In the Field: Southern Michigan Travels

by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator
Well, I have been in my position as the Michigan WIldlife Cooperative Coordinator for almost two months now.  The time has flown by, and I know it won’t slow down anytime soon!  I have the pleasure of traveling around the state and meeting a bunch of pretty phenomenal people. Just yesterday morning I had the privilege to sit in on the Baltimore Township Pheasant Cooperative’s meeting out in Barry County. On Saturday I went up to Ubly, Michigan (in the central Thumb) for a QDMA banquet. The common denominator of the two trips (other than great people of course) was that I saw a lot of turkeys on my drive over. In one field alone there were well over 100 birds!
I love turkey hunting. I wouldn’t say it is my favorite species to hunt, simply because anytime out in the woods or out in the fields is a great time. But there sure is something special about breaking the cabin fever months by sitting on the ground, against a tree and listening to the turkeys talk back to you.
Anyways, while I do have turkeys on the brain, I spent a fair amount of time thinking and talking about pheasants yesterday morning over in Baltimore Township. I was impressed with this wildlife cooperative. They have been organized for only three years, yet as a group of private landowners, they have created over 200 acres of grasslands, and have a total cooperative landscape of more than 2,000 acres! Their meeting attendance was about 15 individuals, most of whom were private landowners, along with a few individuals to assist in providing constructive guidance for cooperative decisions about pheasant habitat and species management.
Baltimore Township Pheasant Cooperative holds a couple meetings a year and typically hosts a habitat day and picnic to recruit new members and showcase the hard work they have done on the existing properties. They work closely with the Barry Conservation District, as well as their NCRS contact for guidance on habitat management strategies.One item that came up in conversations yesterday included a program the National Wild Turkey Federation has called “Energy for Wildlife.” This program helps the utility industry manage millions of miles of right-of-ways and other properties that could potentially provide ideal habitat for a number of wildlife species.
The Pheasant Cooperative talked about possibly working with this program, or the local power company directly to pursue planting grasses in these right-of-ways. There is a successful program in Cadillac with Wolverine Power that I will be checking out.From what I could tell, Baltimore Township Pheasant Cooperative is doing a great job so far. They are still young, but they already have good acreage, great projects, and an active membership who can carry on lively and productive conversations revolving around improving their pheasant population. Working with cooperatives like this one, and all the ones I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past couple months excites me about the future of wildlife management and our hunting heritage.

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