First of four 'Wildlife through Forestry' forums held

Published: Mar. 9, 2017 at 6:26 PM EST
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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources held it’s first of four “Wildlife through Forestry” forums at the Ewen-Trout Creek School in Ontonagon County on Wednesday.

Guest speakers at the forum included researchers from the Predator-Prey Project being conducted by Mississippi State University doctoral students.

Each DNR forum planned throughout the U.P. within the next few months will hone in on an important wildlife-related topic. But the true underlying reason for holding these presentations, according to the DNR, is to teach people all about how to manage their private land and to ultimately get owners to better enjoy and be excited about the piece of land that's already theirs.

"They can put down, on paper, their goals and objectives for ownership, meet with a forestry consultant or a biologist, and then they will design practices that will help them enhance their habitat for grouse, bear, deer,” MDNR Service Forester Gary Willis said. “Quite often, they have the same needs."

The DNR's first ever forum, sponsored by the Ontonagon Valley Sportsmen's Club, featured a unique predator-prey presentation. The presentation introduced the long-term Predator-Prey study that is still occurring now in Ontonagon and Houghton counties.

"The study really got started awhile back when we had some very severe winters, and the deer population declined,” Wlidlife Research Biologist Dr. Dean Beyer said. “That, in of itself, wasn't surprising, but what was surprising was that the population didn't seem to rebound as quickly as most folks thought it would."

This project is a collaborative effort between the DNR, Mississippi State University and Safari Club International. Its goal is to try and better grasp the factors affecting white-tailed deer survival.

"We began to look at, what are the potential limiting factors that might be affecting this population,” Dr. Beyer said. “After looking at the literature and the previous work, we settled on predation, winter weather and habitat as the most likely factors. And, so think study is really trying to look at the interactions of those limiting factors."

While a huge part of the study focuses on predation, statistics and findings, what the group presented seemed to lead back to two major factors affecting the survival of deer: weather and habitat conditions caused by it. The next DNR forum will take place in Houghton on April 18th. For more information, visit