Black Bear Boom!

black-bear-cub

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.

Sturgeon Bay Outhouse & Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park

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Sturgeon Bay Outhouse, photo by David Clark

We’re going to let David Clark of one of my favorite blogs, Cliffs and Ruins, take over today’s post. He writes:

The most scenic walk to an outhouse award goes to Sturgeon Bay Cabin at Wilderness State Park, where this line of wind-blown cedars escorts you to the potty.

I took this photo on the 2nd day of my snowshoe adventure at Wilderness State Park in December 2016, after a heavy snowfall the night before. I enjoyed 3 days of spectacularly good snowshoeing and utter solitude. Read more at my blog: Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park.

I really encourage you to check out David’s post for photos and a great account of his visit to Wilderness State Park which is located on the northwest shore of the lower peninsula, to the west of the Mackinac Bridge. This is an adventure I really hope to take!!

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Wilderness State Park 2016 slideshow.

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!

Dinner with the Ospreys

Dinner with the Ospreys

Can’t Wait, photo by Jiafan(John) Xu

Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan shares some information about Michigan Osprey:

An Osprey is a large bird with a length of 22-25 inches, a wingspan of 4.5-6 feet, and a weight of approximately four pounds. The Osprey has a dark brown back and a white belly, as well as a white head, which features a dark stripe running from its yellow eyes to the back of its head. Female Ospreys are slightly larger than males and may sport a dark speckled necklace

..The Osprey dines almost exclusively on live fish, often catching its meals by hovering over the water at an altitude of 50 to 200 feet, then diving feet first into the water to catch its prey. The Osprey’s feet are uniquely adapted to “air fishing.” Each Osprey foot has a reversible front toe, as well as barbs, called spicules, which help it hold onto a slippery fish in flight. Normally, an Osprey will aerodynamically position a fish headfirst in its talons before it returns to the nest.

These talons definitely look like fish hooks – read on for more!

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow where you can also see shots from a trip out west.

More Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Frog Friday: You Looking at Me? Edition

Frog Friday You Looking at Me Edition

You Looking at Me?…, photo by Kevin Povenz

I had so much fun with Blackcaps: Blackberry or Black Raspberry last week that I had to try it again (spoiler alert: they were black raspberries).

What do you think, internets: is this a Northern green frog or a Michigan bullfrog? The only difference I know of between the two is that the green frog has a fold of skin from the eardrum down each side of the back.

View Kevin’s photo bigger and see more in his Animals slideshow.

More frogs on Michigan in Pictures.

Summer White-tail

Summer Whitetail by Arnie Bracy

Summer Whitetail, photo by Arnie Bracy

Arnie quietly paddled his kayak closer to get this awesome shot of our state animal, the White-tailed deer on the shore of Hamlin Lake. View it bigger and see more in his Summer slideshow.

More white-tailed deer on Michigan in Pictures including this cool pic of a white-tail grabbing a drink in the fall.

Flower Friday: Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Yikes! I got the link for the Michigan Wildflowers database wrong!

Yellow Slippers

Yellow Lady’s Slippers, photo by Rick Lanting

While I was gathering info for today’s post I came across a really cool resource! MichiganWildflowers.com michwildflowers.com is an online photo database of Michigan’s wildflowers curated by Charles and Diane Peirce that lists 545 Michigan wildflowers and lets you (very quickly) click among them. With multiple photos for each wildflower, it’s pretty darn useful.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center says that the Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid (Cypripedium parviflorum):

…is easily distinguished from others by its large yellow lip, or slipper. It grows up to 2 feet tall and has large, strongly veined leaves 6–8 inches long and half as wide. It has a flower, sometimes 2, at the end of the stem, cream-colored to golden-yellow. Flowers have 3 sepals, greenish-yellow to brownish-purple, the upper sepal larger, usually erect, and hanging over the blossom.

Rick took this photo last weekend at Mill Creek State Park using the Hipstamatic app. View it bigger and see more in his Michigan wildflowers slideshow.