This is not the fault of DNR field staff but rather top managers who hold the purse strings and are the decision makers. In article after article we have documented these failures only to fall on deaf bureaucratic ears.

 

In a recent press release the DNR announced several public hearings at several locations to share information on management of Michigan?s forests. Discussion of topics included forest ownership, division budget, timber management on state forest lands, wildfires , forest roads, etc. Do you see anything missing? What happened to wildlife management and their habitats?

Woodcock have seen an annual decline for at least the past two decades or more, so a recent DNR press release caught our attention. The DNR received a $3,052 grant to create three forest openings on the Deford State Game Area in Tuscola

County. The release stated “Woodcock require a combination of young forests and open fields in order to meet their breeding, feeding and brood rearing needs. These forest openings, called singing grounds are used by males as launch pads for elaborate flight dis plays to attract females for the breeding season.” This reminds us of listing critical Wild Turkey habitat and then providing none on our state forests. This is exactly what has not happened for Woodcock. The projects described in the press release sounds good but it really is token wildlife management.

We attended the 2011 Cadillac Forest Management Unit forest compartment reviews. A compartment of 2276 acres in Missaukee County caught our attention. It is a hardwood, mast producing forest that contains but 11 acres of grassy opening. Management of priority species included coyote, fox, bear, bobcat and raptors, all predators. What happened to Wild Turkeys and other wildlife related to hardwood forests? Managing for coyotes? A March article that appeared in Michigan Outdoor News reported on an Upper Peninsula study that shows that coyotes are top Whitetail fawn predators. This is no surprise to us as recent excavations of coyote dens have found numerous fawn skulls. We must assume that management is reviewing these compartments and that we are now managing coyotes as a priority species.

Another compartment of interest is a 2809 acre compartment in Wexford County. The Manistee River runs though it and it contains an important deer wintering area. Where deer yards exist we examine aspen in the 1-9 year old class as this is a critical food source for deer that are locked into the yard. Out of 817 acres of aspen there are only 17 acres age 1-9, while 507 acres are age 40-60 years old. The required four 10 year age classes of Aspen for Ruffed Grouse, in close proximity did not exist either.

DNR Wildlife management has indicated that their highest priority is the state waterfowl areas with State Game Areas ranked second. “Public hunting lands in southern Michigan will receive more attention in order to benefit the MAXIMUM number of users.” Fro m what we have gathered meaningful habitat management is lacking there also. There are deer and turkeys found on most with other game species marginal. What is lacking is a quality experience in some cases as crowding such as deer hunting is a problem.. Several hunters have related that they quit deer hunting in a state game area during the deer firearms season citing loss of a quality experience and safety is sues.

We have lost over 380,000 hunters in 16 years. This is going to continue until the hunters of our state and national fore sts once again experience a quality hunt.

 

Senate Bill 412 Part II
Of Public Forests and Turkeys X