Archive for March, 2016

Feral Hogs Killing Deer at an Alarming Rate

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

 

This photo, provided by LouisianaBowhunter.com, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.

This photo, provided by LouisianaBowhunter.com, shows a herd of wild hogs feasting on a deer fawn.(LouisianaBowhunter.com)

Deer hunters are facing competition from a source that is mean, relentless and out of control.

The explosion of feral hogs across the U.S. is threatening the deer population — spreading disease, dominating the food chain and even, on occasion, killing and eating fawns. In Louisiana, where there are an estimated 700,000 wild hogs, hunters and wildlife officials say they are taking a toll on the whitetail deer herd.

“They are in the marshes and beaches of Louisiana all the way up into the hills and piney woods and swamps,” Jim LaCour, state wildlife veterinarian for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told FoxNews.com. “They’re in every habitat in the state.”

“If you start to see hogs in your hunting area, you are absolutely not going to see deer.”

– hunter Justin Lanclos

“They’re very adaptable and also highly destructive,” LaCour said.

LaCour described the feral pigs, which can weigh up to 500 pounds, as “opportunistic” eaters — omnivores that feast on anything crossing their path, including deer fawn, other piglets and dead animals.

“They are in the marshes and beaches of Louisiana all the way up into the hills and piney woods and swamps,” Jim LaCour, state wildlife veterinarian for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told FoxNews.com. “They’re in every habitat in the state.”

LaCour said hogs carry many diseases, such as leptospirosis, which can infect or kill other animals, like deer, as well as humans.

“Hogs are the sport utility vehicle for disease and parasites — they move them across the landscape,” he said. “That bacteria [leptospirosis] can cause abortion in the deer – and it can kill adult deer or people.”

Their presence is also detrimental to the land, forcing wildlife officials to carry out aerial gunning in certain areas “because they tear up the marsh and that leads to coastal erosion.”

Hogs were first introduced to North America by Spanish settlers. The breed most commonly seen in Texas is a mixture of those hogs and Russian boars brought over more recently for sport hunting, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Some speculate the population boom is due to relatively recent cross-breeding in the wild. Others, like LaCour, say the popularity of hog hunting in the 1980’s and early ’90’s led humans to move the feral pigs from confined, geographically isolated areas into places they had never been before.

Wild hogs can reproduce by the time they are 6 months old. Feral sows can have two litters per year averaging six piglets per litter, according to wildlife experts. Statisticians have determined that 75 percent of the population must be harvested to maintain a static population — prompting Louisiana and other states to adopt liberal hunting policies when it comes to killing the hogs. Texas has the highest rate of feral hogs to date, according to environmentalists.

Take heed Michigan at what is happening in many of our southern states.  We have a roaming reproducing population of feral hogs right here in the our own Winter Wonderland!  They must be eradicated!  If you see one and have the means to “take it down” please do so, or report your sighting to the DNR.

Michigan’s Fishing Some of the Finest Around

Monday, March 28th, 2016

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Michigan is known for it’s vast herd of Whitetails, but the many lakes and streams make our state an anglers “heaven!”  Michiganders have more water access than any other of the lower 48 states.  The Great Lakes have some of the most fantastic fisheries of any fresh water lakes in the world.

I personally have enjoyed fishing for perch, walleye, northern pike, large mouth and small mouth bass, steelhead, brookies, catfish, bullhead, and panfish.  On occasion I have even tangled with the  enormous carp that hide in the Lake Erie marshes.

Well in case you forgot it’s time to renew your fishing licenses here in Michigan.  I can’t wait to try out my new canoe on my daughter lake near Milford.  There is nothing like fighting a bass, or seeing the joy on a kids face as they land their first sunfish.  In fact if you find the right secret pond you can have an absolute blast with some big pumpkin seed or red eye sunfish.  Talk about good eating!  While perch are my favorite, sunfish/bluegill, and brook trout rank right behind them.

My nephew caught the nice smallie in the picture, and it won’t be long before I’ll be doing the same.  Ah! A day on the clear blue water, of a hidden little jewel, nestled among the pines of Northern Michigan can’t be beat!  A word of caution to all who may soon hit the waters-check your fishing line.  Fishing string will rot and get brittle, so you need to make sure yours will function as intended.  Also lubricate your reel, and do some precautionary maintenance on all the other equipment, before you hook the fish of a lifetime, and he gets off!

Mike

Wyoming Wolves Kill 19 Elk In One Night!

Friday, March 25th, 2016

IMG_0983Nineteen elk were killed by wolves earlier this week in what’s being called a “surplus kill,” according to Wyoming wildlife officials.

Wolves killed seventeen elk calves and two adult cows near Bondurant, Wyo., according to John Lund the Pinedale regional wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

It’s not unusual for wolves to kill one or two elk a night, but to have 19 killed in one night “is fairly rare,” he said.

Lund said a surplus killing is when an animal kills more of its prey than it can eat and then abandons the surplus.

“We’re not sure what triggers surplus killing, because in many cases predators will kill with the intent to eat, but in this case something triggered and they went crazy and just took down each elk and moved on to the next,” he said.

He said over the past winter, wolves in the area have killed at least 70-75 elk, which is a “significant” number.

“Based on what we’ve seen in this elk herd, likely [the deaths] will impact our hunting season and hunter opportunity,” he said.

Because the wolves are federally protected, Wyoming wildlife managers can not take measures on a local level to curb their populations, even if they are killing high numbers of elk, he said.

He notes that the federal government typically refrains from managing the wolf populations unless they are killing livestock.

Rattlesnake Surprise

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Coyote Attacks Pet Dog In Canton

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

darryls pictures4A family dog has died after being attacked by a coyote in Canton.

The dog, a bichon frise, was attacked after it and another bichon frise was let out into the backyard of a house in the area of Saltz and Beck roads by its owner shortly after 5 a.m. Friday, according to a news release today from the Canton Public Safety Department.

The second dog was not attacked, according to Special Services Lt. Craig Wilsher. The injured dog was taken to a veterinarian, but it died later that day.

The coyote ran off after the attack in the township west of Detroit, Wilsher said, noting that the owner had been inside the house at the time.

Residents are being warned not to approach or feed coyotes, but the news release also says that a sighting is not an automatic cause for concern. The release says similar attacks on family dogs have happened elsewhere in metro Detroit.

“Coyote sightings have been prevalent across metro Detroit for several years, and unfortunately similar attacks to family dogs have recently been reported in Grosse Ile and Shelby Township,” the release said.

Wilsher said there have also been sightings in Canton, although not in the area of the attack.

Coyotes, the release said, “are opportunistic, and will prey on unattended small dogs and cats,” but coyotes rarely attack humans. It also said they can be difficult to distinguish from a medium-sized German shepherd from a distance.

The breed of dog that was attacked, the bichon frise, is a “small, sturdy, white powder puff of a dog whose merry temperament is evidenced by his plumed tail carried jauntily over the back and his dark-eyed inquisitive expression,” according to the American Kennel Club website.

The news release encourages residents who feel they are in danger from a coyote or who see a coyote in distress to contact police.

The news release includes several tips about coyotes:

  • Never approach or touch a coyote.
  • Never intentionally feed a coyote.
  • Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet food.
  • Put garbage out the morning of pickup.
  • Clear out wood and brush piles; they are a habitat for mice and may attract coyotes.
  • Do not allow pets to roam free when coyotes are present—consider keeping pets indoors or accompany them outside, especially from dusk until dawn.
  • The Coyote pictured was shot in Monroe County by a local hunter during deer season.  At one time there was a bounty of $25.00 on coyote, and it was rare to see them.  Now they are quite common and cats and dogs are definitely on their grocery list

Polaris 300 Explorer 4×4 Put Out To Pasture!

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Kyle at cabin 012In 1997 I bought a brand new Polaris 300 Explorer 4×4.  It was titled a 1998, but that makes it almost 20 years old.  It’s a 2-stroke oil injected machine with the added option of a front and rear rack, which has come in very handy indeed!  I can’t begin to tell you what a work-horse this little 4-wheeler has been.  I have had no major issues with it, and have only performed necessary maintenance on it when “necessary!”  That’s why it’s called “necessary maintenance” right? Needless to say this machine has not been a back yard cruiser or a garage ornament.  It has taken a “licking” and has kept on “ticking!”

Over the last few years I have kept it at my place up north, and it has hauled more than a few deer out of the woods.  The on demand 4 wheel drive and automatic transmission make operating it a no-brainer.  I also have a trailer hitch on the back for hauling a cart to collect fire wood.  It has also been my mule to transport tree stands around my area and a few ground blinds on occasion.

When I take it to the Upper Peninsula for bear hunting it traverses the steep hills and valleys of Marquette County with ease.  I’ve crossed many a stream in search for brook trout and beaver ponds, and my Explorer has never let me down.

But I say all that to come to the conclusion that it’s time to move up to a “bigger” machine!  The little 2-stroke has served me well, but a 4-stroke has been in my “line of sight” for some time.  I’m thinking of making the “jump” to a 500 with a plow.  That is truly my only complaint.  The 300 just does not have enough “gazoopa’s” to handle the heavy snowfalls in the northern part of the state.  So after almost 20 years of service it’s time my 300 Explorer was put out to pasture in retirement mode.  I’ll most certainly buy another Polaris, so the “family” line will not be broken.  Just hope the next one serves me as well!

Michigan DNR Program For Orphaned Bear Cubs

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

DNR Surrogate Sow Program widens options for orphaned bear cubs

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a program involved in the business of finding mothers for orphans.

Not for children, for bear cubs.

Mark Boersen, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Roscommon, has spent a number of days this winter fitting denned black bear sows with radio collars so he can find them again if their maternal skills are ever needed.

This is the gist of the DNR’s Surrogate Sow Program.

“The main objective has always been to have a number of female bears we can use to raise cubs that come into the possession of the DNR,” said Boersen, a 12-year veteran of the agency. “You can trick females into taking additional cubs if it’s done right.”

Boersen said the DNR places orphaned cubs with new mothers once or twice a year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician Mark Monroe holds a young black bear up toward the camera during a den check this winter “It at least gives them a chance they wouldn’t have and it works nearly 100 percent of the time if you can place the cub with a denned sow,” he said.

Options

When bear cubs become “wards” of the DNR, the state’s wildlife experts have few options beyond choices that present difficulties of one kind or another.

Wildlife managers want to do what’s best for the orphaned bears and that is providing them with an adoptive mother.

The program benefits bears and the DNR.

“It takes some staff time, but not a lot of money,” Boersen said.

This winter, Boersen began the season with only two collared bears, but he has since collared three more sows.

Active dens

To find prospective bear mothers, Boersen depends on landowners and hunters to report bear dens. The three sows newly collared this winter resulted from three different types of bear den finding circumstances.

One bear den was reported by a landowner who said he noticed a bear with two yearlings hanging around an uprooted tree for much of the fall. When he saw the trio in the same area during deer season, he alerted the DNR. Boersen located the bears and collared the adult female.

In another instance, a sow with yearlings was located by a hunter while he was bird hunting during the late grouse season. The hunter’s dog went on point and he noticed a large hole. After the hunter leashed his dog and led it away, he checked the hole and sure enough, there was a bear in it.

Boersen and others came back to the den two months later and determined it was a mother with yearlings. A few weeks later they returned to collar the mother. The sow and the young bears were then returned to the den.

Michigan bears typically birth young every other year.

The third bear collared in recent months was reported by a landowner who found a den while wandering in the woods during the deer hunting season.

Willy Hincka, a logger who lives in Presque Isle County, discovered the den while he was headed to see a neighbor. The bear, which was not yet hibernating, had looked at Hincka a couple times.

When Hincka told his friend about it, his buddy suggested he contact the DNR. After checking that it was a sow with cubs, Boersen and his crew collared the bear March 1.An overhead view shows a crew working on snow-covered ground to examine a black bear sow this winter.

Boersen checked out two other reported dens, but declined to handle those bears.

“One was a single bear in a den and we could have easily gotten the bear, but it was late January, there were no cubs or yearlings, so I assumed that was a male,” Boersen said. “I passed on that one. There’s no sense in tranquilizing an animal that you think is likely a male.”

A sow was also passed on because the DNR crew could reach the den site, but the way the bear was situated inside made safety a concern.

Boersen also replaced collars on two other female bears, both of which had yearlings.

Methods

The first thing Boersen does when handling a bear is sedate the female. If the sow has yearlings, he leaves them alone. They either remain in the den when the crew hauls out the mother, or they run off and typically return when the commotion has ended.

The crew applies a sedative to the sow with a jab stick.

“You want a well-muscled portion of their body – an upper leg or hip is good, a front leg or shoulder is good – and occasionally we stick them in the neck,” Boersen said. “That’s a good spot and if you’re dealing with previously collared bear in a dark den, you’ve got a landmark. A lot of times, that’s all you can see is the collar.”

With newly collared bears, Boersen’s crew goes through an elaborate procedure, giving the sow a full physical.

They pull a tooth for aging, apply ear tags and a lip tattoo and they record all the vital signs. Biologists then administer some antibiotics and pain medications, before they put the bear back in the den.

When recollaring a bear, staff simply weigh the sow and monitor vital signs and administer medications.

Cubs are weighed, their sex determined and kept warm – usually in someone’s coat – until the crew is finished with the bears’ mother.

A black bear’s tooth is removed for aging during a den check in the Lower Peninsula this winter.Longevity

Adoptive mothers can be used multiple times. Some of the bears have been long-lived.

One of Boersen’s bears is 21 years old.

“We’ve recorded them into their early 30s in Michigan, and Minnesota had one that went into her mid-40s,” Boersen said. “I think she died of old age in her den.”

Wider scope

Kevin Swanson, a wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s bear and wolf program, said efforts to examine and study black bears in Michigan can have a good deal of positive impact.

“Bear den checks and other ongoing bear research in Michigan provide biological insight for wildlife personnel who face difficult management decisions for this valuable species,” Swanson said. “Important data supplied by our researchers is continually used to ensure sustainable, long-term management.”

Swanson said cub production and survivorship, as well as habitat capability exhibited by diverse soil and cover types in these areas, are important considerations for future management.

“Black bear will not reside permanently in areas that do not supply appropriate habitat,” Swanson said.

Concealed Weapons Owner Stops Hatchet Wielding Robber!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

A masked man burst into a 7-Eleven near Seattle early Sunday morning, swinging a hatchet and slicing the store clerk.

Before the masked man could seriously hurt anyone, though, a customer who was drinking his morning coffee pulled out a concealed weapon and fatally shot the attacker.

Authorities did not name the attacker or the customer, but they did hail the concealed weapon owner as a hero.

“This could have been disastrous,” King County Sheriff Sgt. Cindi West told KIRO7. “Had this guy not shot, who knows what would have happened? We might have a dead clerk right now, and instead we have a dead bad guy.”

The clerk, Kuldeep Singh, suffered minor cuts to his stomach. He, too, thanked the customer for saving his life.

“He [was] killing me,” Singh, 58, said of the hatchet-wielding attacker. Singh added that the customer was a “nice guy.”

West said that the incident will be investigated fully but that the 60-year-old customer was currently being considered a Good Samaritan.

The “customer, the shooter, is shaken up but from everything that we see right now from the scene – there’s no wrongdoing on his part,” she told King 5. “In fact, he probably saved a life in this case.”

The incident near Burien, Wash., about eight miles south of downtown Seattle, probably will add to the ongoing debate about concealed weapons and their effect on crime.

Concealed-weapon ownership has skyrocketed in recent years as more states have moved to allow it. The percentage of Americans who believe owning a gun will protect them and others also has risen steadily.

There is little consensus on the efficacy of concealed weapons in reducing crime, however. Although supporters of concealed-weapon ownership argue that it discourages crime, some studies have shown it has no effect. Other studies have found it actually increases crime.

Anecdotal evidence abounds on both sides of the argument.

Leave Wildlife In The Wild

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Tara's transfer pictures 005Spring is nearly here, bringing warmer temperatures and the next generation of wildlife.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds those who are outside enjoying the experience of seeing wildlife raise its young to view animals from a distance, so they are not disturbed.

It is important to remember that many species of wildlife “cache” (hide) their young for safety. These babies are not abandoned; they simply have been hidden by their mother until she returns for them.

“Please resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned baby animals,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife technician for the DNR. “Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.”

Schauer added that some rescued animals that do survive may become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild.

“Habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behavior. For example, habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they get older and reach breeding age.”

White-tailed deer fawns are one of the animals most commonly rescued by well-intentioned citizens. It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time. This behavior minimizes the scent of the mother left around the fawn, which allows the fawn to go undetected by nearby predators. While fawns seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way. The best chance for their survival is to leave them in the wild. If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, as this might leave your scent and could attract predators. Give it plenty of space and leave the area quickly. The mother deer will return for her fawns when she feels it is safe, but may not return if people or dogs are present.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when you know the parent is dead or the animal is injured. Please remember, a licensed rehabilitator must be contacted before removing an animal from the wild. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators must adhere to the law and have gone through training on proper handling of injured or abandoned wild animals. Licensed rehabilitators will work to return the animal to the wild, where it will have the best chance for survival.

Hawks And Doves

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

IMG_3724IMG_3726Yesterday I was driving through our rural neighborhood on my way home.  Our neighbor has a huge pine tree in his front yard and as I drove parallel to the tree a morning dove flew out from inside it’s branches. It had only cleared the tree by 10 foot ot so when a sparrow hawk swooped down, out of the same tree, and hit the dove with such force that it feel to the ground.  The doves back feathers were floating everywhere in the air, as it struggled to get airborne again, and fly to safety.  It was only able to get a few feet off the ground and was not flying very well!  I stopped my car and the dove flew under it out of the reach of the “raptors” talons!

The hawk veered off out of sight so I pulled my car forward and then got out to check on the dove.  It evidently was in a state of shock as it let me pick it up without any struggle.  The hawks claws had pulled out a large clump of feathers from the doves back, and I could see where one talon had pierced the skin.  I carried the wounded bird around the side of my house and laid it down in some tall grass, hopefully away from searching eyes.  I checked on the dove a few hours later and it was still laying there, but still alive!

The sparrow hawk is Michigan’s smallest bird of prey at only 4-5 ounces when full grown. What I saw was an incoming missile hitting the fast and erratic flying dove with the force of a much larger bird.  This predator must of been waiting to make it’s assault from above the morning doves hid out, in the pine tree.  Stealth, speed, and razor sharp talons add up to one small package that the neighborhood birds better be aware of!

I checked on the dove the awhile later and it had succumbed ti its wounds, as the talons must of driven deeper than it looked. Maybe I should of put the bird out of it’s misery, but I thought it had a chance to make it.  Nature can be cruel as we see it, but it also about survival in the purest sense of the word!

Mike