Digging Into Severed Mineral Rights
16NOV18-A couple of winters ago, when a copper mining company
announced plans for exploratory drilling under a section of Porcupine
Mountains Wilderness State Park, the topic of severed mineral rights –
and the question of what exactly they are, and what powers they convey
– was raised by many people concerned about potential mining activity
at this beloved Michigan state park.
Similar questions have been raised more recently with a mining company
application to lease state-owned minerals on properties in Marquette
In the 1940s, when lands were being acquired in the western Upper
Peninsula to develop the state park amid the storied northern hardwood
and hemlock forests of the Porcupine Mountains, some properties were
sold, with the mineral rights retained by the previous owner.
Under this scenario, though the state of Michigan owns the surface
property rights, the state must allow the mining company “reasonable
access” to the minerals situated below ground.
As a property owner, if someone told you he or she had the right to
use the surface of your land to extract the minerals underneath, you
would likely think he or she was mistaken.
How could that be true?
Unless you also own the minerals under your land, that someone
might be right.
The rights to develop minerals in Michigan are based on common law
doctrines. These doctrines, which have evolved through courts’
interpretations of rights, have roots in the old English laws that we
What are mineral rights?
Real property ownership includes a bundle of ownership rights,
including the right to possess, use, enjoy, encumber, will, sell or do
nothing at all.
“Mineral rights are a type of real property and can be owned in
conjunction with, or separately from, the surface rights,” said Mark
Sweatman, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’
Office of Minerals Management.
An owner can separate the mineral rights from his or her land by
conveying (selling or otherwise transferring) the land but retaining
the mineral rights; conveying the mineral rights and retaining the
land; or conveying the land to one person and the mineral rights to
“Landowners are sometimes surprised to find out someone else owns
the rights to the minerals beneath the surface of their land, and that
a mineral owner typically has the right to reasonable use of the
surface as necessary to extract minerals,” Sweatman said. “Mineral
rights owned by someone other than the surface owner are rights said
to be ‘severed.’”
Once mineral rights are severed from the surface estate, the mineral
estate becomes the “dominant estate” and the surface estate becomes
the “servient estate.” This legal principle recognizes that some
degree of surface access is necessary to develop the mineral estate.
“Because of its dominance, the mineral estate holds an implied
easement to use as much of the surface as is reasonably necessary for
the development of the mineral estate,” said Julie Manson, property
manager with the Lease Management Unit of the DNR’s Office of Minerals
In the case of the mining company test drilling at Porcupine Mountains
Wilderness State Park, the DNR allowed access to drill core samples,
but required various safeguards to protect the surface features at the
Some of these provisions included drilling only when the ground was
frozen, using tracked vehicles to lessen any potential impacts to
vegetation and using old logging roads to access core sites, rather
than building new roads.
The test drilling was completed over a span of two winters without any
adverse impacts to DNR-managed lands at the state park.
At some point, if the mining company does decide to mine the minerals
lying beneath the park, it would do so from outside the park boundary.
Permission to mine would require the mining company to work through
a separate permitting process via the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality. That process would allow for public comment on
plans prior to the DEQ’s final permitting decisions.
Mineral rights managed by the state
The DNR manages over 6.4 million acres of mineral rights, including
almost 2.3 million acres of mineral rights where someone other than
the State of Michigan owns the surface rights.
“Most of these rights were acquired by the state between 1920 and 1940
due to non-payment of property taxes,” Sweatman said. “When
tax-reverted properties were subsequently sold, it was common practice
for mineral rights to be retained.”
The DNR is the only state agency authorized to lease State of
Michigan-owned mineral rights. Mineral leasing activities, as well as
the verification of mineral lease revenues are administered by DNR’s
Office of Minerals Management.
Mineral rights leased by the DNR include, oil, natural gas, metallic
minerals – such as copper and nickel – and non-metallic minerals such
as sand, gravel, limestone and salt.
“Revenue generated from the leasing and sale of state-owned mineral
rights translates into funding for the acquisition, development, and
maintenance of local and state parks and other recreational areas,
resulting in a wide range of recreational opportunities and access to
Michigan's forests, trails, waterways, and beaches,” said John Pepin,
DNR deputy public information officer. “Mineral revenue generated
since the 1980s for Michigan has exceeded $1 billion. Many important
recreation projects funded in Michigan through the Natural Resources
Trust Fund have been financed with revenue produced by oil, gas and
minerals leasing revenue.”
In Marquette County, a mining company recently applied for
permission to lease mineral rights owned by the state of Michigan. The
state will consider the application and then decide whether to grant
the leases, based on recommendations from foresters, biologists and
other natural resource professionals.
“A mineral lease from the State of Michigan does not mean there are
actually valuable mineral resources in that location, nor does it give
permission to drill a well or mine for minerals,” Sweatman said. “A
lease simply gives the lessee the exclusive right to pursue
development of the mineral rights, should they choose to. If the
lessee chooses to develop the mineral rights, all necessary
permissions must still be obtained, and all regulations must be
In the mining industry, companies often secure leases to prevent
competitors from exploring mineral development in those areas.
Michigan has laws in place that require owners of a severed mineral
interest to take steps at least once every 20 years to keep their
interest alive. If the severed mineral owner does not take those
steps, the severed oil and gas rights will revert to the surface owner
and the other severed mineral rights will revert to the last owner of
those rights in the chain of title.
For more information, please refer to the
Dormant Mineral Act (MCL 554.291 et seq) and the
Marketable Record Title Act (MCL 565.101 et seq).
Neither of these laws applies to governmental entities.
While only the mineral owner is typically entitled to royalties when
the minerals are developed, a surface owner may negotiate with the
developer to receive payment for the use of his or her surface in the
development of the minerals.
Surface property owners can pursue the purchase of the mineral rights
beneath their land with whomever owns the mineral rights. The mineral
right owner is not required to sell them, but such sales do occur.
“Determining who owns the minerals beneath your property can be an
arduous task, but assistance can be acquired through an attorney or
title company,” Manson said. “Once an owner is established, a mineral
appraisal is typically completed to determine its value. If the State
of Michigan owns the mineral rights a program exists whereby a
purchase can be pursued.”
Mineral ownership can have a big impact on the ability to use and
enjoy the land as desired, even when the land is a Michigan state
park. The DNR seeks to purchase surface and mineral rights jointly
“The issue of mineral rights can be complicated,” Sweatman said.
“Those involved in mineral and surface rights issues may want to
consult an attorney.”
Property owners – whether surface or mineral rights owners – can
benefit greatly from an understanding of severed mineral rights, what
they mean and how they work.
Clearing aside the mystery can reveal what truly lies beneath the
surface of the lands we love.
Get more information on
minerals management in Michigan.
Check out previous Showcasing the
DNR stories in our archive at
To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email
13NOV18-Firearm deer hunting season kicks off this week!
to find 2018 season information, regulations, videos,
chronic wasting disease updates
and more. Check out the
2018 Michigan Deer Hunting Prospects
for more on what to expect this deer season.
Hunters contribute $2.3 billion to Michigan’s
economy and pay for
wildlife conservation and management work
throughout the state.
Helping set the pace
Michigan is one of the top five states nationally in both number of
deer hunters and overall deer taken each year. There were 376,365 deer
harvested in 2017:
150,709 were antlerless deer, 225,655 were
51 percent of deer were harvested during
the firearm season.
37 percent were harvested during the
38,262 deer were checked, the highest
number of checked deer since 2001.
2017 Deer Season Summary
for more 2017 statistics.
Looking for a place to hunt? There are new
properties and more acres to hunt through the Hunting Access
Program, including properties in Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Newaygo and
Mecosta counties. See a complete list of private lands available to
Also, you can find information and maps for lands open to public
Buy deer licenses
or at a
DNR Customer Service Center.
Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable deer
season! Questions? Contact the
DNR Wildlife Division
13NOV18-Visitors to Michigan's
state campground and harbor reservations website
probably have noticed some changes.
The site has a new look and feel, simpler navigation, a more
mobile-friendly design, and a color scheme that better reflects what
you see on the DNR website and many other department materials.
Much of the functionality that customers have come to know was
carried over. Campers can still search for campsites and harbor slips
from a map, list or calendar display and view photos of campsites
located in each campground.
Questions about the site? Contact the reservations call center at
13NOV18-When the Michigan Legislature established the Michigan
State Park Commission in 1919, those lawmakers likely couldn’t have
foreseen the 100-plus network of state parks stretching across both
peninsulas. This spring – May 12, 2019, officially – marks the
anniversary, and the DNR is planning a yearlong celebration of
programs and opportunities for park fans.
Maia Turek, a recreation programmer with the DNR Parks and
Recreation Division, said that one way people can participate is by
contributing photos and memories to the digital Michigan State Parks
Photo Story Map.
“We launched the story map to start capturing the special memories
– camping trips, family traditions, fish tales, Scouting excursions,
day hikes and more – that people have made over the years. We’ve
already received some terrific ones.”
If you’d like to add a story and photo or
explore what’s already there, go to
and click “Explore map.” To add to the story map:
Click “Share your memory” (blue button in
upper, right-hand corner).
You can sign in as a guest, so no login is
Add as many stories and photos as you like.
Camp with us
Those who want to camp at state parks during the
official anniversary weekend, May 10-12, can book their favorite spots
right now at the DNR’s updated campground and harbor reservations website,
All camping parties that weekend will receive a complimentary
commemorative bumper sticker upon arrival.
Stay up to date on centennial news and
information all year long at
Maia Turek at
By KATHLEEN LAVEY -
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
09NOV18-Look across a sun-dappled clearing in the state forest not
far from Newberry, and you’ll see some low-growing blueberry plants
bearing ripe fruit and a sea of bracken ferns, with their leaves
turning late-summer yellow.
Look a little closer, and you’ll find the forest of the future: an
army of red pine seedlings scattered under the ferns — rich green
needles feathering from tiny twigs.
Foresters for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources had hoped
seeds from neighboring trees would sprout there after the land was
cleared, a process known as natural regeneration. But not enough of
the seeds found a toehold in the sandy soil.
So DNR staffers decided to help them out a little bit. They used
heavy equipment to drag large-link chains weighing up to 7,000 pounds
each across the soil, loosening the surface and giving the seeds a
softer place to take root.
“We looked at this area, and it wasn’t taking off the way we would
like,” said Keith Magnusson, a DNR forester and manager of the
Newberry management unit. “We decided to give it a little help.”
They also describe how firefighters carefully set fires, known as
prescribed burns, to control invasive species, create wildlife habitat
and prevent future wildfires. Finally, the terms describe how forests
are mapped and monitored throughout the growing cycle.
“Healthy forests bring an immense benefit to the people of Michigan,”
said Deb Begalle, state forester and chief of the DNR’s Forest
Resources Division. “Forests help give us clean air and water. They
provide us with places to hunt, fish, hike, bike or relax.”
The evolution of Michigan’s forests
When the earliest European settlers arrived in Michigan more than
300 years ago, they described a land so heavily forested that trails
disappeared into trees so thick that water was the easiest way to
By the early 1900s – after decades of Michigan leading the nation in
lumber production – most of those forests were gone.
The Michigan Department of Conservation –
the predecessor to the DNR – was founded in 1921, in part, to lead the
effort to rebuild the forests.
It worked, and the seedlings will tower over the ferns within a few
The process of churning up the soil to aid seed growth, known as
scarification, is among many techniques the DNR’s Forest Resources
Division uses to ensure that Michigan’s 4 million acres of state forest
thrive into the future.
The buzzword for this long view of maintaining forests is
“sustainability,” and the process is known as “forest management,” but
those terms aren’t really that important. What they describe is.
These terms describe how DNR forest staff carefully chooses which forests
will be thinned or cut to promote tree health, fight insects and disease,
or provide optimal habitat for species ranging from the elk to the tiny
Michigan’s state forest covers 4 million acres of the northern
Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Much of that land came back
to the state after homesteaders, often lured by advertisements
boasting of good farming opportunities, failed to make a go of it in
sandy soils unsuited for cash crops.
Since those early days, the DNR has used the best science available to
replenish and maintain state forests. By 1931, a state tree nursery
near Higgins Lake had shipped 22 million seedlings out for planting.
A survey conducted this summer by the DNR showed that nine out of 10
residents believe Michigan’s forests help keep air and water clean,
keep the state beautiful, provide habitat for wildlife and offer a
backdrop for a host of recreational activities.
Michigan’s forest management is certified by two separate
organizations — the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable
Forestry Initiative. The stewardship council honored the Michigan DNR
last year for being an early adopter of sound forest management
About 60,000 acres of state forest are harvested each year for
timber, which is less than 2 percent of the total forest. Often,
logging projects go hand in hand with efforts to create habitat for
wildlife. The elk, whose bugling draws visitors to the Pigeon River
Country State Forest, for example, need open space to thrive.
“Elk make use of early successional (forest) habitat. That is
created by restarting a forest or regenerating a forest, which is what
you get when you cut the trees,” said Scott Whitcomb, manager of the
Pigeon River Country State Forest. “What the timber harvest mimics is
natural disturbance, such as fire or a wind event.”
Elk will feed on young aspen trees for five to eight years, then
other species such as American woodcock, ruffed grouse and various
songbirds will benefit in succeeding years. The goal in Pigeon River
Country is to maintain a mix of young, middle-aged and mature forests.
About a quarter of the forest is currently young aspen cover.
“There’s a mosaic on the landscape that is constantly in the
process of aging, being cut, starting over and growing up,” Whitcomb
He admits it can be shocking to pass by an area that has recently been
clear-cut, but within a year or two the new tree growth takes over.
“It’s pretty dramatic, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “This is
part of the natural system, and they’re going to grow back, and in the
meantime, it’s going to benefit animals and birds.”
It seems like the opposite of what a DNR firefighter should be
doing: wearing fire-protection gear and walking along the edge of a
woodlot with a drip torch, dropping burning fuel into dry grass.“Fire
has always been a part of the natural ecosystem in this part of the
country,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist who has
worked on hundreds of prescribed burns in his career. “Fire is needed
to help release nutrients in the soil.”
Fire also can help eradicate invasive species that crowd desirable
native plants out of Michigan landscapes.
“A lot of non-native species can’t tolerate fire, and that’s why we
remove them with fire,” he said.
Another thing fire can be used for is to help create habitats for some
of Michigan’s endangered species. The tiny, thumbnail-sized Karner
Blue butterfly, for example, lives only on lupine plants on small
parts of Michigan’s landscape. Fire activates the reseeding process
After devastating fires in the late 1800s and early 1900s,
land-management agencies took an active stance against fire. That led
to a buildup of dry fuels in the woods, which made forest fires even
worse. Today, the DNR also uses prescribed burns to get rid of
underbrush and deadwood that serve as fuels for wildfires.
The DNR burned just over 5,900 acres this year, carefully and
judiciously. Burns are cancelled if weather is windy or conditions are
too hot and dry.
“We’re doing it in a controlled way, and only in certain areas where
biologists and wildlife experts feel it’s needed,” Rogers said.
Check out a cool page about prescribed burns.
To learn more about how and why the DNR
manages Michigan’s state forests, visit
previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at
To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email
DNR Seeking to Fill Vacancies on UP Citizens Advisory Councils
Michigan Department of Natural Resources is soliciting applications for
open volunteer positions on the Eastern and Western Upper Peninsula
Citizens Advisory Councils.
The councils are designed to advise the DNR on regional programs and
policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and
responsive, and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences
and from the public.
A Nov. 30 deadline has been set to apply for membership to either of
the two councils. There are several vacancies currently available.
Each council meets every other month. Meeting agenda items addressed at
council meetings are set by the council members. Council recommendations
are forwarded to the DNR for consideration in policy-formation and
“The councils are a great opportunity for members and the public to learn
about, and have input into, DNR issues, programs and processes,” said John
Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “Since their creation, the
two U.P. councils have drafted over 80 recommendations, on a wide variety
of topics, which have been sent to the DNR for consideration, the wide
majority of which have been approved.”
Council members, who are required to have their primary residence
located in the U.P., represent a wide variety of natural resource and
recreation interest groups or the citizenry at large.
Members are selected for the councils based on a variety of factors.
The eastern U.P. council includes roughly 20 members, each of whom reside
within Alger, Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac or Schoolcraft counties. The
western council includes essentially the same number of members who are
draw from the U.P.’s remaining 10 counties lying west of Federal Forest
Application forms and more information about
the councils are available online at
or by calling the DNR’s Marquette Customer Service Center at 906-226-1331.
Completed applications may be faxed to
906-228-9441, emailed to
or mailed to DNR (Attn: CAC), 1990 U.S. 41 South, Marquette, MI 49855.
For more information, contact DNR Upper Peninsula Regional Coordinator
Stacy Welling Haughey at 906-226-1331.
06NOV18-Our history with the Arctic grayling is
long and storied. A striking fish with a sail-like dorsal fin and a
slate blue color on its body, it virtually was the only native stream
salmonid (a family of fish that also includes salmon and trout) in
Michigan's Lower Peninsula until the resident population died off
nearly a century ago.
To see how a group of more than
45 partners, including the DNR, tribal governments, nonprofits and
others, are working together to bring this fish back to Michigan
waters, check out this
Showcasing the DNR story
06NOV18-Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger – in
partnership with the DNR, Jay’s Sporting Goods, the Food Bank Council
of Michigan and deer processor Carson Village Market – is offering a
special opportunity for hunters to donate venison to those in need
during an event at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare
November 16th - 18th.
The event runs from noon to 7 p.m. November 17th and from noon to 5 p.m. November
18th. Hunters who donate a deer during these three days
will be entered to win a $500 Jay’s Sporting Goods gift card (some
Jay’s Sporting Goods is located at 8880 S. Clare Ave. in Clare.
Since 1991, Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, an all-volunteer,
nonprofit organization, has worked to help connect donors, wild game
processors and charities that help feed those in need.
“Since the beginning, an estimated 637,000 pounds of donated venison –
which equates to more than 3 million meals – has helped food banks,
pantries and shelters fight hunger in Michigan,” said Ray Rustem, who
coordinates the DNR's participation in the Michigan Sportsmen Against
Hunger program. “We encourage hunters to consider donating – each deer
donated will provide more than 125 meals.”
Hunters who want to
donate a deer but can’t make it to the event at Jay’s can find a list
of participating processors throughout the state at
Hunters also can make a monetary
donation when they buy a hunting license, which helps offset the cost
of processing, packaging and transporting donated venison.
For more information, contact
06NOV18-As part of the DNR’s efforts to restore
wetland habitat at sites around the state, restoration projects in
Gratiot and Osceola counties are well under way.
At a site known as Potato Creek in Gratiot County’s Gratiot-Saginaw
State Game Area, initial construction on a 60-acre wetland restoration
project is complete.
“The Gratiot/Saginaw site was a cornfield, and we’ve converted it back
to a wetland,” said Steve Shine, DNR wetlands mitigation bank
administrator. “It is greening up with the temporary seeding, and the
basins are filling with water.”
In the spring, seeds planted this fall for dormant seeding will
germinate, and shrubs will be planted.
Restoration and vegetation are complete on a
52-acre wetland project in Sears (Osceola County). A cooperative
effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and
Wildlife Program, this work took place on private land, and a
permanent conservation easement will ensure the wetlands never will be
converted to another use.
Both projects are
part of the DNR’s new
wetland mitigation banking program.
Many of Michigan’s wetlands – vital
resources that provide wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities
and play an important role in the state’s environmental health – have
been drained over the last two centuries.
Because impacts to wetlands sometimes are unavoidable in carrying out
other important work, such as farming and public infrastructure
projects like building roads, wetland mitigation banks – or new
wetland areas – are established to replace the wetland functions being
The DNR has partnered
Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance
on a wetland mitigation banking program that will preserve and restore
wetland habitat to offset unavoidable effects on existing wetlands.
“Investing in the restoration of
wetlands on state game areas is a great way to improve habitat,
enhance recreation opportunities and advance public works projects,”
said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason.
The first phase of this this public-private partnership also will
include wetland restoration projects at Allegan State Game Area in
Allegan County and Grand River State Game Area in Ionia County.
For more information about the
DNR’s wetland mitigation banking program, contact
at 517-930-8155. This
recent Showcasing the DNR story
provides a more in-depth look.
DNR Continues CWD Surveillance in Upper Peninsula
02NOV18-The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stepped up
its surveillance and information efforts in the wake of the Upper
Peninsula’s first case of chronic wasting disease being confirmed Oct.
18 from Dickinson County’s Waucedah Township.
A 4-year-old doe killed in September on a deer damage shooting permit
tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The deer was shot on an
agricultural farm about 4 miles from the Michigan-Wisconsin border,
though there is no information available currently to determine
whether the deer came from Wisconsin.
“The increased surveillance measures are being taken to determine the
extent chronic wasting disease is present in Waucedah Township and the
surrounding area,” said Russ Mason, DNR Wildlife Division chief. “We
are also testing deer from a wider geographic area to include deer
making seasonal movements and to keep watch for potential cases of
this fatal deer disease in other parts of the region.”
The DNR has enhanced its CWD information
efforts to help raise awareness about what the presence of the disease
means for hunters and others, and to answer important questions posed
by the public. A toolkit with printable brochures, ads, photos and
presentations, along with maps, testing information and surveillance
statistics, is available at
“It is very important to rely on facts in
learning about CWD,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information
officer. “The latest developments are being updated regularly on the
Michigan Emerging Disease Issues webpage (michigan.gov/cwd)
maintained by the state. The more folks become informed about the disease,
the better equipped they will be to reject misinformation. We need
hunters, community members and others to help spread the true facts about
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal nervous system
disease found in animals from the family Cervidae, including deer, moose
and elk. The disease attacks the brain of infected animals, creating small
lesions, which result in neurologic symptoms. The disease is always fatal
in animals that contract it.
To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World
Health Organization recommend the meat of infected animals should not be
No plans are in place to ban or restrict deer baiting this year. A
decision on supplemental winter feeding will be made once surveillance
results are in.
Border testing efforts
Since 2015, the DNR has been conducting active surveillance along
the Michigan-Wisconsin border. This surveillance effort detected the
“We set up this surveillance because chronic wasting disease has been
detected in Wisconsin captive and free-ranging deer within 50 miles of
the Upper Peninsula,” said Craig Albright, the DNR wildlife division’s
U.P. field operations manager. “We wanted to be watchful for the
disease in Michigan border counties because early results of our
ongoing deer movement study show some deer make movements across the
Deer collected through deer damage shooting permits, road kills and
hunter submissions have been tested in the Michigan border counties of
Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson and Menominee.
Prior to the CWD-positive deer confirmation from Dickinson County,
the DNR had set a goal of testing a minimum of 600 deer heads from
these four border counties for 2018.
Statewide, so far this year, the DNR has tested 37 percent of its
15,635-deer goal for 2018. There has been a total of 10 CWD-positive
cases in Michigan this year, including one each from Dickinson, Ionia,
Jackson and Kent counties, and six from Montcalm County.
Core CWD surveillance area
A roughly 10-mile-radius core surveillance area – encompassing 661
square miles – has been created, centered on Waucedah Township. Within
this zone, the DNR is working to determine whether CWD exists in areas
around the doe that tested positive.
Baiting for deer has not been restricted in this area for 2018. Deer
check is voluntary and encouraged. No in-state travel restrictions are
currently in place. However, the DNR recommends limited carcass
transport and proper disposal.
The DNR hopes to collect a minimum of 600 deer heads for testing
from this core surveillance area. Through this year’s previous border
surveillance efforts, 358 of those heads already have been gathered
The boundary of the core area was set using several roadways. The zone
is bordered by U.S. Highway 2, M-95 and the Menominee River on the
west; M-69 from Randville to Bark River on the north and U.S. Highway
41/U.S. 2 and Menominee County Road G18 on the south.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, given the recent CWD
confirmation in Dickinson County, will focus its own CWD surveillance
testing effort, opposite the U.P.’s core surveillance area, on the
Wisconsin side of the Menominee River in Marinette County.
Expanded CWD surveillance area
Outside the core CWD surveillance area, the DNR has created an
expanded surveillance area. Like the core area, this wider area is
bounded by several geographic landmarks.
The zone is bordered on the west by the Menominee River and M-95; on
the north and east by U.S. Highway 41; and on the south by U.S.
Highway 2 and Lake Michigan.
As in the core area, baiting for deer has not been restricted in the
expanded surveillance area for 2018. Deer check is voluntary. No
in-state travel restrictions are currently in place. However, the DNR
recommends limited carcass transport and proper disposal.
“Because of the seasonal movements of deer in the Upper Peninsula, we
wanted to test some deer from this larger area outside the core to see
if CWD is present,” said Terry Minzey, U.P. regional wildlife
supervisor. “The boundary we created is based on previous patterns of
regional deer movements revealed through deer tagging studies from
Within this roughly 75-mile-radius expanded CWD surveillance area, the
DNR has set a goal of collecting at least 300 heads for testing. That
goal already has been exceeded with 330 heads tested so far this year.
The DNR will continue to test deer heads.
“Any hunter who is concerned about CWD is welcome to have their
deer tested by going to one of the check stations or drop boxes,”
Hunters should take precautions to limit transport of deer
carcasses. There are also laws governing bringing deer, or some deer
parts, into Michigan from out of state.
In addition, deer carcasses should be disposed of properly in a
landfill, or through home garbage pick-up. The DNR will have dumpsters
available at DNR offices where carcasses may be disposed of.
A deer that is shot in an area infected with CWD should never be
disposed of on the landscape in uninfected areas. At no time should
the head, spine or other restricted parts of a deer killed in a CWD-infected
area be moved, or disposed of, outside of that area.
If it is necessary to bury a carcass, do so as close to the kill site
as possible, and deep enough to prevent scavengers from digging it up.
This method does not prevent future infections at that location but
minimizes the chance of moving CWD prions across the landscape to
areas that have not been infected.
Within the core area, the DNR will be contacting landowners who own
at least 5 acres of land and are located within 2 miles of the farm
where the CWD-positive deer was shot. These landowners will be offered
free disease control permits to shoot deer on their properties for
Additionally, the core surveillance area includes portions of Deer
Management Units 022, 122, 255 and 055. Private-land antlerless deer
licenses are still available in DMUs 055 and 122.
Dead or dying deer
There are a few options available to hunters and others who find a
dead or visibly sick deer.
The first involves accurately documenting the location of the animal
and the time and date that it was sighted. This information can be
reported to the nearest DNR office or, after business hours, to the
DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline (1-800-292-7800).
“If the deer is essentially immobile, it can be put down by a DNR
conservation officer,” Stewart said. “If the animal is still mobile, a
site visit will depend on staff availability, but is unlikely,
especially if a long time has passed since observing the deer.”
A hunter also can harvest a sickly deer as legal game, based on the
stipulations available to them on their hunting license and the
season. If the deer tests positive for CWD, a replacement license will
Third, if a photograph is available, getting written permission from a
DNR biologist can serve as authorization to harvest the animal. Note
that the entire deer will have to be submitted to the DNR, but a
license does not have to be used to take this animal.
CWD testing process
Several DNR deer check stations are located within the core and
expanded surveillance areas. In addition, there are self-service drop
boxes, which will be in place by Nov. 6, available at DNR offices in
some areas, including Escanaba, Norway, Crystal Falls, Stephenson,
Felch, Gwinn and Marquette. Two meat processors, located in Crystal
Falls and Spalding, will also have drop boxes.
View a video on the drop-box process.
To find locations of drop boxes and check
or call a DNR customer service center in Marquette (906-228-6561),
Escanaba (906-786-2351), Baraga (906-353-6651) or Newberry
(906-293-5131). Drop box locations will be available online after
Check station workers will remove deer heads. Hunters may keep the
antlers and the meat. For self-service, hunters can remove the head at
the base of the skull. Once a deer head is submitted for testing, it
will take up to 14 business days to receive results. Hunters with an
infected deer will be notified by the DNR wildlife disease laboratory.
Otherwise, results will be posted online at
To learn more about the CWD-testing process,
watch a short DNR video.
“Michigan’s hunters will play a big role in combatting this disease
in the Upper Peninsula,” Mason said. “By continuing to hunt, learning
the facts about CWD, getting deer heads tested, limiting carcass
transport and disposing of deer carcasses properly, hunters and the
general public will help us advance greatly our DNR surveillance and
More information on chronic wasting disease –
including Michigan’s CWD Surveillance and Response Plan, locations of
deer check stations, fact sheets and testing data – is available at
previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at
To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email
31OCT18-Michigan's millions of acres of forest land offer beautiful
spaces where people can camp, explore and make memories, and it's
important for everyone to do their part to keep our trees healthy.
One easy way to help is to buy firewood from a source close to your
Buying local reduces the likelihood of introducing a new disease or
pest to your favorite campsite or getaway.
Need to find a local firewood vendor? Check
30OCT18-Conservation officers are highly trained professionals
who protect Michigan’s natural resources, as well as the safety
of the people enjoying them. Often, they're first on the scene in a
variety of situations. Sometimes, they simply get to take part in
others' enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Here's a look at a few CO encounters from a recent two-week period
(September 23rd - October 6th):
Baraga County: Conservation Officer Cody Smith
checked a group of hound hunters, who reported they hadn't seen a
single track in days. Upon talking with the group the next day, CO
Smith learned they successfully took a mid-200-pound bear. The hunters
were happy for the change in luck and continued to run their dogs in
search of another bear.
Delta County: COs Chris Lynch and Stephen Butzin
responded to a call of a lost mother with her 2-year-old son in the
woods. After a short search, the officers located the mother and her
child who, thankfully, did not require medical attention. The COs gave
the mother and her child a ride to their car. The mother was very
appreciative of the officers' help.
Monroe County: CO Nick Ingersoll responded to an
accident along I-75 where a vehicle had rolled over multiple times. CO
Ingersoll was first on scene and, upon arrival, found all three
individuals had already exited the SUV that had rolled over. The
driver received a minor laceration to his head; otherwise, all three
individuals were okay. One of the passengers was a 1-year-old who was
properly secured in his rear-facing car seat at the time of the
accident. All three individuals were shaken up, but relieved that
there was only one minor injury.
Conservation officers receive training that
equips them to respond quickly to a wide range of duties across all of
Michigan. Read more reports from conservation officers in the
CO biweekly reports.
For more information, contact
30OCT18-Hunters with qualifying disabilities are encouraged to take
advantage of reserved deer hunting opportunities at the Pierce Road
Hunt Unit of the Sharonville State Game Area (in Jackson and Washtenaw
counties). As part of the DNR’s Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors
initiative, this 600-acre unit was designated as a restricted access
hunt area to provide special hunt opportunities.
Remaining reserved deer hunting permits are
available from any license agent, DNR Customer Service Center or
The following reserved hunts are available on a first-come,
Hunt 0405 (November 18th - 20th)
Hunt 0406 (November 21st - 23rd)
Hunt 0407 (November 24th - 26th)
Hunt 0408 (November 27th - 30th)
Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors provides improved outdoor
recreation opportunities for wounded veterans and individuals with
health challenges and coordinates a support network that facilitates
their recovery through connecting with nature.
Get more information about this cooperative
eligibility for hunting,
game camera set up as part of an ongoing state deer movement study has
captured images of a cougar in Gogebic County, about 9 miles north of
The images were reviewed and verified by the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources’ cougar team.
Since 2008, the DNR has confirmed 38 cougar reports, with all but one
of those occurring in the Upper Peninsula. These reports include
multiple sightings of the same cougar, not 38 individual animals.
So far, there remains no conclusive evidence of a Michigan breeding
population of mountain lions. Cougars are an endangered species in
Michigan protected by law.
“This latest confirmed report illustrates just how rare cougars are in
the Upper Peninsula,” said Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist in
Marquette. “This is the first time we’ve ever caught a cougar on more
than three million game camera images we’ve collected in our studies
DNR researchers use game cameras in their Quantifying Upper Peninsula
Deer Movements and Abundance, predator-prey and bear studies. The deer
movement study alone uses 50 game cameras in the western U.P.,
including the one in Ironwood Township that caught the images of the
cougar at 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 1.
The three daylight photos on the game camera show the mountain lion
walking past, from right to left. Biologists noted there was no
tracking collar on the cougar. No identification of whether the animal
was a male or female was possible.
Michigan cougar confirmations have been derived from trail camera
video, photographs, tracks, scat, or in the case of two male cats
Previous genetic testing on tissue samples from those two cougars
poached in the U.P. showed the two animals likely came from a
population found generally in South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest
“This genetic research lines up with what we’ve presumed previously,
that cougars found in the Upper Peninsula are males dispersing from
this population east of the Rocky Mountains,” said Kevin Swanson, a
DNR wildlife management specialist with the department’s Bear and Wolf
Program. “These males dispersed from the main population are looking
to establish new territories.”
Researchers investigated the potential population of origin for the
two cougars using a database that includes samples from cougar
populations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming,
Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Florida.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cougars were once the
most widely distributed land animal in the Western Hemisphere but have
been eliminated from about two-thirds of their historic range.
At one time, cougars lived in every eastern state in a variety of
habitats, including coastal marshes, mountains and forests. They were
native to Michigan, but were trapped and hunted from the state around
the turn of the 20th century.
To learn more about cougars in Michigan,
‘Do Not Eat’ Advisory Issued for Deer Taken Within
Five Miles of Clark’s Marsh, Oscoda Township
25OCT18-The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)
and Natural Resources (DNR) today issued a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for deer
taken within approximately five miles of Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township.
The advisory is due to high levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid)
found in a single deer taken about two miles from Clark’s Marsh, which
borders the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. PFOS is one type of PFAS
(per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemical.
One deer out of twenty tested around the former Wurtsmith Air Force
Base was found to have high levels of PFOS. The level of PFOS in the
muscle of the deer was 547 parts per billion, exceeding the level of 300
ppb at which action is recommended. PFAS was either not found or was at
low levels in muscle samples from the other 19 deer. Although only one
deer of this group tested at such high levels, the advisory was issued to
protect the health of anyone eating venison taken within approximately
five miles of Clark’s Marsh. The state has plans to test more deer from
The five-mile radius encircles the Wurtsmith base property and
covers what the DNR has estimated to be the expected travel range of
deer living in or near the marsh. The area covered by the deer
consumption advisory issued can be described as:
From Lake Huron west along Aster Street, west
on Davison Road, north on Brooks Road, east on Esmond Road, north on
Old US 23, north on Wells Road, west on River Road, north on Federal
Forest Road 2240, north on Lenard Road, north on Indian Road, and East
on E. Kings Corner Road (along the county line) toward Lake to Lake
Road, to Lake Huron (see
DNR also collected an additional 60 deer for PFAS testing this year
as part of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team’s work on this
emerging contaminant. In addition to the testing around Wurtsmith, 20
deer were taken from near each of the PFAS investigation sites in
Alpena, Rockford and Grayling with known contamination in lakes and
rivers. The deer meat tested from these areas was found to have no
PFAS or very low levels of the chemical. An additional 48 samples of
deer muscle from the 2017 hunting season were tested from other areas
across the state. Preliminary data for these deer also show no PFAS
contamination or very low levels of the chemical.
PFAS are chemicals that are in Class B fire-fighting foam that was used
at the air force base near Wurtsmith and other sites in Michigan. These
chemicals are also found in stain and water repellants, personal care
products, and many other consumer goods. Some health studies have linked
PFAS to health issues such as thyroid disease, increased cholesterol
levels, impaired immune system function, reproductive issues, high blood
pressure in pregnant women, and increased chance of kidney and testicular
MDNR and MDHHS developed this investigation in response to questions
from hunters concerned about harvesting deer in contaminated areas. This
is the first study of its kind and very little scientific information
exists on whitetail deer and PFAS chemicals.
It is unknown how PFAS could accumulate to this level in deer. The
State of Michigan is investigating the circumstances of the one deer with
elevated levels and doing further analysis on these test results to learn
more about PFAS in deer and wildlife. In addition, the state will be doing
additional testing on deer from the Clark’s Marsh region and performing
modeling studies to learn about PFAS consumption in wildlife.
MDHHS and MDNR advise hunters to dispose of any deer in their freezer
that may have come from this area and do not eat it.
If you have health related questions please
contact MDHHS at 1-800-648-6942. Hunters can contact the MDNR at
for information about deer tags that were used in this region.
In Michigan, to date, only fish and deer have
been sampled for PFAS. For more information about PFAS in wild game and
and go to the Fish and Wildlife button. For more information about wild
game consumption, visit
and go to the Eat Safe Wild Game button.
24OCT18-In honor of a career that includes more than 45 years with
the DNR, Al Stewart, the department's upland game bird specialist,
received the Dodge Sportsman Award last month at Meadow Brook Hall’s
Gourmet Wild Game Dinner in Rochester, Michigan.
The Dodge Sportsman Award recognizes a man, woman or organization
who, in the spirit of entrepreneurial American sportsmen John, Horace
and Danny Dodge, has demonstrated outstanding contributions to
Michigan’s outdoor heritage, wildlife and habitat conservation and the
promotion of hunting and fishing activities, ethics and education.
"I'm very humbled and grateful to be the recipient of this award,”
said Stewart. “I thank the individuals associated with the Dodge
Sportsman Award selection committee and representatives of the Meadow
Brook Hall staff for honoring me with this prestigious professional
award. I love my job and I feel privileged to work with so many fine
people who have an interest in natural resources and helping others.”
Shannon O'Berski, director of external relations for Meadow Brook
Estate, said Stewart was selected for the Dodge Sportsman Award
because of his “inspired work in leading the conservation and
management of upland game birds in Michigan, and for his work
mentoring others in outdoor skills.” In addition to the body of work
Stewart has achieved at the DNR, he also is co-chair of the Michigan
Pheasant Restoration Initiative.
Meadow Brook Hall's Gourmet Wild Game Dinner
is a major fundraiser that supports the preservation of Meadow Brook,
the fourth-largest historic house museum in the United States, named a
National Historic Landmark in 2012 by the Secretary of the Interior.
For more information on the award and
Stewart's career, contact
Temperatures around the state are dipping into
the chillier numbers, with some regions seeing snow fly! If you're
planning to camp or enjoy a bonfire, when it comes to firewood, please
wait until you get to your destination to buy firewood locally.
Aged or seasoned wood still can
transport invasive species from one location to another. Just because
the wood is dry doesn’t mean that bugs can’t crawl onto it. Only
certified, heat-treated wood bearing the U.S. Department of
Agriculture stamp is safe from pests and diseases. If you can’t find
certified firewood – buy it where you burn it! This and other tips are
available on the
Firewood Awareness Month webpage.
Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor
Education annual conference
earlier this month in Port Huron, 10 alliance members were honored for
their work. Outgoing alliance board president Cindy Fitzwilliams-Heck
said these award-winners have “devoted hours and careers to promoting
environmental literacy in Michigan.”
Each year, five award levels are open to competitive nominations,
including the two highest honors: the Julian W. Smith Outdoor
Education Award and the William B. Stapp Environmental Education
Award. This year’s winners include:
The Julian W. Smith Outdoor
Education Award went to Wil Reding, an instructor at
Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University
and owner of “Rent a Rambling Naturalist." Reding earned the award
for inspiring current and next-generation citizens to embrace
learning in the outdoors by setting his own example of love for the
The William B. Stapp
Environmental Education Award went to Kevin Frailey, the
DNR’s Education Services director and formerly the director of
Michigan’s Science Olympiad, adjunct science faculty at Lansing
Community College, director of Information and Education at Michigan
United Conservation Clubs, and conservation education supervisor at
the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Frailey and his staff have
created programs that encourage educators to use the outdoors as
their classroom, while meeting their science standard requirements.
The President’s Award
is given by the outgoing alliance president to the person deemed
instrumental to the president’s success. Fitzwilliam-Heck chose
Brittany Burgess, program manager at the University of Michigan
Museum of Natural History. Burgess moved from president-elect to
president of the alliance Oct. 7.
The Recognition Award
honors significant contributions to environmental education and
outdoor education in a specialized area such as journalism,
photography, curriculum development or interpretation. This year’s
recipients were Mike Reed, curator of Informal Education at the
Detroit Zoological Society, and Alan Heavner, owner/operator of
Heavner Canoe Livery.
The Appreciation Award
recognizes those who’ve made significant contributions toward
creating, delivering, managing or sustaining environmental and
outdoor education programs. Heather Rawlings, a wildlife service
biologist with the U.S. Department of Interior, earned this year’s
Volunteer Service Awards
honor those who give their time and skills for more than one year to
a school, college, camp, outdoor center, zoo, nature center or other
venue that promotes environmental or outdoor education. This year’s
recipients were Greg and Michele Petrosky, Mike Mencotti and Larry
During the awards ceremony, 11 members were newly certified through
the nationally accredited Environmental Educator Certification
Program, an arduous, five-strand process: Eileen Boekestein, Becky
Durling, Natalie Elkins, Zakiya Jackson, Christine Kelly, Misty Klotz,
Mackenzie Maxwell, Amy Morrell, Rashmi Overbeek, Tracy Page and Lauren
alliance awards committee chair, at 517-290-0687. More background on
the alliance's two major awards is available in the linked photo/info
folder referenced in the bulletin intro, above.
23OCT18-Rainbow trout, chinook salmon, steelhead and seven other
species and one hybrid were among the 21,116,476 fish – weighing a
combined 333 tons – stocked in Michigan’s public waters so far this
DNR staff made 381 trips to nearly 800 stocking sites including
Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers. Eighteen specialized trucks
traveled 103,618 miles and 2,619 hours to deliver the valuable cargo.
The number and type of fish stocked varies
depending on stocking requests, hatchery rearing assignments, and the
source and temperature of each facility’s rearing water.
Michigan has six state hatcheries
and two cooperative hatcheries that together produce the species,
strain and size of fish requested by fisheries managers. These fish
are delivered at a specific time and location to ensure their survival
Each hatchery has stocked the following fish
on weight and sites are available on the DNR’s fish stocking webpage):
Harrietta State Fish Hatchery (west of
Cadillac) stocked 1,126,801 brown and rainbow trout.
Marquette State Fish Hatchery (near
Marquette) stocked 549,765 yearling lake trout, brook trout and
splake (a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout).
Oden State Fish Hatchery (near Petoskey)
stocked 659,638 brown and rainbow trout.
Platte River State Fish Hatchery (near
Honor) stocked 2,137,473 fish including yearling Atlantic and coho
salmon and spring fingerling chinook salmon.
Thompson State Fish Hatchery (near
Manistique) stocked 1,011,134 fish including yearling steelhead and
spring fingerling chinook salmon.
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery (near
Kalamazoo) stocked 1,154,861 fish including yearling steelhead,
spring fingerling chinook salmon, Great Lakes strain muskellunge and
A cooperative teaching hatchery at Lake Superior State University
(in Sault Ste. Marie) stocked 34,973 Atlantic salmon.
This year’s total included 14.4 million walleye spring fingerlings
and fry. These fish are reared in ponds by the DNR and tribal
partners, with extensive support provided by local sporting
organizations. The fish were stocked at 125 inland lakes and rivers
and seven Great Lakes sites.
Learn more at
or by contacting
269-668-2696, ext. 26 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
The Aging Process: How & Why Deer are Aged at DNR Check
By CALEB ECKLOFF -
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
23OCT18-Whether for fun or to better judge preferable animals to
target, many hunters have an interest in the ability to age
white-tailed deer, whether on the hoof or in hand.
Attempting to determine the age of a deer while it is in the field is
a matter of observing a range of physical characteristics based on
various age classes. There are numerous resources available online and
elsewhere to help hunters learn how to become proficient at doing
Each fall, as successful hunters bring their deer in to be registered
at Michigan Department of Natural Resources check stations across the
state, many of these men and women watch carefully as DNR wildlife
technicians and biologists age deer based on characteristics of the
The DNR uses the age of harvested animals — not exclusively deer — to
model species age structure with the intent to better manage wildlife.
Furbearers, such as black bears and bobcats, are aged by removing a
tooth and sectioning the tooth to count the layers of cementum, which
is a specific part of each tooth that is deposited annually.
Like the rings of a tree, annual cementum deposits may be counted to
determine the age of the tooth and, by extension, the age of the
Any animal may be aged in this manner, including deer, but instead,
the DNR ages deer and elk according to tooth replacement and wear.
Though not as accurate as sectioning a tooth and counting the layers
of cementum, assessing tooth replacement and wear is a more
Employing this faster aging method is appropriate given the high
number of deer kills registered in Michigan each year. Last year, for
example, the DNR registered a total of 39,220 deer from 86 check
The premise of the method
As many people know, fawns are born during the spring and early summer
(late May through mid-June). Therefore, during the autumn deer hunting
seasons, the new fawn crop is about six months old.
All individual animals in this age class, or cohort, show similar tooth
replacement and wear. Given the consistent one-year gap between each
year’s fawn crop, each deer age class should have similar tooth wear and
other dental characteristics.
This premise is the basis for aging deer using this method.
Tooth replacement and wear
DNR check station personnel examine the teeth on the lower jaw, or
mandible. A deer’s top teeth have similar wear characteristics, but the
bottom teeth are often easier to view.
Most mammals have deciduous teeth, commonly called baby teeth. Permanent
(adult) teeth replace the deciduous teeth and are added as the animal
Fawns, at six months old, are easy to identify because they only have four
cheek teeth, unlike adults, which have six cheek teeth.
Cheek teeth refer to the premolars and molars and can be best viewed in a
deer by cutting the cheek and opening the mouth. This practice is most
helpful in aging older deer.
DNR check station staffers ask permission from hunters before cutting
the cheek of their deer.
Deer 18 months old, called 1-year-old deer for short, have six cheek
teeth. All adult deer have six cheek teeth.
So, the next step is to look at the third premolar, which is the third
cheek tooth from the front of the jaw. In most 1-year-old deer, this
tooth is a tricuspid (a tooth with three points or cusps), which is
meaningful because a tricuspid third premolar is a baby tooth.
At about 18 months of age, this tooth is replaced by a bicuspid (a
tooth with two cusps or points) adult tooth — easily distinguishable
from the tricuspid baby tooth. Some 1-year-old deer have replaced this
tooth with a bicuspid adult premolar.
At this age, the overall condition of all the lower teeth is sharp,
with little wear and little staining.
Deer that are 2 years old have six cheek teeth — just like a
1-year-old deer — and a bicuspid adult third premolar, but the overall
condition of the teeth shows more indications of wear.
Specifically, look at the cusp farthest back in the mouth of the deer.
A 2-year-old deer will have a cusp that is slightly flat on top. A
1-year-old deer will have a back cusp that is barely worn, with a
pointed tip, if it is protruding through the gum line at all.
Adult deer have what appear to be “longer” faces than fawns. As a deer
grows, its jaw lengthens, expanding the opportunity for more teeth to
fit comfortably within the mouth.
As this happens, the back teeth begin to grow and protrude from the
gum line, exposing them to wear and tear from food. For this reason,
in adult deer, it is helpful to assess the condition of wear of the
back teeth — these teeth are relatively new.
This technique is easier to use to accurately age a deer than by
examining the first molar. However, despite this key role the back
cusp plays in aging a deer, caution must be used.
The overall condition of the teeth – tooth staining, and sharpness,
for examples – is a useful aging tool as well. This is a skill not
easily taught but learned throughout the course of looking at many
Deer that are 3 years old can be identified by looking at back cusp on
the back molar too. These deer will have a “dished” appearance on this
cusp. A tooth in such condition is worn down, more prominently
exposing the brownish inner portion of the tooth, which is called
The outer white-colored enamel is much harder than the dentine. Being
softer, dentine wears faster than enamel. This difference in hardness
results in different wear rates, creating the “dishing” of the
back-most cusp as the outer enamel wears away slower than the dentine.
Overall, the cutting surfaces of the cheek teeth are duller in
3-year-old deer than in 2- and 1-year-old deer.
Those trying to age deer in this manner should be aware that enamel
can be stained dark brown with age depending on the deer’s food
source. Typically, brown-stained enamel is found at the gum line, as
opposed to the brownish dentine found near the cutting surfaces of the
This is another useful aging tool. Older deer generally have more
staining of the tooth enamel, but this characteristic may vary widely.
Deer that are 4 years old and older are more difficult to age than
younger deer. They lack the more distinguishable characteristics used
to decisively age a younger deer.
Successive years of wear generally result in teeth that are worn down
to the gum line by age 10. Someone attempting to age these deer will
have to try to extrapolate what level of wear the teeth show compared
to 3-year-old deer and 10-year-old deer. This is easier said than
out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at
To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email
21MAY18-Willing to work for your warmth this winter? Apply now for
a fuel wood permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Where can you cut? A new,
highlights state forest areas in the northern Lower Peninsula where
Michigan residents are allowed to collect up to five standard cords of
wood from downed, dead trees. Upper Peninsula residents also may get
fuel wood permits from their
local state forest management unit offices.
“The new map will help people who want to cut wood decide where to
go,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.
“Then we encourage people to visit potential collection areas to
determine what wood is down and available.”
You can obtain a permit in two
ways: Visit a DNR office in person or download a mail-in permit order
The site also includes the interactive map and a map of DNR offices
that offer fuel wood permits.
Permits cost $20 each and are good for 90 days. All permits expire
December 31st, 2018. The department issues as many as 3,500 fuel wood
permits each year. Wood cut on a fuel wood permit is intended for
personal use and cannot be sold.
To help prevent the spread of
invasive species such as the emerald ash borer or oak wilt, the DNR
advises against moving firewood around the state. Learn more about
firewood rules and recommendations on the
Michigan Department of Agriculture’s website.
For more information, contact