Whats the latest on Michigans wild hog crisis? Glad you asked.
Wild hogs were recently classified as an invasive, exotic and prohibited
species by the DNR. Outgoing director Rebecca Humphries signed the order
in December and it goes into effect on July 8, giving game ranches and
wild hog breeders time to give porky the boot. Over the years, these
outfits have allowed dangerous variants of the Russian boar to escape into
the wild, creating a virtual hog bomb.
The Wildlife Volunteer, a newsletter of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy,
reports the following: Because of those escapes, which have occurred over
the past ten years, we now have thousands of hogs that are reproducing in
the wild and destroying crops, lawns, and natural resources in many
Personally, Im anxious to see one of these terrors out in the woods, but
from the safety of a strong tree limb. Timber Ridge ski resort here in TC
has a stuffed boars head up on its wall and its bigger (and certainly
nastier) than the snarling bears head that serves as its neighbor. Big
tusks on those hogs, and they roam in packs...
Here are some other updates on Northern Michigans wild kingdom:
CRY WOLF: Ten years ago, spotting a wolf in the Upper Peninsula was
considered a rare and remarkable sight. Thats all changed; a friend who
travels up that way says its not unusual to spot a wolf crossing M-77
outside Seney late at night, along with bears, bobcats and other wildlife.
In fact, last years wolf population in the U.P. was estimated at 557 by
wildlife biologists -- this after the wolf was driven to near extinction
and placed on the Endangered Species Act.
In a story by Associated Press reporter John Flesher of Traverse City, The
Mining Journal of Marquette reported that poaching is a growing concern in
the U.P., with six gray wolves shot thus far this year, along with 15 in
2010, 12 in 2009 and 8 in 2008.
As is the case with western ranchers who justify shooting wildlife that
drifts out of Yellowstone Park, some of the poaching is attributed to U.P.
farmers and residents who claim they are protecting livestock and pets.
But one can only imagine that most of these poachers are simply motivated
by trophy hunting, or by thrill-killing of the sort that prompted a
TC-area teen to shoot a cow with a bow and arrow last year.
STRAY CAT BLUES: Heres an interesting theory; the DNR, which still hasn‘t
officially recognized the existence of cougars in Michigan, claims that
evidence found by its own biologists at eight sites in the U.P. over the
past three years may represent just one wandering male from South
Again, this is from The Wildlife Volunteer, and the Michigan Wildlife
Needless to say, not everyone agrees with that stray cat theory.
Michigans last known cougar was killed in 1906. But retired forester Mike
Zuidema of Escanaba believes a few holdouts lived on in places like the
Huron Mountains of Marquette County, repopulating the U.P. 100 years
So, how did those U.P. cats find their way to Sleeping Bear National
Lakeshore where theyve allegedly been spotted by park visitors? Theres a
riddle for you -- maybe that wandering cat from South Dakota dropped off
his pregnant missus here...
CARP DIEM: Latest on the Asian Carp menace is that the powers-that-be are
more content to study the problem than act on protecting the Great Lakes
from this ravenous fish.
In mid February, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) proposed an amendment
that would have closed two locks in the Chicago area to prevent the carp
from migrating up a canal from its habitat in the Mississippi and Illinois
Unfortunately, Camps amend-ment didnt earn enough votes in the House of
Representatives to pass. So for the time being, the fate of the Great
Lakes hangs on joint legislation that he and U.S. Senator Debbie Stebenow
(D-MI) introduced last year which would require the Army Corps of
Engineers to spend 18 months studying the idea of permanently separating
the waterways of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.
Bear in mind this legislation to study the matter hasnt even been
approved by Congress yet. It is set to be reintroduced in the near
Somewhere, a carp is smiling...
WHERE EAGLES DARE: Heres an interesting wildlife twist on the internet:
an Eagle Viewing Directory is offered at http://www.baldeagleinfo.com
which allows eagle spotters a chance to list their sightings by state.
Most of the Michigan sightings online are by excited bird watchers
downstate. One suspects that eagles have become so commonplace here in
Northern Michigan that we no longer utter much of a squawk when we see
ELKY SUMMER: You dont hear much about Michigans elk herd these days,
but theyre out there: the herd that roams the Pigeon River Forest north
of Gaylord was estimated at 800-900 animals in 2006.
Getting back to the wolf, the elks experience shows why we need to keep
on top of poaching in Michigan. According to the DNR, the last of the
states native elk vanished in 1875. Todays herd springs from seven elk
imported from out West back in 1918. Through the years, the herd grew to
1,500 animals by the mid 1960s when hunting was allowed. By the winter of
75, however, there were only 200 elk left due to a variety of factors
including being hard hit by poaching.
Bugle on, gentle elk...