Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that the southern regions of the state remain unchanged, as there is no safe ice on the inland lakes and the rivers continue to run high. There is ice farther north; however, anglers should use caution on the large, deep lakes, which take longer to freeze. It is a repeat of the story for the southwest Lower Peninsula from last week; no safe ice, especially in the southern sections. The DNR has found it very hard to get fishing updates due to lack of angler participation. In Van Buren County fishing was very slow and ice conditions continue to be unsafe. In Berrien County the river conditions have made fishing difficult. A few coho were caught on the Galien River in New Buffalo and off the piers at St. Joseph. Ice conditions on the inland waters were poor. Kalamazoo River anglers were starting to catch walleye at the Allegan Dam. And on the Grand River near Grand Rapids, anglers were catching walleye even with the high water. Most are using jigs and minnows up near the 6th Street Dam. The occasional steelhead can still be found here and in the Rogue River when using jigs and wax worms or spawn. The DNR fishing tip this week is how to target walleye when ice fishing. (If this area ever gets any ice!) While many anglers pack up their gear and head off the ice after dusk settles in, some anglers will stick it out – especially if they’ve got a lighted shelter. This can be an ideal time to target walleye and to see some angling success. Many anglers adopt a simple presentation when targeting walleye in the dark – they jig a spoon to catch the fishes’ attention and then offer them a setline with a minnow nearby. Focus on baits that glow to appeal to the walleye’s senses, and keep the minnows small to accommodate their slower appetites. If you want even more tips for targeting walleye, visit the walleye page on the DNR website. As temperatures fluctuate, the DNR urges ice safety. With temperatures warming throughout much of the state, the DNR reminds the public that no ice is considered safe ice and there is no reliable inch-thickness test to determine if ice is safe. “Two snowmobilers went through the ice of Big Manistique Lake on January 16,” said Sgt. Jerry Fitzgibbon, the DNR’s acting district law supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula. “Luckily, they were not harmed.” Big Manistique Lake is in the Upper Peninsula in both Luce and Mackinac counties. Officers encourage anyone who plans to go onto or nearby the ice to use extreme caution, wear a life jacket and know what to do if they break through the ice. Go to Michigan.gov/DNREducation to get more outdoor recreation safety tips. Hunting The Michigan DNR will be moving to a new, more technologically advanced system for selling hunting and fishing licenses, hunting applications, and ORV and snowmobile permits online and at retail agent locations statewide. The present system will be down starting February 15 and customers are encouraged to buy licenses and permits early. The transition to the new license sales system will take place Saturday, February 15 through noon Tuesday, February 18. DNR licenses, permits and applications will not be sold in stores or online during that time. Anglers will not need a license to fish February 15-17, as no fishing license is required during the annual winter Free Fishing Weekend, February 15 and 16, and the DNR also is allowing free fishing on Monday, February 17 to coincide with the time the license system is unavailable. All rules and regulations still apply. Features of the new license sales system include a barcode scanner wand at retailer locations, which will allow license agents to speed up the sales process by quickly scanning customer driver’s licenses – including nonresidents – rather than typing in customer information. There will be a more streamlined buying and selling process both online and in stores – for example, customers will only have the option to buy licenses for which they are eligible, meaning they shouldn’t be able to accidentally buy the wrong license and pay the wrong amount. Online customers will have the opportunity to create a profile, access their order history, reprint previous purchases, non-kill tag items and set up voluntary auto-renewal of fishing licenses. You can find both the current and future DNR online license sales system at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. Landowners can help reduce risk of CWD spread with disease control permits. Landowners in specific townships in the Lower Peninsula chronic wasting disease management zone can apply for disease control permits to help manage deer populations on their properties. Disease control permits are valid for use outside the deer hunting seasons and are free of charge. They are available in select townships in Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ionia, Ingham, Isabella, Jackson, Kent and Montcalm counties. As part of the disease control permit process, any deer taken must be submitted for CWD testing. After deer head(s) are properly tagged, labeled deer heads should be delivered to a local self-serve drop box or field office. Landowners interested in applying for the permits may contact Sarah Carlson at 269-685-6853.
Birds have a diverse diet including plants, fruits, nectar, insects, animals and carrion (dead stuff). So how does a bird decide what to eat? They use sight and hearing to locate foods they grew up eating, but they must then discern which foods to actually consume. So, they taste them. Birds don’t have many taste buds. Most of their tongue surface is dedicated to structures that allow them to procure their food. Taste buds are located in the salivary glands, at the far back of the tongue and the throat. Until recently, scientists thought the low number of taste receptors meant birds had a poor sense of taste. Recent research has changed that thinking. The few taste buds that are present work magnificently, but differently for each species. Fruit- and nectar-eating birds have sweet-responsive buds. Birds that eat insects, which release poisonous defensive secretions, are sensitive to the resultant bitter tastes. On Saturday, Feb. 8 Sarett is putting on an Owl Prowl program to learn about the owls in southwest Michigan. Please call 269-927-4832 to register. Members & children/ FREE; Non-members/ $5 (includes entrance fee). Join the center on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2:00 p.m. for a program on tortoises & ravens! Sarett welcomes conservation ecologist Craig Sherwood to share how people are using modern technology and improved understanding of animal behavior to save endangered species.