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MDNR Report

Just in time for fall hunting and fishing – hunters, anglers and boaters have a new option to earn the required recreational safety certificate before hitting the woods or water.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources now offers hunter education and boater safety as interactive online courses, giving students an enhanced experience that exposes them to real-life hunting and boating scenarios.

“We’re excited to offer students this new learning opportunity,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor. “Both the interactive hunting and boating programs are offered in other states and have received ‘five star’ reviews.”

The interactive learning options are offered in addition to the existing traditional classroom and online learning options for both hunter and boater safety; hunter safety continues to be available as a take-home study course, too.

While virtually navigating a vessel, students may approach a sailboat and must determine the best way to manage the encounter. Or, while learning the different parts of a firearm, they will be asked to click the circle that points to the safety.

“The difference between the online interactive and online courses is that the interactive courses include virtual elements that engage students to make their own critical decisions throughout the lesson,” Wanless said. “It’s a more hands-on learning approach compared to the traditional online courses.”

Interactive hunter safety

Featuring 45 interactive assessments, the ilearntohunt content is reviewed and approved by the International Hunter Education Association U.S.A. Students actively participate from the comfort of their own learning setting. Once they successfully navigate their personalized hunting experience, students will need to attend the required in-person field day to receive their hunter safety certificate.

Field days are in-person, one-day sessions in which students must demonstrate a variety of skills, such as safe firearm handling and shooting.

MDNR Report

Invasiv Bighead Carp

Routine environmental DNA (eDNA) surveillance for invasive bighead and silver carp, conducted annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, turned up a single positive sample in the St. Joseph River near the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area, according to data provided to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on Aug. 28.

Of 220 water samples collected in June 2023 from stretches of the river between Lake Michigan and Berrien Springs, only one, taken near Marina Island, showed evidence of genetic material from silver carp.

“A positive eDNA sample does not necessarily indicate the presence of live fish,” said Seth Herbst, DNR Fisheries Research Program manager. “It is possible for genetic material to be introduced from other sources, such as boats or fishing equipment used in another state where invasive carp are present, then transported and used in Michigan waters.”

The Marina Island area is home to multiple marinas and a city boat launch with high recreational use by locals and visitors accessing the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan. The positive detection occurred directly in front of a marina, suggesting boater traffic may have contributed to the detection.

By Louie Stout

Scott Solomon with big sturgeon

Scott Solomon not only won the junk fish pot in a tournament on St. Clair, but he blew it away.

Solomon was fishing a 2.75-inch tube on a 3/8-ounce jighead when a giant sturgeon clamped on during the Dearborn Firefighters fundraiser tournament.

And he landed the 60-inch, 75-pound monster that fish biologists estimate to be more than 25 years old.

It took him 30 minutes and he had the fish to the boat five times before he, Chad and George Lovell finally wrestled it into the boat.

And yes, it was hooked in the mouth. He caught the fish on 40-pound PowerPro braid and an American Angler spinning rod and Team Lew’s spinning reel.

“That reel took a pounding,” said Solomon, who lives in Edwardsburg, Mich. “We released the fish and provided the photo as proof to the tournament officials.”

The team finished fifth overall in the tournament.

MDNR Report

Fishing line recycling tube

Thanks to the kindness of thousands of campers and boaters who gave an additional $2 when making their camping or boating reservation, the DNR is rolling out fishing line recycling tubes this summer and fall (with many in southern Michigan already in place).

With the help of Michigan Cares for Tourism volunteers who are building the tubes, the DNR is working to place them at every harbor, boating access site and fishing pier throughout the state's parks and recreation system. These recycling tubes will help protect aquatic wildlife from the dangers of eating or getting tangled in fishing line and other fishing tackle. It also helps protect boat propellers. Find other new sustainable boating efforts and BoatUS Foundation's video on why to recycle fish line.

MDNR Report

Fall turkey hunting license applications for the 2023 season are available now through Aug. 1.

You can buy an application for $5 online at eLicense, anywhere DNR licenses are sold, or through the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app. When applying, enter your email or phone number to be automatically alerted of drawing results Aug. 14.