Some Native American tribes in Michigan battle fish farming proposal

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING — A proposal to farm fish in Michigan’s Great Lakes may violate the rights of some Native American tribes in the state, according to representatives from several of Michigan’s five Native American tribes.

This new method, called net pen aquaculture, raises fish in enclosed areas within the Great Lakes. Separate bills promoting and banning commercial net pen aquaculture were recently debated in the House committees on natural resources and agriculture,

Opponents of commercial net pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes say the method threatens the lakes’ water quality and fish by creating new opportunities for the spread of disease and invasive species.
Continue reading

Gun sales booming as regulations increase

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING – Statewide some retailers see a substantial spike in sales of guns and ammo resulting from recent executive orders handed down by the Obama Administration.

The orders primarily affect online gun sellers and people conducting sales at gun shows, further regulating these sales and attempting to limit firearms sold without a background check of the purchaser, according to a White House press release.

“We have seen an uptick in gun sales, we are running into shortages at the distributor level for product,” said Brian Harrison, manager of Leitz Sports Center in Sault Ste. Marie. “Typically we wouldn’t be as busy this time of year as we are. It seems like anytime Washington starts talking about gun control, sales go up.”

The sales increase may be a positive for gun sellers, but is not without its drawbacks.
Continue reading

Round goby a good news-bad news lakes addition

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The round goby is one of the nastiest aliens in the Great Lakes — with what the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) calls its “voracious appetite and an aggressive nature which allows them to dominate over native species.”

But smallmouth bass find them yummy chow, and that’s also good news for crayfish that used to top the smallmouth bass menu.

detroitriverfront

Round Goby. Credit: Michigan Sea Grant


“Changes in growth seem to be occurring to the greatest extent with the youngest bass,” said Derek Crane, a fisheries biologist who works with Lake Superior State University’s Aquatic Research Laboratory. Female growth increased more than male growth.
Continue reading

Trust fund awards $28 million for public lands projects

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Services

LANSING— The Natural Resources Trust Fund will award nearly $28 million for public lands projects, including funds for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Parks and Recreation divisions.

Jon Mayes, DNR recreation grants unit manager, said the fund received 149 applications this year asking for $50 million, and 70 of the projects received grants. The fund’s board decided which of them would be most valuable to the public and state.

Among the winners are Bear Lake Township in Manistee County, which will receive a $82,500 grant for a kayak/canoe launch project. It will develop 114 feet of frontage on Bear Lake for a launch facility, according to township Supervisor Vern Best.
Continue reading

Wildlife researchers unsure about drones

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Perhaps drones could track feral swine to help oust the invasive critter from Michigan.

But local researchers hesitate to employ the technology for wildlife management.

“There’s a lot of potential for uneasiness,” said Stephen Beyer, who manages wildlife research for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

He cited public fears of surveillance and intrusion on privacy.

“We’re a state agency,” Beyer said. “There’s natural suspicion there.”
Brian Haroldson, a wildlife research biologist at the Minnesota DNR who used helicopters to count deer, also expressed concern
Continue reading

Beware the new invaders – New Zealand mud snails

By SIERRA RESOVSKY
Capital News Service

LANSING – New Zealand mud snails were found in the Pere Marquette River and are invading the Great Lakes region, according to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Now outdoor groups are taking steps to prevent their spread to other bodies of water across the state.

The agencies announced in September that the invasive New Zealand mud snails
had been found near Baldwin in Lake County.

detroitriverfront

Source: NOAA


Measuring only 1/8 of an inch long, it’s easier for them than for larger native snails to “hitchhike” on waders and fishing gear, the departments said. And although they live in streams primarily in the western United States, they’re now on the move.
Continue reading

Collared feral hogs turn traitor to their herds

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan’s feral swine problem just got a biblical solution.

Over the past year, a number of feral swine have been collared with radio trackers and released back into the wild for research, said Dwayne Etter, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife specialist spearheading the eradication efforts.

But in winter 2016 these swine will unknowingly lead armed parties to their herd’s position, earning them the title of “Judas hogs,” Etter said.

detroitriverfront

U.S. Department of Agriculture


While the hogs won’t earn 30 pieces of silver, they will be left alive for research until the following spring, he said.
Continue reading

State partners with U.S. government on forest management

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service

LANSING– Michigan has signed an agreement with the U.S Forest Service to boost collaborative management of Michigan’s forest lands.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the Good Neighbor Authority master agreement is “a broad pact allowing the state to supplement the work being done by the Forest Service staff on the national forests.”

The agreement would involve the three national forests in Michigan: Hiawatha, Ottawa and Huron-Manistee.
Continue reading

Grants boost hunter access in northern Lower Peninsula

By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service

LANSING — In portions of the northern Lower Peninsula next year, farmers in need of relief from hungry deer and hunters in search of turf might mutually benefit from an expanded state land-access initiative.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initiative, called the Hunting Access Program, would open more private land to hunters in the northern Lower Peninsula with a new federal grant of nearly $1 million.

detroitriverfront

Counties: Mason, Lake, Manistee, Wexford, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, Charlevoix, Otsego, Emmet, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Montmorency, Alpena, Oscoda, Alcona, Ogemaw and Iosco.
Map courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources


Among the counties included are Alcona, Montmorency, Emmet, Cheboygan, Antrim, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Manistee, Mason, Lake and Wexford.
Continue reading

Land cap not a problem for DNR

By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports no negative outcomes from the initial cap on its land ownership of 4.626 million acres statewide, which was implemented by state law in 2012.

While some feared that the initial land caps would hurt the DNR’s ability to maintain its lands and achieve its environmental goals, Sen. Tom Casperson, an Escanaba Republican, said that the caps were never meant to harass or limit the department, but simply give it guidelines.

detroitriverfront

“It has been irrelevant because we had put some grace that allowed the department to keep buying. The intent was to not cut them off but set up a parameter,” said Casperson. “Right now, there’s 20,000 acres still left and the cap hasn’t held anything up — it’s just more that it’s there.“
Continue reading