DNR News: Backyard hawks, summer fishing, firefighter honors and more

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News Digest - Week of July 12, 2021

purple and green wildflowers dot the shoreline of a marshy area, blue sky and clouds above

Slow down, look around, and take time to take in Michigan's glorious summer!

As our state works to reopen to the public, this week's stories may reflect how the Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customer needs and protect public health and safety. Follow our COVID-19 response page for updates on access to facilities and programs.  

We'll continue to share news and information about the best ways to discover and enjoy Michigan's natural and heritage resources! 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 others, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Lovely Ludington light

looking up the shoreline toward lighthouse at Ludington State Park, blue sky, deep blue waves

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Gresham Halstead at Ludington State Park in Mason 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.

Be on the lookout for backyard hawk visitors

a brown and tan Cooper's hawk perched in a leaf-filled tree, looking to its left

Summertime is the best time to see baby animals in Michigan, as young birds and mammals venture from their nest and den sites and begin to learn from their parents how to hunt and forage for food.

Young Cooper’s hawks and red-tailed hawks might visit your neighborhood this month as they explore their surroundings. Common in urban and suburban settings, these two species sometimes will stop at trees, fences and deck railings to rest after their first few flights.

“While it may be alarming to see these hawks in your yard, they mean you and your pets no harm,” said Holly Vaughn, public outreach and engagement manager in the DNR Wildlife Division.

Cooper’s hawks primarily eat other birds and sometimes squirrels and small mammals. Red-tailed hawks generally eat squirrels, rabbits and small mammals. Pets larger than 4 pounds or so are too large for these hawks to prey upon, so you likely don’t need to worry too much about them.

“If you have chickens in your yard, make sure they are protected from all sides by fencing or chicken wire,” said Vaughn. “All hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so they cannot be captured or harmed.”

The young hawks will leave their parents to find hunting territories of their own by late summer. If you do see a hawk in your yard, enjoy the sighting and watch the antics of these young birds as they learn their way in a whole new world.

Questions? Contact Holly Vaughn at 248-881-9429.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Okemos

hands holding a brown trout on display under water

Updates on spring fish production, cormorant control opportunities and the state land review process, as well as several land transactions, are just some of the agenda items for the next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, scheduled for Thursday, July 15.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Okemos Conference Center, Comfort Inn Okemos-East Lansing, 2187 University Park Drive, in Okemos. This is the commission's first fully in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the meeting's full draft agenda at Michigan.gov/NRC. For more information or to request time to speak at the meeting, contact Victoria Lischalk at 517-599-1067 or NRC@Michigan.gov.

DNR firefighters honored for Colfax Fire efforts

an aerial view of billowing smoke obscuring the roads and landscape during the Colfax Fire in Wexford County

DNR firefighters and fire support staff have been honored with a special tribute “for outstanding service to the community” from the office of state Rep. Michele Hoitenga and the office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for their work in protecting the public and property from the Colfax Fire in late May.

The wildfire burned 378 acres across Wexford County in the northern Lower Peninsula. As a result of the combined fire suppression efforts of the the DNR and partner agencies – both on the ground and in the air – 151 structures (86 residences and 65 outbuildings) were protected from the fire.

The special tribute read, in part, that that the firefighters and fire staff from the DNR and the Cadillac area are "... deserving of grateful recognition of ... outstanding service to the entire community for containing the Colfax Wildfire. On this occasion, it is most appropriate to offer this expression of the value we all place on the work that this department has taken on and handled so well in seeking to protect the lives and property of others."

Learn more about the tribute, the DNR fire program and wildfire prevent at Michigan.gov/FireManagement or contact Rachel Coale at 517-930-1283.

Summer fishing forecast: Panfish, muskie, pike and more

Smiling woman, long blonde hair, baseball cap, helps a young girl hold up the fish she just caught, on a boat in river

Fishing and Michigan are an unbeatable summer combo. If you’re looking for suggestions on where to go, check out our summer fishing forecast videos capturing quick highlights from DNR fisheries biologists throughout the state.

Jon Buskiewicz, reporting from Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Oakland County, said the region offers plenty of inland and Great Lakes fishing opportunities. Anglers can expect to find largemouth bass, crappie, northern pike and many more species.

If southwest Michigan is your ideal destination, Addie Dutton, from the DNR’s southern Lake Michigan management unit, has a few tips. Her work focuses on lakes and streams that eventually drain into Lake Michigan, and she said this part of the state has fish-rich areas where anglers can wade and throw lures, lakes with large muskellunge, and rivers – like the St. Joe – hosting summer-run steelhead.

George Madison works in the western Lake Superior management unit and said this area of the state is prime for panfish, bass and bluegill, not to mention hundreds of miles of brook trout streams. Reporting from Silver River Falls, Madison also said that western Upper Peninsula waters cater to different types of fishing, including from shore.

If these videos inspire a fishing trip, first make sure you have a current 2021 fishing license or pick one up at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. Visit Michigan.gov/Fishing to get information about destinations, gear, tips for success and more. Good luck!

For more information, contact Sierra Medrano at 517-230-8788.


Is there a favorite, giant tree you love to visit? Measure its girth (all the way around the trunk), enter it in ReLeaf Michigan’s Big Tree Hunt and help track these living landmarks!


DNR centennial gear, state park T-shirts, outdoor gear rentals and more – when you buy from These Goods are Good for Michigan, you support parks, trails and waterways.


If you enjoy hunting, boating, snowmobiling or off-roading and want to help the next generation have fun and stay safe, sign up as a volunteer recreational safety instructor.