DNR News: Coyote sightings, Master Anglers, new requirement for pet stores

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News Digest - Week of March 11, 2019

a view of Milliken State Park and Harbor and surrounding area

Plan your next visit to beautiful William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor in Detroit.

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 others, are available in this folder.

Coyote sightings and tips to prevent conflicts

a coyote sits on the snow-covered ground

This time of year, it’s not uncommon to hear about an uptick in coyote sightings around the state. That’s because coyotes are more visible during their breeding season (January to March), as well as in the spring and summer months when they’re caring for pups.

Coyotes are extremely adaptable and can be found just about everywhere: in forests, fields, farmlands, backyards, neighborhoods and cities. They’ve learned to survive in urban landscapes throughout Michigan. When food sources are available – things like trash bins, bird feeders and pet food – coyotes may become more comfortable around people.

To minimize potential conflicts and protect your small pets, DNR furbearer specialist Adam Bump has a few suggestions.

“The first thing to remember is never to intentionally feed or try to tame a coyote; leave wildlife in the wild,” Bump said. “Remove those appealing food sources, fence off your gardens and fruit trees, clear out wood and brush piles, and accompany your pets outdoors rather than letting them roam free.”

Additionally, there are some hunting and removal options:

Coyote hunting is open year-round. Michigan residents need a valid base license to hunt them. See the current-year Fur Harvester Digest for coyote hunting and trapping regulations.

On private property where coyotes are doing or about to do damage, a property owner or designee can take coyotes year-round; a license or written permit is not needed.

A permitted nuisance control business can assist in the safe removal of problem animals in urban or residential areas.

Get more tips on understanding this species in the Coexisting with Urban Coyotes video or on the DNR’s coyotes webpage. Questions? Contact Hannah Schauer, 517-388-9678.

Master Angler program's popularity takes off in 2019

Chad Kamm of Metamora, Michigan, holds the rainbow trout he caught on the Manistee RIver and submitted for Master Angler recognition.

People love to fish Michigan waters. According to the state’s Master Angler program, they’ve been reeling in some real keepers the last few years. The program, managed by the DNR, enjoyed another successful year in 2018, accepting 2,698 fish.

The program has been in place since 1973 and recognizes large fish caught by recreational anglers. There were 522 more fish submitted in 2018 than in 2017, with anglers representing 28 states and Canada being recognized. The program has more than tripled in the last four years.

Of the entries accepted, 1,564 were in the catch-and-keep category, while 1,134 were in the catch-and-release category. Just over 500 anglers received certificates for fish that placed in the top five spots for both categories.

The most popular 2018 Master Angler entries by species included:

  • 251 bluegill.
  • 238 Chinook salmon.
  • 144 walleye.
  • 140 rainbow trout.
  • 137 smallmouth bass.

Master Angler entries for 2018 included two new state records, a 1.80-pound hybrid sunfish caught in Lake Anne in Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County) by Joel Heeringa of St. Joseph, and a 46.54-pound black buffalo caught on the Grand River (Ottawa County) by Brandonn Kramer of Muskegon.

The Master Angler program runs on the calendar year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31). Submissions already are being accepted for 2019 and will be until Jan. 10, 2020. Because program requirements may change year to year, be sure to carefully read the application before submitting it. A downloadable application and more program details are available at Michigan.gov/MasterAngler.

Questions? Contact Lynne Thoma, 517-284-5838 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

DNR wildlife pathologist Cooley earns MSU Outstanding Alumni Award

Michigan DNR wildlife pathologist Tom Cooley with an eagle

Around the DNR, Tom Cooley’s name is indelibly tied to Michigan wildlife. A 40-year veteran employee of the department, Cooley is a wildlife pathologist at the DNR’s Wildlife Disease Laboratory housed at the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lansing.

Recently, Cooley’s body of work was honored with the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Alumni Award, given to those who have distinguished themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishments and who possess the highest standards of integrity and character.

DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said the award is well-deserved.

“Tom is a key employee who is very effective at his job," Mason said. "We rely heavily on his knowledge and his insights about wildlife disease and parasitology.”

The DNR Wildlife Disease Lab is responsible for monitoring the health and well-being of Michigan’s wildlife. It is known worldwide and provides critical, detailed information on diseases in the state that affect wildlife.

Cooley plays an integral role in that work. In the past decade alone, he has served as lead pathologist on more than 10,000 cases of wildlife mortalities. He also has authored or co-authored hundreds of publications and peer-reviewed papers, been interviewed as an authority about wildlife diseases, and written and taken photos for the state’s Wildlife Disease Manual.

Cooley’s award was presented earlier this month during ANR Week, an annual event hosted by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU Extension and MSU AgBioResearch.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn, 313-396-6863.

Do you sell live aquatic organisms? Annual registration now required

close-up view fish tank with a RIPPLE cling

Starting later this month, pet shops, nurseries and other businesses or individuals selling live, non-native aquatic species must register annually with the DNR. The requirement comes as part of legislation finalized at the end of last year that amended Sec. 41329 of Act 451, P.A. 1994, effective starting March 21, 2019.

Under the new requirement, a person or entity without this registration shall not sell or offer for sale or possess for the purpose of sale or offering for sale a live, non-native aquatic species.

Registration must be updated every year and expires Dec. 31 of the issuing year. It can be completed online at Michigan.gov/SellAquatics. The registering seller will receive a confirmation number that must be retained and conspicuously posted at the selling location. The DNR also has provided (at Michigan.gov/Invasives under the Laws tab) a downloadable certificate that sellers can print and add their registration number to, for easier posting.

"Annual registrations will give us a clear picture of the types of live aquatic species being sold in Michigan, which can help identify potential invasive species threats that could result from releasing unwanted pets or other aquatic organisms available in trade into Michigan's waters,” said Seth Herbst, the DNR’s aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager.

Questions? Contact Joanne Foreman, 517-284-5814 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.


Just because there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air doesn't mean you can't spot some beautiful wildlife! Eager to get outdoors? Visit our wildlife viewing page before you go.


Do you know someone born after June 30, 1996, who needs a boater education card? Sign up for an online boating safety class and get ready now, before it's time to hit the water.


Many boards, committees and councils advise the DNR on topics including trails, waterways, Michigan history, forests and more. Catch an upcoming meeting to learn more.

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