Fox Friday: Blessed are the curious…

I Spy You Both by Julie

I Spy You Both…. by Julie

Love this shot of two fox kits!! Julie observes “Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures…” and we have to agree!

See more in Julie’s Wildlife gallery & stay curious people!!

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Wolf Making the Rounds

Wolf Making the Rounds by Bill Joyce Ziegler

Wolf Making the Rounds by Bill Joyce Ziegler

Bill got some stunning photos of one of the wolves in a pack south of Amasa in the UP. He shared this & another in the Pure UP group on Facebook. Check it out! Bill also wrote an article last year about the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s plans to take wolves off the Endangered Species List in Michigan. This happened in January 2021 but it’s worth a read: 

Michigan DNR wolf surveys indicate there is a minimum wolf population of 662 adult wolves. This is a minimum population since young of the year wolves are not surveyed.

Cody Norton, Michigan DNR Wolf Specialist said the average wolf litter is likely about four to six pups based on research in other similar states. Norton goes on to say in other studied wolf populations “up to 60 percent of the pups may die in the first six months due to disease and malnutrition.”

Norton stated, “The 2018 survey indicated there are 139 wolf packs in the U.P.” (mainland).

He went on to say the average U.P. pack was about five wolves. Norton continues, “Packs are typically comprised of a breeding pair, pups from the current year, offspring from previous litters, and occasionally other wolves that may or may not be related to the breeding pair.”

Norton said surveys indicate, “Wolf territories range in size from 5 to 291 square miles in the U.P., with an average of about 45 square miles. However, territory size has decreased over time, and the number of packs has stagnated, as the wolf population in the U.P. has increased.” Norton added “The U.P. wolf population appears to have been stable for the last eight years or so suggesting they’re likely nearing carrying capacity. This follows a long period of population growth from when we initially surveyed the first three known wolves in 1989 until 2011.”

…Regardless of how you feel about wolves, their population recovery in Michigan has been a success of a native species re-establishing itself. No matter what happens in terms of federal and state wolf management, residents of the Upper Peninsula will continue to live with wolves and will occasionally hear the howl of the wolf.

More from Woods n Water News.

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Just Cruising at the Mighty Mac

Just Cruising by Marsha Morningstar

Just Cruising by Marsha Morningstar

Seems like everyone’s going to the Straits these days to check out the ice at the Mackinac Bridge! 

More from Marsha on her Flickr including a close up shot of these two cuties!

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Woodchuck Weather: Groundhogs dash hopes of early spring

Woodchuck by Tate King

Woodchuck by Tate King

America’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, performed his ceremonial weather forecasting duty this morning & predicts six more weeks of winter. Closer to home, the Howell Nature Center shared a Facebook Live (below) of Michigan’s own prognosticating groundhog, Woody. Sadly, her forecast matched Phil’s so I guess winter will be with us for a while.

Tate got this shot of a woodchuck not hogging the ground at all back in March of 2007. You can see another on his Flickr.

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Otter at Otter Lake

Otter at Otter Lake by Nicholas McCreedy

Otter at Otter Lake by Nicholas McCreedy

Nicholas writes that this otter spotted him at Otter Lake in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. See a couple more shots & follow him on Facebook!

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Michigan’s Isle Royale moose study sidelined by pandemic

Chickenbone Lake Moose by David Clark

Chickenbone Lake Moose! by David Clark

The Associated Press’s John Flesher writes that one of the world’s longest-running wildlife field studies, the Isle Royale moose & wolf study,  has fallen prey to the coronavirus pandemic:

Since 1959, a research team has spent most of the winter observing the interplay between wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. But this year’s mission has been scrapped to protect the scientists and support personnel from possible exposure to the virus, Superintendent Denice Swanke said Friday.

Experts from several universities, the park service and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had planned to assess how an effort to rebuild the wolf population is affecting the ecosystem.

The remote park is closed from Nov. 1 to April 15. The winter researchers use a single cabin, which wouldn’t allow for social distancing. Also factoring into the decision to cancel the expedition were the border closure between the United States and Canada, and a shortage of flight resources to bring supplies, Swanke said.

The park service and partners will try to document wolf population changes this summer using remote cameras and other techniques, Swanke said. But they won’t have the benefit of aerial observations that can be done only during winter, when the animals are easier to spot.

“There will just be a hole in the data that nothing can be done about,” said John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, one of the biologists who have produced annual reports about the wolves and moose that roam the island park, as well as its other wildlife and vegetation.

More at the AP & you can read a lot more about Isle Royale & moose in Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!

David writes: As we were hiking from West Chickenbone Lake campground to McCargoe Cove, I saw a fallen tree’s roots across the narrow arm of the lake. Then the roots turned and looked at me. Moooooose!! See more in his Isle Royale 2017 gallery on Flickr & for sure check out his blog posts about the trip in his excellent blog Cliffs & Ruins!

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Autumn Pasture

Autumn Pasture by paulh192

Autumn Pasture by paulh192

Paul captured a gorgeous fall scene last week. See what he’s found lately on his Flickr!

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Monarchs, Milkweed & Michigan

Monarch with Red Mulch Background by Charles Bonham

Monarch with Red Mulch Background by Charles Bonham

The GT Pulse has an in-depth interview with Cyndie Roach if the GT Butterfly House and Zoo in Williamsburg outlining the generation spanning migration of the monarch butterfly from the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico to Michigan:

…They fly over the Gulf with their first stop being in the Texas panhandle area.

“They land there, take a break, and breed by the millions, lay eggs, and then they die. That super generation has lived all winter and is now ready to make that trip to Texas. So that first generation born in the United States will know to start flying north when they’re born.”

The entire butterfly birthing process takes 30 days. Part of the inherent will to go north has to do with milkweed. It’s the plant that signals them home.

“It’s the single host plant, meaning the caterpillar needs to eat it to become a butterfly. They’re looking for milkweed to lay their eggs on. We don’t even have Milkweed growing yet in the early parts of spring. It doesn’t come up until May and June, so what’s great is that as our spring comes on and things start to get warmer, that’s what’s welcoming the monarch to the area.”

The second generation of monarchs that were born in Texas makes it to the midline of the States, roughly around the Rocky Mountains where their babies will be born, and like their parents and grandparents before them – they’ll know to keep flying north.

“By the time they reach us we’re looking at the third generation typically. So it’s their grandchildren we’re now seeing arrive in Michigan.”

Remember that milkweed Cyndie was talking about? Northern Michigan provides milkweed that some of those third-generation monarchs will use to lay their own eggs. So the butterflies that are going back down to Mexico are the fourth generation of those first butterflies coming from the Oyamel fir forests.

“That’s why it’s so important that we as Michiganders, specifically up here in Northern Michigan, provide as much milkweed habitat as we can for these amazing creatures. We play such an important role, because not only are we the ones who see them come in in the spring, but we help them create a lifecycle.”

Milkweed plays an important role in aiding the monarchs in their generational journey, but also, being cautious with fertilizer and lawn care products. The monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent over the past two decades, which is directly related to the milkweed population being destroyed.

Read on for lots more, check out the Michigan DNR page on Monarch butterflies & for sure plant milkweed if you can!

Charles took this last week. Head over to his Flickr for lots more!

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Heat Wave about to break

Heat Wave by Dan Gaken

Heat Wave by Dan Gaken

If you’ve been feeling like this black squirrel recently, mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa has the welcome news that a change in the weather on the way:

You’ll have to admit that most of Michigan has been warmer than usual for late August. Well that hot feel is all going to change for this weekend after a strong cold front moves through Friday night.

When a cold front moves through, a new type of air moves in from a different region where it was born. By Saturday morning most of Lower Michigan will know fall is just around the corner. The far southeast corner, with Detroit and Ann Arbor, will get that fall reminder gradually by Saturday evening.

My condolences if you’re on Team Inferno, but we know that Michigan usually delivers some September heat!

Check out more from Dan in his Life in Michigan gallery on Flickr & have a great weekend!

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Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail by David Clark

Butterflies & Moths of North America says that Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are typically smaller than Eastern or Western Tiger Swallowtails. They are found in Canada as well as Alaska and the northern Great Lakes states.

David captured this gorgeous butterfly feeding on his coneflowers. Head over to his Flickr for more and definitely check out his blog Cliffs & Ruins too!

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