T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Posts about Environment

The Questions

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 29, 2011 - 12:40 PM

I do not know what happened to the previous post. What was on top is now on the bottom and vice versa, and some of it did not post.


Here were the questions,

Can this type of legislation work?

Can you support this type of legislation - and if not, why not? 

Do you have an alternative suggestion? 


You can post your answers and comments here, or e-mail them to me at TRMichels@yahoo.com. Please no frivolous comments on this Blog.


Legislation to Protect Minnesota's Research Bears

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 29, 2011 - 12:31 PM

In light of some of the objections to protection from hunting for Minnesotas' research bears, such as, "it will lead to protection of all of Minnesota's bears" or "it will lead to protection of other animals," I've spent many hours trying to figure out what could be done to alleviate those possibilties, through legislation. I think I may have come up with an idea that could lead to the final wording of a bill to protect Mnnesotas bears, without leading to the protection of other animals.

I've sent this to all of the people who were on the comission, and to several other legislators. But, I've recieved no responses. I guess they do not open their government e-mails once the legislative  session is over.

So I will take it to you - the citizens of the state of Minnesota - who, if we believe Commissioner Landwehr's statement, are the ones to which the States' wildlife belong.

Here it is:

Incidentally - I cannot find any instance where protecting research animals has led to the protection of that entire species, a group of animals from another species, or an entire other species. If anyone knows of such an instance, please provide it to me.

I'm looking forward to your responses.

May God bless all of you, and all of those who have gone before us,



Part 1.There shall be no protection for any game animal from hunting, based on frivolous claims such as due to genetic anomaly (color of the skin, hair, fur, feathers, scales etc.) or geographic location (specific area), unless it is deemed necessary by the DNR for such reasons as the economic, educational or research value of the animals. This does not include research animals of any species, including those that have colored ribbons/tape and/or radio collars on them, in specific units designated by the DNR.

Part 2. It is illegal to hunt and kill radio collared bears, wearing brightly colored or florescent ribbon/tape on their collars or body, specifically in Units... (cite Dr. Rogers' study area).

Part 3. In the event that a research animal is killed by a hunter the DNR may conduct a thorough review of the incident to determine if it was a purposeful act or not, and it shall determine the appropriate action or punishment.

This could be amended to include the research bears of the State’s DNR studies


So - a few questions for all of you, you can respond in a comment here, or e-mail me at TRMichels@yahoo.com. Please, no frivolous responses.

Research Bears, Deer & Asian Carp - All About Management

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 27, 2011 - 6:03 PM

May Deer Management

During May both bucks and does may begin to move to summer home ranges. Does will begin looking for fawning locations, and most fawns wilbe born by mid-June.  

Herd Health and Social Structure

More and more hunters are interested in hunting for trophy animals. But, because State game managers are often interested in providing a large, healthy, balanced herd, and not necessarily trophy animals, these hunters are taking it upon themselves to try to increase their chances of seeing a trophy by some type of deer management (sometimes with the emphasis on growing trophies) and improving the habitat. Hunters who are only interested in helping the animals grow bigger racks by providing food plots, minerals and limiting their hunting to larger racked animals often unwittingly improve the quality of the entire herd. Not only will the bucks use the food and minerals, but so will the does and fawns. If the hunter then passes up smaller animals he gives them a chance to mature, develop fully and contribute to the gene pool.

Deer Management Practices

There is no question that deer herds must be managed. Increasing human populations, urban sprawl and changing land practices have led to less available deer habitat while deer herds have continued to increase, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in many areas. This has compelled wildlife managers to issue abundant doe permits each year in order to keep the deer herds within the carrying capacity of the available habitat.

The deer management practices of many wildlife agencies revolve around the need to balance the deer herds in relation to the habitat while still trying to keep deer populations high enough for hunting, with hunting as the primary method of deer reduction. The current practice of keeping deer populations high enough that they can be hunted, and the past management practice of bucks only hunting, combined with the belief by many hunters that they should only shoot bucks if they want to keep deer numbers high, is precisely the reason why there are too many deer, particularly does.

It is usually too many does (as in Minnesota and Wisconsin), not too many bucks - in a deer herd that prompts game managers to issue numerous doe permits (in the hopes that enough deer will be removed to keep their numbers at acceptable levels). Eventually this becomes a vicious cycle and both the deer and the habitat suffer. The effects of this cycle generally result in low buck:doe ratios and fewer numbers of dominant breeding bucks, which leads to breeding periods that are later, and longer, than they should be, resulting in poor spring survival rates of fawns.

To add to the problem of too many deer, but not enough bucks, the interest in trophy hunting for white-tailed deer has skyrocketed in the past few years. This interest in high scoring whitetail racks by numerous hunters puts added pressure on the already depleted number of large antlered animals, and further reduces the number of available older dominant breeding bucks. Fewer numbers of bucks, particularly older dominants, result in fewer contacts between the does and the priming pheromones deposited by bucks at rubs and scrapes. These priming pheromones are thought to cause the does to come into estrus and help synchronize the rut activity between the does and the bucks. When these pheromones are absent the does may come into estrus from as early as mid-October to as late as January.

In a deer management study by Larry Marchinton between 1981 and 1986, an increase in the buck to doe ratio from 25:100 in 1981-82, to 54:100 in 1983-84 resulted in the average breeding date changing from November 11 in 1981 to October 15 in 1982, almost a month earlier than normal, and the length of the breeding period was shortened from 96 to 43 days. In another study using quality management techniques, the average breeding date occurred almost two months earlier.


Watershed Management: Invasive Species Control   

If you have not already done so, please read Dennis Anderson's article in the outdfoors section on this website, about the Asian Carp Invasion in Minnesota at http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/117452053.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue . 

If we do not do something - no - everything - we can - to stop invasive, non-native species from overtaking the eco-systemf of Minnesota, we are going to ruin many of the eco-systems we have, and loose many of the fish species so important to Minnesotan's for fishing pleasure, and the State of Minnesota as a tourism draw. You can help in this effort - by doing the same thing you have already been doing to protect the research bears -  e-mail your state representative and senator, and ask them to agree that we need to test the water of the Mississippi River near the Iowa border, and the Minnesota and St.Croix Rivers where they empty into the Mississippi River, so we can determine if Asian Carp have already entered into those water.

We also need to implement the best means of stopping these fish, or any more these fish, from geting into the Mississipi River above Iowa, and the Minnesota River and St. Croix River. And we need to do it now, or it may be too late, if is not too late  already. I guess it is just coincidental that I have been talking about eco-system and watershed management this last week. 


Protecting Minnesota's Research Bears - The Other Side of The Coin 

I'v tried to geat an answer to the question of why the legislators on the commission overseeing the bill that contiained the Bear Protction Ammendment, did not make it into the final bill, and thus was never voted on. Unfortunately, none of the people on the commission, nor Rep. Phyllis Kahn, or Commisioner Landwehr, have bothered to answer me. However, after speaking to a few of Minnesota's influential hunting /conservation organization leaders, and reading some of the 100 posts on the Protect Minnesota's Research Bears Facebook page (at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Protect-Minnesotas-Research-Bears/160331730697185?ref=ts, and on the Lily; The Black Bear Facebook page (with a combined total of over 132,000 "likes"), and the 100+ e-mails I have received as a result of this Blog, it appears that at least one of the concerns about allowing protection for these bears is that it may result in Minnesotas citizens seeking protection for more bears, or more groups of animals, or other animal species.This is commonly refered to as the "slippery slope" argument. It also leads to the belief and statement that "if you give them an inch, they will take a mile."  While this might make for a great "sound bite", it does not make for a good argument. It might be an excuse, but as a reason for not protecting the research bears. It "does not hold water". 

Why do I say this? Because after spending at least an hour on the Internet, looking for examples of the protection of any animal leading to attempts to protect some other group of animals, or the entire species, or the protection of some other species, based (usually) on some frivolous reason, such as they are different than the other animals of the same species (as in white, pied or black colored deer, bears, turkey, ducks, pheasants, fish, reptiles, amphibians etc.) or some other genetic anomally - I cannot find one single instance where the protection of one group of animals has led to calls for the protection of another animal, or more animals of the same species, or an entire species.  

One other reason why those against protection of the research bears do not want protection for them, is their excuse that they are wild animals, that are legal to hunt, therefore there is no reason to protect them. To that I say, "That is an excuse, not a reason. The results of the research into the houlry, daily, weekly, monthy and yearly lives of these animals, has already shown itself to be imporant to better understanding the lives of black bears and the interrelationship between the members of this family of radio collared bears, and to better bear managemen. Not to say anything about the educational value of these particular bears (not some other bears, or even any other bears) for not only adults, but also for thousands of school chidlren around the world, and the economic value to the State of Minnesota, the town of Ely and the surrounding areas. Because some of the people who have already visited the Bear Center have come from other countries, the economic value stretches to  the country as a whole. And right now, we need every bit of any economic value that we can find.        


Conservation relies on wildlife and habitat management, and wildlife and habitat management relies on research.

If you want to protect, preserve and conserve wildlife species and wildlife habitat, research (for yourself) why and how everything on the earth, is interconnected and dependent on each other If the animals are not in balance with the habitat, it makes for an unhealthy eco-system. And an unhealty eco-system either heals iteslf, is healed with the help of man, or it dies.   

While it may not be neccessarily true that if a bird dies in North America, a tree in Brazil dies - it can be true that the death of a tree in Brazil, can lead to the death of a bird in North America. Look up (for yourself) how Brazilian coffee trees affect songbirds here in North America - you'll learn better if I don't have to explain it with my limited understanding. .


I'm going to be setting up Natural History Eco-Tours for Bears, Wolves, Eagles, Swans and Cranes here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Elk Bugling Tours to Custer State Park in early September, and Wildlife Tours to Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks in mid and late September for big game photography and viewing. If you are interested contact me at TRMichels@yahoo.com.   

God bless and enjoy our Great Outdoors,




Of Black Bears & Whooping Cranes

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 27, 2011 - 11:55 AM

The Bear Facts

There are in excess of 500,000 black bears (Ursus americanus) in North America; they are the second largest omnivore or predator in most of Canada and the United States; with only brown bears and polar bears being larger. It is estimated that the population of black bears in the lower 48 states is between 186,000 and 206,000.

Black bears may reach lengths of five feet, with exceptional bears reaching eight feet from nose to tail, with shoulder heights from 2-3 feet. Males generally weight from 100-400 pounds, with large males reaching 800 pounds. Females may weigh 90-525 pounds. The weight of individual bears depends on there age, sex, season food and genetics; bears coming out of hibernation weigh much less than they do in the fall. Males generally reach full size by 12 years of age, females are generally full grown by the age of 6. Most black bears loose 50 percent of more of their weight during hibernation, especially females when they are nursing newborn cubs. The heaviest weight recorded for wild lack bears is 902 ponds (for a male) and 520 pounds (for a female). Those weights were measured at peak fall weight however. Most black bears, especially after winter, weigh less than half that much.

Unusually heavy black bears often have access to supplemental food. Researchers weighed such a bear near Orr, Minnesota in 1994. Duffy, age 12, weighed 584 pounds on July 13, and 876 pounds on September 5, gaining 8.1 pounds per day during those 36 days. After spending the winter in his den, and after losing more eight during the spring breeding season, he weighed only 465 pounds on July 4, 1995. He had lost 411 pounds (47 percent of his weight) during hibernation and mating. While they may look ponderous on their feet at their fattest in late fall, when they may go through a sleep walking phase prior to denning, they can sprint up to 30 miles per hour, and they can climb trees easily. Under ideal conditions black bears may live 5-30 years. Between 1930 and 2010 there were fewer than 35 known black bear attacks on human beings.


Whooping Cranes

I just got an e-mail from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, it seems some Wisconsonites are reading my Blog. This is what was sent:

The two Whooping Cranes you refer to are two yearling cranes, specifically numbers 1-10 & 8-10 (the second number denotes the year they were hatched, TR). These two males learned the migration route from Wisconsin to Florida last fall by following our ultralight aircraft. After a number of weeks spent at their new winter home at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla Co., FL they, along with 3 others, returned home to the Necedah NWR area. They were recently in MN on a spring wandering sojourn. Something that is fairly typical for yearling cranes.


In an earlier e-mail to me, they askedme to contact them if I saw the cranes.So, if anyone spots these two beautiful Whooping Cranes, you can contact either me or the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

In one of the photos of the cranes on the MOU site, it appears that one of them is wearing a tracking device. I still have not received an answer as to whether it is or not, or if it is working.   


2011 Lilypad Bear Center Picnic

I'm thinking of hiring a tour bus to attend the Lilypad Picnic. If you are interested in this great opportuntiy contact me at TRMichels@yahoo .

This summer the North American Bear Center will once again have a picnic - and celebrate the lives of Lily, Hope, Faith, Jason and the other study bears involved with the NABC/WRI. The fun begins on Friday, July 22nd. The actual picnic will be held Saturday, July 23rd at WHITESIDE PARK in downtown Ely. On Sunday, July 24th the party returns to the GRAND ELY LODGE for another terrific brunch and Q & A with Dr. Lynn Rogers, Sue Mansfield and Donna Andrews. Log on to http://www.lilypadpicnic.com/lodging.html for more details

Remember, enjoy our Great Outdoors, take a family member or friend along, and introdce them to the beauty of nature, and take along binoclars, spotting scope and video or still camera - for memories sake. If you see anything interesting, please let me know. I might include it here, and I will probably want to see it.

God bless,


Bears, Birds and Conservation; Part 3 - Bears & Eco-System Health

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 26, 2011 - 4:24 PM

I recently watched two programs, one about the wetlands of south central Nebraska, which have dwindled to about ten percent of what they were, that are the stop off and resting areas for many of the migrating shorebirds, wading birds, songbirds and especially waterfowl of the Central Flyway. As a result of this loss of habitat, some of the birds aren’t getting enough forage to make the trip north, or to live long on their summer range. Some are starving right there in Nebraska. Some are dying due to the spread of infectious diseases such as avian cholera, because they are concentrated in such as small area.

Habitat, whether it is winter habitat in South America, resting spots in Central America or the southern United States, or summer breeding habitat in the United States, Canada and the Arctic, is important to migrating birds. Saving, protecting, preserving, conserving one of those components, without the other components of the entire range of migrating birds, is not enough to save the birds. In fact it is often futile. Wake up people – we all need to think about conservation – of wildlife habitat – or we will loose many of the animals we love to enjoy watching.

The other TV program was about how the loss of salmon due to overfishing, and the blockage of salmon streams for dams, has impacted the birds, animals, plants and forests often surrounding watersheds. How do decreasing numbers of salmon affect an entire eco-system or watershed you might ask. It all comes back to where I started, because it affects the bears and the birds. Or they affect it.

If the salmon run is reduced, through over fishing by commercial fisherman, or due to the fish being poisoned by pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers that run off into the ocean. Or the fish die from toxice waste and garbage emptied into the ocean, or because a river or stream is damned so that the fish cannot reach their spawning grounds, the reduction in fish results in the streams and rivers - bears, foxes and other predators, eagles and seagulls, eat less fish. The nutrients in the fish are spread throughout the eco-system by the bears and birds as they leave droppings behind. These droppings in turn fertilize the plants of the eco-system, which in turn are eaten and utilized by the birds, fish and animals, and smaller insects, invertebrates and mollusks, that are in turn eaten by the larger animals, including the seagulls, eagles and bears.

If there is a reduction in the salmon run, then the fertilizer of the plants, in the form of the nutrients of the salmon, left behind as bear droppings, is missing from the eco-system, and it is not as healthy as it should be.

Interestingly, Dr. Lynn Rogers, who conducts bear research here in Minnesota, conducted a study to determine if and how bears contribute to the dispersal and growth of plants, especially fruit bearing plants, which contributes to the overall health of the eco-systems they live in. What he discovered was that bears may carry mast crops such as hazel nuts and acorns, and the seeds of plum, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, bearberry, serviceberry etc, with them as they travel up to 20 miles per day.

Seeds eaten by bears often have a higher germination rate than seeds dropped on the ground, because the bruising on the seeds from being eaten, and the acid in the stomach of the bears helps them to germinate. These seeds may germinate at a rate of 20 to 93 percent. The study concluded that for very large seeds, such as the fruits of plums and cherries, black bears may be one of only a few long-distance dispersal agents, just as brown bears are dispersal agents of the nutrients of salmon flesh and skin, through the droppings they leave behind, which may be miles from the river or stream where the fish were caught and eaten. 

This shows us that the research of people like Dr. Lynn Rogers, on bears, in the manner that he conducts it, can be important for understanding the interrelationship of the plants and animals of an eco-system. It is also important for eco-system management and conservation as a whole. If he can continue his studies, without the loss of another bear to hunters, who knows what other important findings he can discover?



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