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Southern Exposure from Prairie View Guest Rooms l Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l Wildlife Conservation l A Mid-Michigan Nature Center

Wildlife Conservation

 

Wildlife conservation is the preservation, protection, or restoration of wildlife and their environment, especially in relation to endangered and vulnerable species. At Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, wildlife conservation efforts are aimed at decreasing the number of overly abundant species like white-tailed deer that have detrimental effects on the natural ecosystems, while protecting and creating habitats for a number of rare species such as eastern box turtles and eastern massasauga rattlesnakes.

Wildlife Rehabilitation: Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to encounter wounded or sick wildlife. While young animals may look orphaned, the best course of action is to leave them alone. Often their parents are nearby and will take care of their young. Injury is also common in the natural world. As hard as it may seem, sometimes the best response is to let nature take its course. If one does want to seek treatment for a wild animal, a Department of Natural Resources and Environment licensed wildlife rehabilitator should be contacted. Pierce Cedar Creek Institute does not have the resources or licensing necessary to properly rehabilitate wild animals.

Local Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator:

Dawn Koning (Hastings, MI)

(269) 945-3994 

Dawn is a reputable and  experienced wildlife rehabilitator but is currently unable to treat raccoons. If you have a wildlife emergency concerning an injured or orphaned raccoon, please contact the Lowell Farm and Wildlife Center at (616) 885-4223.

Monarch butterfly:Pierce Cedar Creek Institute has Four Certified Monarch Way Stations l A West Michigan Nature Center

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute has four certified Monarch Way Stations and is contributing to monarch conservation by providing a variety of milkweed plants and other nectar and host plants and agreeing to use sustainable management practices to manage our gardens and natural areas, including eliminating the use of insecticides, amending the soil, removing invasive species from site, using natural compost for fertilization when needed, and watering to maintain growth. 

Ways the community can help Monarch butterfly populations:

  • Educate people that monarchs are in decline and that their young only feed on milkweed.
  • Plant more milkweed (common milkweed, swamp milkweed, butterfly milkweed, and a whole assortment of other lesser known species of milkweed such as Sullivant’s milkweed and whorled milkweed).  If every person in our country planted just ONE milkweed plant, we would have over 317 million more milkweed plants than we do now.
  • Stop using pesticide and herbicides.
  • Stop mowing roadsides (a common place for milkweed to occur naturally).
  • Contact our legislators and support legislation that protects pollinators and their habitats.  The Farm Bill is an important piece of legislation that can be used to support the creation of pollinator habitat in the form of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.  We need to encourage our legislators to support provisions in the Farm Bill for the creation and maintenance of CRP land

 

Wildlife Conservation l Deer with Tracking Collar l Wildlife Research and Education l A West Michigan Nature Preserve

Quality Deer Management: By implementing a quality deer management program, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is committed to controlling the deer herd to a population that can be sustained by the local environment. The current deer population in southwest Michigan is about 70 deer per square mile. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests that southwest Michigan habitats can support no more than 20-25 deer per square mile. This deer over-population is a result of the absence of predators like wolves and coyotes. Without a management plan in place, the native tree and wildflower populations will continue to decline. The Institute works to control the deer population through a quality deer management program. The program reduces the ability of the herd to reproduce and ensures sufficient food sources for the surviving deer.


Native Species Conservation: Many native wildlife species have been negatively affected by environmental degradation and habitat loss. In an effort to create a nesting habitat that is in short supply due to deforestation, the Institute has installed a series of bird nest boxes for a variety of native, cavity-nesting birds. The most popular residents of our nest boxes are Eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, and house wrens. Staff and volunteers diligently monitor these nest boxes to determine nest success and ensure that they are not being inhabited by undesirable non-native species such as European starlings or house sparrows and/or parasites.

Landowners can help provide homes for wildlife on their property as well. A number of suitable nest boxes can be purchased or built from relatively simple plans. Another option for some landowners is to keep dead and dying trees in wooded areas. Many animals can make their homes in these hollowed-out trees.

Through strategic timing of restoration practices and the installation of turtle nest baffles, the Institute also works to preserve some reptile species, such as eastern massasauga rattlesnakes and eastern box turtles. Please remember that snakes—even venomous ones—play an important role in the ecosystem, and it is important to resist the potential urge to kill a snake when one is encountered. Massasaugas avoid confrontation with humans and are not prone to strike. However, like any animal, they will protect themselves from anything they see as a potential predator. It is best to treat these animals with respect and leave them alone.

Relocating Animals on the Institute's Property: It's a popular myth that the animal that is a nuisance on your property can simply be "relocated." It sounds easy enough, and one would think it might be the best for property owner and nuisance animal. However, it's rare that relocated animals have a good chance of survival, and moving them may even affect the survival of animals in their new "home."

  • Relocation can be stressful to wild animals. They may experience elevated heart rates and breathing rates, high blood pressure, acute changes in blood chemistry, and depressed appetites. These factors, in turn, may make them more vulnerable to disease or predation.
  • Relocated animals have no prior experience with their new homes, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage in finding food and shelter. Most animals that cause problems are common and widespread such as fox, opossum, and raccoon. Almost all areas to relocate nuisance animals already have established populations of these animals. It is very difficult for a relocated animal to establish territory of its own. Animals released in a new territory lack the local knowledge to fit in with existing animal hierarchies and risk fights with resident animals and exclusion from feeding areas and den sites.
  • Releasing animals may help spread disease. Just as we humans spread disease by traveling, animals can bring diseases into new areas when they are relocated thus impacting the resident animal populations.
  • A relocation site may not have all the basic needs for the animal. Although the site may look suitable to us, it may lack proper food or shelter and often causes animals to leave the release area. The animal may wander aimlessly for miles, and there is a  high mortality in released animals.

In summary, relocation sounds appealing, but it is tough on the transported animals and can have negative impacts on the animal populations where they are released. Our goal is to co-exist with wild animals, and we owe it to them to seek low stress and hopefully non-lethal solution to nuisance animal problems. Usually, that means modifying our own behavior.

 

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