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By AARON SWITZER, Fish Production Manager, Michigan Fisheries

Michigan HatcheryMichigan Hatchery

With a 2023 state general fund budget appropriation of $30 million, six Michigan DNR fish hatcheries are being improved by updating outdated and aging infrastructure.

Several of the sites have only seen limited updates or upgrades since the late 1970s –facilities and equipment pushing 50 years old. I think about my own body at 50 and often wonder when my body parts are going to fail.

In terms of our critical hatcheries, managers don’t want to be left wondering whether today might be the day that something vital to operations gives out.
Unfortunately, this happened recently, which reduces our ability to fulfill our mission to protect and enhance Michigan’s fisheries.

In the spring and summer of 2021, the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery experienced three major power failures. The primary electrical infrastructure failed at three separate points during that time.

Also, the primary electrical distribution system was failing. This was a real wake-up call for the Fisheries Division and the DNR.

Planning had already been underway for a substantial funding request to address the needs for capital improvements at our hatcheries. These failures highlighted the critical need to invest in Michigan’s hatchery infrastructure.

MDNR Report

Though a Michigan hunter reported that he harvested a large animal in Calhoun County in January during a legal coyote hunt, subsequent genetic tests by the Michigan DNR revealed the animal to be a gray wolf.

Michigan’s known wolf population is located in the Upper Peninsula. The department continues to search for wolves in the Lower Peninsula but has found only a few signs of wolf presence in that part of Michigan since the state’s wolf population became reestablished in the 1980s.

This particular wolf was observed when a hunter, engaged in legal coyote hunting accompanied by a guide, said he encountered what was initially believed to be a large coyote. The hunter harvested the animal, which weighed 84 pounds. Eastern coyotes typically weigh between 25 pounds and 40 pounds.

A series of genetic tests on the harvested animal confirmed that it was a gray wolf, a species not sighted in that part of Michigan since the likely extirpation of wolves from the state in the early part of the 20th century. Once present throughout Michigan, wolves are now confined almost exclusively to the Upper Peninsula.

MDNR Report

Whitetail DoeWhitetail Doe

A field study is underway in Alpena County to evaluate the delivery of an oral bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccine for wild deer.

The Michigan DNR is collaborating with Michigan State University (MSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) to explore the development of a new, future tool to manage bTB, which could help to further protect wildlife, livestock and the public from this disease.

“We are very excited to explore a potential new tool that can facilitate efforts towards the long-term goal of bTB eradication in Michigan,” said Melinda Cosgrove, Laboratory Scientist Manager with the DNR.

Bovine tuberculosis is an infectious, zoonotic disease affecting both humans and animals. The disease is slow-growing and is primarily spread through respiratory secretions when infected animals expose uninfected animals by nose-to-nose contact or contaminate shared feed and water. In Michigan’s bTB area (which includes Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties), the disease is established in the deer population, and it can be transmitted between deer and cattle.

By Justin Tomei, Michigan United Conservation Clubs

On March 28, the nation’s largest statewide conservation organization filed suit against the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), challenging the three-month closure of the coyote hunting season.

At the March NRC, the commission, in a 4-2 vote, voted to close the coyote hunting season from April 16 through July 14 through the adoption of Wildlife Conservation Order #1 of 2024. Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) testified in opposition to the closure.

MUCC filed in Ingham County, arguing that the commission unlawfully closed Michigan’s coyote season, violating their responsibility and legal charge. The Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers (MTPCA) has also filed a lawsuit against the commission in Mackinac County.

The groups argue that the NRC relied on unsubstantiated claims of negative public perception and perceived potential loss of management control, said MUCC Chief Executive Officer Amy Trotter.

Starboard Choice Report

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, stop into Starboard Choice Marine for its Open House.

The dealership will be offering manufacture rebates and several incentives for buying a new boat, outboard or other boating equipment on Friday and Saturday.

“We will have our lowest prices of the year,” said Andy Peterson of Starboard Choice. “We also will have food and drinks both days.”

In addition, radio station U93 FM from South Bend will be there broadcasting live on Saturday.

Hours for the Open House are 9-5 Friday and 9-3 Saturday.