Court tosses elk farm’s damages suit against state

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – The owner of an elk breeding facility that was shut down during a year-long chronic wasting disease – CWD – quarantine waited too long to sue the state for damages, the Court of Appeals has ruled.

Ranch Rheaume LLC in Memphis, St. Clair County, also failed to follow the proper procedures to pursue its claim against the state, the court said.

The dispute is rooted in the August 2008 discovery of CWD in one whitetail at a deer-breeding facility in Kent County. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it was the first such incident in Michigan.
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New fishing, hunting fees boost DNR resources

By MOLLIE LISKIEWICZ

Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan got more boots on the ground, waders in the water and eyes in the field thanks to an extra $8 million earned from restructuring sales of hunting and fishing licenses.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) did away with restricted species fishing licenses and instead began offering all-species licenses for $26 last March. A change was also made to hunting licenses, requiring the purchase of an $11 base license for small game before additional licenses for other species can be purchased.

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A smallmouth bass caught by Michigan State University fisheries and wildlife students in the Red Cedar River. Credit: Aaron Aguirre.

In just eight months, an additional $8 million was produced through the restructured license sales, said Ed Golder, the agency’s public information officer. The license revenue pays for many DNR efforts to manage natural resources.
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DNR director’s mine decision will affect many stakeholders

By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service

LANSING — A wide range of interests are on the line when Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh decides in February whether to grant land rights for a proposed limestone mine in the Upper Peninsula.

Bill O’Neil, chief of the Forest Resources Division for the DNR, says the agency must ensure the state will benefit from selling land rights to Canadian company Graymont Inc., while preventing environmental risks, considering economic benefits and listening to the opinions of local citizens.

DNR officials have raised numerous concerns since receiving the company’s first land transaction application in 2013. Several officials have recommended that Creagh deny the proposal.
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One invasive species may have found a niche

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service

LANSING – Can invasive species be good news – rather than bad – for native fish in the Great Lakes?

That sounds counterintuitive, but a new study shows that the invasive round goby has become an important food source for several native species, especially smallmouth bass, but with benefits also for yellow perch and walleye.

roundgobyphoto

Credit: Michigan Sea Grant.

Even so, there are still unknowns, including whether the round goby transports contaminants up through the food chain, said Derek Crane, the lead author and a research associate at Lake Superior State University.

The study calls the round goby “one of the most successful aquatic invaders” in the Great Lakes.
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Computer can predict which way smoke goes

By NYLA HUGHES

Capital News Service

LASNING — A team of researchers has developed a way to predict which way smoke will drift away from low-intensity forest fires.

Researchers at Michigan State University and the U.S Forest Service developed the system to help fire managers control prescribed fires. These fires are used to manage vegetation and fuel, said Warren Heilman, a research meteorologist for the Forest Service based in East Lansing.

“If there is a lot of flammable vegetation on the ground, the surface can catch on fire from lightning,” said Heilman.
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More trees, bushes planted to improve hunting grounds

By IAN K. KULLGREN
Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is moving forward with plans to provide incentives to private landowners and launch other initiatives to restore hunting habitats.

The programs, funded by recent increases to hunting and fishing license fees, are intended to rejuvenate land for hunting while maintaining a healthy game population.

In the Upper Peninsula and Alpena area, for example, DNR officials are working with landowners to plant trees and small brush to lure deer to popular hunting areas, part of an effort to “create world-class hunting opportunities” in the state, according to the department.
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State officials launch tourism initiative to promote trail network

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — Information for all Michigan trails – including those on the water – would soon be available at the click of a button under legislation recently introduced by lawmakers.

That kind of accessibility is part of the Department of Natural Resource’s  plan to attract tourists to Michigan’s trails by improving them and making them easier to find.

Lawmakers recently introduced a package of five bills that would label all state trails as Pure Michigan trails, use “trail towns” to connect trails between communities and make trail information available both on a computer and through an app.

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Ongoing walleye studies help DNR

By EDITH ZHOU

Capital News Service

LANSING – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in its final sampling year of a tag-and-recapture study of the walleye population in the inland waterways of Northern Michigan.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s part of ongoing research about the popular species by the Fisheries Division.

“The studies have provided data on the exploitation rate of the population, walleye growth rates and the movements between waters,” said Edward Baker, manager of the Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

Many of the state’s Great Lakes waters are world-famous for walleye.
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Commercial fishing decline hits economies, communities

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING – As the number of active state-licensed commercial fishing operations dwindles on the Great Lakes, their downward spiral signals a change in culture as well as economics and environment, according to Laurie Sommers, a folklorist and historic preservation consultant.

“A few commercial fishermen still make a good living, but Great Lakes ecosystems are in crisis,” said Sommers, the author of a new book about the Leelanau Peninsula area known as Fishtown.

“The fish are disappearing, and with them the commercial fishermen,” she wrote in “Fishtown: Leland, Michigan’s Historic Fishery” (Arbutus Press, $19.95). Lake Michigan, for example, has only seven state-licensed operations left. Among the reasons: “Biologists point to a combination of factors affecting the fish population: habitat, infectious diseases, pollution, global warming and changes in the food web due to invasive species.”
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Turkeys relocated to rebuild Northern Michigan flocks

By Nick Vanderwall

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has moved 31 turkeys from Barry County north to repopulate the flock in Lake County.

wildturkey1

Source: U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife

“We’ve seen a decline in the gobblers in northern Michigan for a number of years, so when I heard about the nuisance birds in southern Michigan, the wheels started to turn in my head,” said Jim Maturen, a member of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association based in Chase.

Turkeys become a nuisance when they move into a city as they have been known to do. In Barry County, the birds were scratching and eating silage and leaving their own bit of feces behind.
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