DNR News: Elk viewing, National Hunting and Fishing Day, lifetime award and more

Share or view as webpage  |  Update preferences

News Digest - Week of Sept. 19, 2022

An adult male elk walks through an autumn field.

September is a great time to get in some elk viewing.

Here are just a few of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: 

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: First-light fishing

A wooden fishing pier in the misty dawn on a quiet lake.

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Mike Sonnenberg at Mitchell State Park in Wexford County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the photo ambassador program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

Hear the bugle call of elk viewing this month

Adult male elk bugling surrounded by fall colors

Michigan is host to plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities, but one species stands tall: The elk. Fall is the best time to catch a glimpse of one of Michigan's most sought-after viewing experiences.

Elk are massive animals that dwell within the rolling hills and hardwoods of northeast Michigan. Despite weighing between 400 and 900 pounds and standing 5 feet tall at the shoulder, they can be quite elusive throughout much of the year. However, during the fall breeding season, elk are more active while competing for mates. Elk congregate in open fields and bugle loudly this time of year, making for the perfect opportunity to view (and hear!) the wild herd.

The herd can be found only in areas throughout Otsego, Montmorency, Presque Isle and Cheboygan counties. For good locations to spot these stunning animals, there are 13 viewing areas accessible by road throughout the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord. Road conditions are variable depending on the weather.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that elk gather in forest openings at dawn and dusk to feed and socialize. It is best to arrive just before sunrise or sunset and make sure to listen carefully for males’ bugling. Bring your binoculars, spotting scope or camera for close-up viewing while remaining a safe distance away.

Visit the DNR wildlife viewing page to learn more about this unique Michigan tradition and where to do it.

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

Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day

A digital graphic that reads: "Sept. 24, 2022 National Hunting and Fishing Day "

Established in 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates and recognizes hunters and anglers for their immense contributions to fish and wildlife conservation and to society.

That year, Congress resolved, “That the President of the United States declare the fourth Saturday of September 1972 as ‘National Hunting and Fishing Day’ to provide that deserved national recognition, to recognize the esthetic, health and recreational virtues of hunting and fishing, to dramatize the continued need for gun and boat safety and to rededicate ourselves to the conservation and respectful use of our wildlife and natural resources.”

Michigan provides a unique opportunity for the 650,000 hunters and 1.2 million anglers who annually enjoy an abundance of land and more than 11,000 inland lakes, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 3,300 miles of Great Lakes shoreline. 

“If you grew up in Michigan, chances are you love to hunt and fish or you know someone who does,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “These traditions are a big part of what it means to be from Michigan, and I want to thank every hunter and angler for their commitment to conservation, healthy fish and wildlife habitat and quality outdoor recreation experiences.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Sept. 24 as Hunting and Fishing Day in Michigan to recognize the importance of these outdoor pursuits and to bring awareness to conservation efforts driven by hunters and anglers. 

Hunting and fishing benefit Michigan’s economy by annually generating $11.2 billion, and this spending supports more than 171,000 jobs in Michigan.  

This Saturday, head out for a day of fun in the field or on the water. Just make sure you have a 2022 hunting or fishing license with you when you go. Licenses can be purchased at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or via our new DNR Hunt Fish app, putting licenses, permits, regulations and more right in the palm of your hand.

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter, avid angler or beginner, review safety tips at Michigan.gov/DNR under the Education and Safety tab in addition to reviewing rules and regulations at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.  

Former DNR director, Dr. Howard Tanner, honored for lifetime of conservation work

Dr. Tanner, an elderly man with pale skin and large glasses, smiles directly at the camera.

Some people talk about the importance of taking care of the natural world around us; others put that belief into action that yields tangible change and positively influences everyone around them. Dr. Howard Tanner – former director of the DNR and longtime fisheries champion and educator – is one such person.

Earlier this month, he was honored by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission with the Thomas L. Washington Lifetime Conservation Award. Although Dr. Tanner was unable to travel to the September NRC meeting to accept the award, commission chair Tom Baird was honored to present it during a private birthday celebration at Dr. Tanner’s home, with many friends and family there to make the recognition especially meaningful.

With seven decades of leadership in fisheries management and a career built on mentorship and dedication to Michigan’s natural resources, Dr. Tanner’s career includes:

  • Time at Michigan State University as director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, inspiring and training many young students to follow their passions in managing fish and wildlife around the world.
  • A tenure at the DNR as Fisheries Division chief and (from January 1975 to June 1983) as department director. His years at the DNR led to multiple high-profile clean-ups of contaminated sites; acquisition and development of unique public lands and waters; and such transformation of state fisheries that he earned the reputation of “father” of the Great Lakes recreational fisheries.

The award is named for Thomas L. Washington, past director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs and a giant in Michigan conservation. During his life, Washington helped build coalitions of conservationists and environmentalists to achieve landmark initiatives that benefit Michigan residents to this day.

For more on Dr. Tanner’s nomination and award, contact NRC chair Tom Baird at 517-290-6647.

Hitting the trails? Stop invasive species in your tracks

A small child points confidently at a trail map while an adult with medium-length gray hair and a younger child pay attention expectantly.

If you’re heading outdoors during Michigan Trails Week (Sept. 18-25) – or any time of year – remember that when it comes to stopping the spread of invasive species, a little bit of prevention can go a long way and help avert serious damage.

The three simple steps of “Play, Clean, Go” can help protect our beautiful, natural spaces from the threat of invasive species. Every good decision you make now will help Michigan’s forests and natural areas thrive for the future. 

  • PLAY: Hike, ride, run – have fun in the outdoors.
  • CLEAN: Before you leave the trail, shake it out, brush it off, wipe it down or whatever it takes to remove dirt and debris from your shoes, gear and vehicles.
  • GO: Head out on your next adventure, invasive species-free!

Whether your trail plans include off-roading, hiking biking or horseback riding, first stop by the PlayCleanGo.org/Take-Action webpage for more tips tailored to your favorite outdoor adventures.

Questions? Contact Joanne Foreman at 517-284-5814.


There's still plenty of time to enjoy Michigan's thousands of miles of water trails. Check out our paddling page for places to go, safety info, closures,  and more.


Cold weather is on the way, and with it a whole new season of camping. Make sure you're prepared for your trip, and remember your Recreation Passport!


As we head into peak hunting season, give back with Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, a great way for hunters to share their harvest with those who need it.

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!