Wednesday, February 3, 2016

DNR marks progress at halfway point in 10-year Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative

A few years ago, when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced it was putting together a coalition to rehabilitate pheasant hunting in Michigan, it assembled an impressive array of partners to address many of the problems that led to the declining fortunes of “ringnecks.”
Now, halfway through the 10-year project, those involved in the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative say the program has made significant headway.
A male and female ring-necked pheasant are shown. The male, in the background, is much more colorful.“We are seeing enhanced partnerships, excellent teamwork, habitat improvements and increased enthusiasm for pheasants and pheasant hunting,” said Al Stewart, the DNR’s upland game bird specialist.
The coalition began the pheasant initiative by establishing three pilot focus areas, concentrating efforts in areas that offer some of the best remaining pheasant habitat in the state.
These priority Pheasant Recovery Areas each have three counties and are situated in the “Thumb Area” (Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties), central Michigan (Gratiot, Saginaw and Clinton counties) and southeastern Michigan (Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties).
Since the “golden days” of Michigan pheasant hunting in the 1950s, changes in agricultural practices and land use have contributed to pheasant habitat loss, declining food sources and lower production of chicks.
Over the first five years of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, the DNR has enhanced or restored roughly 7,400 acres of grasslands on state game, wildlife and recreation areas and established 3,160 acres of food plots.
Another 556 acres of enhanced grasslands and 203 acres of food plots have been cultivated around the Sharonville State Game Area, just to the north of the Hillsdale-Lenawee-Monroe focus area.
In addition, the DNR has acquired 742 acres to add to existing game areas within the Pheasant Recovery Areas. There have also been 765 acres of grasslands and 2,000 acres of food plots established at the Allegan State Game Area, which is located outside the existing focus areas.
“Things are really starting to happen,” Stewart said.
However, those significant improvements on state-managed land represent only one small part of the equation, as mostDressed in hunting clothes, Bill Vander Zouwen, Michigan Region representative for Pheasants Forever, looks at a male pheasant he shot. of the state’s prime pheasant range – located in southern Michigan – is privately owned.
To address this, the initiative has helped establish cooperatives and hired a co-ops coordinator in the focus areas so private landowners can meet with other like-minded individuals to help improve habitat for pheasants across the landscape.
The DNR has funded five conservation district Farm Bill biologists, with more to come, to assist private landowners in habitat improvement projects. The money for the biologists was raised from the DNR’s recent license restructuring.
Jason Myers, a Farm Bill biologist who covers four counties working out of the Tuscola Conservation District, says 80 percent of his efforts are directed toward pheasant restoration projects.
He said much of his work involves finding cost-share programs for landowners and providing technical assistance for managing Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program lands.
Under these two federal Farm Bill programs, farmland is removed from production in exchange for annual rental payments with the lands improved for conservation or environmental quality enhancements.
“I do a lot of habitat plans for guys,” Myers said. “We’re kind of like therapists in a way – kind of hold their hands through the process and make sure they do it right. I spend a lot of time visiting CRP and CREP lands to help landowners maintain them in the shape their supposed to be in.”
The work is paying off, he said.
“A couple of guys in the pheasant cooperatives have said they wouldn’t have done what they’ve done in the last few years if it wasn’t for the initiative,” Myers said. “Tuscola County had about 200 CRP and CREP contracts when I started. About 190 of them have re-enrolled and about half of those have added acreage.”
A worker stands in the foreground of the photo, with several others shown in the background. The men are working on a pheasant habitat improvement.Bill Vander Zouwen is the Michigan Region representative for Pheasants Forever, a group dedicated to conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.
Vander Zouwen was a biologist and chief of the wildlife ecology section of the Wisconsin DNR for more than 30 years before returning to Michigan.
He praised the cooperation between agencies and hunters under the pheasant initiative.
“I’m impressed with the attention pheasants are getting and I’m happy to see it,” he said. “Pheasants are a priority of the DNR, a focus of the More Bang for Your Buck program. The DNR has really stepped up.”
Pheasants Forever has 30 active chapters in Michigan and focuses most of its attention on private land, dispensing seed for food plots to its members, though Vander Zouwen said "about 15 chapters put their money up for matching grants from the DNR to improve habitat on public land where anyone can hunt.”
The DNR has awarded State Wildlife Grants totaling more than $850,000 to benefit 49 projects that include almost 3,000 acres of grassland complexes.
Beyond the DNR and Pheasants Forever, other members of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative coalition include the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Quality Deer Management Association, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
These additional government and nongovernmental entities often focus on other priorities, but they value grasslands for everything from biodiversity to improving water quality.
“Doing work for pheasants is central for wildlife on the ground,” Myers said. “It helps everything fromTwo hunters dressed in hunter jackets hold one pheasant each they shot in Lower Michigan. songbirds to white-tailed deer.”
And, of course, it helps pheasants.
Cooperative landowners say they’re hearing more crowing pheasant roosters in recent years, and some hunters report seeing more pheasants on state-managed land.
Despite these advances, much of the effort of the pheasant initiative has yet to bear fruit, but members say the seeds have been sown for the future.
“The coalition is committed to an even more productive next five years,” Vander Zouwen said.
To learn more about upland game bird hunting in Michigan, visit the DNR’s Web page.

Behind the Lens with Wildlife Photographer Steve Gifford

Bobcat walking the tracks. Photo by Steve Gifford
Ever since photographer Steve Gifford was a kid, he has enjoyed being outdoors. His parents were college professors, and summers were spent at their family cottage in Michigan or traveling to see relatives in Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Steve thinks that the priority his parents placed on enjoying the natural beauty of our country shaped his appreciation for public spaces and wildlife. His interest in photography developed as a way to share memories of family adventures.
Memorable moments
One spring, Steve’s goal was to find and photograph the elusive American woodcock during the day. After several weeks of scouting locations, Steve set out in full camo, slowly moving into the woodcock's regular territory at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana. Steve was fortunate enough to see the woodcock take a few steps, bobbing up and down. If the bird had not moved, Steve was sure he’d have missed it.
Click for video of woodcock.Video by Steve Gifford
Slowly and quietly, Steve avoided making eye contact, and the bird eventually decided that Steve was not a threat, becoming comfortable with his presence. Over the next hour and a half, Steve was able to watch the bird resting, preening and foraging from no more than 20 feet away. The most interesting thing to watch was the bird's bobbing motion as it walked. Steve learned later that this motion of pressing each foot into the earth multiple times with each step is intended to make earthworms move, making them easier to locate!
Thinking back on his wildlife experiences, Steve notes, “For me, it’s experiences like this where I am able to just sit and be quiet, to learn and observe how God has uniquely equipped each one of his creations for a specific environment or task. I feel truly thankful and blessed for being able to do what I do.”
On a couple of occasions Steve has had the opportunity to photograph bobcats at close range on the refuge. Bobcatsowlsotters and foxes are among his favorite wildlife to photograph.
Short-eared owl with prey. Photo by Steve Gifford

Getting involved
Steve started exploring Patoka River Refuge on a regular basis in 2009. At the time, he was getting more serious about birding and photography, and would stop in to the refuge office to share photos and ask questions. Being relatively new to birding, he had never seen many of these birds before.
After getting to know the staff at Patoka River, Steve became a volunteer, helping with bird counts, trail maintenance and invasive species control. Most of his efforts focus on sharing his discoveries with others by photographing the beautiful species that call the refuge home.
Photographer and Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge volunteer Steve Gifford at Columbia Mine. Photo by Heath Hamilton/USFWS

Steve’s passion for conservation doesn’t stop at the refuge boundary. His home sits on six and a half acres in a small rural community just north of Evansville, Indiana. When his family first bought the property in 2007, it had a large farm and lawn. Right away, he stopped mowing all but a small portion of the yard and at the end of the growing season, planted more than 600 native trees in the area previously being farmed. Eight years later, most of those saplings are more than 20 feet tall and the former mowed areas are now a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. What was once lifeless is now home to a wide variety of wildlife including quail, dove, woodcock, coyote, mink, possum, butterflies and other insects.
Killdeer chick. Photo by Steve Gifford

Following your passion and overcoming obstacles
Most people probably don’t think of the reclaimed strip mines and flooded river bottoms of southwestern Indiana when they think of the great outdoors, but Steve feels fortunate to live in a place with such great opportunities to spot wildlife. “With as busy as most people are and as stressed out as we seem, I believe people need a place where they can get away from it all. For me, being able to get out on the refuge calms my heart, restores my soul and helps me put things back into perspective. I think it can do the same for others.”
Over the years, Steve has enjoyed meeting and seeing the work of other local photographers. They all have a slightly different style or perspective that makes their works unique. No matter what your favorite subject matter is, Steve recommends doing what you love and sharing your passion with others. Everything else will follow.
When Steve isn’t taking photos and spending time with family, he enjoys boxing at his local YMCA. The “Rock Steady” class is designed for people with Parkinson’s. Participants work on things like balance, coordination and muscle strength to help fight back against the progression of the disease. Besides the physical benefits, it is also a great place to develop friendships with others battling similar circumstances.
If you’d like to see more of Steve’s work, check him out on Flickr.
Prothonotary warbler. Photo by Steve Gifford

Coyotes become more active in late winter and early spring

MADISON - Coyotes become more active in late winter as they become more territorial during the breeding season and give birth to pups. Join Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for a live chat Feb. 23 at noon and learn more, including how to help reduce coyote interactions with pets.
Coyotes are prevalent throughout much of Wisconsin, and thrive in areas with an abundance of food like rabbits, squirrels, and rodents. In many urban settings, bird feeders, gardens and ornamental vegetation can bring coyotes to the area where these animals feed.
To help reduce coyote interactions, remember a few quick tips:
  • do not provide food for coyotes and other wildlife in your yard;
  • store trash indoors, or keep it secure with tight-fitting lids;
  • scare tactics, also called hazing, can be used if you see a coyote in your yard or while out walking - make loud noises or throw objects in the direction of the coyote; and
  • keep cats indoors and always watch dogs when outdoors--coyote attacks on pets are rare, but can occur when coyotes try to protect territory or a food source.
Trapping and hunting of coyotes is legal year-round on your property without a DNR license, although most municipalities within urban areas have regulations related to trapping and discharging a firearm. Please check with your local government to ensure adherence to local ordinances.
Coyote chat Feb. 23
Join Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources experts for an online chat Feb. 23 at noon - staff will be on hand to answer questions ranging from nuisance wildlife concerns to habitat and behavior.
Visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "chat" to submit questions and view responses from DNR experts. Here, you can also view past chats and sign up to receive email notifications.
To learn more about what type of animals frequent your backyard, check out the department's guide to mammal tracks in Wisconsin.
For more information regarding coyotes in Wisconsin, search keyword "furbearers." To learn more about urban coyotes, search keywords "urban wildlife."

Monday, February 1, 2016

DNR announces 2016 Pure Michigan Hunt winners

The Department of Natural Resources today announced the three winners of the seventh annual Pure Michigan Hunt. Jeff Kresnak of Caledonia, Mike Scherzer of Freeland and Makayla Fleetwood of Bloomingdale each won a pocket full of licenses and more than $4,000 worth of hunting gear.
“I thought it was a prank call by one of my family members,” said Kresnak. “But after I figured out it wasn’t a prank, I was ecstatic and thrilled to be a winner! This will be a great opportunity to hunt and spend quality time with my four daughters.”
Scherzer said he was elated when get got the call from DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason, letting him know he had won. “My first reaction was – you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Fleetwood is the first female hunter in Pure Michigan Hunt history. “I was shocked at first,” she said. “I didn’t think this would ever happen to me. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
Each $5 Pure Michigan Hunt application purchased helps fund wildlife habitat restoration and management in Michigan.
Each winner receives elk, bear, spring and fall turkey, and antlerless deer licenses to be used in 2016. In addition – along with three hunting companions – the winners will get first pick opening morning of the waterfowl season at any of Michigan’s premier managed waterfowl hunt areas. Kresnak, Scherzer and Fleetwood each also won a package of gear donated by Michigan businesses and organizations:
  • Annual subscription, camouflage hat, current copies of publication and Outdoor Print of the Year – Michigan Outdoor News
  • Camouflage pop-up blind – Ameristep of Clio
  • 12-gauge camouflage shotgun – Michigan Ducks Unlimited
  • Terminator II crossbow – Darton Archery of Hale
  • Marlin x7 30.06 bolt-action rifle – Dick Williams Gun Shop of Saginaw
  • Go-Pro outdoor camera – St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers, Inc.
  • Quiver accessories – Kwikee Kwiver of Williamsburg
  • Hunting accessories – Harmon Scents of Williamsburg
  • Custom waterfowl mount – The Trophy Room of Clare
  • Traps, DVDs, calls and more – Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association
  • Turkey hunting gear – Michigan Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Deer/habitat management package – Michigan Chapter of Quality Deer Management Association
  • $100 Cabela’s gift card – Saginaw Field and Stream Club
  • Made in the USA quilt-lined Realtree Xtra® jackets and bib overalls – Carhartt of Dearborn
  • Shotgun case and hat – Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Eberlestock team elk pack – Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Two-day/two-night guided hunt – winner’s choice between guided turkey, deer or bear hunt; includes lodging and food – East Lake Outfitters of Essexville
  • Memberships – National and Mid-Michigan Chapter of Safari Club International
  • Custom shooting ear plugs and hat – Michigan Hearing of Lake Orion
  • Half-day, fully guided five-bird pheasant hunt – Bear Creek Hunt Club of Clayton
  • $100 gas card – MUCC of Lansing
  • $100 Jay’s Sporting Goods gift card – 9&10 News of Cadillac
  • BrewVine passports valued at $100 – BrewVine of Northern Michigan
  • Sweatshirt and hat – Waterfowl USA of Erie
  • Fletching Kit – Bohning Archery of Lake City
  • Personalized Pure Michigan Hunt hat and engraved knife – Michigan Planners of Garfield Township
  • Framed and matted 2015 Michigan duck stamp print – Michigan Duck Hunters Association
The winners will be awarded their prizes officially at the next Natural Resources Commission meeting Feb. 11 in Detroit.
The 2016 drawing had a total of 35,336 applications purchased by 13,055 individuals, which generated more than $176,000 to help wildlife habitat restoration and improvements in Michigan.
Applications for the next Pure Michigan Hunt drawing will be available starting March 1. For more information, visitwww.mi.gov/pmh.

Enjoy Eagles and Bagels at SD's Oahe Downstream Recreation Area

American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Visitors of the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area near Fort Pierre have the opportunity to learn about the park's winter residents and enjoy a snack on the 14th Annual "Eagles and Bagels" Walk in the Park on Saturday, Feb. 6.

“This is a good opportunity for participants to get out and enjoy our South Dakota winter and view our nation’s bird – the Bald Eagle,” said Pat Buscher, Oahe Downstream district supervisor.

Program attendees will learn about eagles from a program presentation and then have the opportunity to view and ask questions about the bald eagles on a guided walk.

The program begins at 9 a.m. CST at the Oahe Downstream Group Lodge. Information will be presented highlighting eagles, their habitat and tips and proper conduct for viewing and photographing these magnificent birds.

The group will travel into the park for a 2-mile guided walk (weather permitting) to observe the birds in their natural setting. The hike will include a number of stops to view the birds and answer questions. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, comfortable hiking shoes and cold weather clothing.
 
Following the hike, guests are invited back to the lodge for snacks and refreshments sponsored by Lynn’s Dakotamart.

“Last year’s hike attendance was great,” said Buscher. “We pack the lodge nearly every year and enjoy seeing more families attend, as this walk is stroller-friendly.”

For those who are not sure they can complete the entire distance, a shuttle is available.

The Oahe Downstream campgrounds are currently closed to vehicle traffic to protect the roosting eagles. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed into these areas, although they must be careful not to disturb the roosting eagles. If disturbed, the eagles may abandon their roosts and use up valuable food reserves.

There is no charge for the guided walk, but a park entrance license is required. The new 2016 park entrance licenses are available at the park. For more information, call605.223.7722.

The Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is located five miles north of Fort Pierre off SD highway 1806.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

IOWA WINTER TROUT STOCKING BEGINS JAN. 9

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will release trout in seven locations this winter in areas that would not support them during warmer months.
The popular program is supported by the sales of the trout fee. Anglers need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. The daily limit is five trout per licensed angler with a possession limit of 10. 
A family friendly event is paired with the stocking to help anglers have success and fun while fishing.
Children age 15 or younger can fish for trout with a properly licensed adult, but they must limit their catch to one daily limit.  The child can purchase a trout fee which will allow them to catch their own limit.
Winter stocking events are based on favorable weather conditions.  

2016 Winter Trout Stocking Schedule
Jan. 9, Scharnberg Pond, Spencer, at Noon
Jan. 16, Bacon Creek, Sioux City, at 2 p.m.
Jan. 16, Blue Pit, Mason City, at 11 a.m.
Jan. 22, Big Lake, Council Bluffs, at 4 p.m.
Jan. 23, Moorland Pond, Fort Dodge, at Noon
Jan. 30, Petoka, Bondurant, at Noon
Feb. 6, Ada Hayden, Ames, at Noon

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

First Day Hikes to be held at nine Wisconsin State Park properties

Panorama view of the Kettle Moraine State Fore...
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit near Hartford Wisconsin. 
MADISON -- Anyone looking to start their New Year's resolution for better health can start the year off on the right foot by participating in any of 10 First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park properties on January 1.
On a First Day Hike, visitors can enjoy walks through diverse, beautiful natural areas, led by park rangers or volunteers. Most hikes include additional activities such as campfires, naturalist guides, wildlife tracking, and hot beverages after the hike.
Hikers gather for a group photo at a 2014 First Day Hike at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Hikers gather for a group photo at a 2014 First Day Hike at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Photo Credit: WDNR
All 50 states are participating in the fifth annual event that invites families and friends to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of our natural world with fun, guided hikes.
On Jan. 1, 2015, 507 participants hiked 1,191 miles at 10 different Wisconsin state park properties, up from the 190 participants who hiked a total of 605.7 miles in 2014. Nationwide, 41,000 people rang in the New Year with a First Day Hike at a state park, participating in more than 990 hikes throughout the country, according to the National Association of State Park Directors.
In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes will be held at the following properties:
  • Newport State Park. This will be an easy 2-mile hike. Meet at the visitor center parking lot. Bring snowshoes or hiking boots, depending on the weather. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10-11:30 a.m. Phone: 920-854-2500.
  • Peninsula State Park. This will be an easy guided 1- to 3-mile hike on the Sunset Trail. Co-sponsored by Friends of Peninsula State Park. Meet at the Weborg Shelter. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10 a.m. to noon. Phone: 920-868-3258.
  • Harrington Beach State Park. Celebrate the First Day of 2016 with an easy 1.5-mile hike on either the Quarry Lake or Shuttle Trail. The Friends of Harrington Beach will provide a warm fire in the Welcome Center along with complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider or coffee. Bring your lunch and kick off the New Year at Harrington Beach. This event is sponsored by Friends of Harrington Beach State Park. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-285-3015.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit. The Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance will be hosting a First Day Hike at Lapham Peak. Vehicle admission fees will be waived for the day. Enjoy a moderately difficult hike then warm up with hot beverages and snacks at the Nature Center afterwards. Hike 3 to 4 miles on the Ice Age Trail. Meet at the Hausman Nature Center parking lot. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-646-3025.
  • Mirror Lake State Park. Bring your snowshoes or winter boots for some fun winter hiking around the park. Your trail guide will show you some of the beautiful highlights of Mirror Lake and a little about our history. Our adventure starts off at noon from the Winter Rec. Area (aka Beach-Picnic area). This will be a 2-mile hike on the Sandstone Trail. Leashed pets are welcome on this hike. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. Noon to 1:30 p.m. Phone: 608-254-2333.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit. This hike offers two separate options with two separate leaders. One hike offers 2 miles and the other offers a more strenuous 4 miles, both on the Ice Age Trail. Both hikes start together and break off at a half-way point. Leashed dogs are welcome on this hike. Meet at the Beach Parking Area by the North Shelter at noon. Dress for the weather and bring hiking boots or snowshoes. Vehicle parking fees do not apply on the first day of 2016 at Pike Lake. Noon to 2 p.m. Phone: 262-670-3400.
  • Richard Bong State Recreation Area. This will be an easy 2-mile hike on Rhodes Road. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Visitor Center. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 1-2 p.m. Phone: 262-878-5601.
  • Buckhorn State Park. This will be an easy 1.5-mile hike on the Barrens Nature Trail. Meet at the Barrens Nature Trail parking lot. Hot chocolate, coffee and treats will be available at the park office to warm up after the hike. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 2-4 p.m. Phone: 608-565-2789.
  • Devil's Lake State Park. This year at Devil's Lake, we are going to take a 2.5-mile twilight hike/snowshoe through Steinke Basin. Dress warm and bring a flashlight and your snowshoes (if we have snow). We'll have snowshoes to loan as well. Meet at the Steinke Basin parking lot on Hwy DL. Daily or annual state park admission sticker required. 3:30-5 p.m. Phone: 608-356-8301.
  • Stower Seven Lakes Trail Choose your own distance from 1 to 23 miles. An easy hike, ski or fat bike. A 2016 State Trail Pass is required to bike or cross-country ski. Passes will be available and are valid for calendar year 2016 on all Wisconsin State Trails throughout the State. Hot chocolate furnished by Brothers Country Mart. Meet at the trail parking lot in Nye. Sponsored by the Friends of Stower Seven Lakes State Trail and Brothers Country Mart. a0 a.m. to noon. Phone: 715-485-9294.
For helpful cold weather hiking tips, visit the American Hiking Society's website atwww.americanhiking.org (both links exit DNR). For a complete listing of all State Park events, including First Day Hikes, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "get outdoors."  For a listing of properties, search "find a park."
All participants are encouraged to log their First Day Hike adventures on social media with the hash tag "#firstdayhikes."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

There’s still time to enter Wetland Wonders Challenge for shot at ultimate waterfowl hunting prize package

The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters to finish gathering their punches for the Consumers Energy-sponsored Wetland Wonders Challenge during the Zone 3 waterfowl hunting weekend Dec. 26 and 27. The Harsens Island, Shiawassee River and Fennville Farm managed waterfowl hunt areas will have staff members available to validate punch cards both days. The contest runs until Jan. 31, 2016
Michigan's Wetland Wonders include the seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas in the state: Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County), Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County), St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County), Muskegon County Wastewater Facility (Muskegon County), Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County), Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne counties) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County).
These areas provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities throughout the hunting season. Managed duck hunting runs Dec. 26-27 at most of the managed waterfowl hunt areas. Fish Point, Nayanquing Point and Pointe Mouillee will have self-registration in place, while Harsens Island, Shiawassee River and Fennville Farm will have drawings, as usual, for the upcoming Dec. 26-27 weekend.  Muskegon Wastewater Facility’s season runs through today, Dec. 22, and will not be open for the upcoming weekend. The Fennville Farm Unit also has managed goose hunting opportunities through Jan. 30, 2016.    
Seven lucky Wetland Wonders Challenge winners will be awarded an ultimate waterfowl hunting prize package valued at $1,500, including a “golden ticket” that’s good for one first-choice pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area for the 2016-17 season (non-reserved); a Winchester SXP 12-gauge Waterfowl camo shotgun; Zink Calls custom duck and goose calls; Avian X mallard and goose decoys; and more. Contest partner Michigan United Conservation Clubs will select the winners on Feb. 16, 2016
“With Consumers Energy’s generous support, we’ve been able to put together an exceptional prize package, so get out there and get your punches,” said Barb Avers, DNR waterfowl specialist.  “There’s still plenty of opportunity to enjoy Michigan’s world-class waterfowl hunting.”
When hunters register at any of the managed waterfowl hunt areas, they will receive an individual commemorative duck leg band for that area and a validation on their Wetland Wonders Challenge punch card (available at all managed waterfowl hunt areas). To be entered, participants must hunt at three of the seven southern Michigan Wetland Wonders and submit a punch-card entry form. Hunters who hunt at more than three areas will receive an additional contest entry for each additional punch.  Those who hunt all seven will automatically win a prize. For more information on the managed waterfowl hunt areas (including location, drawing times, dates, and rules and regulations) and the Wetland Wonders Challenge contest (including terms and conditions), please visit mi.gov/wetlandwonders.
The Wetland Wonders Challenge is part of the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy, a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan's waterfowl, wetland and waterfowl hunting community. The initiative is a "call to action" to honor yesterday, engage today and build for tomorrow.

2016 Bald Eagle Watch Eventsin Iowa

A Bald Eagle with a freshly caught fish. Taken...

* events with asterisk have a school day on Friday. For more information, contact the events directly.

Clinton Bald Eagle Watch 
Saturday, Jan. 9
This event is in its 32nd year.  In coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pam Steinhaus, with contributions from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clinton CCB, numerous conservation organizations and the Iowa DNR. Wonderful family entertainment                                             
  • Outdoor viewing: Lock & Dam 13, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Live Bird and Nature Programs: Clinton Community College, 9:45-2
  • Exhibits: Clinton Community College from 9 – 2
  • Free bus service from college to the outdoor viewing area.
  • For more information call 815-259-3628

Saturdays and Sundays, Jan. 2 - Feb. 7, Arsenal Island, Rock Island, Ill. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Combination Eagle Watch and Historic Clock Tower Tours
  • Reservations are recommended as group size is limited.
  • For more information contact Visitor’s Center Staff  at 309-794-5338

*Quad Cities Bald Eagle Days                                                       
Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9-10
QCCA Expo Center, 2621 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island, Ill.  One of the largest bald eagle events in the nation with many exhibitors and wildlife artists and plenty of activities for the family. Hours: 4 – 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday
  • Live eagle and bird of prey programs by The World Bird Sanctuary
  • Special attractions
  • Wildlife art show and sale and environmental fair
  • For more information contact the Mississippi River Visitor Center at 309-794-5338 or Arlynn Hartwig at 309-788-2543

*Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch                                                         
Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Grand River Center with environmental-themed exhibitors.
  • Outdoor viewing south of Lock and Dam 11 at A.Y. McDonald Park from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • Live eagle and bird of prey programs by The World Bird Sanctuary at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m.
  • Indoor exhibits from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Grand River Center - Port of Dubuque
  • Trolley rides from Grand River Center to outdoor viewing area
  • For more information call 563-556-4372 or 563-582-0881

*Keokuk Bald Eagle Days
Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16 - 17 Midwest’s largest concentration of bald eagles.  World class environmental exhibitors. Native drum and dance continue a legacy of honor for our national symbol.                                              
  • Indoor programs and environmental fair at the River City Mall, Keokuk
  • Live eagle programs Saturday 9-3 and Sunday 10-3
  • Outdoor viewing along the riverfront 
  • For more information call 1-800-383-1219

Saturday, Jan. 23 A chance to enjoy eagles fishing in open water provided by Dam 16.  Fantastic urban viewing.
·         Outdoor viewing from 9 - 3 at Pearl City Station and Lock & Dam 16
·         Live eagle programs at 9:30 and 11 a.m. at the Pearl City Station in Riverside Park
·         Environmental exhibits inside the Pearl City Station
·         For more information call the Muscatine Ranger office at 563-263-7913

Coralville Bald Eagle Watch
Saturday, Feb. 6
Indoor Expo: Join the Iowa City Bird Club with Karen Disbrow, at North Central Junior High.
  • Outdoor viewing at Tailwater West Picnic Shelter downstream from the dam at Coralville Lake
  • Indoor programs 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at North Central Junior High, 180 Forevergreen Road, North Liberty
  • For more information call 319-338-3543 ext. 6308 or 319-430-0315

Des Moines Bald Eagle Days                                                         
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 - 13 
Friday, Feb. 13: Iowa DNR will be hosting a lunch with eagles at Grays Lake, 2100 Fleur Drive in Des Moines.  Outdoor viewing and replica nest 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14: Des Moines Parks and Rec Outdoor viewing with indoor live eagle at Fellowship Baptist Church 1503 SE Sixth Street, in Des Moines.  Ty Smedes, Urbandale author and photographer, will give a slide presentation on bald eagles at10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. SOAR - Saving Our Avian Resources - will be present at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. with a liveeducation ambassador bald eagle and another guest education ambassador. SOAR will also be discussing the current hazards that bald eagles face in today’s environment and the steps taken when eagles are brought into wildlife rehabilitation.  All ages are welcome,
  • Saturday outdoor eagle viewing, replica nest, live eagle indoors 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sixth Avenue Bridge, Fellowship Baptist Church 1503 SE Sixth Street in Des Moines.
  • There will be children’s activities and the event is free and open to the public. 
  • For more information call 515-248 6369.

Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch
Sunday, Feb. 28 A driving tour of Saylorville Lake with eagles at every stop.  Special live eagle program at Jester Park Lodge.
  • Outdoor viewing at selected sites around reservoir, start at Visitor’s Center 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Effigy Mounds Bald Eagle Watch                                                  
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 - 27 Hoffman Hall exhibit area is extensive, packed with great exhibitors and exceptional live bird presentations.
  • Friday 7 p.m. - free birding programs at Country Inn & Suites and the AmericInn, in Prairie Du Chien, Wis.
  • Outdoor viewing at Prairie Du Chien Visitor’s Center on the river
·         Indoor Program at Hoffman Hall, 1600 S Wacouta Avenue, in Prairie Du Chien, Wis.
·         For more information call 563-873-3491 or 608-326-8555 ext 11     

O’Brien County Bald Eagle Watch
Saturday, March 6 Prairie Heritage Center with elevated viewing deck.  Experienced birders on hand provide educational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
  • Prairie Heritage Center, 4931 Yellow Avenue, in Peterson
·         At 2 p.m., Christina Roelofs from SOAR (Saving Our Avian Resources) will have a live bald eagle.  She will talk about the bird’s special adaptations and give other information about their current population status. Bring your camera and take advantage of this amazing opportunity to see a majestic bald eagle from an arm’s length! 
  • For more information call Charlene Elyea at 712-295-7200.

Sioux Rapids
Saturday, Mar. 12 The event includes live eagles with interesting environmental presentations. It is hosted by Marian McNabb. American Legion Building, 200 Main Street, Sioux Rapids.
·         10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Registration from 8:30 – 10 a.m., Lunch served at 12: 15, free will offering
·         Speakers from 10 a.m. to Noon. Presentations include live birds
  • Outdoor viewing at selected sites. For more information call 712-296-4920 or 712-295-7200