DNR News: Walleye/muskie rearing, invasives awareness, nuisance geese & more

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News Digest - Week of May 17, 2021


A new fish rearing facility will help the DNR stock walleye and muskie across the state.

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:

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 additional ones, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Sunset point skyline

belle isle park

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Diane Dawson Wilks at Belle Isle Park in Wayne 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.

Do your part during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

natl invasive species awareness week

The North American Invasive Species Management Association has declared May 15-22 as National Invasive Species Awareness Week, an international opportunity to raise awareness about the threat these species pose and what can be done to prevent their spread.

According to NAISMA, invasive species – those that are not native and can cause harm to the environment, economy or human health – cost the United States $120 billion annually. 

“Invasive species are a continentwide problem that starts at home,” said NAISMA Director Belle Bergner. “Find a local event to learn how our invasive species managers and nonprofit organization leaders work hard making sure our lands and waters are friendly to native species of North America.


Be a CISMA champion

Michigan’s 22 cooperative invasive species management areas assist and support communities across the state. Find your local CISMA at Michigan.gov/Invasives and:

  • Volunteer to host or assist in an aquatic invasive species landing blitz at a nearby boat launch.
  • Arrange an invasive species presentation or work bee for a club or organization you belong to.
  • Learn about and help promote local CISMA programs.
  • Find out how your business or organization can reduce the spread of invasive species. 

Become a volunteer steward

If spring has you eager to get outdoors, lend a hand removing invasive plants at state parks. Volunteer stewardship workdays are scheduled for several state parks in southern Michigan this month and all summer long. Check the DNR volunteer calendar for individual event details.

Advance registration is required and participation may be limited due to social distancing requirements.

clean drain dry

Adopt eco-friendly habits

No matter what type of outdoor recreation you enjoy, you and your friends and family can take simple steps against invasive species.

  • Hikers: Keep a scrub brush in your vehicle to clean off boots and gear before and after hitting the trail.
  • Bikers and motorized trail users: Wash off mud and debris from bikes, ATVs and trailers between rides.
  • Boaters: Remove drain plugs, drain all water from tanks and wells, and remove all weeds and debris from boats and trailers before getting on the road.
  • Campers: Choose certified, heat-treated firewood when available or buy firewood at or near your destination. Don’t take leftover firewood to a new location.

“Everyone can do something to prevent invasive species from taking over agricultural and natural environments, and we encourage organizations and individuals to take leadership teaching their community about how to solve invasive species issues locally,” said Bergner.  

Explore more tips and resources at Michigan.gov/Invasives.

New cool-water complex boosts walleye and muskellunge production

coolwater facility

A new cool-water fish production facility at Thompson State Fish Hatchery, which will support walleye and muskellunge stocking, is in the final stages of construction, and fish are already being reared there.

Walleye eggs were collected from Little Bay de Noc early this spring and were incubated and hatched in the new state-of-the-art hatchery. Muskellunge will be transferred from Wolf Lake Hatchery in Mattawan during August each year and reared at Thompson State Fish Hatchery in Manistique until November, when they will be stocked depending on need across the state.

“For nearly 150 years, the Fisheries Division has reared fish in facilities designed specifically for trout and salmon," said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. "This is our first completely separate cool-water facility, which is important for managing the risk of disease and improving our capability to deliver cool-water fish such as walleye and muskellunge.”

The new facility includes a hatchery building with a biosecure room for receiving and disinfecting eggs, and an egg incubation and hatching room with several tanks for receiving hatched walleye fry. The incubation water, supplied by two new wells, can be heated or chilled to manage the timing of fry hatching. The electrical infrastructure is backed up with a new generator that starts automatically if primary power is lost.  

A new pond complex, including two 1-acre lined ponds and four half-acre lined ponds in addition to a solar pond that allows cold water to warm before reaching the rearing ponds, will give fish rearing a boost.

“With our new pond complex, we should be able to produce up to 250,000 spring walleye fingerlings and 18,000 fall muskellunge fingerlings each year,” said Ed Eisch, DNR fish production program manager. “This new facility and pond complex will help us continue to provide world-class fishing opportunities throughout the state.”

Each of the rearing ponds has aeration equipment to maintain oxygen levels and an internal harvest kettle – which holds the fish as the pond drains and makes it easy to collect them – that will be used when the fish are ready to be stocked.

An external harvest kettle is connected to all six rearing ponds. With the facility only 1 mile from Lake Michigan, fish-eating birds like cormorants, arctic terns and mergansers were a concern during design. To protect the fish, each pond is entirely enclosed by predator exclusion netting. This facility will serve Michigan’s anglers well into the future.

To learn more about Michigan’s hatcheries, visit Michigan.gov/Hatcheries.

For more on fishing opportunities near you, species information and the 2021 Michigan fishing guide, visit Michigan.gov/Fishing.

Questions? Contact Ed Eisch at 231-499-4118.

Wear your life jacket to work Friday!

mcd's lifejacket kayak

Friday, May 21 is National Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day – an annual social media event the day before National Safe Boating Week. Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day, hosted by the National Safe Boating Council, is a fun way to learn about the different types of life jackets.

Post a picture of yourself wearing a life jacket at work to Facebook or Instagram, and you could receive a free small frozen McDonald’s beverage coupon and either a new life jacket or a McDonald’s beach tote and McDonald's baseball cap. Coupons are valid at participating McDonald’s locations in Michigan.

When posting your pictures Friday, make sure they’re set as “public” if posting to Facebook and include the hashtag #BoatSafeMI. The DNR will select and share the 15 winners on our Facebook page at 3 p.m. May 21.

In Michigan, all vessels must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices and/or life jackets. The quantity and type depend on the length and type of your vessel and the number of people on board and/or being towed.

Find more boating resources at Michigan.gov/Boating.

Questions? Contact Katie Gervasi at GervasiK@michigan.gov.

Help with handling nuisance geese


Once close to extinction, Canada geese now are a common sight on Michigan's waters. In fact, they nest in every Michigan county, but are most common in the southern third of the state. You may even see and hear Canada geese all year round in some parts of the state. 

In June and July, these birds often are found on lakes and golf course ponds, feeding on the lush lawns while molting – the annual rite of losing their flight feathers, which takes about two weeks. Canada geese are unable to fly during molting, so putting up a temporary barrier between your yard and the water may help keep flightless geese away from your property. Geese are especially attracted to lawns that are heavily fertilized, watered and mowed.

"If you live on a lake and geese frequently visit your yard, try making your lawn less attractive to them by allowing your grass to grow long and do not fertilize or water it," said Barbara Avers, waterfowl and wetland specialist with the DNR.

Intentionally feeding Canada geese can attract them to the area as well, so don’t – especially if you are having conflicts with geese. Artificial feeding can make them comfortable around people, and can cause other problems for the birds. Bread can cause serious vitamin deficiencies in birds, leading to a condition called angel wing, which impairs flight. Feeding geese can also increase overcrowding and potentially spread disease.

"You may also want to use scare tactics to frighten them away," said Avers. "Use a combination of loud noises such as shell crackers, bird alarms or bird bangers, distress cries, screamers and electronic noise systems along with visual deterrents like bird scare balloons, Mylar scare tape and plastic flags."

Additional information on how to handle conflicts with geese, including population control options, is available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife

Canada goose hunting season dates and bag limits can be found in the current Waterfowl Hunting Digest at Michigan.gov/Waterfowl.

Questions about goose conflicts or goose hunting? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.


The trails are calling, horseback riders! If you're gearing up to get some pleasure riding in, you can find designated equestrian state trails and campgrounds on our new interactive map.


Are you a newbie to the outdoors, or looking to hone some new skills? Check out our Outdoor Skills Academy classes! From bear hunting to mushroom identification, discover a new recreation hobby.


Spending time on the water is a time-honored Michigan pastime. Help us maintain and upgrade boating access sites and harbors by making a donation to support Michigan boating today.

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