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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Haslett Good Old Days Festival!

The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has been given an opportunity to have a booth at the 2012 Haslett Good Old Days Festival on Saturday, June 9th at Lake Lansing Park North.   We are asking for a few volunteers that will be able to talk to people passing by and hand out newsletters and Conservancy brochures.  We have been asked to arrive at 9 a.m. to set up our table.  Events will start at 10 a.m. and run to about dusk. 

If you are not prepared to volunteer perhaps you would like to attend the Haslett Good Old Days Festival.  It is a family oriented event and runs from Friday, June 8, 2012 – Sunday, June 10, 2012 at Lake Lansing Park North and South.  Some of the events taking place are: childrens games, family volleyball tournaments, peddle boat races, fishing from the dock, and a dunk tank.  Other events include a car show, kick ball game, concerts, nature hikes, arts and crafts, and a community picnic.  There is a $3.00 admission to all Ingham county parks that is good for the entire day at both Lake Lansing Park Locations.  All games and activities are Free! 

We hope to see you there whether you are volunteering with us or enjoying the activities. 

Please contact Jennifer for more information at 517-641-7677 or

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Keeping Up With The Monarch

Many readers of The Wildlife Volunteer have expressed interest in the long term status of the Monarch butterfly.  In recent years this beautiful insect has been declining in numbers throughout Eastern North America and has become a concern of many wildlife conservationists.  Because Michigan is close to the northern terminus of the butterfly’s breeding grounds all our citizens should take a special interest in this animal.
The numbers are in for flies on their wintering habitat of oyamel fir trees in Mexico.  Scientists census the Monarch by measuring the amount of land the population occupies during the critical wintering period.  This is made possible by the animals themselves, because they “pack” as close as is necessary to keep warm during winter nights.  Measuring the acreage they occupy provides a relative population estimate, or index.  The winter population census began in 1994 and the long term average acreage of monarchs is 17.27 acres (6.99 hectares).   There are millions of individuals in that packed area so absolute numbers are impossible to determine.
The measured area the Monarch occupied in the winter of 2011-2012 was 7.14 acres (2.89 hectares), a decline of 28% from last year’s numbers, and 59% decline from the eighteen year average.  The sad news for Michiganders is – expect a 30% decline in butterfly numbers this summer.
It would be easy to blame the vagaries of climate for the Monarch’s decline - Exhibit A – 86o in Lansing on March 21.  But there appears to be so much more going on here.  Researchers in Texas and Kansas point to an inverse correlation between the number of acres planted to herbicide tolerant row crops on the Monarch’s flight path and the fly’s numbers.  Crops are now being bred to tolerate spraying of Round-up and other herbicides, so that fields can be sprayed to kill weeds after the crop is growing.  The later spraying is very effective to control weeds, even milkweed, in and around crop fields.  Without milkweed there will be no Monarch butterfly, the animal can’t exist without it to lay eggs on.
Herbicide tolerant corn and soybeans were introduced in 1996, the year Monarch numbers peaked at 51.82 acres in Mexico.  The butterflies have been declining as more herbicide tolerant row crops have been planted.  By 2004 genetically modified corn and soybeans accounted for 51% of planted acreage.  That figure reached 81% of all planted row crop acreage by 2010.  This trend seems very ominous for the Monarch, unless management strategies are adopted to accommodate the insect in the agricultural landscape.

One possible step forward is to encourage additional research on alternatives to widespread herbicide use.  Organic farmers are experimenting with sandblasting of corn fields early in the growing cycle.  Sandblasting takes ground-up corn cobs (available at most farms) and sprays them under pressure at the undesirable weeds.  Early research found that weeds can be controlled in corn fields if multiple treatments are done at the one-leaf, 3-leaf, and five leaf stage of the corn plant.
Other sandblasting materials are being considered such as nut shells and even fertilizer, or crushed limestone.  These alternatives may help with soil fertility or structure, which are important in agriculture.
If sandblasting weeds replaced even some herbicide spraying in agricultural crops on the Monarch’s migration route it may be very beneficial for the butterflies.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Limited Time Offer – FREE One-Year Guest Membership

Not a member of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy yet?  Enjoy the benefits of a member of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy and receive all six issues of our newsletter, The Wildlife Volunteer, by signing up for a Free One-Year Guest Membership.  Each issue of our newsletter contains informational articles about Michigan’s environment, wildlife and its habitat, and the many issues concerning our state such as the cougar, wild hogs, Asian carp, etc.  

If you are not interested in a FREE One-Year Guest Membership, perhaps someone you know would be.  The gift of a “guest” membership would be great for that environmentally conscience college student, the science teacher, the avid volunteer, or the scout leader in your family to keep them informed about the outdoors.  

All you need to do is send us the contact information (via e-mail, phone, fax or mail) and we will process the FREE One-Year Guest Membership.   If you are gifting someone a FREE One-Year Guest Membership we will send them notification.  Please let us know if you would like to remain anonymous.

As earlier stated, this is a limited time offer.  We will be accepting “guest” members until June 15, 2012.  No “guest” member will be solicited for any contributions during their trial period, except for one renewal notice about one month before their membership expires. 

Please contact Jennifer at 517-641-7677 or email at

Michigan Wildlife Conservancy
6380 Drumheller Road
Bath, MI 48808

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Come help spruce up the Bengel Wildlife Center!

Our President and some volunteers
Saturday, May 12th is Bengel Clean-up Day.  We’ll start the day at 10:00 a.m. with coffee and finish at 4:00 p.m.  A complementary lunch will also be served as our way of saying “thank you”!

Some volunteers gardening

The day’s activities will include garden cleanup, planting, trail maintenance, and more.  Please let us know if you will be joining us, so we can order enough food.  Also, please wear your work clothes and bring hat and gloves.  If you have pruners, hand trowel, spade, rake or leaf blower, they would be helpful.  We suggest you write your name on your tools.  Contact the office at (517) 641-7677 or to confirm your participation.