DNR News: Bear population estimates, Beaver Island water trail, new shooting range

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 4, 2018

Looking for family-friendly history fun? Mark your calendar for Oct. 13, 2018 - Archaeology Day at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at michigan.gov/dnrpressroom.

Dip into adventure paddling on new Beaver Island water trail

The new Beaver Island water trail provides new paddling adventure for kayakers

With more than 1,000 miles of the national North Country Scenic Trail, continuing development along the Detroit-to-Ironwood Iron Belle Trail, and a 12,500-mile system of state-designated trails enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all types, Michigan is cementing its reputation as the nation’s Trails State. 

We’re boosting our trails resumé on the water, too, as stand-up paddle boarding and other paddlesports, including kayaking, are among the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation. A newly opened water trail – the Beaver Island water trail in northern Michigan – offers the unique experience of paddling around an island. The water trail wraps 42 miles around the island in Lake Michigan, sitting about 30 miles off the coast near Charlevoix. 

“The island contains an extensive system of hiking, biking and birding trails, making it a great destination for adventurous visitors,” said Jon Allan, Office of the Great Lakes director. 

Allan said the water trail plan was developed by Traverse City-based LIAA and the local community, with the support of Michigan’s Coastal Management Program and the DNR. 

“Safe landing points were identified in 18 places for paddlers circumnavigating the island, and local officials are working with the DNR to add rustic campsites at some of them,” he said. 

The local community formed the Beaver Island Archipelago Trails Association to increase paddling opportunities, create promotional materials, perform maintenance and add signage. Interpretive signage and programming along the water trail will highlight Beaver Island’s unique history, natural resources and connection to the Great Lakes.

Plan your trip with the Beaver Island water trail paddling guide. 

Michigan’s Coastal Management Program has invested nearly $2 million in its water trails initiative since 2012. Connect with the Coastal Management Program online or contact program manager Ronda Wuycheck at 517-284-5040.

Celebrating 40 years in 2018, Michigan’s Coastal Management Program works in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which supports a network of state-federal partnerships protecting America’s coasts.

Grand Traverse shooting range now open

The new DNR shooting range in Grand Traverse County is now open, ready to serve hunters getting ready for 2018 seasons.

Just in time for hunters preparing for the upcoming seasons, a new public shooting range in Grand Traverse County is now open. 

Located in Union Township, just south of the intersection of Fife Lake and Supply roads, the range offers 12 lanes for target shooting, with three lanes each at 10, 25, 50 and 100 yards. 

Accessible parking and pathways to the shooting stations, target retrievals and vault toilet are available at the site, too.

Range hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through the end of September, then 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily beginning Oct. 1. Shooting outside of open hours is not allowed. The range will remain open through Nov. 30 or until snowfall, whichever comes first, and then will reopen in spring 2019 when snow is no longer a factor.

“We’re excited to offer a new range for residents and visitors in northern Michigan. The opening of this range is a result of years of work by DNR staff, community members and many other cooperators,” said DNR shooting range specialist Lori Burford. “I am very thankful to all our partners, including Ware Construction, Elmer’s, Dunn Rite Construction, National Rifle Association, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Union Township officials and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

“I trust that the users of this unique facility will use it safely and take the opportunity to introduce new folks to shooting sports at this beautiful location.”

Other target shooting opportunities offered by the DNR include seven staffed shooting ranges in southern Michigan that feature amenities like handgun, rifle, shotgun and archery ranges and restroom facilities.  

Learn more about the DNR’s shooting ranges and other ranges around the state at michigan.gov/shootingranges.

For more information about the Grand Traverse range, contact Lori Burford at 989-600-9114. 

New bear population estimates available; first season starts Sept. 10

The September 2018 black bear population estimate is roughly 14,000 adults: nearly 11,000 in the Upper Peninsula and almost 3,000 in the Lower.

Michigan’s bear hunting seasons are almost here, with the first opening Sept. 10 in the Upper Peninsula, the Lower Peninsula’s first season starting Sept. 14 in select areas, and Sept. 16 for remaining locations below the bridge. Bear seasons have staggered openers with various locations and hunt periods. For each of the 2017 and 2018 hunting seasons, 7,140 bear licenses were available.

“Over half of the state is open to regulated bear hunting,” said Kevin Swanson, wildlife management specialist with the DNR’s bear and wolf program. “Hunters are an important part of managing the number of bear and where they are located, and they have been part of bear management in Michigan since 1925.”

Regulations governing how and when bear can be harvested are in place to sustainably manage the bear populations. “Regulations are how we control the take of bear, ensuring Michigan has a heathy population within suitable habitat. They are adjusted, if needed, every two years.

“We have the ability to influence the growth of bear populations in remote areas of Michigan. Habitat is not a limiting factor, but social tolerance has been reached in portions of the Lower Peninsula,” Swanson said. “We are discussing another increase in harvest in the northern Lower Peninsula.”

Watch a video on bear habitat.

The state’s current population is estimated at 14,000 adult black bear – almost 11,000 in the Upper Peninsula and nearly 3,000 in the northern Lower Peninsula. Several different scientific indicators, as well as public input, are used to determine harvest recommendations. 

Hunters who were successful in drawing a bear license for the bear management unit they chose will have a good chance at harvesting a bear, with success rates generally from 25 percent to 60 percent. Millions of acres of public land are accessible to bear hunters, though many choose to hunt on private land. A bear license can be used on either land type within a particular bear management unit. 

Learn more about the bear preference point system and how to get a license or contact Kevin Swanson at 906-458-1889.

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: High-res versions of some of the photos used above, and others, are available in this photo folder.

Events button

Come to the Michigan History Museum Sept. 8 for this week's "Second Saturdays" program on Great Lakes lighthouses. Appropriate for ages 5 through adult, guests will be able to design and take home their own lighthouse. Program included with museum admission.

buy and apply

Did you know that when you buy a Recreation Passport, you're supporting improvements at state parks, state forest campgrounds, trails and boat launches, as well as local parks and historic sites within state parks? Get yours when it's time to renew your vehicle registration! 

get involved

Learn about important natural resources and conservation work. Here's a teaser for the next episode of the "Wardens" TV show (this week on the Outdoor Channel), covering shell limits, fish hatchery work, and routine traffic stops that are anything but routine.