Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports ice fishing continues around the state, but anglers should still exercise caution especially with the much warmer weather we had over the weekend. Anglers should also be aware that the strong winds we had which can shift the ice and cause pressure cracks. In the Southwest Lower Peninsula, the inland lakes were fishable, however use caution near any inlets or outlets in the lakes. Crappie and bluegill could be found in eight to 15 feet of water and many were suspended just a few feet below the ice. Bluegill could also be found in the deepest portion of the lakes. Local rivers are producing some nice steelhead. Grand River by Grand Rapids was still running a bit high but anglers were taking some nice steelhead below the 6th Street Dam. Most anglers were using spawn. Thornapple Lake in Barry County had fair to good crappie fishing. The 2019 lake trout regulations to change in Grand Traverse Bay, public meeting will be held on March 6 in Traverse City to discuss options. The March 6 meeting is open to everyone. Those unable to attend are encouraged to contact Scott Heintzelman, 231-775-9727 or Heather Hettinger, 231-922-6056 with questions or suggestions. Because the 2018 harvest limit for lake trout in Grand Traverse Bay was exceeded, the DNR is looking at some regulation changes for 2019. Before any changes are proposed to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, which has the authority for establishing most regulations, the DNR is inviting the public to learn about options during a meeting on Wednesday, March 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the DNR Customer Service Center in Traverse City, 2122 South M-37.
Hunting The 2018 elk hunting season stats are in and the 2019 winter elk survey just wrapped up, providing a clear picture of where Michigan’s elk population currently stands. Hunt period 1, which targets elk outside of their traditional range, was 12 days long. From August 28-31, September 14-17 and September 28-October 1; 99 state hunters harvested 68 elk (28 bulls and 40 antlerless elk). In addition all three Pure Michigan Hunt winners were successful during the first hunt period. During hunt period 2, December 15-23, another 100 state hunters harvested 78 elk, (30 bulls and 48 antlerless elk). All locations in the northern tip of the state are open to hunting for this later hunt. In order for regulated hunting to assist in managing elk, the population must first be evaluated. An aerial survey occurs in January, with a DNR airplane flying predetermined routes, or transects, to locate elk. Once elk are found, the plane circles, and observers count how many are present and determine the number of males and females in the group. The 2019 survey indicates there are between 930 and 1,462 elk in Michigan. Additional information about elk and elk hunting in Michigan can be found at www.michigan.gov/elk. The DNR citizen-based northern Lower Peninsula wolf survey, to detect the presence of gray wolves in this region, will take place February 19 through March 15. Wolves began naturally returning to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula through Canada and Wisconsin in the early 1990s. Since that time, the population has increased and now occupies suitable habitat throughout the U.P. The first observation of a gray wolf in the northern Lower Peninsula was in 2004, when a wolf was accidently killed in Presque Isle County. In 2014, the presence of a gray wolf was identified through genetic analysis of a scat sample collected in Emmet County. The DNA would like to gather further information to determine wolf presence in the northern Lower Peninsula. If you see a wolf or wolf sign between February 19 and March 15, please call the DNR Atlanta Field Office at 989-785-4251, ext. 5233 or report sightings online through Eyes in the Field, found at www.michigan.gov/eyesinthefield. It’s important that observations are reported in a timely manner so the DNR can work with fresh sign. They would also be very interested in any recent pictures of a wolf in the northern Lower Peninsula. The DNR will be offering a March 23 Steelhead Fishing Clinic at the Outdoor Skills Academy of the Carl T. Johnson Center. Ed Shaw interpreter and originator of the Academy said, “Our classes offer more than just a brief taste of outdoor activities – we spend a full day or more teaching the needed skills to get out and try those activities. We provide gear, hands-on experience and expert instructors.” If you have questions, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.
Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod and Gun Club is offering classes for a Hunter Safety Course including archery with Tom Fogarty. This DNR recognized and approved instructional course will be offered March 2 and March 9, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call Tom Fogarty at 269-325-2019. For more information on CPL classes or Hunter Safety course, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.colomarodandgunclub.com. Coloma Rod and Gun Club is located at 6145 Angling Road in Coloma.
Young Explorers 4-H Cat Show in Paw Paw The Young Explorers 4-H Club is pleased to announce that it will be holding an indoor Cat Animal Show on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the Van Buren County Building, 801 Hazen Street, Paw Paw. The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. and include categories for breed class, showmanship, cage decoration, cat entrepreneur project, and cattitude (a cat form of agility). Local cat rescues will be on-site. Adoptable cats will compete in the best ‘foster cat’ division. There is no admission charge for the public. Denise Noble, Van Buren County Cat Fair Superintendent, says, “I’m very excited about this event. We’ve invited all Southwest Michigan youth to participate in the event. If folks are interested in showing, adopting, or just like cats, it’s going to be a fun day.” For more information, contact Denise Noble at (269) 303-5407.
Most people will never observe a shrew in their life, but if you are lucky you’ll be in for a fun experience. Shrews are small mammals with dense fur, an elongate snout, and spend a lot of their time underground and under leaf litter in search of food. Sarett naturalists were lucky to spot a northern short-tailed shrew, the most commonly seen shrew in our area, while eating lunch and observing wildlife at the bird feeders. The 5-inch shrew was quickly popping out from an underground tunnel, grabbing something, and speeding backwards back into the tunnel. While the shrew repeated this every few minutes for the next half hour, the speed at which the shrew moved barely allowed you to blink. We eventually figured out it was grabbing sunflower seeds and racing back underground for presumed safety. The northern short-tailed shrew is mostly carnivorous eating insects, worms, snails, spiders, centipedes, and slugs, but other small mammals, fungi, seeds, salamanders and snakes make up the rest of its diet. Welcome early spring with a “how to” class on maple sugaring on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. at Sarett. Enjoy a talk and a stroll through the woods to learn how maple syrup is made. Learn to identify maple trees, how to tap and collect the sap and how to turn that sap into delicious amber syrup. Non-member adults are $5.