DNR News: Black bears, wood frogs, 250-year-old-tree, honoring COs and more

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News Digest - Week of May 11, 2020

new DNR Wildtalk podcast mugs and lids, showing the forest and camping design

Listen to the Wildtalk podcast in June for a chance to win one of the show's sharp new mugs!

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 enjoy our state's 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:

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, and others, are available in this folder.

Join in this week’s NRC meeting online

White-tailed buck in the Michigan forest

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission’s next regular meeting is Thursday, May 14. Due to COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines, the meeting will be hosted in an online format.

Watch the meeting live online using this link. Those who want to provide public comment for the meeting should call 517-284-5808 or email NRC@Michigan.gov.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. with Committee of the Whole, with an agenda that includes updates on:

  • Muskellunge biology in the Antrim chain of lakes.
  • The 2019 muskie angler survey.
  • Proposed deer hunting regulations.
  • Enforcement of the 2019 deer baiting ban.
  • Several land transactions.

See the full draft meeting agenda at Michigan.gov/NRC. For the latest on other public meetings, visit the DNR's boards, commissions and committees webpage.

Wood frogs, black bears, safe recreation and more in May 'Wildtalk' podcast

A view of DNR Wildlife Division staff recording a segment of the Wildtalk podcast.

With many people spending more time near home these days, it’s a good time to discover new listening and learning resources. One of these is the DNR's "Wildtalk" podcast, an opportunity each month to hear from department staff and partners working every day to take care of Michigan's natural resources and help the public connect with them.

This month's featured guest is DNR public information officer Ed Golder, who talks about efforts to provide fun, safe, outdoor recreation opportunities for residents during a pandemic. The show also includes updates on black bear behavior in the spring and avoiding conflicts, handling tree stands on public land, treading carefully around newborn wildlife nests, and a new “wildlife spotlight” segment on the wood frog.

Make sure to catch the June podcast – which will include a discussion on osprey and peregrine falcons – for the chance to snag a snazzy, new Wildtalk mug! For more on the podcast, contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Concord school group names 250-year-old Mann House tree

The approximately 250-year-old tree on the snow-covered grounds of the Mann House, against a bright blue sky

Arborists caring for the grounds of the historic Mann House last February noticed something special – a stately white oak tree. On closer inspection, they estimated the majestic tree’s age at about 250 years old.

The Mann House, in Jackson County, is one of the Michigan History Center’s museum and historic sites, and an excellent example of Victorian-era architecture. It draws visitors of all ages every year.

Mann House historian Laurie Perkins recognized the tree’s educational opportunities and started planning programs and other activities around the tree, which dates to the 1770s. She also worked with Concord Elementary School principal Rebecca Hutchinson to create a tree-naming ceremony with students as part of this 50th-anniversary year for Earth Day.

When Michigan schools closed for the year, Hutchinson took the naming contest online. In late April, Perkins received 20 entries from K-8 students. A Michigan History Center team reviewed the entries and announced the winners in late April:

  • Fourth grader Delaney Caples won the contest with the name Hope.
  • Zac Stevens, a third grader, came in second with Learnedness.
  • Sixth grader Zerra Reid’s suggestion, the Ethereal Tree, came in third.

Hutchinson notified the winners during the school’s online morning announcements April 27, and a tree dedication ceremony is planned for a later date. Although the Mann House currently is closed under the state’s stay-at-home order, you can learn more about the site at Michigan.gov/MannHouse and plan a trip for later in the season.

Questions? Contact Laurie Perkins at 517-241-0731.

Recognizing conservation officers’ efforts, this week and all year long

Michigan CO preparing a shipment of hand sanitizer during the spring 2020 COVID-19 emergency

In honor of National Police Week (May 10-16 this year), the time is right to highlight the important work of conservation officers in the DNR Law Enforcement Division. These men and women are in the field and on the front lines every day, protecting our state’s natural resources and public health and safety. It is a physically and mentally demanding career that officers and their families commit their lives to.

Conservation officers work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and respond to emergency and general criminal complaints in every area of the state, urban and rural. They talk with anglers, boaters and hunters, search for lost residents, save lives and even help contain wildfires.

More recently – in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency – these officers also have been part of social distancing “drive by” birthday celebrations. This brief video shows one such example, helping to mark the moment in a new way for one little girl.

"I'm proud of the excellent workforce we have today," said Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division chief. "We have sworn officers and civilian employees who are flexible and adaptable to the evolving nature of conservation law enforcement."

The coronavirus situation in Michigan created new opportunities for conservation officers to serve. In early April, as the number of COVID-19 cases in Detroit was rapidly climbing, state officials decided to convert the downtown TCF Center (the former Cobo Center) into a field hospital for more than 900 patients, assisted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Conservation officers assigned to the Law Enforcement Division's emergency management section helped coordinate and staff a DNR incident management team at the Detroit site.

Thankfully, the need for the field hospital has lessened and it closed last week after discharging its final patient, but conservation officers continue to help distribute essential personal protective equipment and supplies throughout the state.

As Michigan moves through this public health emergency, DNR conservation officers remain committed to protecting and supporting their communities. Learn more about their daily work at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

Questions? Contact Katie Gervasi at 517-290-0679. (In the photo above, a conservation officer prepares a package of hand sanitizer for shipment.)

Get ready for spring fawns, but leave them alone

A young fawn curled up at the base of a tree in a Michigan forest, lots of ground cover

A quiet spot in your backyard, a thicket or a patch of tall grass – these all are places where fawns have been found. If you do come across a fawn this spring, don’t touch it. There’s a very good chance it is right where it’s supposed to be.

A mother deer will hide her fawn to help protect it from predators, often leaving it unattended to avoid drawing attention to the hiding place. Young fawns have excellent camouflage and lay very still, making it harder for predators to find them.

You may think these fawns have been abandoned, but that rarely is the case. The mother will return periodically to nurse her fawn when she feels it is safe. Your best move is to quietly enjoy the fawn from a distance, because leaving baby animals in the wild ensures their greatest chance for survival.

It’s a frequent DNR message that bears repeating: only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.

Everyone shares the responsibility of keeping Michigan’s wildlife wild. Additional tips and information on what to do if you find a baby animal are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.


Need some ideas for outdoor fun and learning closer to home? Check out our Nature at Home webpage for scavenger hunts, hands-on history and science lessons, naturalist videos and much more!


Planning to try your luck fishing this weekend? Before you go, make sure you have a current 2020 license and check Michigan.gov/Fishing for the latest fishing guide and tips on where to cast your line.


Help stop invasive species in your tracks! As you spend more time outdoors, keep the PlayCleanGo message in mind and help prevent the spread of problem species in our state's woods and waters.

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