UP Focus: Dec. 1, 2018

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U.P. Focus - Dec. 1, 2018

Evening grosbeaks enjoy a bird feeder in Marquette County.

Here are some Upper Peninsula stories making news at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

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

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available here.

DNR reaches minimum testing goals in UP CWD surveillance areas

Lymph nodes packaged for CWD testing at the DNR office in Escanaba

With the valuable assistance of hunters, a minimum goal set for chronic wasting disease deer head testing has been surpassed in two surveillance areas set up in the central Upper Peninsula.

The testing will aid the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in determining the extent of this deadly deer disease in the region.

The DNR will continue to test at no charge any deer head hunters submit for CWD testing. Results are typically available within 14 days.

“Assistance from hunters has been outstanding in helping us reach these goals,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “With their actions to submit deer heads for disease testing, we have reached these important minimum surveillance goals.”

A minimum goal of 600 deer heads was set for a core surveillance area laid out around Waucedah Township in Dickinson County, where a 4-year-old doe tested positive for CWD Oct. 18.

As of today, a total of 711 deer heads have been submitted and tested from the core area with no additional CWD-positive deer detected. Deer tested include road-killed animals and deer taken under deer damage shooting permits.  

Within a wider CWD expanded surveillance area, extending north into Marquette County, a minimum goal of 300 deer heads had been set. As of Dec. 1, 565 deer heads from that area have been submitted and tested with no deer testing positive for the disease.

“In addition to the tremendous support of hunters, the work of personnel at the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory to test thousands of deer heads from across the state has been phenomenal,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “There have been nearly 22,000 deer tested for CWD in Michigan so far this year. In that past week, submissions to the lab have slowed to about 1,000 per day.

“This valuable effort is helping to delineate the geographic extent of this disease and its prevalence within our deer herds.”

There is no cure for chronic wasting disease which is always fatal to infected deer. Though there has been no incidence of humans contracting CWD from eating the meat from infected animals, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend doing so.

Despite the detection of 18 new suspected CWD-positive deer found by the state’s disease laboratory at Michigan State University this month, none of those infected deer have come from the U.P.

The infected doe in Dickinson County was shot on a deer damage shooting permit at an agricultural farm in Waucedah Township in September. The test that discovered the infected deer was part of the DNR’s CWD surveillance efforts over the past three years to test deer from Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson and Menominee counties, which form the border with Wisconsin.

For a listing of deer check stations and 24-hour drop box locations, visit michigan.gov/deercheck. For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit michigan.gov/cwd.

Eastern UP Citizens' Advisory Council to meet Dec. 5 in Luce County

Dick Pershinske talks with the media at a council meeting earlier this year in Marquette Township.

The Eastern Upper Peninsula Citizens' Advisory Council will hear deer season recap, news on law enforcement staffing changes and updates on monarch butterflies and forest invasive species when the panel meets Thursday evening in Newberry.

This will be Chairman Dick Pershinske’s last meeting. He is retiring from the council – which serves an advisory function to the Michigan DNR – after a decade of service.

“The council meetings provide a great deal of information on outdoor recreation and natural resource issues. It’s a great place to learn a lot about what’s going on in the U.P.,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “The public is welcome to attend these sessions, where there are always council members and DNR staffers on hand to listen to concerns and to answer questions.”

The meeting will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the lower level conference room at the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft Health Department, located at 14150 Hamilton Lake Road in Newberry.

Additional agenda items will include subcommittee reports on a range of subjects.

The Eastern U.P. Citizens’ Advisory Council and its western U.P. counterpart meet alternating months throughout the year. The councils are designed to provide local input to advise the DNR on regional programs and policies, identify areas in which the department can be more effective and responsive and offer insight and guidance from members’ own experiences and constituencies.

The council members represent a wide variety of natural resource and recreation interests. Agenda items are set by the council members and council recommendations are forwarded to the DNR for consideration.

For more information, visit michigan.gov/upcac or contact the DNR Upper Peninsula regional coordinator’s office at 906-226-1331.

Eastern UP packed with opportunities for Christmas Bird Counting

A snowy owl checks out the scene from a utility pole in Schoolcraft County.

The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count has been a holiday season tradition engaging citizen scientists in bird census efforts since 1901.

Novice, expert and in-between birdwatchers will gather to count numbers of species and individual birds during designated count periods, within numerous count circles, situated across Michigan and the country.

Among these efforts, organizers are recruiting people to join one or more of the half dozen Christmas Bird Counts set for the eastern U.P. in December.

Dates and details provided by organizers:

Dec. 15, Sault Ste Marie

This exciting count is an international count and includes the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Michigan and the surrounding areas. Contact Dave Euler at davideuler838@gmail.com or Carter Dorscht at carterdorscht@hotmail.com.

Dec. 18, Straits of Mackinac

The center pin for this circle is right on the middle of the Mackinac Bridge. Come bird the areas around St. Ignace, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. Contact Steve Baker at steveandsuebaker@gmail.com.

Dec. 19, Les Cheneaux Islands This count includes the areas around Cedarville, Hessel and Pickford. Expect a great day with friendly people exploring the vast wonders of the north Lake Huron area. Anticipate birds like pine grosbeak, snowy owl, sharp-tailed grouse and many more. Contact Michigan Sea Grant educator Elliot Nelson at elliotne@msu.edu or 906-322-0353.

Dec. 28, Rudyard

Only in its second year of existence, this exciting count includes open fields, dense forest, an old Air Force base and a landfill (more exciting than you'd think). Contact Steve Baker at steveandsuebaker@gmail.com.

Dec. 29, Neebish Island and Dunbar Remote Neebish Island is a winter wonderland and the mainland areas around Dunbar and Bruce Township are full of fascinating birding opportunities. Contact Brian Zwiebel at blzwiebel@aol.com.

Date TBD, Whitefish Point

Limited roads are open, but wonderful birds are still found. Occasionally, spruce grouse, gray jays and crossbills are on the list. Contact Charlie Weaver at ctejedor@copper.net

'Ask the DNR' broadcast live Dec. 6

This month's live broadcast of "Ask the DNR" will feature special guest Vicki Pontz, chairwoman of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Pontz and DNR panelists will answer questions from viewers.

The program will be televised live on WNMU-TV13 in Marquette at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6. Questions can be called in to the show at 1-800-227-9668.

Deer hunting license sales approach 1.3 million

As of Nov. 29, nearly 1.3 million deer hunting licenses have been sold in Michigan this year.

The figures include license sales for antlered and antlerless deer tags, across all deer hunting seasons.

The total number of deer hunting licenses sold was 1,268,625, compared to 1,284,772 licenses sold by the same time in 2017.

Muzzleloading deer hunting season begins Dec. 7 in the U.P. and continues through Dec. 16. 

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