ESCANABA - Several significant wildlife projects undertaken in 2008 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Wildlife Division, with sponsorship by U.P. Whitetails Association, Inc. (UPW), have been completed.
The MDNR highlighted in a report four ventures that will benefit both wildlife and the hunters that pursue the various game species:
Four forest openings on state forest land in southwest Delta County were worked up and planted to a perennial wildlife mix by Upper Michigan Land Management and Wildlife Services.
These openings, totaling about five acres, are located along the 7-Mile Marsh Road just south of its junction with Limpert Road. The openings were disked, herbicided twice to kill competing vegetation, and planted to a mixture of medium red clover, alsike clover, ladino clover, white dutch clover, and vernal alfalfa under a cover crop of oats.
These rejuvenated opening are already providing excellent feeding areas for deer and are attractive, visible areas for hunting. Many other wildlife species will benefit as well, including turkey, grouse, and bear. UPW budgeted $4,500 for this project and was the sole source of funding.
Two old hunter walking trails on state forest land in Menominee County were reworked and seeded to red clover with a cover crop of oats during the summer of 2008.
One trail is on Westman Road (west side of the county) and the other is located near Linnbeck Road (east side of the county). MDNR personnel provided the equipment, labor and fuel for the project, and UPW budgeted $1,000 for seed, fertilizer and signs.
The cost of the signs was $345 with a sign ordered for a Dickinson County trail.
There are now seven hunter walking trails in the 2-county area. Brochures have been published that include information and maps on the trails for those hunting ruffed grouse and woodcock, and are being distributed to hunters who visit or phone the MDNR looking for places to hunt.
North Perkins Deeryard
About 450 sample plots were monitored in the North Perkins Deeryard during the spring of 2008 to determine cedar regeneration success. The survey was conducted by staff of the Upper Michigan Land Management and Wildlife Services. It was designed to document the abundance and size of cedar seedlings in a swamp that was harvested by different methods.
The results will help the MDNR determine whether the treatments that were conducted from the 1960's through 2004 are proving successful at regenerating cedar in a swamp that is important to deer wintering habits. UPW budgeted $2,938 for this project and was the sole source of funding.
Results of the survey have been summarized and are available for review. In addition, the MDNR has been monitoring cedar growth within 21 deer-proof exclosures in the treatment area. They have also established photo points to provide a pictorial history of vegetation growth over time, and the MDNR will continue to conduct a mid-winter walk to document deer use of the yard.
Deer Camp Survey
A deer camp survey has been conducted in the west half of the Upper Peninsula since 1994. The survey is used to monitor deer sightings, deer harvest, and hunter opinions during the 16 day firearm season.
It provides hunters and MDNR biologists with feedback on the status of the deer herd and hunting satisfaction soon after the season ends.
Deer camps have been casually recruited into the survey over the years by word-of-mouth, visiting camps, using club membership lists, or sign-ups at banquets.
UP Whitetails continues to sponsor the West U.P. Deer Camp Survey by providing valuable prizes. Two UPW jackets and 10 UPW sweatshirts were donated in 2008. The winners were selected at random from camps which submitted a completed survey form by the end of December.
A color flier acknowledging the UPW prize donation and contact information about the organization was included in each survey mailing (about 500 camps last year).
Upon completion, a copy of the survey was mailed to each participating camp and are also available at no charge from the MDNR upon request by the public.
Currently, the MDNR is working on more project proposals for 2009. The list can be undertaken with the assistance of UP Whitetails and several other organizations that have similar goals.
Once submitted, the proposal go before the organization Advisory Board for discussion and ranking for funding.
There have been many similar projects through the years. They do not get high exposure but remain an essential part of the science of wildlife and habitat management.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.