DNR News: Earth Week videos, baby animals, virtual dark sky learning

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News Digest - Week of April 20, 2020

field of wildflowers and grasses

Watch for the emerging signs of spring during Earth Week and all season long!

Some of the items in this week's news digest reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is adapting to meet customers' needs. Public health and safety are our biggest priorities, and we will continue to share news and information about the safest, and sometimes new, ways to connect with our state's amazing natural and cultural resources in this uncertain time.

Follow our DNR COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on facilities and closures/cancellations, and stay up to date on the latest public health guidelines and news at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.
Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the DNR:

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

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

DNR’s Five Days of Earth Day videos celebrate, inspire

Signs of Spring video

On April 22, 1970, Americans showed their support for a cleaner, more sustainable environment with massive rallies across the country. An estimated 20 million people – from 10,000 elementary and high schools, 2,000 colleges and more than 1,000 communities – participated in that historic Earth Day.

To mark the occasion, the DNR’s education team has come up with a series of short videos that highlight many aspects of what it means to enjoy, share and take care of the world around us. These Five Days of Earth Day videos cover a range of fun, engaging topics and share insights, suggestions and humor from the environmental educators, park interpreters and naturalists who regularly work to help people of all ages connect with Michigan’s outdoors and history.

Today’s video is “Signs of Spring” – a quick look at some of the sights and sounds that let you know a new season is here. A new video drops every morning at 9 a.m. at @MiNatureDNR (and will be part of a YouTube.com/MichiganDNR play list), so be sure to stay tuned for the Five Days of Earth Day!

Questions? Contact Natalie Elkins at 517-290-0687.

Spring brings baby wildlife and a reminder to let them be

Fawn curled up in the grass in the woods, bright sun

Baby bunnies are nestled in their nests, fawns will soon find their way through the forest, and songbird and waterfowl nests are popping up all over. In fact, last week we shared tips on what to do if you find a duck or goose nesting in your yard.

Remember that it’s not unusual to come across baby wildlife in springtime. Many wild mothers leave babies unattended and hidden to protect them from predators, but almost always are nearby and return periodically to care for their young when they feel it’s safe. Even most young birds found on the ground are under the watchful eyes of parents.

“The best thing you can do to help young wildlife is to simply leave them alone,” said Hannah Schauer, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. “Many wildlife, such as deer and rabbits, will leave young unattended as a survival strategy. Even though it may appear that a rabbit’s nest or a fawn is abandoned, they rarely are.”

Baby rabbits in a nest

Your best decision is to leave a young animal in the wild where the mother can care for it and teach it how to survive.

On the rare occasion you come across an animal that is injured or truly abandoned, keep in mind that, in Michigan, it’s illegal to keep the animal unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Under the current "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order, some wildlife rehabilitators may have had to suspend services; call ahead to see whether they are able to assist at this time.

Additional information on what to do if you find a baby animal is available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Questions? Contact Hannah Schauer, 517-388-9678.

Learn virtually about the 'dark sky' all week long

telescope in shadow against a star-filled sky

Michigan is home to eight dark sky preserves and parks. With International Dark Sky Week running now through April 26, the DNR typically would be planning to stay open late at our six dark sky preserves in Michigan state parks. However, this year has presented the opportunity to celebrate virtually and in our own backyards!

The International Dark-Sky Association will livestream world-renowned experts – authors, creators, scientists and educators whose works have been vital to the movement to protect the night from light pollution – and has compiled how-to educational videos at IDSW.DarkSky.org. You can also visit Michigan.gov/DarkSky to learn more about viewing opportunities that will be available once public health and safety restrictions have ended.

If you're looking for more nature and history education fun and ideas for learners of all ages, check out the DNR's Michigan.gov/NatureAtHome webpage.


Wondering which birds are making their way to and through Michigan? Visit Audubon Great Lakes for info and tips.


Book your favorite campground or harbor spots for later in the season, up to six months in advance.


When you're outside around your house, be our Eyes in the Field and share observations about the wildlife you see.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.

Census 2020 - Be Counted