DNR News: Bears and bird feeders, forest health, new fishing season & more

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News Digest - Week of March 1, 2021

a shadow of a hand holding a fishing pole, set against a dusky orange sky and water

Are you ready? Michigan's 2021 fishing season starts April 1!

Some of this week's stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers' needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state's natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the DNR:

See 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 below, and others, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Color canopy at Proud Lake

Looking upward through the trees, colored red, burgundy, yellow and orange, at Proud Lake State Recreation Area

Want to see more stunning pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Aaron Burden at Proud Lake Recreation Area in Oakland County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

2021 fishing season starts April 1

young boy smiling and holding up a fish on a line

While anglers prepare their gear and equipment for spring fishing, there’s another key thing to remember: a 2021 fishing license! The new license sales begin today for the season kicking off April 1. Michigan's annual fishing license is valid from March 1 of a given year through March 31 the following year. Purchase licenses online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses.

License options include:

  • Annual all-species resident: $26.
  • Annual all-species nonresident: $76.
  • Annual all-species senior: $11 (65 and older or legally blind, Michigan residents only).
  • Annual all-species youth: $2 (voluntary license for residents or nonresidents under the age of 17).
  • Daily all-species resident or nonresident: $10/day (you set the date/time for license to start).

Michigan law requires people 17 or older to purchase a fishing license before fishing in public waters. Those under 17 may fish without a license but must observe all fishing rules and regulations.

New this year: Anglers 16 or younger can purchase a voluntary youth all-species license. Any adult actively assisting a youth angler must have a fishing license.

New to fishing? Check out our how-to videos for safety and fishing tips at Michigan.gov/HowToFish.

For more information on licenses and regulation changes, check out the Michigan Fishing Guide – available at license retailers or online at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests. The 2021 guide will be available online April 1 and will be valid through March 31, 2022. The online version of the current guide is always up to date and available to download.

Forest Health Highlights: A year in defending Michigan's forests

a woman wearing a tan coat and floral headband uses a hand lens to inspect a tree in the forest

Finding an unusual bug or bump on a backyard tree can be mystifying — is that caterpillar destined to grow into a pollinating butterfly, or is it a sign that an invasive pest is trying to eat up forests and landscaping?

Forest health experts, including the Michigan DNR Forest Health Team, fielded record numbers of such questions in 2020 as people observed nature in their backyards, trails and gardens.

“Gypsy moth topped the list of calls this year in the Lower Peninsula,” said DNR forest health specialist James Wieferich. In the Upper Peninsula, spruce budworm was the biggest concern for locals.

Details about forest health challenges like these pests and predictions for the future are included in the 2020 Michigan Forest Health Highlights report.
Updates share the effects of rising waters on coastal forests and detail efforts to slow the spread of a tiny tree killer, the hemlock woolly adelgid. They also provide data about a continuing outbreak of voracious gypsy moths present in numbers not seen in years.

a man wearing a light blue shirt, orange hard hat, a mask and a backpack, uses a spray wand to trial a new method to stop oak wilt disease

The report describes quarantines enacted to prevent the introduction of the mountain pine beetle and balsam woolly adelgid, two insects that, if established, could threaten our state’s conifer trees. It also shares university research on oak wilt disease treatments and efforts to grow beech bark disease-resistant trees.

Since the DNR’s beginnings as the Department of Conservation in 1921, the health of forests has been a priority, starting with wildfire prevention and tree planting and expanding into work to reduce the effects of damaging insects and diseases. Today, community engagement is key in catching issues before they grow from localized infestations to large-scale outbreaks.

“Community members are often the first people to notice when a new pest or disease appears, and early detection is critical in getting infestations under control,” said Sue Tangora, DNR Forest Health Program manager.

Want to learn more? Visit Michigan.gov/ForestHealth or contact James Wieferich at 517-284-5866.

Remove bird feeders now to reduce conflicts with bears

An upright black bear, looking at the camera, pawing at a yellow bird feeder hanging from a tree

As spring approaches, black bears will soon wake from their long winter sleep and start the search for their first nourishing meal of the year. To avoid potential conflicts with bears, it’s a good idea to take down bird feeders and remove other food sources that may attract wildlife.

While black bears primarily are found in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula, they occasionally are spotted in southern counties, too. After leaving their dens, bears look for leafy green vegetation to replenish their bodies after months of hibernation. Given the chance, though, these opportunistic feeders will take advantage of available food sources such as calorie-rich bird seed, garbage cans and pet foods.

“Many of us have enjoyed watching birds visit feeders during the winter months, especially while working from home and sheltering in place,” said Hannah Schauer, communications and education coordinator in the DNR Wildlife Division. “But as wildlife become more active in the spring, bird seed can attract more than just birds to your yard.”

No matter what, it’s important to keep wildlife visitors at a distance for the safety of the animals and people. Help your community avoid bear conflicts by removing your bird feeders now, securing trash cans in enclosed areas and taking in pet foods that may be outside.

To learn more about being Bear SMART this spring, visit Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Media contact: Rachel Leightner at 517-243-5813.


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