CORRECTION - DNR News: Cicada killer wasps, bald eagles, CCC celebration, Porkies backpacking

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News Digest - Week of July 10, 2023

A smiling man and little girl sit on the wet, sandy beach, watching a toddler in sunhat and life vest walk in the low, blue-green waves

Enjoy the Great Lakes, but always respect their power! More at

In Monday's DNR News Digest, the story on bald eagles incorrectly identified Erin Rowan Ford as Erin Roward Ford. The corrected version is included below. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of many of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Solo stroll on the Sunrise Side

a man in shadow walks the sandy beach toward a huge, flat lake, as golden sun breaks through just above low-set clouds

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Karen Allmond at Port Crescent State Park in Huron County? Visit to explore photos and learn about the photo ambassadors program! Questions? Contact Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

Cicada killer wasps are nothing to fear

a wasp with a black and gold body, black legs and antennae, and pale orange, translucent wings on a bed of pale, dry grass and brush

The soundtrack of the hot, hazy days of late summer – times of lazy summer vacations and cookouts with friends and family – for many Michiganders sounds like the drone of a cicada. But for one animal, the sound of a cicada means something very different: survival.

As cicadas emerge from the ground to call in the trees, another insect comes out as well – the cicada killer wasp. Measuring over an inch in length, these wasps are built to capture and subdue large adult cicadas. Only female wasps have stingers, which they use to inject venom into their prey and carry it back to their burrow.

Cicada killer wasps are solitary, and female wasps use their short time as adults to dig burrows where they stash the cicadas they catch and lay their eggs. While male wasps may be territorial or act aggressively, they lack a stinger and pose no danger to people; females sting only in self-defense. Just like the cicadas, cicada killer wasps die as summer wanes.

“You may see these wasps while you’re outside this year and immediately think of the stories of giant murder hornets invading North America,” said DNR game biologist Karen Cleveland. “Don’t worry. This secretive native insect has been here all along, and can be found silencing cicadas across the entire eastern U.S.”

Cleveland said that if you’re a good neighbor and respect the wasps’ space, they’ll be with us for a long time to come.

See more information about cicada killer wasps from Michigan State University Extension.

Bald eagles: From brink of extinction to robust recovery

a bald eagle, with brown wings fully extended and a white head and tail, flies against a brilliant blue sky

While enjoying the great outdoors this summer, keep your eyes to the skies for bald eagles – our national emblem. These very large raptors can be found fishing and scavenging along Michigan’s lakes and rivers.

Despite their name, bald eagles are not actually bald. Adults have white heads and tails that contrast with their dark brown bodies. Juveniles, which will be leaving their nests this month, have dark brown bodies, heads and tails, with brown and white mottling.

Bald eagles have become a popular sight across Michigan and are expanding in southern Michigan as they adapt to nesting in more open and urban landscapes. Recent statewide surveys found approximately 900 breeding pairs in the state. This compares to only 359 breeding pairs in 2000 and 83 in 1980. And 60 years ago, you would not have been able to see bald eagles across much of Michigan or the United States. In 1963, the U.S. bald eagle population had reached an all-time low of 417 nesting pairs across the lower 48 states, and the bird was an endangered species.

a bald eagle, with white head and tail and brown body, perches in a leafless, brown-barked tree against a pale sky

Their populations declined due to loss of nesting habitat, persecution by humans and a pesticide called DDT, which caused reproductive problems that accelerated population declines in the 1950s and 1960s. Michigan led the way in bald eagle conservation and was the first state to ban DDT in 1969, three years before it was banned nationally. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 additionally increased protections and funding to support the recovery of endangered species like the bald eagle.

Erin Rowan Ford, conservation manager for Michigan with Audubon Great Lakes, works in partnership with the DNR on MI Birds. She said that after near-extinction in the mid-20th century, there now are more than 300,000 bald eagles in the wild across the country.

“The species’ recovery is a success story, one that speaks to the groundbreaking work of conservationists and researchers, which led to policies that continue to protect wildlife today,” she said.

Bald eagles are no longer on the endangered or threatened species list, but are still federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

"You can help bald eagles succeed in Michigan by keeping a safe distance from nests and avoiding certain activities that could disturb them," said Chris Mensing, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist based out of Lansing, Michigan. "When outdoors, take a moment to clean up trash, safely dispose of old fishing line and lures, and avoid using lead shot and lead tackle."

Questions? Contact Nicole Minadeo, Audubon Great Lakes communications director, at 419-308-4846.

Firefighters, history, music and more at Aug. 5 Tree Party

a group of men, women and children dressed summer attire stand on paved road, looking up at a tall, wooden fire tower in the forest

Mark the 90th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps and dive into Michigan history at a Tree Party, hosted Aug. 5 at the historic Higgins Lake Nursery and CCC Museum.

Hear live music by Bill Jamerson 11 a.m.-noon, meet historic reenactors, get up close to DNR fire equipment, enjoy refreshing local root beer (while supplies last) and take a guided tour of Michigan’s first tree nursery and the CCC Museum. 

The Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal, Great Depression-era program of the 1930s, offered jobs to more than 100,000 young men in Michigan to help support their families during those hard times. They planted trees, fought forest fires and built state parks – a legacy that transformed Michigan’s landscape in ways that can still be seen today.

Event details

  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5.
  • Higgins Lake Nursery and CCC Museum, 11747 N. Higgins Lake Drive, Roscommon.
  • The Tree Party is free, but a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry.

Want more outdoor fun? Make it a weekend by reserving a spot at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center for a Lodge and Learn event.

Learn more about the Higgins Lake Nursery and CCC Museum and nearby North Higgins Lake State Park.

Questions? Contact Hillary Pine.

Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

a small, slender, silvery fish about 8 inches long, held in two palms-up, wet hands over dark blue-green water

Presentation of the 2022 Hunter Education Instructor of the Year Award, a discussion on the DNR inland pike/muskellunge management plan, an update from the Michigan Wildlife Council and approval of several land transactions are just some of the agenda items for the Thursday, July 13, meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. with the NRC Fisheries Committee. All sessions take place in West Campus Rooms M119-121 of Lansing Community College, 5708 Cornerstone Drive, in Lansing.

See the full draft meeting agenda and other commission details at Questions? Email

Take advantage of state's air quality resources, information

An older man in a ballcap and sweatshirt walks a big, yellow dog and a smaller black border collie, along a lush, green-forested trail

With smoke from wildfires and other factors expected to affect Michigan's air quality throughout the summer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has put together some information resources to help people better understand air quality and plan accordingly before heading outdoors.

On the DHHS Your Health and Wildfire Smoke webpage, you can:

  • Learn about the Air Quality Index.
  • Get tips on reducing health risks.
  • Sign up for air quality alerts.
  • Explore other state and federal guidance and resources.

The MDHHS Environmental Health hotline (800-648-6942) is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding holidays, for Michigan residents to ask health questions related to air quality. 

Porkies backpacking classes give true wilderness experience

a small group of men and women in hiking gear and full backpacks stand next to a tan, rocky wall overlooking a blue river and lush green forest

If you've often wondered what it would be like to hike what many call the most beautiful state park in the country, carrying everything you need, here's your chance to learn from the experts!

The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy will offer two backpacking clinics at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western Upper Peninsula – one for beginners (Aug. 30-Sept 1), and one for more experienced backpackers (Aug. 27-29). These classes, for ages 16 and older, will guide participants through exploring the rugged terrain and stunning natural beauty of the Porkies safely and responsibly during a three-day hike.

If interested in either class, you must register by July 24.

For more information on these and other clinics and classes offered by the Outdoor Skills Academy – everything from fly-fishing and bushcraft to wild mushrooms and trapping – visit


Wood Shaving Days at Hartwick Pines, an adaptive kayak clinic at Interlochen, yoga at the Outdoor Adventure Center – explore the DNR events calendar for details on these and other July adventures!


When it's time to renew your vehicle license through Secretary of State, check "YES" for the Recreation Passport; it gives you year-round vehicle access to state parks, trails and more outdoor fun.


If you're curious about how climate change affects wildlife, give a listen to one of our favorite "Wildtalk" podcast episodes featuring DNR adaptation specialist Chris Hoving.

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app