wildlife

Offbeat
5:52 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Humane Society asks Michigan drivers to watch out for turtles

Caution: Turtle Crossing
Credit Humane Society of Huron Valley / Facebook

Why did the turtle cross the road? The answer is that it is just that time of the year again. Michigan's turtles are hitting the roads to go and lay their eggs on the other side.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is urging drivers to keep on the look out for these little guys making their way across our roads, and to avoid them as safely as possible. If the mood strikes you, get out and nudge them in the direction that they are headed. 

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The Environment Report
5:05 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Biologists expect the worst for Michigan's bat population

Credit Ryan Von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Allen Kurta, PhD, talks about discovering bats with white-nose syndrome.

Bats with white-nose syndrome have been found in Mackinac and Dickinson counties in the Upper Peninsula and Alpena County in northern lower Michigan.

The fungal disease has killed more than six million bats in 27 states and five Canadian provinces since 2006.

Allen Kurta is a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University. He’s one of the researchers who found the infected bats. I spoke with him for today's Environment Report (you can hear him talk about white-nose syndrome above).

Kurta compares the discovery of white-nose syndrome in Michigan bats to "every member of your extended family receiving a terminal diagnosis."

“I think that this is one of the worst wildlife calamities ever in the history of North America. You’re looking at potential extinction of multiple species of bats.”

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Environment & Science
3:02 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Ice bridge to Isle Royale is complete, will new wolves cross it?

Lake Superior on Feb. 4, 2014. Can you find the ice bridge to Isle Royale in this photo? It's there.
MODIS NASA

The last time I checked, the ice bridge to Isle Royale had not fully formed, but there's an ice bridge now.

Michigan Technological University's Rolf Peterson confirmed it in an e-mail to me last night.

"There's been a good ice bridge for the past 10 days."

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Environment & Science
1:38 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Wolf researchers keeping an eye on a potential ice bridge to Isle Royale

The ice forming north of Isle Royale on Jan. 1, 2014.
MODIS NASA

Update: Friday, February 7, 2014

The ice bridge to Isle Royale has formed. See our post here.

Original post: January 9, 2014

Wolves first came to Isle Royale in Lake Superior by crossing an ice bridge in the late 1940s, but these ice bridges have not been forming as often in recent years and the wolf population on Isle Royale has been suffering as a result.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Why airports look like home to snowy owls

Credit Hundreds of snowy owls have descended on the Great Lakes and Northeast as part of this year's "irruption." / toddraden

Every year, some snowy owls make their way south from their Arctic homeland in search of food, and some of us here in the Great Lakes region have been lucky enough to spot these magnificent birds on tree branches, or poles, or … near airports.

Airports have wide open treeless spaces, and can look a lot like home to snowy owls. And for wildlife specialists who work at airports from the Great Lakes to the Northeast, this has been a busy winter.

Eight owls trapped in one week at DTW

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The Environment Report
1:17 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

The clock is ticking for a decision on Isle Royale's wolves

Isle Royale National Park Superindendent Phyllis Green talks with people at a public meeting in Chelsea, Michigan about the wolves on Isle Royale.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Wolves are doing fine in many parts of the Upper Midwest, so much so that people are hunting them now.

But a protected population of wolves on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior has plummeted.

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Politics & Government
1:35 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Michigan's first regulated wolf hunt is now underway

The tally of wolves killed in each region as of 6am, Nov. 15.
Credit Department of Natural Resources

The season will run from Nov. 15 until Dec. 31 — unless 43 of the state’s estimated 658 wolves are killed before the end of December. That’s the limit set by Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.

But MDNR officials suggest that the odds will not be in the hunters’ favor.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Cold wind, rain, hail don't keep people from Sandhill Cranes

Greater Sandhill Cranes at the Michigan Audubon Society's Haenle Sanctuary near Jackson.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

For some people it’s not geese flying south… or robins… but another much bigger bird that signals winter is on its way.

This past weekend a couple dozen or so people gathered in a remote area near Jackson to watch cranes, the Greater Sandhill Crane to be specific.

“Yeah! I thought it would be beautiful to see several hundred of them coming in at the same time. I think they’re gorgeous,” said Beth King from Durand.

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Environment & Science
9:02 am
Thu October 24, 2013

It's getting colder, but hummingbirds haven't left the state yet

An adult male Rufous hummingbird.
Allen Chartier Great Lakes Hummernet

With the chill in the air now, you might guess that most hummingbirds would have ditched Michigan for a more tropical place.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the bird you’re most likely to see in Michigan, and it has flown south, for the most part.

But Allen Chartier still wants you to keep an eye out on your backyard feeders.

He studies hummingbirds and he’s the project director for Great Lakes Hummernet.

“The chances that what you’re looking at is a Ruby-throat is about 50/50, because there are western species that start showing up.”

He says you might get a chance to see a Rufous hummingbird.

“I kind of think of these little birds as each one has certain superpowers, and the Ruby-throat’s superpower is that it’s the smallest bird that can fly across the Gulf of Mexico nonstop. Now the Rufous hummingbird’s superpower is that it’s very cold tolerant. So there are many of these birds that have stayed around in Michigan and Ohio until January and then they move on.”

He says the males are a reddish-brown color with a glowing orange throat and a white breast. But the females look a lot like Ruby-throats.

So if you see one, take a picture of it and e-mail to Chartier. He says he’ll identify the bird and use your sighting in his research.

Here’s his e-mail address: amazilia3 at gmail.com

Environment & Science
2:42 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Black bear drops by middle school in Mancelona

Bears are on the move in Michigan. This young black bear was spotted in Washtenaw County.
Courtesy Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department

The Mancelona Middle School had a surprise visitor on Monday.

According to Michael Walton of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, around 9 a.m. a black bear lumbered onto school grounds.

The school’s principal, Chad Culver, was meeting with a teacher when he first spotted the bear.

"Literally out by the bike rack, which is about 20 feet from my window, was a black bear," Culver said

The bear prompted a 10-minute stay-in-place lockdown. Students were not allowed to leave the building. Shortly after the lockdown went into effect, the bear was spotted crossing U.S. 131 west of town.

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Breaking
9:00 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Officials have approved a Michigan wolf hunt, 43 animals targeted

The hunt will take place in three zones in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
USFWS Flickr

The Natural Resources Commission has approved a wolf hunt for the Upper Peninsula. The panel heard from supporters and opponents before the vote.

State wildlife officials counted 658 wolves this winter. Officials hope to kill 43 wolves in the hunt.  

The hunt will take place in three separate zones in the Upper Peninsula beginning November 15, 2013.

The Gray Wolf until recently was listed as an endangered species by the federal government. The wolf population has grown dramatically in the last decade.

Some have complained that the increasing wolf population has led to an increase in attacks on livestock and pets in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Opponents of the wolf hunt claim it is not needed and that a hunt will not address problem wolves.

Stateside
4:36 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

The controversy around a wolf hunt in Michigan

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

Governor Rick Snyder has signed Senate Bill 288. That could clear the way for a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

His signature clears the way for the state's Natural Resources Commission to vote on a recommendation to hold a limited wolf hunt this fall in three parts of the UP.

The Governor told Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith that he believes the NRC will base its decision on what he called "sound scientific principles."

"If you think about it, I think sound scientific principals are how we should decide these things, to make sure we are doing the proper environmental functions that protect whatever species we're talking about, so it's sustainable for the long term," said Snyder.

More than quarter of a million Michiganders  signed a petition asking to put a wolf hunt proposal on the November 2014 ballot. And the coalition called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says Senate Bill 288 is a deliberate attempt by lawmakers to circumvent their petition effort.

The Governor's response?

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Environment & Science
6:03 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

'The Wolverine State' without any wolverines

A wolverine.
Jeff Ford

We've got the nickname "The Wolverine State," and of course, the University of Michigan and the Wolverines are forever linked.

But the wolverine never called Michigan home.

The wolverine population in the United States is anything but big. An estimated 250-300 wolverines live in the lower 48 states.

One of the experts who devotes herself to protecting the wolverine is, in fact, a "Wolverine."

Bridget Fahey is a 1997 graduate of U-M's School of Natural Resources and Environment.

These days, Fahey is the Endangered Species Chief with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the mountain prairie region.

She joined us today to talk about wolverines.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Environment Report
10:52 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Researchers map 34 threats to the Great Lakes

The research team used the combined influence of 34 different threats to map environmental stress on the Great Lakes.
University of Michigan

You can listen to the interview with David Allan on today's Environment Report.

The Great Lakes are under a lot of stress. 

34 different kinds of stress, to be exact.

That’s according to a research team that has produced a comprehensive map showing many of the things that stress the Great Lakes.  Think: pollution, invasive species, development and climate change... just to name a few. 

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Politics & Government
12:12 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Wolf hunt one step closer in Michigan, bill on its way to Snyder

user metassus Flickr

Legislation that could allow a limited wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula cleared the state House Wednesday, and is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder.

The grey wolf was recently removed from the federal endangered species list.

State Representative Jeff Irwin is a Democrat from Ann Arbor. He was one of the “no” votes.

“This is an animal that just came off the endangered species list. The populations are not even healthy or even abundant, and I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about shooting wolves in northern Michigan,” Irwin said.

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Environment & Science
4:53 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

DNR confirms three recent cougar sightings in Upper Peninsula

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed three recent cougar sightings in the Upper Peninsula.

Two photos of a cougar with a radio collar were taken in October in Menominee County, while a third photo was taken of a collarless cougar in November in Marquette County.

The DNR does not employ radio collars to track cougars, making the origin of the cat something of a mystery.

North Dakota and South Dakota are the nearest states that make use of collars to track cougars, and the animals are known to travel hundreds of miles in search of new territory.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Biologists look for answers to pine marten mystery in Michigan (PHOTOS)

Pine martens are elusive creatures.
Robert Sanders Courtesy of Jill Witt

by Bob Allen for the Environment Report

Nearly a hundred years ago a small animal that most people have never heard of was wiped out of the northern forest. In the mid-1980’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced the pine marten in two locations in the Lower Peninsula. They thought the population would take off and spread but it hasn’t. And now researchers are trying to find out why.

The pine marten is the smallest predator in the northern forest. It’s a member of the weasel family… related to otters and ferrets. It weighs roughly two to two-and-a half pounds, has big furry ears, a pointed nose, a bright orange patch on its chest and a bit of a temper.

“I don’t know how big of an animal they would take on but they do have a reputation for being quite fierce.”

Jill Witt is a wildlife biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She has a marten caught in a wire cage tucked next to a fallen log, half buried in twigs and leaf litter.

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Lessons from Isle Royale
2:51 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Extinction of wolves could lead to extinction of study on Isle Royale

Rolf Peterson holds up the song sheet for the evening. Candy Peterson loves to get people singing. She says "people shouldn't say, 'I can't sing,' they should say 'I don't sing very often.'"
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

We've been posting radio pieces, videos, and blog posts all week as part of our series Lessons from Isle Royale's Wolves and Moose.

Researchers like Durwood Allen, and Michigan Tech's John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson have been keeping a close eye on the animals on the island for more than five decades.

Peterson has been doing it the longest. He's been watching and documenting things on Isle Royale for 42 years.

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Lessons from Isle Royale
9:20 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Volunteers hunt for moose bones on Isle Royale

Moosewatch volunteer Dave Beck holds up a marked antler. Team leader Jeff Holden looks on. They mark the antlers and hang them in a tree so others know the antler has been found and documented.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Wolves and moose are at the heart of the world’s longest running study of a predator and its prey.  The drama unfolds on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.

But it’s a big island, almost entirely wilderness.

The researchers from Michigan Tech say they can’t cover all that ground alone. 

So they have a program called Moosewatch.  It’s a backcountry expedition where you pay to help out with the wolf-moose study.  But be warned: it’s no easy little walk in the woods.

"We’re going to trash through the understory here for a third to half of a mile and see if we can find some dead moose."

That’s Jeff Holden. He’s a Moosewatch group leader, in charge of a group of six (himself plus five volunteers).  We’re going to push our way into the thick forest.

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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.

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