DNR offers ‘Wildlife Through Forestry’ raptor forum in Marquette

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MARQUETTE– For those who may never have been close to a hawk, falcon or an owl, or who want to learn more about these creatures, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting a raptor forum this month in Marquette.

“We will have two highly-respected bird rehabilitation experts educating us about this very special group of Michigan birds,” said Gary Willis, a DNR service forester from the Baraga office. “They will also be introducing us to some avian friends – hawks and owls that we can view up-close and personal.”

The event featuring Marge Gibson of Antigo, Wisconsin and Jerry Maynard of the Chocolay Raptor Center in Harvey, Michigan will be from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, April 24 in the Michigan Room at the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

Gibson, known to many as “the bird whisperer,” is an internationally respected bird rehabilitator whose life work has truly defined the field. Her research and documented case studies have provided invaluable insight into behaviors, nutritional needs, disease, rehabilitation procedures and post-release data of native bird species used worldwide.

Maynard is a biologist and retired environmental attorney who, along with Bob Jensen, founded the Chocolay Raptor Center. Their primary mission is providing education about raptors, with a secondary mission of rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured hawks, eagles and owls. Maynard plans on bringing several of the center’s raptors to the forum.

“This event is the latest in a fascinating series of ‘Wildlife Through Forestry’ forums held in the western Upper Peninsula over the past year,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “These sessions link wildlife topics to the numerous ways habitat for birds and animals may be developed and enhanced for a range of species on private lands.”

The forums have been presented by the DNR with funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant.

Each of these sessions has included a presentation on an interesting and important wildlife-related topic, with additional information provided to private landowners on the value of a Forest Stewardship Plan.

This month’s raptor forum will be followed up with a May 17 “Wildlife Through Forestry” Songbird Forum also at Northern Michigan University.

“We want to get folks fired up about sound resource management so that they establish a family legacy with their forest ownership,” Willis said. “We want to show folks the importance of working closely with a resource professional to accomplish their goals and objectives for ownership. We also want folks to have a good time getting together to discuss topics of interest to us all.”

A panel of resource professionals will be on hand to discuss the development, preparation and implementation of Forest Stewardship Plans.

More than 150 professional foresters and 20 wildlife biologists develop Forest Stewardship Plans for forest landowners in Michigan. For information about these plans or the Commercial Forest Program, contact Gary Willis, DNR Service Forester, 427 U.S. 41 North, Baraga, Michigan, 49908; 906-353-6651, ext. 207-0122 or willisg2@michigan.gov.

Many county conservation districts in Michigan have foresters on staff available for a free site visit to private landowner properties. They can discuss landowner wildlife habitat and forestry goals and help decide if there are financial assistance programs that can provide cost sharing for resource management plan preparation and implementation.

In Marquette and Alger counties, contact Matt Watkeys, forester, at matt.watkeys@mi.nacdnet.net or call the Marquette County Conservation District office at 906-226-8871, ext. 128.

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