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Lessons from Isle Royale
8:49 am
Thu June 7, 2012

VIDEO: Moosewatch volunteers slog through forest searching for bones

Moosewatch volunteers Susie Morrison (front), (L to R) Dave Beck, Pete Prawdzick, Jeff Holden (group leader), Dave Conrad, and Jeff Morrison.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The longest running predator-prey study anywhere in the world takes place right here in Michigan.

For more than five decades, researchers have been closely watching the ebb and flow of wolves and moose on Isle Royale.

To do their work, wolf biologists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich of Michigan Tech lean on those willing to pitch in and help.

Moosewatch volunteers hike off-trail for miles with their backpacks getting heavier as they pick up moose bones along the way.

They get bitten by bugs, scratched by branches, and soaked by the rain as they make their way through Isle Royale's boreal forest.

And they pay for the experience. It costs $450 per person, which covers the expenses for the wolf-moose project.

The researchers have been relying on these summer volunteers since 1988. John Vucetich says overall, about a third of all bones they collect are collected by Moosewatch volunteers.

"In a typical year they find the skeletal remains of 50 to 75 moose.  They perform necropsies on these moose and collect several specimens (skull, jaw bone, metatarsus, and any arthritic bones)," says Vucetich.

Rebecca Williams and I recently went out with a Moosewatch group on Isle Royale.

Each group is made up of six people. Five volunteers and one group leader.

The leader is in charge of making sure people don't get separated and lost in the dense forest.

Our group leader, Jeff Holden, described himself as a bit of a mother hen, which is a good quality to have for someone looking after five people for an entire week in the backcountry.

Holden's job was made especially hard when we arrived. He now had two reporters to keep track of as well.

I tended to wander off a little with my camera as I tried to anticipate where the volunteers would come out of the woods:

I never wandered too far, and I captured some video of these volunteers at work in the woods.

Here's what the Moosewatch experience is like:

Moosewatch volunteer David Conrad says his friends don't know what to think of his trip to Isle Royale.

"They can't find this place on a map," says Conrad. "They think the U.P. is part of Canada. [I tell them] 'yeah, I'm going to an island in Lake Superior to count dead moose, and maybe see a live one.' People think I'm crazy. It's just a cool little adventure."

Breaking
6:58 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Group announces it is ending its effort to recall Governor Snyder

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

In an early Thursday morning press release, Michigan Rising says it's ending its effort to recall Republican Governor Rick Snyder. From the release:

"It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder.  The results in Wisconsin crystalized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor, even when the unions and the Democratic Party play a significant role in the effort.  To quote the words of Senator Ted Kennedy, `The work goes on.  The cause endures.  The hope still lives and the dream shall never die,´" said Communications Director Bruce Fealk.

The recall effort was well short of its benchmark to have 200,000 petition signatures by June 1."

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Auto
5:43 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Honda Fit's 82-mile range leads the pack

Honda is back in the battery electric car business.

The company's Fit EV is rated as having the longest range of any electric vehicle sold in the U.S. so far. 

Federal regulators say the Fit EV can go about 82 miles on a fully charged battery. 

That's six miles more than the electric Focus and nine more than the Nissan Leaf. 

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Politics
5:38 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

New report details Ambassador bridge owner's efforts to sway Congress

Jim Wallace flickr.com

A new report from a Washington-based watchdog group finds Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun spending a lot of money to influence Congress.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington--or CREW--tracked campaign donations from Moroun’s family, company, and associates.

Their examination of campaign finance data found more than $1.5 million in Congressional donations from 2004 through the first quarter of 2012.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Michigan Tea Party members hope to build on their "victory" in Wisconsin

About a hundred Tea Party supporters turned out for an afternoon rally in Kalamazoo
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Tea Party activists say they are encouraged by the results of this week’s recall election in Wisconsin.       They say Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's victory will also bring change to Michigan.

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Politics
4:51 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Democratic and Republican party leaders trade jabs over controversial party switch

State Democratic and Republican party leaders continue to fight over the recent party switch by a Michigan state representative.

State Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer delivered a letter today to State House Speaker Jase Bolger’s Kalamazoo office demanding he reveal more about his role in the party switch of state representative Roy Schmidt.

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Lessons from Isle Royale
2:46 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Messages from Shelter #10 on Isle Royale

A message from a visitor in shelter #10 on Isle Royale.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

When you camp on Isle Royale, you don't necessarily have to sleep in tents.

You can sleep in a "camping shelter," which is basically an elevated, screened-in, wooden structure.

It can protect you from the elements and the bugs.

And based on our experience, it seems people have had some time on their hands waiting out storms in these shelters.

Park visitors have left messages on the walls - something we humans love to do - even long before we had Facebook walls to write on.

We were expecting profane, but we found inspiring, humorous, artistic, and messages describing their experiences while on Isle Royale. (O.k., there was a little profanity here and there. It is graffiti, after all.)

To see the messages, take a look at the slideshow above.

Some of our favorites:

  • "45 miles 8 days all w/diabetes! 2010"
  • A diagram showing you where to "BANG HEAD." It was surprisingly accurate. I hit my head on that low beam 5 or 6 times.
  • "Flight over for 3 - $625.00 - Gear and food - $300.00 - Spending my 50th birthday hiking with my daughter and son - priceless (50 miles) - JMR 8/2007"
  • "...My girlfriend says everything is my fault (it is)..."
  • "...Lots of rain, no bugs, probably going to have tapeworm. LIVING THE DREAM!"
  • "we came, we saw, we got eaten by giant, rabid, mutant squirrels! Help..."

Write on our walls! Tell us about your camping experiences around Michigan. The good. The bad. The unforgettable.

Environment & Science
11:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Arkansas man charged for illegally selling Asian carp in Michigan

Grass carp have been illegal to sell in Michigan for decades.
USGS

A man was charged with 12 felony counts for illegally selling live Asian carp in Michigan. And he wasn't too inconspicuous - "grass carp" was apparently written on the side of his truck.

From the Michigan DNR:

...the Attorney General's Criminal Division has charged an Arkansas man with 12 felony counts of possessing and selling live Asian carp in violation of state law protecting against the spread of invasive species. The charges follow a joint investigation by the DNR's Special Investigation Unit and Commercial Fish Enforcement Unit.

Grass carp are a type of Asian carp. Grass carp have been illegal to sell in Michigan for decades because the invasive species is a voracious plant eater.

Officials say grass carp "could potentially remove all vegetation from a body of water at the expense of native species."

The fish were imported in the 1960's and have been used to control weeds in ponds.

State officials say David Shane Costner, 42, of Harrisburg, Ark., had 110 grass carp housed in a semi-truck. Costner was working for Farley's Arkansas Pondstockers.

More from the MDNR:

Costner allegedly traveled around the state, conducting sales of the illegal carp from store parking lots. The trucks also contained live fish species permitted under state law, including channel catfish, largemouth bass and fathead minnows. On May 16, 2012, Costner allegedly sold two of the live grass carp to undercover DNR investigators in Midland, Mich.

David Eggert of MLive reports Costner's truck had the words "grass carp" written on the side.

The wildlife agency received a tip that Costner had been selling illegal carp at several locations in southern Michigan and the west side of the state, Golder said... Costner could not be reached for comment. A secretary who answered the phone at Farley's said he no longer works there.

Grass carp are just one of four species of Asian Carp officials are worried about. And Grass carp appear to be the least of their worries when it comes to threats to the Great Lakes.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee lists three Asian Carp that are of concern - Grass carp are not on the list:

There are three species of Asian carp that are considered invasive and a threat to the Great Lakes: the bighead, silver and black carp. Silver and bighead carp are filter-feeding fish and consume plant and animal plankton. Asian carp can grow to large sizes: some as large as 110 pounds, though the average size is around 30-40 pounds. Bighead and silver carp are voracious eaters, capable of eating 5-20 percent of their body weight each day. They consume plankton—algae and other microscopic organisms—stripping the food web of the key source of food for small and big fish. Black carp differ in that they consume primarily mollusks, and threaten native mussel and sturgeon populations. They can grow to seven feet in length and over 100 pounds.

Commentary
10:19 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Commentary: Detroit’s Self-inflicted Agony

Two months ago, Detroit City Council agreed, at the last possible moment, to enter into a consent agreement with the state.

The city was fast running out of cash, and was facing a situation where the governor would virtually have been forced to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.

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Lessons from Isle Royale
9:00 am
Wed June 6, 2012

VIDEO: Picking apart a dead moose on Isle Royale

Wolf biologist Rolf Peterson taking us to the site of a moose carcass on Caribou Island. He and other researchers collect bones from dead moose as part of their research.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

It's not as gross as it sounds. And if you heard yesterday's report from Rebecca Williams, it really does sound gross.

The wolf-moose research project on Michigan's Isle Royale National Park is in its 54th year.

A big chunk of their research goes into tracking down dead moose - bones and carcasses - around the island.

From these remains the researchers can pick apart the status and overall health of the moose population. And understanding moose is important to wolf research, since the wolves eat the moose.

It's like understanding the overall quality and quantity of food available at the grocery store. If there's good, abundant food available, you'd expect things to be good. If not, well - you get the picture.

When Rebecca Williams and I arrived at the Daisy Farm campground on Isle Royale, we were met by Rolf Peterson in his boat.

He said he'd just heard of a dead moose on Caribou Island and asked whether we would like to go see it with him.

A stroke of luck. We'd traveled by plane, car, and boat to get here, and here was our chance to see Peterson in action.

Here's a video of our trip with him. Is ripping the skull off a dead moose gross? I didn't think so, but you can be the judge.

So, what did you think? Vote by typing "gross" or "not gross" in the comment section below.

News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed June 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Budget Heads to Snyder

The state’s budget for schools, universities, and community colleges is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder. “This budget is a stark contrast to last year – when lawmakers passed widespread spending cuts, and many businesses saw a tax reduction. Democrats complain this budget does not make up for last year’s cuts to education. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased the state put money into its rainy day savings, and was able to offer modest increases to schools and universities. The new budget will require universities to meet performance standards to qualify for their full funding. It could also penalize Michigan State University for requiring students to carry health coverage or buy it through the school. The spending plan also sets aside money for an election year income tax cut,” Rick Pluta reports.

Union Dues

A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Union lawyer Mark Cousens says Judge Denise Page Hood ruled from the bench Tuesday and plans to issue an injunction today. The law took effect in late March but doesn't affect districts that still have active contracts with teachers and other union-represented employees. Unions say the law was retaliation by Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder after unions began collecting signatures to protect collective bargaining in the state Constitution. The law passed by only two votes in the House and two in the Senate. Supporters say teachers and other school employees can pay dues and fees without payroll deduction.

Bus Ridership Increases

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year. But the state's largest city saw a decline. “Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12 percent in the Grand Rapids metro area. Ann Arbor's bus system saw a 9 percent increase, which officials also attribute to better service.  But in Detroit, bus ridership fell six and a half percent.  That's in contrast to almost every other major U.S. city, where bus ridership grew in the first quarter. Detroit's system is notorious for buses that don't show up or that break down,” Tracy Samilton reports.

Politics
7:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

The Week in Michigan Politics

Contemplative Flickr

Every Wednesday we sit down with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to take a look at the political stories making news this week in Michigan. Today: the state budget is one step closer to being finalized, reports say an announcement on a new Detroit to Windsor international bridge could be coming soon, and we take a look at what Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin yesterday means for Michigan.

Education
8:50 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Federal judge may block Michigan teacher union dues law

(courtesy of KQED)

DETROIT (AP) - A lawyer says a Detroit federal judge plans to block a new state law that stops school districts from deducting union dues from paychecks.

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Transportation
6:00 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Bus ridership up - except in Detroit

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year.

But the state's largest city saw a decline.

Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12% in the Grand Rapids metro area. 

Spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says more people use the bus when gas prices go up.

But she says The Rapid also has more buses running at night now, and running later at night.  That increase in service began in January, after residents approved a new millage last year.

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Auto
5:52 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

A-123 hires, then fires, then hires again

Michigan lithium-ion battery company is hiring again - after slashing its workforce last year.

A-123 says it plans to hire up to 400 people in the next few months.[A-123 has one factory in Romulus and one in Livonia.   The advanced batteries are used in cars, trucks, and buses, as well as large storage units for the electric power grid.

Jobs at the company peaked at about a thousand, but several hundred jobs were cut last year as orders fell.

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Politics
5:10 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Lt. Gov. Calley: I expect the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to continue the campaign of deceit

J. Stephen Conn Flickr

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is continuing to push for the need to secure an additional international border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge would directly connect Michigan’s freeway system with that of its most important trading partner, Canada.

Calley says the Snyder administration will continue to plow ahead with “the end-to-end border solution that Michigan manufacturing needs,” despite some anticipated pushback.

“We don’t have a final determination of the plan as of yet, although we’re zeroing in. I do expect that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will continue the campaign of deceit and the campaign of lies on what the proposal actually is," Calley says.

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Economy
3:50 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Report: Michigan's food and beverage businesses are hiring

(courtesy of snakesayan.blogspot.com)

A new study says the “Help Wanted” sign is out at Michigan’s food and beverage businesses.

The National Restaurant Association predicts food and beverage businesses will hire nearly a half million summer workers this year, the highest since 1993.    The association says more than 20 thousand of those jobs will be in Michigan.

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Environment & Science
3:28 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

MSU study finds anxiety makes some women's brains literally work harder

This electrode cap was worn by participants in an MSU experiment that measured how people responded to mistakes. Female subjects who identified themselves as big worriers recorded the highest brain activity.
(Photo by G.L. Kohuth)

A new Michigan State University study finds the brains of “anxious” womens work much harder, but no better than others.    The study’s authors say their findings could help diagnose and treat women with “anxiety disorders."

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Politics
3:09 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

WI Governor Walker faces recall... what does it mean for Governor Snyder

What will a Scott Walker recall mean for Governor Snyder's policies, and popularity, in Michigan?
wmrice Flicker

It's a big day in Wisconsin as voters in that state are deciding whether or not to recall their Republican Governor Scott Walker. Here in Michigan, however, Republican Governor Rick Snyder is faring a little better.

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Health
12:19 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

A new plan for minority and low-income children with asthma

The Obama administration has announced a plan to help minority and low-income children with asthma.  The program stresses local coordination across health care, education, housing, and schools.

About 1 out of every 10 Michigan children suffer from asthma. Minority and low-income kids experience higher rates of hospitalization, missed school days, and death from asthma.

Michigan has made progress over the past decade.  Hospitalization rates for children with asthma have decreased by 28-percent.

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