According to the DNR website, Michigan has had deer die-offs attributed to EHD in 1974, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. So far in 2011, at least 2 deer have been confirmed to have died of EHD in Cass County. Where there are two, there are probably more. But how do you know? Read on to learn how to identify a deer with EHD.
First, what is EHD and why can’t we just get rid of it?
EHD is an acute, infectious, often fatal viral disease of some wild ruminants. Characterized by extensive hemorrhages, it appears that only Michigan’s white-tailed deer populations have experienced the disease. It was identified in the 1950s and since then, die-off rates in Michigan have increased steadily throughout the years.
A small midge, specifically Culicoides, is responsible for EHD. The DNR believes Michigan is experiencing higher rates of EHD as a consequence of climate changes that favor the northward spread of these biting flies. The catch with EHD, at least thus far, is that there is no known effective treatment for, or control of the malady. Research indicates that it can be transmitted to other wild ruminants. Domestic animals, while able to be infected by the virus, rarely contract the disease. There is no present evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.
So, how to recognize it? Outbreaks are usually associated with drought and warm temperatures. A constant characteristic of the disease is its sudden onset. Deer initially lose their appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, salivate excessively, develop a rapid pulse and respiration rate and finally become unconscious. Due to a high fever, the deer often are found sick or dead along or in bodies of water.
Property owners who discover dead deer they suspect died of EHD should call the nearest DNR office to report it. MUCC is dedicated to reporting the progression of this disease, so stay tuned as more information is learned through the research of biology professionals.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs today applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the federal endangered species list. They also confirmed that, based on sound-scientific evidence, there is only one species of wolf, Canis lupus, in the region.
The federal delisting rule removing wolves from the endangered species list will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, Dec. 28, and will take effect Friday, Jan. 27, 30 days after its publication.
After meeting the criteria to delist more than a decade ago, conservation advocates finally won the day. Wolves no longer need federal protection. It should be the state’s responsibility and authority to manage wildlife within its boundaries. MUCC worked diligently with the DNR and other groups to establish a collaborative and science-based Wolf Management Plan back in 2008. Once delisting is effective on January 27, 2012, this plan classifies wolves as a “protected species” and allows for flexible management options for the state to control problem wolves. A 2008 state law MUCC pushed for also allows livestock and dog owners the ability to protect their private property from wolf depredation. It’s now time to allow that plan to be put into place.
This should be seen as a conservation success story; if the Endangered Species Act is allowed to work, we can move endangered species on to a path of recovery. Rebounding from a few hundred wolves in Minnesota in the 1970s when listed as endangered, the region’s gray wolf population now numbers more than 4,300 and occupies large portions of Minnesota (2900 wolves), Wisconsin (782), and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (687). The Michigan and Wisconsin combined population alone is more than 14 times the original recovery goal.
However, with all the legal challenges from anti-hunting groups time after time, the process has been slow and very frustrating for sportsmen and women who truly understand the benefits of state management. Wolves have already been federally delisted in 2007 and 2009, but lawsuits have placed them back on the list each time.
Removing wolves from the Endangered Species List and implementing the Wolf Management Plan allows for that management. Science, as always, should be the driving force behind wildlife management issues.
MUCC thanks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for keeping to their word, adhering to their timeline, and most of all, for listening to the facts.
With the Michigan legislature now on holiday break, there are no more legislative sessions for the year 2011. No more bills passed. No more committee meetings. No more Action Alerts.
But, that does not mean now is still not a good time to advocate for the outdoors.
Contrary to what many people think, legislators do not spend the entire time they are out of session sitting on a sunny beach sipping drinks with umbrellas in them, or going into an early winter hibernation. In fact, most legislators use this time away from Lansing to reconnect with the issues going on in their districts by holding town-halls, office hours, and setting up individual meetings.
Don’t believe me? Find your legislator by clicking here for your Michigan Representative or Michigan Senator and call or email their office. They can fill you in on the availabilities of your Representative or Senator and can inform you about any possible office hour or coffee meet and greets they may be putting on until they return to session in mid-January.
If nothing else, you can see about setting up a personal meeting with them to talk about sportsmen’s issues – and anything else your heart desires (usually about a half hour maximum).
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway—having a personal connection to your legislator is very important to advocating for and advancing sportsmen’s issues in Michigan.
Even a minimal effort on your part, like going to an office hour or making a personal phone call to them, can make a big difference in the long run. Don’t have their direct number? Call your legislator’s office and politely request that they return your call when it is convenient for them. You’ll be surprised how often that request will be granted.
The more you can engage your legislator in a respectful way, the more they will get to know you and come to see you as someone knowledgeable and trusted on sportsmen’s and conservation issues.
As we look towards advocating for the rights of sportsmen and women to hunt, fish, trap, and enjoy the outdoors in 2012, consider using what is left of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 to help make a difference by getting to know your legislator. Over the last couple of months, sportsmen and women have been making a difference in Lansing by making their voices heard. Let’s continue that trend in 2012.
MUCC will continue to provide you recommendations, tips, and opportunities for you to get involved in the future.
In the meantime, have a Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. And don’t forget - if you aren’t talking to your legislator, someone else is!
They have not seen the same influx of comments on the draft SEIS, so MUCC asks everyone to send your comments as soon as possible! See below for some ideas of how to start.
The Huron-Manistee has developed a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that presents alternatives related to snowmobile use and firearm use in the 14 areas in question. We now have until December 21, 2011 to weigh in on the alternatives.
If you care to partake in some light reading, the 198 page draft SEIS is available online here.
Here are the 4 alternatives outlined in the plan with our initial assessment.
1. No action alternative. While this keeps things as is, it doesn’t comply with the problems the court case pointed out and probably leaves it open to more legal challenges.
2. Proposed action. This gives Mr. Meister exactly what he wanted, no snowmobiling or firearm hunting in the 14 areas in question. Clearly MUCC opposes this one.
3. Change management area designation to align with the current uses of the areas. Basically, if you like how things are right now and want that to be the management goal for these 14 areas, this alternative is probably for you. This alternative allows all firearm hunting and snowmobiling to continue as is.
4. Change management area designation and mange to provide a less roaded recreation experience. This is the USFS’s preferred alternative, which also allows all firearm hunting and snowmobiling to continue as is. However, the new goal for these 14 areas would be to continue to reduce road mileage density in many of the areas; even though no specific plan would be in place to close roads in these areas. If you are a hunter that uses these roads and trails to reach their favorite spot, this alternative will probably negatively impact you eventually.
Comments may be submitted as a .pdf document, a format readable in Microsoft Word 2000 or in the body of an e-mail. Comments may be submitted to the Forest Planner, Huron-Manistee National Forests, 1755 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601 or faxed to (231) 775-5551. Comments may be submitted electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and with the subject: “Forest Plan SEIS.”
For more information, contact Kenneth Arbogast, public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests, at (231) 775-5023, Ext. 8726 or visit the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf.
Some of you have expressed reservation in writing your own letter to the USFS on this issue. However, this is too critical of an issue to rely on others to get your message across. Examples of personal experience on the Huron-Manistee are critical to explain how these alternatives could negatively or positively impact your recreation.
Again, just to reiterate, MUCC staff cannot do it alone. ALL FORM LETTERS WILL ONLY COUNT AS 1 RESPONSE, so please take some time out from the holiday shopping season and get those comments sent by December 21! If you have any questions or need assistance, please call MUCC Resource Policy Manager Amy Trotter at 517-346-6484.
To get your letter started, here are a few examples:
Dear Planning Team: I am writing about the Huron-Manistee National Forests SEIS that is considering banning snowmobile use and firearm hunting in Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas on the Forests. My support would be for "Proposed Action Alternative #3" of the "Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)" and I oppose Alternatives 1 and 2.
I am writing to you to register my personal support for adopting "Proposed Action Alternative #3" of the recently released "Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)". Alternative 2 would eliminate my annual hunting trip to the Huron Manistee.
I am in SUPPORT of alternative #3!!!! The areas in question should be re-defined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas and all these areas should remain open to existing firearm hunting and snowmobile usage. Alternative 2 would negatively impact the local economy as well as affect our ability to manage wildlife.
I SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE 3. The areas in question should be redefined as Semi-Primitive Motorized areas and all areas should remain open to existing snowmobile use and firearm hunting.
You can add your personal experience using the trails and hunting in the Huron Manistee National Forest or any public land in general. The point is that people who rely on public land for recreation must respect all other users of the forest. Complete silence and solitude cannot be expected in these areas (for more on that see our previous blog) and there is plenty of hunting safety regulations in place to ensure safe recreation for any type of user and to minimize conflict.
Make sure you indicate your name and address even if you send by fax or electronically.
As you know, the Department of Natural Resources director’s order listing sporting swine as a prohibited invasive species took effect on Oct. 8, making it illegal to possess the animals in Michigan. However, active enforcement of the order will not start prior to April 1, 2012, so sporting swine facilities (game ranches) can continue to use this time to reduce the pig population on their properties. In April, facilities still harboring wild boars and other sporting swine may face violations and fines. Violation of the prohibited invasive species statute (PA 451 of 1994, Part 413) can be a felony associated with hefty fines in the state of Michigan.
But the question arose from the Michigan Animal Farmers Association, an umbrella group for captive hunting facilities and their breeding facilities, as to how the DNR will determine what is a prohibited species versus what is considered a legal domestic hog. The prohibited species list says that:
Sec. 40.4 (1) Possession of the following live species, including a hybrid or genetic variant of the species, an egg or offspring of the species or of a hybrid or genetically engineered variant, is prohibited:…(b) Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar (Sus scrofa Linnaeus). This subsection does not and is not intended to affect sus domestica involved in domestic hog production.
After consulting with scientists and reviewing the scientific literature, the DNR’s ruling states that they will use “phenotypes,” or physical characteristics, to determine what pigs are prohibited under this order. In the response, they said that they will use factors such as bristle coloration; underfur and coat coloration and pattern; and skeletal, ear, and tail structures and appearances to define what a wild boar looks like.
Funding for the initiative is provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is targeted to grassland and woodland birds threatened by habitat loss. The financial assistance is available to landowners for establishing or improving grassland and young forest habitat. Interested landowners, including owners of agricultural and recreational land, can apply at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office.
The financial assistance can be used for implementing designated conservation practices to improve wildlife habitat. Examples of practices eligible for this financial assistance include, native grasses and wildflower plantings, site preparation, tree and shrub plantings and selective removal of trees to create young forest habitat.
Loss of habitat is the main cause for a decline in population of some native bird species in Michigan. Conservation practices eligible for the GLRI initiative are targeted to provide habitat for grassland birds such as the ring-necked pheasant and short-eared owl. Bird species that rely on young forest habitat are also targeted under the initiative and include the American woodcock and ruffed grouse.
The Saginaw Bay Watershed includes Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Gladwin, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw and Tuscola counties and portions of Clare, Gratiot, Huron, Iosco, Lapeer, Livingston, Mecosta, Montcalm, Oakland, Ogemaw and Shiawassee counties. The Western Lake Erie Basin includes all of Lenawee and Monroe counties and portions of Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. The Tacoosh/Whitefish watershed includes portions of Alger, Delta and Marquette counties.
Potential applicants, particularly those who have never participated in USDA programs, are encouraged to start the application process as soon as possible. Applications received by Jan. 20, will be ranked with the highest scoring applications funded. For more information contact your local NRCS field office or visit the NRCS-Michigan Web site at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.
See below for a video update:
As a refresher, legislation was signed by Governor Snyder this summer to eliminate the minimum hunting age in Michigan and to direct the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to create and implement a Mentored Youth Hunt Program that allows aspiring youth hunters to join their parents and relatives outdoors to take part in the heritage, safety, and traditions that have been a part of Michigan’s history for centuries. This “Hunter Heritage” legislation was sparked by Rob Miller, of Byron Center, MUCC member and chair of its Wildlife Committee, who passed a resolution requesting legislation to create a mentored youth hunt program at MUCC’s annual convention in 2010.
Under the statute, the Department of Natural Resources will offer a Mentored Youth Hunting license starting on March 1, 2012. The $7.50 license will be a “package” license that includes small game, spring and fall turkey, two deer tags, a furbearer trapping permit and an all-species fishing license. This mentored youth license is only available for youth under age 10 at the time of purchase and can be obtained every year they hunt under age 10. An adult mentor must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license.
The workgroup recommendations for the Mentored Youth Hunting program include:
• No limit on the number of youth a mentor can have with him or her in the field, leaving it at the discretion of the mentor.
• A limit of two hunting devices – bow, crossbow or firearm – per mentor.
• The youth in possession of a hunting device and engaged in the act of hunting must be within arm’s length of the mentor.
• The mentor shall ensure that the hunting device is sized appropriately to fit the physical abilities of the youth to ensure safe and responsible handling.
• The mentor will be held responsible for the youth’s actions.
• The issued deer tags under the Mentored Youth Hunting license can be used for either sex (antlered or antlerless), are not subject to antler point restriction regulations in certain parts of the state and can only be used on private land, consistent with current state law (youth currently must be 14 to hunt deer, bear, or elk with a firearm on public land, this regulation will stay in place until new legislation can be enacted).
• A voluntary Mentor Guide program will be developed by the DNR to educate and inform mentors of their responsibilities.
The NRC has directed the DNR to come forward with a Wildlife Conservation Order to create the regulations for Mentored Youth Hunting at the Jan. 12 meeting in Lansing. The order would be eligible for an NRC vote at the Feb. 9 meeting in Dearborn.
Public comment on the proposed regulations can be made at the January or February meeting. Written comments can be sent to the NRC’s executive assistant Deb Whipple at email@example.com or via US Mail to Natural Resources Commission, P.O. Box 30028, Lansing, MI 48909.
Since this was a major policy initiative for MUCC for the last year, we hope that every one of our members will support this order in writing or in person at the next NRC meeting in January!
In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA Wildlife Services responded to situations in which 21 cattle/calves and 5 sheep were killed by wolves. They provided assistance in 5 situations in which horses were threatened but were not killed. Even though there was not a horse killed, it is a measure of USDA-WS efforts that they might have prevented such a loss.
This it is not just about livestock protection. Wolves are increasingly seen as threats to human safety. In FY 11, USDA-WS provided assistance in over 100 instances of safety concerns. Of course, many of these are multiple people for the same wolf threat but it indicates just how involved a single event can be. All our efforts to delist and manage wolves will be severely compromised if there is not a prompt effective response to human safety threats.
Senators Stabenow and Levin have requested funding for USDA-WS staff to continue to address any of the above situations through the end of the year. Then, hopefully, the delising will be approved and Michigan can take up management based on our management plan.
Efforts for the eradication of feral swine have been ongoing since 2007 under the authority of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). The law from May 2010 that allows the shooting of feral swine on public and private land has remained an effective measure, as sightings and killings have decreased since 2007.
To date, feral swine have been reported in 38 counties in 2011 alone, with 48 sightings and 27 kills reported. Midland County has a reported 10 kills as of October. Sighting and kill numbers are on the decline, but feral swine population still remains between 1,000 and 3,000 in Michigan. With less and less reports and kills, new efforts have been adopted in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A new program sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been piloted to help reduce and monitor feral swine. The program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, is typically used to address water quality issues on farms, but is now being used in Midland, Arenac, Bay and Gladwin counties to also address the threats of feral swine. Midland County is one of two counties in Michigan with a swine population that tested positive for pseudo rabies virus (PRV). The new trapping program consists of two phases: scouting for recent signs of activity, and setting, baiting and monitoring traps regularly. Participants are eligible for financial assistance to repair damaged caused by feral swine, a significant incentive for the program. The USDA provides a limited number of traps and has initiated over 100 contracts with landowners since January. Trappers are asked to contact the DNR and MDARD so that they may check captured swine for diseases. So far, 31 hogs have been trapped with 31 traps deployed to the field by the USDA alone.
Eradication efforts have been working to reduce the damage caused by feral swine and prevent the spread of diseases such as PRV and swine brucellosis. Efforts have slowly but successfully accomplished these goals, but there are still obstacles. Landowner cooperation is a significant factor in making these efforts successful. If landowners on one square-mile blocks and larger do not participate in trapping and killing, these lands provide safe havens and prevent total eradication.
Public awareness for the feral swine issue has been increased through flyers and the DNR and MDARD brochures. Currently, there is a public service announcement specifically aimed at hunters, asking them to shoot feral swine while they are out in the woods over deer season. The PSA for feral swine has aired on the Michigan Farm and Garden show, Michigan Out-of-Doors TV and on WTCM A.M. and F.M. on the radio.
Head up to Burt and Mullett Lakes and drift a perch rig along and see how much success you have at keeping the gobies off your hooks. Or spend a day trolling for salmon on Lake Michigan and try to keep track of the amount of spiny water fleas that foul your lines. Invasive species have flooded into the Great Lakes and are having a major impact on Michigan's most precious natural assets.
Michigan currently has regulations in place to help keep some of the most negative invasive species at bay. Grass carp, a fish that has similar impacts on fisheries and ecosystems as the Asian carp, is one of those species banned by the state of Michigan, but is not banned under Federal regulations. Grass carp is just one of six invasive fish that Michigan's regulations protect against.
And thanks to a veto by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder today, this regulation and other important ones will remain in place.
Today, Gov. Snyder vetoed House Bill 4326 introduced by Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) that would prevent state agencies from establishing rules and regulations that are harsher than federal standards unless specified in statute by the Michigan Legislature.
"Michigan United Conservation Clubs would like to thank Gov. Snyder for vetoing this legislation," said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC. "Protection of our state's waters and fisheries is essential to the millions of anglers who spend billions in Michigan every year. Michigan is one of a kind and we need to have regulations in place that work for the Great Lakes state. What works for Nevada doesn't work for Michigan and we should be able set our own regulations, not Washington, D.C."
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Michigan United Conservation Clubs is largest statewide conservation organization in the nation. Through over 42,000 members and 250 affiliated clubs, MUCC works to accomplish its mission of Uniting Citizens to Conserve and Enhance Michigan's Natural Resources and Protect OUR Outdoor Heritage.