DNR News: Wildlife Weekend Feb. 1-3, winter fishing surveys, state park preparedness

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News Digest - Week of Jan. 21, 2019

a snowmobile rider glides across the snow in Michigan

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 are available in this folder.

Last call: Don’t miss out on Wildlife Weekend Feb. 1-3

Black bear in a Michigan forest

Good food, roaring fires, nights under the stars, and entertaining classes about the state’s natural history – all of this and more are part of Wildlife Weekend, Feb. 1-3, in Michigan’s north woods. The DNR and the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education have teamed up to create this fun learning experience at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center on scenic Higgins Lake in Roscommon County.

DNR education manager Kevin Frailey is excited about this development.

“We offer many professional development opportunities at the RAM Center for educators who want to find new ways to bring the outdoors into their classrooms, but Wildlife Weekend is open to anyone 18 or older who’s simply interested in learning more about nature in a relaxing retreat setting,” Frailey said. “Many of the topics we cover are things you’ll hear or read about in the news from week to week.”

A view of the Tawas Point Lighthouse and keeper's quarters against a blue sky

Two classes are available:

  • Mammal Mania is taught by Holt High School teacher Bill Hodges, who described the class as a “great chance to become an expert on Michigan mammals and learn their behaviors, tracks and identification.” Updates on bears, wolves, cougars and more are included.
  • Frailey will teach Michigan My Michigan. “This course covers everything from the Great Lake to forests, wildlife, conservation history and more,” he said. “If you want to be the Michigan natural history expert in the neighborhood or you’ve recently moved into the state, this course is perfect.”

In between classes, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the area’s gorgeous scenery, explore trails, borrow some snowshoes and just get back in touch with nature. Classes begin at 7 p.m. Friday and run through noon Sunday. Get more information and register online at maeoe.com.

Questions? Contact Kevin Frailey at fraileyk@michigan.gov or 517-284-6043.

DNR wants to hear about your winter fishing experiences

A bundled-up fisherman pulls a loaded sled along a frozen Michigan lake

This winter fishing season, DNR creel clerks again will be out and about at many fishing spots to interview anglers about the details of their trips. Most interviews take just a few minutes, but the critical information gathered makes a big difference to successful fisheries management.

“‘Anglers’ is just another word for the people who fish, and ‘creel clerks’ is a term for the people who talk to anglers about their fishing trips,” said Tracy Claramunt, a fisheries biologist who runs the DNR’s Statewide Angler Survey Program, a long-term monitoring program that tracks recreational fisheries across Michigan waters of the Great Lakes and select inland waters.

Claramunt said that the word creel comes from the name for an old-fashioned basket that fishermen used to keep their catch in, and creel clerks were the folks who’d stop and ask the fishermen what they caught. Today’s survey model works much the same way. DNR creel clerks ask anglers, through brief interviews, about how long they fished, what species they targeted, what they caught and where they live. Statewide, clerks talk fishing with roughly 80,000 people a year.

A batch of caught yellow perch, fanned out on the ice of a frozen lake

Sometimes the clerks might ask to measure or weigh fish and take scale samples to gather key biological information on those fish. These data help fisheries managers make decisions about fishing regulations, habitat improvement and fish-stocking needs.

This winter creel clerks plan to talk with anglers fishing Saginaw Bay, Lake St. Clair, the Les Cheneaux Islands, Munising, Marquette, Keweenaw Bay, Lac Vieux Desert, Otsego Lake and Little Bay de Noc. Starting April 1 and continuing into the fall, creel clerks will interview anglers at Great Lakes boating access sites, fishing piers and shorelines across the entire coastline to get estimates on spring, summer and fall fisheries.

Claramunt said most people are happy to talk about their time on the water. “Everyone loves to tell their fish tales,” she said. “And we appreciate anglers’ willingness to share their experiences with us. Every detail gives us valuable information about Michigan’s fish populations and health.”

Learn more about creel clerks and anglers surveys on the DNR webpage Michigan.gov/FishResearch. Questions? Contact Tracy Claramunt, 517-282-2887 or claramuntt@michigan.gov or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839 or waltere@michigan.gov.

ICYMI: Make sure you're prepared for winter visits to state parks

Campers dressed in winter gear, holding breakfast plates, in a snowy forest

Michigan offers the best in outdoor experiences every season of the year, but it's good to remember that each season comes with its own unique opportunities and considerations. If you're planning to spend time at state parks this winter (at the start of state parks' centennial anniversary year), think ahead about what you'll need to ensure a safe, memorable time for you and your friends and family. 

Theresa Neal, a park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula, knows a thing or two about the kind of gear and planning that can help people stay safe and warm outside when facing frigid weather conditions. In case you missed it, Neal wrote about this in a recent Showcasing the DNR story:

Dealing with mild winter conditions is sometimes more challenging than preparing for a whole lot of cold and snow.

A trio of visitors to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the eastern Upper Peninsula were reminded of this recently when a hike on a relatively mild winter day turned into a hazardous situation. ... Read the full story.

Get some great ideas on where to go and what to do at Michigan.gov/WinterFun.


Help wish Michigan a happy 182nd birthday during "A Statehood Day Celebration" Jan. 26 at the Michigan History Museum in downtown Lansing. Crafts, demos, re-enactors, music, euchre and more!


If you've been visiting managed waterfowl hunt areas around the state as part of the Wetland Wonders Challenge, remember to turn in or mail your punch cards by Feb. 22 for your chance at some great prizes. 


Time to renew your license plate? Consider getting a wildlife habitat specialty license plate that gives much-needed support to Michigan's endangered, threatened and nongame wildlife and native plants.

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