Because feelings run so deep in the wildlife and environmental arena we are making this a "moderated" blog. All comments will be read by the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy before being posted. Please keep your comments factual, smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don’t mess with baby animals

That baby rabbit is soooo cute!  Don’t you just want to take it home and feed it with a bottle? That baby bird on the ground—it’s so helpless!  Maybe you should just take it in the house and feed it with an eye dropper.  Or maybe not.

It is illegal for the general public to try to rehabilitate wild animals, and wildlife should never be kept as "pets."  It is a common human desire to want to care for injured or abandoned animals.  However, you can’t be sure the animal is really abandoned or injured.  Here are some things to keep in mind.

What should I do if I find a sick or abandoned mammal?

  • Mammals can be very dangerous. The animal you find may be stressed and in pain. Even young animals will bite if they feel threatened.
  • Infant mammals usually still have their eyes closed and are much smaller than juvenile and adult mammals. If infant animals are disturbed or fall out of their nests they should be placed back into their nests.
  • It is a myth that if the infant is touched and placed back in the nest the parents will not take care of it. Replace nesting material and infants and cover with grass.
  • Juvenile mammals are often found on their own and mistaken for abandoned. In many cases juvenile mammals will explore their surroundings and search for food alone although the parents are usually not far off.
  • A mammal that is getting around fairly well and has its eyes open will most likely be retrieved by the parents within three to four hours.
  • Resist the urge to feed wild animals. Many people believe it is in the mammal’s best interest to have food, but handling the animal stresses it and the wrong kinds of food can cause more problems.

What should I do if I find a bird?

  • Nestlings are birds that have just recently hatched. They tend to have no feathers.
  • If you see where the nestling has fallen from and the nest is not damaged or in any danger, put the bird back in the nest. Leave the nest alone and the parents will most likely come back and take care of the nestling.
  • Fledglings look like they are still babies but have most of their feathers. They are often found hopping around in the grass alone and people mistakenly think they have been abandoned. Most of the time the parents of the fledgling are not far off and are still keeping an eye on the fledgling.
  • Leave the bird alone and make sure your family dog or cat can’t get it. Most likely the parents will come and retrieve the fledging within a couple hours.

Sometimes, however, the nest is out of reach, or it, too, was blown from the tree.  Specialists recommend making a “fake” nest using a plastic container.  Poke small drainage holes in the bottom and put the babies in the tub with leaves and grass.  Then attach the tub to the same tree and in a shady spot where pets can’t get to it.

The parents may feed the animal in the new nest or retrieve the babies if the old nest is intact.

What should I do if I find a nest?

  • If it is in a safe place, leave it alone.
  • It is easy to run into nests while doing house repairs or yard work. The best thing to do is to hold off on cutting the tree or repairing the building. You will only experience a short delay, as birds hatch and leave the nest relatively quickly. If the nest is moved, the young will most likely not survive.

Everyone likes to see babies in the spring but remember to watch from a distance so those babies have a better chance of surviving. You can decrease the chances of young getting abandoned by watching from afar.

Largely adapted with permission of the Audubon Center of the North Woods (

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yogi, The Bear Bandit

Not long ago, a colleague of ours sent us some photos of his friends’ new car, which was attacked by a bear.  This is his story:

While visiting family in northern Montana his colleague went hiking and left her new car parked in a parking area.  The car was left unlocked.  While hiking a curious bear opened one of the doors of the new car and went inside.  While the bear was exploring the inside of the vehicle a gust of wind blew the door shut.  It panicked.  Finally, after destroying the inside of the car it broke out the back window and escaped.  The lesson: lock your doors.

Being in the wilderness can be dangerous.  Not just to your car, but to you as well.  Here are some recommendations for a hiker of any level.  Thomas Funke, an experienced hiker himself, wrote 50 Hikes In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and suggests some “bear” necessities to bring along for a good hike.  He suggests carrying a daypack with (at least) these items:  a map, a compass, water, extra food, extra clothes, a signal maker, a knife, a fire starter, a first aid kit, and a flashlight.  You may also want to carry rope, duct tape, an extra blanket, bug spray, toilet paper, a shovel, and some sunscreen.
Wear the correct footwear for your hike; backpacking or hiking boots.  And follow Leave No Trace ethics.

    • Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    • Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Leave What You Find
    • Minimize Camp Fire Impacts
    • Respect Wildlife
    • Be Considerate of other visitors
No one wants a bear destroying their vehicle.  Lock the doors.  No hiker wants to be lost, hurt or stranded.  Above all, leave an itinerary with someone, just in case.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Earth Day Celebration Beginning One Day Early

April 22 marks an important day in our history.  Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, believed that we needed to teach the citizens of the United States more about the environment through an “environmental teach-in”.  In 1970, 20 million citizens from colleges, universities and environmental groups came together and participated in organized protests and educational programs highlighting the environment we live in.  When asked about the organization of Earth day Senator Nelson had this to say: “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”  In 1990 Earth Day was celebrated internationally for the first time and in 2009 the United Nations declared April 22 International Mother Earth Day.  Today Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries by 500 million people.   

The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy is not only celebrating April 22, but April 21, as well.  On April 21, 2012 the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy will be bringing Chad Kister, an author of many environmental books about the Arctic, to the Bengel Wildlife Center.  His 2 p.m. program called “Arctic Screaming” will describe the changes taking place in the Arctic environment as temperatures are warming.  His program is very educational and informative, filled with beautiful photos taken on his last journey to the Arctic.  His program is about 50 minutes with time for questions after.

After multiple trips to the Arctic, Alaska, and Canada he has written 4 books relating to the dangers of climate change and how it affects the earth.  The following are his books:


·         Arctic Quest:  Odyssey Through a Threatened Wilderness (Available in the Dancing Crane Gift Shop) 

·         Arctic Melting:  How Climate Change Is Destroying One of World’s Largest Wilderness Areas

·         Against All Odds:  The Struggle to Save the Ridges

·         Arctic Screaming:  A Journey to the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis

For more information or to reserve your seat(s) email Jennifer, at or call at 517-641-7677.

If you would like to read a few pages of his book, Arctic Screaming, you may do so at

If you would like to view his website click here