruning or injuring oak trees until they have lost
leaves for the winter.
If pruning or removing oaks cannot be avoided during the high-risk period,
or a tree gets damaged, immediately cover wounds with tree-wound paint or
latex-based paint. Treating tree wounds with paint is not usually
recommended; doing so to combat oak wilt is the exception.
Infected trees will usually begin to display symptoms beginning in June
through September. The symptoms include the leaves showing two colors
during these months and rapid leaf drop from the tree’s upper crown.
Those trees are usually easy to spot in a backyard. DNR staffers also
are keeping an eye out for oak wilt in state forests and taking measures
to stop its spread.
“We prioritize our treatment efforts in new areas where there is not a lot
of oak wilt,” said Scott Lint, a forest health specialist with the DNR.
Those areas include Otsego and Cheboygan counties in northern Michigan. In
the Upper Peninsula, control efforts are focused on Menominee, Iron and
Other priority spots include state campgrounds and trail access sites
where people come to enjoy the woods.
“For the rest of the state forest, we prioritize by the quality of the
oak,” Lint said. “We tend to prioritize high-quality northern red oak
rather than pin oak.”
Once an infection is spotted in a priority area, DNR staffers bring in a
piece of heavy equipment known as a vibratory plow. It creates a deep
trench to separate the roots of the infected tree from trees outside the
“All of the trees within that circle have the potential to become infected
and die,” Lint said.
Other oak trees within the circle are cut down. Sometimes they are
salvaged for timber; other times they are left in place.
Within a treated area, new trees that sprout from stumps are likely to die
from oak wilt because they are connected to the infected underground root
system, where the disease can linger for a few years. The roots of new
oaks that generate from seeds aren’t deep enough to become infected.
“Once we do the plowing, we have removed the risk of oak wilt spreading,”
Lint said. “New seedlings that originate from seed will grow in that same
Tips to avoid oak wilt:
Don’t prune oaks from mid-April through the
If oak trees must be pruned or removed during
the risk period, or a tree gets damaged, immediately cover wounds with
tree-wound paint or latex-based paint.
Don’t move firewood, especially if it comes
from oak wilt-killed trees, as it can harbor the fungus.
If firewood is suspected of being tainted by
oak wilt, cover it with a plastic tarp all the way to the ground,
leaving no openings. This keeps beetles away so they can’t move spores
onto healthy trees. Leave wood covered until the fall of the year
following tree death to keep the disease from spreading.
If the presence of oak wilt is suspected:
Whether in the forest or in urban areas, land managers and property
owners taking a few relatively simple steps can prevent oak wilt infection
and keep oaks towering over our backyards, city streets and forests for
decades into the future.
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in
our archive at
Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to
upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at
DNR Warns Snow Mobile Riders
about UP Trail Hazards
conditions that ripped through parts of the Upper Peninsula Sunday have
created numerous hazards for snowmobilers across parts of five counties.
The storm crippled travel for motorists, with nearly 20 inches of snow
dumped over some parts of Marquette County and higher amounts registered
farther north in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Winds that surpassed 60 mph were clocked along the Lake Superior
shoreline. Highway travel along M-28 between Marquette and Munising was
shut down, while heavy loads of snow collapsed some rooftops.
“The Sunday blizzard has adversely impacted snowmobile trails throughout
the north central and western U.P.,” said Rob Katona, Michigan Department
of Natural Resources central U.P. trails specialist. “Heavy snowfall,
combined with strong gusty winds, have created snow drifts 8 feet deep and
higher, with numerous trees downed throughout the trail system.”
Areas hardest hit include the snowmobile trails located in Marquette,
Baraga, Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw counties.
Snowmobile clubs are clearing drifts and downed trees with grooming
“However, many are not pulling their drags that create the smooth, groomed
trail surface until they have cleared all the drifts and debris,” Katona
said. “Some areas may not be cleared and groomed until late this week or
over the weekend.”
Until trails are cleared, riders should expect to encounter deep snow,
downed trees and rough trail conditions, with some trail segments
impassable, especially in open areas.
DNR conservation officers conducted several search and rescues Sunday
after riders buried sleds in drifts along trails.
“Snow mobile riders who are inexperienced in riding in deep snow
conditions are strongly encouraged to avoid the areas hardest hit, in
favor or riding in the southern portion of the U.P., where the weather was
not as severe and abundant snowfall this season has produced great trail
conditions,” Katona said.
Check the latest on trail closures and
Michigan.gov/DNRClosures. For the latest
trail conditions, see groomer reports at
For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan,
visit the DNR’s webpage at
Blizzard Strands Many Snow Mobile Riders in
and strong winds during Marquette’s most recent winter storm created
blizzard conditions so intense, several snow mobile riders became
Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers responded
to several emergency calls to aid snow mobile riders Sunday, working
through the night into the early hours of the next day.
“There were multiple people lost and stuck on the trails in Marquette
County,” said Sgt. Mark Leadman. “None of these were quick rescues;
everything was dragged out due to the extreme winter conditions.”
The storm raged through the area, shutting down traffic along M-28 between
Marquette and Munising, dumping nearly 20 inches of snow near Negaunee and
producing wind gusts over 60 miles per hour along the Lake Superior
In one rescue mission, two Marquette men, ages 30 and 31, were
snowmobiling near Trail No. 8 when they got separated from each other due
to low visibility from the blowing snow. Both of the riders' snowmobiles
became stuck in 6-foot-tall snow drifts.
Around 11 p.m., Conservation Officer John Kamps began assisting
Marquette County Search and Rescue personnel in locating the two men.
After looking for about an hour, one of the riders was found near the
Lindberg Gravel Pit, north of Marquette County Road 480.
It was several hours later before the second snow mobile rider was
located, about a quarter mile from where the first man had been found.
“Both men were cold, but in good condition,” Kamps said. “Unable to get
their snowmobiles out of the deep snow drifts, both of the men were taken
by first responders to a warm location near the gravel pit.”
Kamps then left the first search-and-rescue effort to respond to a second
call for help along Trail No. 8, this one from a 52-year-old Marquette man
who was stranded near the crossroads of County Road 480 and M-553.
The man had been snowmobiling home when he became lost in whiteout
conditions. His snowmobile got stuck in a 3-foot snow drift. Kamps and a
volunteer search-and-rescue team member entered the trail on their
snowmobiles in the crossroads area.
After about 90 minutes of searching, they located the man, cold, but in
good condition. The man had abandoned his snowmobile and walked the trail
for 3 or 4 miles, searching for help. The man was given a ride back on the
volunteer’s snowmobile. He was dropped off at a warm location around 1:30
a.m., where he was able to call for a ride home.
In another incident, farther west, Leadman and conservation officers Josh
Boudreaux and Brett Delonge responded to a Marquette County Dispatch call
about three men from Ohio who were stranded along Trail No. 5. The men
made several calls for help to emergency dispatchers after their
snowmobiles became stuck in drifted snow covering the trail.
“The roads weren’t passable,” Leadman said. “Conditions were blinding with
Using GPS coordinates obtained from the 911 call, the conservation
officers searched the trail for several hours before they located the
three men around 1 a.m.
With the sleds stuck in the snow, the conservation officers transported
the men on their patrol sleds a distance of about 7 miles before arriving
at a convenience store located at Koski Corners.
They got to the store, which is situated at the intersection of M-95 and
U.S. 41 West, at about 3 a.m. There they were able to call a ride to pick
them up. Neither of the snow mobile riders required medical attention.
“Conservation officers receive unique search and rescue training, as well
as training on how to operate snowmobiles and ORVs in intense weather
conditions,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “We are
thankful to have officers located in every Michigan county, who are able
to use their department resources to navigate into difficult
During the storm, which was one of the fiercest to hit the area in some
time, the Mackinac Bridge had also been closed, while countless local
roadways were choked with snow and drifted over. Police and weather
forecasters warned motorists that travel would be difficult to impossible
during the storm, urging drivers not to travel unless necessary.
While the sun broke through the clouds Monday afternoon over Marquette
County, whiteout conditions persisted near Munising, with M-28 remaining
closed. Sections of several snowmobile trails remained impassable for
trail groomers, with trees downed and drifts higher than 8 feet in some
The DNR reminds snow mobile riders to always
Ride Right to help prevent accidents and get
everyone back home safe.
Michigan DNR conservation officers are fully
commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources
protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing
general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the
communities they serve.
Share Your Thoughts with the DNR at
The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing Michigan
citizens the opportunity to share input and ideas on policy decisions,
programs and other aspects of natural resource management and outdoor
recreation opportunities. One important avenue for this input is at
meetings of the public bodies that advise the DNR and, in some cases, also
set policies for natural resource management.
boards, commissions, committees and councils
will hold public meetings in March. The public is encouraged to attend.
The links below will take you to the webpage for each group, where you
will find specific meeting locations and, when finalized, meeting agendas.
Please check these pages frequently, as meeting details and agendas may
change and sometimes meetings are canceled.
In addition, the public is invited
to join DNR Fisheries Division staff at
Conversations & Coffee
events in March for an informal opportunity to discuss local issues and
management activities, and to get specific questions answered. More
information, including April event dates, is available at
or by contacting
6 to 8 p.m., Bay College, Escanaba
6 to 8 p.m., CDT, Bay College West Campus, Iron Mountain
Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee
– March 21st,
9 to 11 a.m., Belle Isle Nature Center, Detroit (Contact: Barbara
Equine Trails Subcommittee
– March 27th,
1:15 to 4:30 p.m., MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Lansing (Contact: Paul
Pigeon River Country Equestrian Committee
– March 21st,
1 p.m., DNR Field Office, Roscommon (Contact: Scott Whitcomb,
Timber Advisory Council
– March 22nd,
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., DNR Customer Service Center, Gaylord (Contact:
Kimberley Korbecki, 517-284-5876)
Urban and Community Forestry Council
– March 26th,
10 a.m. to noon, Michigan Municipal League, Lansing (Contact: Kevin
Western Upper Peninsula Citizens’ Advisory Council
– March 21st,
5 p.m. Central, Bay College-West, Iron Mountain (Contact: Stacy Welling
DNR Seeks Public Input on Porcupine
Mountains Wilderness State Park General Management Planning
27FEB19-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking input
to help shape a new general management plan that will guide the future of
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, located in the western Upper
Peninsula's Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.
People are invited to share their opinions by
March 24 via an online survey. A link to the survey is available at
General management plans are used to define a long-range planning and
management strategy that protects the resources of the site while
addressing recreation and education needs and opportunities. Public input
is a critical component of the planning process.
roughly 60,000 acres, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is
Michigan’s largest state park. It is home to 35,000 acres of old-growth
forest (protected from logging by the formation of the park in 1945),
roaring waterfalls, miles of rivers and streams, more than 90 miles of
hiking trails, 21 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and spectacular
sweeping vistas. Lake of the Clouds, the Summit Peak observation tower and
the scenic Presque Isle River corridor are just a few of the many popular
The expansive park acreage offers a range of recreation opportunities,
including camping at modern and rustic campsites and cabins, backcountry
camping, hiking, cross‐country skiing, disc golfing, hunting, fishing and
wildlife and scenic viewing. The Porcupine Mountain Ski Area provides 200
acres of downhill skiing, with 12 runs and a 641-foot vertical drop. The
Wilderness Visitor Center offers an exhibit hall featuring natural
communities and native wildlife as well as the history of the Porcupine
Mountains from prehistoric copper miners to the lumber camps of the early
1900s, a gift shop, information on trail conditions and interpretive
programs. Year-round events and programs are offered by the Friends of the
Porkies, a nonprofit organization that provides support to the park.
This survey is one of several opportunities to get involved in the
planning process. The DNR also will host a public open house later this
year, providing an opportunity for review and comment on the draft plan.
Additional information on the DNR’s general
management plan process is available at
For more information about the online survey or
the proposed plan, contact DNR park management plan administrator Debbie
Jensen at 517-284-6105 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing
impaired) or via email at
Hand-Netting Season Opens March 1st, Dip
Netting Opens March 20th
fishing is right around the corner, and that means Michigan’s annual
netting seasons are about to get under way. The hand-netting season opens
Friday, March 1st, while the dip-netting season starts up Wednesday,
20th. Both seasons close May 31st. A Michigan fishing license is required.
The following species can be taken during both seasons: bowfin, carp,
gizzard shad, goldfish, longnose gar, smelt and suckers. Waters open to
hand netting include all Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River,
the Detroit River and the St. Marys River, including all tributaries to
those waters from the mouth to a half-mile upstream. Waters open to dip
netting include all Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula streams, except
designated trout streams and other streams, as noted.
All other waters are closed to these activities.
Full season details, as well as descriptions of dip netting and hand
netting, are available on page 23 of both the 2018 (available now) and
2019 Michigan Fishing Guide (available March 1), posted at Michigan.gov/Fishing.
The use of seines, hand nets and dip nets for minnows is allowed all
year on all waters (except designated trout streams and those waters
closed to minnow harvest), while cast nets can be used for alewives,
gizzard shad, minnows and smelt all year on the Great Lakes, Lake St.
Clair, the St. Clair River, the Detroit River and the St. Marys River.
For those interested in dipping for smelt later
this spring, visit the
DNR’s smelt dipping and fishing opportunities webpage.
Christian LeSage, 517-284-5830 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
Summer and Fall Job Opportunities with DNR
26FEB19-If you or someone you know is seeking valuable experience
working in wildlife conservation – or just an interesting job that gets
you outdoors – consider applying for one of more than 200 summer and fall
positions with the DNR Wildlife Division.
The division regularly hires additional staff to work these seasons at DNR
state field offices, customer service centers and state game areas.
Seasonal staff helps in several areas, such as:
Assisting with wildlife habitat
maintenance and improvement, which may include cutting clearings and
adjusting water levels.
Mowing, landscaping and facility
Handling tasks related to wildlife
surveys, nuisance animal control and equipment maintenance.
Collecting biological data and
samples for wildlife disease monitoring.
Assisting hunters at DNR deer
“These positions are perfect for college students, those looking to
re-enter the workforce, and seniors or retirees who want to be involved in
the outdoors,” said Jennifer Schafer, Wildlife Division's human resources
Some seasonal positions currently are
open for application, and more will become available in the spring. Learn
seasonal positions in the Wildlife Division
– and other openings throughout the department – at
scroll to the Seasonal and Temporary Positions section.
Iron Belle Trail Mini-Grant Applications Due
application period is open for the fifth round of grant funding for work
along Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. Proposals are due March 15, with
selected grant recipients announced in May.
The trail offers two distinct routes for hiking and bicycling that,
together, when finished, will cover more than 2,000 miles of trail. Right
now, the trail is roughly 70 percent completed.
DNR state trails coordinator Paul Yauk said this latest round of funding
will focus on segments ready to go into construction this year or next, as
well as project engineering and design, and the purchase of Iron Belle
“The Iron Belle Trail is Michigan’s ‘showcase trail’ – an outdoor
recreation gem that takes trail users through many amazing places along
both routes,” Yauk said. “These mini-grants go a long way toward bringing
together the people and resources critical to completing each new mile of
Belle Trail partners, communities and eligible nonprofits can submit
applications for grant amounts up to $50,000. A funding match, though not
required, is strongly recommended.
This is the fifth year the DNR has administered Iron Belle Trail
mini-grants. The total amount of funding available for 2019 is still to be
determined. Since 2015, though, more than 75 Iron Belle Trail projects
have shared over $1.4 million in funding.
The Iron Belle Trail is made possible by federal, state and local units
of government and many organizations and partners, including the DNR, the
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Michigan Department of
The mini-grant application and an interactive
trail map are available at
Dakota Hewlett, 517-284-6082.
ICYMI: Northern Lower Peninsula Wolf Survey
is Under Way
case you missed it, the DNR recently asked the public's help in reporting
gray wolf sightings (including tracks) in Michigan's northern Lower
Peninsula – such "citizen science" reports help the DNR better understand
the location and movements of wildlife, including wolves.
“The probability of DNR personnel observing an actual wolf or its
tracks in the northern Lower Peninsula is very low,” said DNR wildlife
biologist Jennifer Kleitch. “It’s helpful to have as many eyes as possible
looking, so public reports are important for this survey.”
The citizen-based survey runs through March 15.
Read the full news release.
Michigan's Early State Parks Development
This article is part of a series of Showcasing
the DNR stories to mark the centennial creation of the Michigan State Park
Commission, which was established by the state Legislature on May 12,
1919, paving the way for our state parks system managed by the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources. The DNR is celebrating this milestone
throughout the year with special events, podcasts, historical stories,
videos, geocaching and more. Find more details at
By CASEY WARNER - Michigan Department of Natural Resources
is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Department of Natural
Resources-managed state parks system this year.
The celebration is centered around the formation of the Michigan State
Park Commission by the state Legislature on May 12, 1919. The commission
was given responsibility for overseeing, acquiring and maintaining public
lands and establishing Michigan’s state parks system.
One of the state’s earliest park purchases was acreage in Grand Traverse
County that would become the site of Interlochen State Park in 1917.
Although the land was purchased prior to the 1919 formation of the
Michigan State Park Commission, Interlochen was the first public park to
be transferred under its auspices in 1920, and is the first state park in
that system, which today is managed by the DNR.
However, 25 years before legislation established the state park
commission, the federal government gifted the Mackinac Island property it
owned to the state in 1895. The island was designated as Michigan’s first
state park under the Mackinac State Park Commission.
“In 1907, the community of Mackinaw City donated to the state a village
park, the site of Fort Michilimackinac,” said Steve Brisson, deputy
director of the Mackinac State Park Commission. “Two years later, it was
declared ‘Michilimackinac State Park,’ and placed under the Mackinac
Island State Park Commission’s care.”
Mackinac Island State Park and Michilimackinac State Park are both
official state parks, per their authorizing legislation, but they remain
separate from the park system managed by the DNR.
Mackinac Island State Park
Island – historically a gathering place for Native people and then French
fur traders and missionaries and later the home of soldiers stationed at
Fort Mackinac – had become a popular tourist destination by the late 19th
“By the time of the Civil War, lake boats were bringing visitors to
Mackinac to enjoy the ‘healthy air’ or explore the island’s natural
wonders,” David A. Armour, who served as deputy director of the Mackinac
Island State Park Commission for many years, wrote in his book “100 Years
at Mackinac: 1895-1995.”
“Such was the growing reputation of Mackinac Island that Thomas W.
Ferry, a Mackinac boy who had grown up to become a U.S. Senator,
spearheaded a move to have Congress designate the government land on
Mackinac Island as a national park. He succeeded, and in 1875, three years
after Yellowstone had become the United States’ first national park,
Mackinac became the second. Set aside ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of
the people,’ the 911 acres outside the 104-acre military reservation were
to be maintained by the soldiers who garrisoned Fort Mackinac.”
Almost 20 years later, the U.S. Army decided to close Fort Mackinac. At
the time, the National Park Service didn’t exist, and all national parks
were under the umbrella of the War Department.
Mackinac was a beautiful and pleasant post enjoyed by the soldiers
stationed there, it had no remaining military importance, and its troops
were needed in Sault Ste. Marie to guard the canal there,” Armour wrote.
“Without the troops, who would care for the national park?”
In February 1895, Senator James McMillian – urged on by a group of
Mackinac citizens who wanted the island’s government lands kept in public
ownership rather than sold – introduced an appropriation bill amendment
that would turn the military reservation and the buildings and lands of
the national park over to the state of Michigan for use as a state park.
“Congress passed the bill on March 2, with the added stipulation that the
land would revert to the United States if it ever ceased to be used for
park purposes,” Armour wrote. “Michigan had no state park system, but the
state Legislature acted quickly, and by joint resolution on May 31, 1895,
created the Mackinac Island State Park Commission to manage Michigan’s
first state park.”
The lands of the military reservation, Fort Mackinac and the national
park were formally transferred to the state Sept. 16, 1895.
“The state had acquired a treasure,” Armour wrote.
Mackinac Island State Park includes the 14
original buildings of Fort Mackinac, which were built by the British
military starting in 1780, as well as several other historic structures
and about 1,800 acres of land.
More than 80 percent of Mackinac Island is state park
property, managed by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.
than 800,000 visitors come to the island each year. The park features a
variety of historic and natural resources, including historic landmarks,
breathtaking vistas, spectacular rock formations, quiet forests and
inspiring nature trails.
To learn more about Mackinac Island State
Interlochen State Park
The Michigan Legislature paid $60,000 for the
land that became
Interlochen State Park, located southwest of
Traverse City, in 1917.
As recorded in the Biennial Report of the Public Domain Commission for
“At the last session of the Legislature Michigan purchased one of the few
remaining parcels of virgin pine timber to be found in this State, the
same being Interlochen State Park, … between two beautiful lakes in Grand
Traverse County. Duck Lake on the east covers some 3 square miles and
Green Lake on the west is of slightly less extent, the distance separating
the two being but one-half mile. The property has a shoreline of
three-quarter mile on the former and one-half mile on the latter, all of
which is high and dry and very desirable for camping purposes.”
Its location between two well-known fishing and swimming lakes, Green
Lake and Duck Lake – Interlochen means “between the lakes” – is one of the
park’s defining features.
Another is its virgin pine forest.
timber is practically all old growth white and Norway pine in which it is
said that no cutting has ever been done except to remove windfalls and
trees that have died,” according to the Biennial Report. “Many specimens
of the white pine two and a half and three feet in diameter, towering 175
feet or more in height, can be seen here and the Norway, tall and dense,
is as fine as can be found anywhere.”
Originally known as Pine Park, Interlochen State Park was created to
preserve the land’s virgin pine stand for the people of Michigan.
The Biennial report continues:
“The object of the State in acquiring this tract was first of all to
preserve to posterity at least one remnant of the virgin pine forest with
which Michigan was so lavishly endowed by nature, where future generations
may go and view the glories of the pine forest in all its pristine
grandeur. Being always open to the public it will also provide a
delightful summer recreation ground for those wishing to avail themselves
of its advantages in this respect.”
The Public Domain Commission transferred the land to the Michigan State
Park Commission in 1920.
Today, the state park system that the commission started 100 years ago has
grown to 103 parks that attract 28 million visitors each year.
For more about state parks and recreation opportunities available, visit
Check out previous Showcasing the DNR
stories in our archive at
Michigan.gov/DNRStories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing
articles, sign up for free email delivery at
2019 DNR Licenses Go on Sale March First
21FEB19-Don’t wait to get your 2019 hunting or fishing license! Most
licenses and permits go on sale March 1st,
when the new license year begins.
The March 1 start date includes hunting and fishing license sales,
except for certain deer licenses and furbearer tags that are sold later in
the year. Applications for the 2020 Pure Michigan Hunt also go on sale
Remember that 2018 fishing licenses, base/small-game licenses and ORV
permits are valid through March 31, 2019.
However, the 2019 versions of these licenses and permits can be purchased
as of March 1st.
Order online at
visit any Michigan retailer that sells DNR licenses.
Kill tags and trail permits ordered online are mailed to customers and
usually arrive in seven to 10 days. Check the DNR website for the latest
season guides and digests, which will be
posted as they become available.
For license sales questions, email
MDNR-E-License@michigan.gov or call
Learn New Outdoor Skills from the Experts
February Through June
began with a handful of classes at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing
Center in Cadillac, Michigan, has evolved into a statewide opportunity for
in-depth learning about a variety of outdoor topics – from fly fishing to
food plots to photography.
About 300 students participated in the DNR’s Outdoor Skills Academy
during its first year in 2014. By 2018 that number had nearly doubled to
almost 600 participants.
“Our classes offer more than just a brief taste of outdoor activities –
we spend a full day or more teaching the needed skills to get out and try
those activities,” said Ed Shaw, interpreter at the Carl T. Johnson Center
and originator of the Outdoor Skills Academy. “We provide gear, hands-on
experience and expert instructors.”
These instructors – also known as “pro staff” – are knowledgeable and
proficient in the outdoor pursuits they teach. Among the upcoming classes,
for example, are a whitetail food plot and habitat management clinic with
staff from Killer Food Plots, a class on attracting butterflies with
native plants taught by naturalist Craig Elston of CDE Nature, a walleye
fishing clinic with professional anglers and a wildflower photography
workshop by world-renowned photographer Tom Haxby.
Steelhead Fishing Clinic
April 13th: Turkey
Walleye Fishing Clinic
April 27th: Bass
Fishing for Beginners Clinic
May 4th: Beginners
Whitetail Food Plot and Habitat Management Clinic
Attracting Butterflies with Native Plants
Get more details and register for classes at
classes will be posted throughout the year, so check back often.
Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.
Master Angler Program has Some New Rules for
hoping to submit a catch to the DNR’s Master Angler program – which each
year recognizes the largest fish of several dozen species – will want to
pay close attention to the 2019 application.
A few new rules have been added to the program for 2019, including:
No more than one entry for fish of the exact
same size will be accepted for each species. (For example, if you catch
two 10-inch bluegills, submit just one.)
Each entry must include at least one photo
showing the fish being measured. Color photos of the entire fish are
required, too; entries received without color photos will not be
“The DNR’s Master Angler program has more than tripled in popularity in
the last five years,” said Lynne Thoma, the program’s administrator. “We
want to recognize as many anglers as possible for their fishing
accomplishments, while retaining the integrity of this program. We feel
these new rules will help us do that.”
The Master Angler program runs on the calendar year (Jan. 1 through
Dec. 31), rather than the fishing license year (April 1 through March 31).
The program includes more than 50 species of fish in both catch-and-keep
and catch-and-release categories. All fish entered must be taken by legal
Michigan sportfishing methods, during the open season, and in Michigan
waters open to the public.
Download the 2019 Master Angler application at
Michigan.gov/MasterAngler. People are
encouraged to review the application every year for program changes.
Applications can be submitted via mail or email; the current year’s form
is due Jan. 10, 2020.
Lynne Thoma, 517-284-5838 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
New Daily Limit for Yellow Perch Starts April First
you’re planning to fish for yellow perch this spring, keep in mind that
there’s a new daily possession limit – 25 fish, reduced from 50 – starting
April 1st on nearly all state waters. Exceptions include:
Lake Erie, which will retain a 50-fish daily
Lake Gogebic in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties,
which will have the 25-fish daily limit, but with no more than five of
those fish being 12 inches or longer.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the proposed fishing
regulation change late last year, after extensive public and scientific
reviews. The new regulation is effective with the start of the 2019
Michigan fishing season.
The DNR collected many comments from concerned anglers and others
interested in reducing the daily possession limit for yellow perch.
Lowering the statewide daily possession limit also supports consistent
yellow perch regulations across waterbodies, particularly connecting
waters, tributaries and drowned river mouths.
“The major goal for lowering the yellow perch daily possession limit
was to better achieve an optimal balance between conservation and fishing
opportunity, reflecting the importance and popularity of yellow perch in
Michigan,” said Christian LeSage who works for the DNR’s Aquatic Species
and Regulatory Affairs Unit. “Yellow perch are among the most sought-after
game species in Michigan, and we want to ensure generations of anglers can
continue to enjoy fishing for them.”
Starting March 1, the 2019 Michigan Fishing
Guide will be available online and in printed copy form at fishing license
retailers. For more information, visit
Christian LeSage, 517-284-5830 or
Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839
Join in the Celebration of
State Parks’ 100th anniversary
12th of 2019 officially marks the 100th anniversary of Michigan state parks,
and the DNR is celebrating this milestone all year long. You can join in
celebration by sharing memories and photos, attending special events,
the new GeoTour, learning about the rich history of state parks and so
Almost 100 years ago, the Michigan State Park Commission set the course
for visitors to enjoy and explore our four seasons of fun.
Throughout this year our website will feature historic stories and
centennial-related information on Michigan State Parks starting in May and
running through September.
We will introduce our Campfire Storytelling Project during this
celebration, too. Seasoned storytellers will share their state park
stories and you'll have an opportunity to share your own at spring and
summer events around Michigan. Each event will be edited down to a
podcast hosted on our centennial website.
Schedule of events:
Tuesday, May 21st in Lansing (location
Saturday, June 22nd at Interlochen State Park
Saturday, July 10th at Van Riper State Park
Saturday, August 17th at the Outdoor
Adventure Center in Detroit
See our full story from January 18th
further down on this web page.
Find more details about how to get