January OTG Hinge-Cut Already Paying Dividends for Wildlife

Drew YoungeDyke,  MUCC Field Manager Drew YoungeDyke,
MUCC Field Manager
On January 24, volunteers with our On the Ground (OTG) program hinge-cut trees in the Grayling State Forest near Lewiston to create horizontal cover primarily for snowshoe hares, but also for white-tailed deer and drumming logs for grouse.
Researchers from Michigan State University, led by Dr. Gary Roloff, released a report in December that part of the decline in snowshoe hare populations may be attributable to a lack of horizontal cover, in addition to other factors.
Just this morning, I received an email from Brian Piccolo, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist who worked with us on the project, and he gave me permission to share this report:
"Yesterday I decided to go out and see what kind of use the horizontal cover we created is getting.  This winter we hinge cut over 200 trees (primarily black spruce) along the edges of 3 lowland conifer stands adjacent to aspen.  Attached are photos I took from under the first handful of trees I saw when I went back to the project site yesterday.  The snowshoe hare tracks and droppings under and around this horizontal cover were amazing.  Each tree I looked under was full of hare sign from the stump to the tip of each tree.  
Creation of horizontal cover is a high priority of ours in the Grayling Unit and, after seeing how much hares are using this cover, we’ll be doing a lot more of this type of work moving forward.  In addition to all the hare use, I saw a ton of deer activity and saw many sets of grouse tracks around the hinge cut trees."

Thank you, again, to all of our hard-working OTG volunteers! It's great to see these kind of tangible results so soon after a project! The project was supported by a Wildlife Habitat Grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and from Outdoor Life Magazine's Open Country initiative, which helped raise funding for chainsaw safety gear and arranged the use of a Yamaha Viking ORV from Extreme Powersports of Gaylord.
Check out the WildLife Wednesday blog tomorrow to find out what our volunteers did this past Saturday for wildlife!

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