Black Bear Boom!

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Black Bear & Cub, photo by Mark Miller

The Detroit Free Press reports that the black bear population is booming in northern Michigan:

The black bear population has risen 29 percent in the region since 2012 and almost 50 percent since 2000, according to wildlife management specialist Kevin Swanson of the Department of Natural Resources.

Swanson says complaints about nuisance bears are increasing, especially in the Baldwin management unit, which extends from Muskegon County north to Leelanau County. Mlive.com says Swanson recently told the state Natural Resources Commission the bear harvest should be increased significantly in the Baldwin area.

He says the Upper Peninsula population has grown by a more manageable 11 percent since 2012. There are about 9,700 bears in the U.P. and over 15,000 statewide. Swanson is proposing a quota increase from 5,806 in 2016 to 5,925 for the 2017-18 season.

About the photo, Mark says: After yelling a quick “hey” at mama to get her to turn around, there was a moment that I wondered if I had done a dumb thing. I was about the same distance from the house, as she was to me (100 yds.) I guess me and my Nikon didn’t pose much of a threat, as they slowly went on their way.

View the photo bigger and see more in his In My Backyard slideshow.

PS: I realize that back in May of 2015, I featured another photo of this pair along with general info about black bears in Michigan.

Year of the Rooster, 2017

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fonzi | by PepOmint

2017 is the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac, and the Happy Lantern Festival travel guide explains that:

Rooster is the tenth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign. The Years of the Rooster include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Rooster is almost the epitome of fidelity and punctuality. For ancestors who had no alarm clocks, the crowing was significant, as it could awaken people to get up and start to work. In Chinese culture, another symbolic meaning of chicken carries is exorcising evil spirits.

People born in the Year of Rooster according to Chinese zodiac have many excellent characteristics, such as being honest, bright, communicative and ambitious. Most of them are born pretty or handsome, and prefer to dress up. In daily life, they seldom rely on others. However, they might be enthusiastic about something quickly, but soon be impassive. Thus, they need to have enough faiths and patience to insist on one thing.

PepOmint shares:

Our baby rooster, Fonzi (you know…”chicks dig him”- lol) out and about in the yard earlier…he’s grown quite tall and loves the ladies…he’s also quite the runner and can chase them down with no issue. At the moment though, he seems to have found his voice and has been in a crowing contest with our old rooster Normie for a good week though..

He is such a pretty boy :)

View the photo bigger and see more in her slideshow.

Groundhog Day 2017: Gifted & Talented Edition

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WOODCHUCK, photo by John Heinz, Jr.

This has to be the best Groundhog Day picture EVER!!I have no doubt in whatever prediction this little guy or gal makes! Forget about old-fashioned shadows – today’s groundhog makes use of sophisticated pine-bough analysis to come up with their forecast!!

Michigan’s official groundhog is Woody of the Howell Nature Center. She will strut her stuff tomorrow morning beginning at 7 AM – all the details on their Facebook event.

View John’s photo bigger and see more in his massive Michigan Animals slideshow (seriously – John is like Dr. Doolittle – check it out!)

Michigan Mink (Mustela vison)

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Hello Mink, photo by Glen Suszko

The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has an excellent article on the mink (Mustela vision) that says in part:

Some predators are highly specialized, honed by evolution to efficiently hunt certain prey in distinct habitats and situations. And then there’s the mink (Mustela vison). The sleek, dark- bodied weasel is about as versatile as predators come – taking a wide variety of prey on land and water, day or night. If a mink played baseball, it would be the utility player who could step in at almost every position.

Mink are found throughout North America except in the extreme northernmost reaches of Canada and the arid southwestern U.S. Much larger than the short-tailed and long-tailed weasels (see the March – April 2012 issue of The Wildlife Volunteer), adult males reach 28 inches in length and can weigh up to 3.5 pounds. Females are smaller, but are still big enough to prey on muskrats, rabbits, small woodchucks, chickens, a host of smaller animals, and birds’ eggs.

A mink’s foot has five toes that are slightly webbed and with semi-retractile claws. That combination lets the animals swim well and keep its claws sharp enough to grab fish and other slippery prey.

Mink can dive 15 feet and swim fast enough to catch muskrats underwater as well as in muskrat houses and burrows. They stalk lakeshores, river banks, and wetlands, matching hunting times to prey availability. This past winter, I watched a mink follow a lakeshore, then walk the edge of open water on ice in broad daylight far away from cover. Yet, mink also frequently hunt at night, slinking in and out of thick brush, cattail stands, log jams, or rock piles.

Read on for lots more!

View Glen’s photo from the Sterling Heights Nature Center bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Lots more Michigan animals on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan’s Lake Effect Snow and the Ice Beast of the Frozen Tundra

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Ice Beast of the Frozen Tundra, photo by Mark Miller

As Michigan deals with the first winter storm of the season, it’s a good time to brush up on how Michigan’s lake effect snow machine works with a nice video (below) from mLive chief meteorologist Mark Torregrossa who writes:

The areas hit by lake effect are called snowbelts. Some parts of the snowbelts typically get much more snow than other parts. This is because some locations get lake effect from multiple wind directions. Good examples are in the heart of the northwest Lower Peninsula snowbelt. Mancelona and Gaylord get heavy lake effect with northwest, west and slightly southwest winds. Also, the Keweenaw Peninsula, sticking out into Lake Superior, can get lake effect snow from west winds to north winds to northeast winds. That’s why they often shovel over 200 inches of snow in Houghton, MI.

The opposite is true for Grand Rapids and to some extent, Traverse City. Grand Rapids needs a west to southwest wind for heavy lake effect. West winds are common in winter, but don’t tend to last for more than 12 hours. That’s why Grand Rapids often gets only 12 hours of heavy lake effect and a few inches of snow. The wind then veers to the northwest and areas around Holland and Allegan get buried. Downtown Traverse City has a hard time getting heavy lake effect also. Traverse City needs a north-northwest wind to straight north wind for the heaviest lake effect to move into downtown. That wind flow does happen, but it only lasts 24-48 hours a few times each winter.

Thanks to another Mark, Mark Miller, for today’s photo of the Ice Beast of the Frozen Tundra aka Major. View the photo bigger and see more in his “Major” slideshow.

Here’s Mark Torregrossa’s video:

Alien Sheep

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Alien Sheep, photo by Steve

The Truth is out there … if the sheep didn’t eat it.

View Steve’s photo bigger and see more in his Canon 5D Mark II / III / IV slideshow.

King of the Forest

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King, photo by Andrew Inwood

Michigan’s firearm deer season starts today and runs through November 30th so remember to practice sensible precautions if you’re headed out for a walk in the wild. I’m still not sure why this day isn’t an official state holiday because it pretty much is up here in northern Michigan where I live!

Good luck to all you hunters in your quest to fill the freezer with what was a staple of Michiganders for thousands of years … and still is for many Michigan families.

Andrew took this back in November 2008 and asks you to note the broken point on this buck’s magnificent 10 point rack of antlers. View his photo bigger and see more in his excellent Whitetailed Deer slideshow.

More photos and information about whitetailed deer on Michigan in Pictures.

PS: I posted this early in case you’re out there waiting for the sun to rise. ;)