In Michigan, pheasant cooperatives helping to improve wildlife habitat

Throughout Michigan, neighbors have formed wildlife cooperatives and are working together to improve habitat for the benefit of pheasants, white-tailed deer and many other wildlife species, according to a feature story Tuesday, Feb. 28 from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives program – funded by the Department of Natural Resources, the Quality Deer Management Association, Pheasants Forever and Michigan United Conservation Clubs – promotes the development and growth of wildlife cooperatives in Michigan. Deer and pheasants are the primary species of focus within these cooperatives.

Deer cooperatives strive to improve white-tailed deer habitat and hunting opportunities. Together, landowners work to set deer harvest goals as well as strategize to improve habitat by planting food plots, grasslands and trees that provide important mast (acorns and other fruit and nuts) for deer, turkey, rabbits and many other wildlife. The Quality Deer Management Association encourages hunters to become good stewards of the deer herd and to help Michigan’s deer herd thrive in balance with the habitat.

The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is working to improve and enhance Michigan’s grasslands on private and public lands in southern Michigan. Much of this work is accomplished through wildlife cooperatives, consisting of private and public landowners and generally situated around a state-land hub.  For example, the Lake Hudson Pheasant Cooperative encompasses land in and around Lake Hudson State Recreation Area. This cooperative and 10 other pheasant cooperatives around the southern part of the state work together to improve grasslands for pheasants, deer and other grassland wildlife.

Participating in a wildlife cooperative does not open private land to hunting – the property rights remain fully in the hands of the land owner. The cooperative partnership does offer opportunities to network with those who can help provide guidance, and potentially labor or funding, to see grassland habitats installed or maintained within the cooperative area.

For more information about wildlife cooperatives, contact Anna Mitterling at amitterling@mucc.org or visit www.mucc.org/cooperatives.

Made up of many partners, the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat (grasslands), populations and hunting opportunities on private and public lands via pheasant cooperatives. It works by acquiring state and federal resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their properties and by improving grassland habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas or other public lands. To learn more, visit www.mi.gov/pheasant.

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