DNR News: Fall fish stocking, updated CWD website, Great Backyard Bird Count

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News Digest - Week of Jan. 28, 2019

three young bear cubs held by a wildlife technician during a radio collaring effort

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.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Successful fall stocking season means more great fishing statewide

DNR employee holds a net of juvenile muskellunge

The DNR’s 2018 fall fish-stocking totals are in! From September through December, fisheries crews stocked nine different species: more than 1.1 million fish that weighed in at over 17 tons. These fish were stocked at 153 different locations throughout Michigan and – when combined with spring and summer efforts – bring the total number of fish stocked last year to more than 22 million!

Species stocked this fall included Atlantic salmon, channel catfish, brook trout, brown trout, coho salmon, rainbow trout (Eagle Lake and Michigan strain steelhead), lake sturgeon, walleye and muskellunge (northern and Great Lakes strains).

See a breakdown of which state hatchery stocked which fish at Michigan.gov/Fishing.

Several other fisheries management units also stocked fall fingerling walleye last year, including 15,564 Muskegon strain (1,554.2 pounds) and 7,437 Bay de Noc strain (555.1 pounds).

Two additional species of coolwater fish also were stocked in 2018 – 50 adult channel catfish (181.8 pounds) and 585 fall fingerling lake sturgeon (20.7 pounds).

Wondering if any fish were stocked in your favorite spots? Visit the DNR’s fish stocking database at MichiganDNR.com/FishStock/. For more information, contact Steve Vanderlaan, 269-668-2696, ext. 26 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Missing the outdoors? Add your help to winter bird counts!

close-up view of a pileated woodpecker in flight, against a snowy background

If you’ve got cabin fever, MI Birds partners across Michigan are hosting some cool community science opportunities that may help you embrace the cold:

The Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 15-18), coordinated by Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, invites people all over the world to record their bird observations for at least 15 minutes, in their own backyards.

  • All ages and birding skills welcome.
  • Join in any or all days.
  • Last year, over 190,000 people participated in this global bird count, and Michigan – with nearly 4,000 checklists submitted – was among the top 10 participating states.

Project FeederWatch (various dates, November through April), organized by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, is a winterlong survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas and other locales in North America.

Erin Rowan, MI Birds program associate for Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR, suggests using tube, hopper or suet bird feeders, rather than putting seed directly on the ground or using platform feeders – these methods tend to attract deer and other unintended guests.

close-up view of a blue jay on the ground, among fallen autumn leaves

“After Jan. 31, deer and elk feeding are not allowed in the Lower Peninsula,” Rowan said. “It’s part of an effort to prevent deer gathering around food sources, because that activity increases the potential spread of chronic wasting disease.” Rowan said, too, that people can get mess-free bird seed options (to keep the ground clean) at many stores and can surround feeders with fencing to limit deer access.

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program created by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR. Birders and hunters share similar conservation values, but rarely cross paths. MI Birds aims to deepen all Michiganders’ engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of the public lands that are important for birds and local communities.

For more on the regulations going into effect Jan. 31, contact your local DNR Customer Service Center. Questions about the bird count events? Contact Erin Rowan, 313-820-0809.

Updated CWD website highlights ways the public can help

front page of Michigan DNR chronic wasting disease website

Chronic wasting disease, whether you’re talking about confirmed cases or just the threat of finding a CWD-positive deer, is a reality across much of the state’s hunting landscape. Now that CWD – a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose – is confirmed in nine Michigan counties, the DNR is working to build awareness among non-hunters, too.

The department recently overhauled its CWD website:

  • Adding information for non-hunters, especially landowners and wildlife watchers, and elevating and expanding other information and resources that non-hunters might be interested in, such as the wildlife observation tool to report a sick deer, signs and symptoms, and maps showing CWD distribution and testing results.
  • Expanding and organizing FAQs to make it easier for people to sort and find information relevant to them.
  • Rearranging website content based on what people most often searched for on the site.

DNR Marketing and Outreach Chief Kristin Phillips said the website’s new look is an important part of the department’s effort to reach more people with the message that, when it comes to CWD, everyone’s actions matter.

“Our goal is to extend the CWD conversation to as many Michigan residents as possible,” Phillips said. “If you’re a hunter, talk to more hunters about CWD. Even if you’re not a hunter, chances are you know people who do hunt or who just like to get out into the woods. Everyone needs to know what CWD is and how they can help.”

Hunters also should be aware that after Jan. 31, 2019, no baiting for feeding will be allowed in the Lower Peninsula.

For more information on chronic wasting disease regulations, testing and other topics, visit Michigan.gov/CWD. Questions? Contact Wildlife Division, 517-284-9453


Ever dreamed of being an Olympian? Head to the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex Feb. 3 for the Michigan Winter Try-Athlon, where you can experience luge, ice speed-skating and cross-country skiing. 


If you need to register for a hunting, snowmobile, ORV or other safety education class, check out the roster of opportunities available in your area. The site is searchable by class type and county.


If you haven't yet settled on a resolution for 2019, consider offering your time and experience in one of many DNR volunteer opportunities: park cleanup, museum docent, wildlife surveys and much more.

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