Sparing mute swans, bear cub decline and ‘fishy’ behavior: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

 

A mute swan glides atop the water. Photo by Karen Stamper, courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

A mute swan glides atop the water. Photo by Karen Stamper, courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

Local policy revision spares non-aggressive mute swans (Great Lakes Echo): The invasive mute swan species growth in Michigan has been exponential, increasing by 10 percent each year since 2010. Currently there is legislation in place in west Michigan, authorizing the elimination of these creatures. After a recent survey found that people would prefer only the aggressive swans be killed, the Hutchins Lake Association is trying to negotiate a new plan.

Researchers look to spin grass into beef (Great Lakes Echo): The demand for grass-fed cattle is rising in Michigan. With a $460,000 federal grant, researchers from Michigan State University will explore the economic profitability of these cattle as well as environmental friendliness and encouraging consumers to eat frozen meat.

Changing fishery discard practices has cascading effect on ecosystems (Conservation Magazine): Unwanted fish are thrown over the side of sea vessels and fisheries experience up to 40 percent of discard on their trips. Fishing has cascading effects on wildlife, researchers found, because of the removal of some fish many species feed on. Research shows the resolution to this issue is “complicated.”

 

A polar bear with her two cubs. Photo by Frank Lucassec, courtesy of The Guardian.

A polar bear with her two cubs. Photo by Frank Lukasseck, courtesy of The Guardian.

Fewer polar bear cubs are being born in the Arctic islands, survey finds (The Guardian): Bear cub births in the Arctic islands of Svalbard decreased by 10 percent in 2014 alone, according to a small survey. Global warming continues to melt sea ice on which polar bears use to hunt seals. Of 29 female bears researchers tracked, only three gave birth to cubs that year, much less than the usual one-third of female bears to give birth.

Large muskies lured by the moon: study ties lunar cycle, fish behavior to angler success (Science Daily): In a recent study, a possible link between lunar activity and feeding time have encouraged fish to take the bait. Scientists analyzed the muskellunge in North America and found a correlation between lunar activity and the number of fish caught at fisheries.

 

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Mining in Mackinac, forest pests and reducing emissions: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

Caption. Photo by blah

Graymont Inc.’s plan to start mining in Mackinac. Photo by UpNorthLive

Limestone producer looks to build massive underground mine in the U.P. (Up North Live): The Canadian company, Graymont Inc., is one of the largest limestone producers in North America. The company wants to start mining in the Upper Peninsula by buying 10,000 acres of Mackinac County land that currently is owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The land will be divided up between an underground mine, surface mining and a processing plant. County residents have mixed reactions to the plan, claiming it will bring jobs, but also harm the environment. The DNR is accepting feedback for the next six weeks on the situation.

Climate change opens doors to forest pests new to Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): The changing climate will increase the frequency of droughts, increase the severity of snow/rain storms and make frosts occur later. These things will make trees more vulnerable to insects and disease. Insects such as the mimosa webworm and the hemlock woolly adelgid are a concern for the Great Lakes region. The mountain pine beetle, however, is the most dangerous because it could mean a higher risk of forest fires if the insect causes an increase in pine tree mortality.

Snuffing out smoke: West Michigan school bus drivers shut off engines to reduce emissions (MLive): Schools in West Michigan are taking steps toward reducing the amount of fumes that come out of their school buses by turning off the buses rather than letting them idle. Newer buses also have higher standards when it comes to harmful emissions. A recent USA Today story reported that soot levels in air samples at Cincinnati public elementary schools dropped after the schools implemented the change.

What America’s forests looked like before Europeans arrived (Mother Nature Network): Researchers know the landscape of America’s Northeastern forests are dramatically different today than they were 400 years ago, before European settlers arrived. Because of a rare fossil discovery in Pennsylvania, scientists were able to piece together the full story of America’s early forests. They are hoping that if they can identify fossil tree-leaf sites, it can help with forest restoration projects throughout the Northeastern United States.

Michigan’s feral swine numbers are dropping…or are they? (Great Lakes Echo): Wild pigs in Michigan are known to carry diseases, infect farm pigs and destroy land. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the number of feral swine in Michigan has dropped significantly. But, other groups are saying differently. The DNR’s report shows that less than ten feral swine were reported this year, whereas over 40 were reported last year. Mary Kelpinski, executive director of Michigan Pork Producers Association, said the problem is actually growing worse and they are having a hard time getting people to report sightings.