God’s Rays over Saginaw Bay, photo by Tom Clark Awesome shot from last year on Saginaw Bay! View Tom’s photo bigger and see more in his Skyscapes slideshow. More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.
In an earlier post, “It’s Time to Consider a Bounty on Asian Carp” we advocate exploring a bounty program to help curb or control this invasive species until a long term solution can be developed. However it’s entirely within the realm of thinking that we may never eradicate the Asian Carp so a bounty program will have to be enacted for some form of control. This Post gives some history of bounty programs and a current model in Louisiana that has curbed a large invasive rodent population.
Asian carp are literally at the doorstep of the waters of the Great Lakes. Some of the species DNA evidence has already been found in Lakes Michigan and Erie and are expected to become established there within the next ten years. Asian carp, which are native to Southeast Asia, consume large amounts of plankton to support their rapid growth and massive body weight. This strips an important food source from the lakes and rivers they invade, causing native species such as Walleye, Whitefish and Yellow Perch to be stressed, starve and die.
Authorities in the states surrounding the Great Lakes are scrambling to find a way to rid the nearby rivers in Illinois of Asian carp and prevent their migration and permanent establishment in the Great Lakes. Some, including Michigan, have considered using a bounty system to help eliminate the fish. How effective have these bounty systems been in the history of America’s attempt to control problem wildlife? And, would a similar program work in Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes?
The first bounties to be enacted in the United States were used primarily to protect livestock from animals such as wolves and coyotes. The very first known bounty was established in Massachusetts in 1630 to try to stop packs of wolves from attacking animals and people.
Between 1630 and 1840, European settlement of the United States spread west. Settlers to these areas began encountering more and different animal threats to their livestock, including bears, wolves, and mountain lions. Individual farmers would hunt these predators or set out traps and snares to catch them, but the federal government did not offer bounties at this time. Some individual states, like New Hampshire, did offer small bounties for some predators during this period, though. And by 1860, a bounty on coyotes had been set up in the rapidly growing Midwest and Western regions.
The first major federal bounty program began in 1915, when Congress appropriated $125,000 to assist with predator control and nuisance animals. This program used hired trappers to and hunters to seek out and destroy problem species. Many states also had their own bounty programs in place by this time, whereby anyone who could prove they had killed one of the targeted species could be paid for each animal they destroyed.
The success of bounty programs has been varied. They seem to work out better when the targeted species is a non-native, invasive one. When natural predators, such as wolves, are killed off in large numbers, this can have a negative impact on the environment. This happens when the number of prey animals grows out of control and begins to damage the natural environment.
However, states like Louisiana have seen success in their efforts to control the invasive, non-native nutria. A bounty program on nutria was established there in 1998, and it has reportedly reduced the damage caused by the animal to coastal wetlands. Louisiana received federal funding to test and establish a bounty program. The program allowed hunters to keep the meat and fur and turn in the tail as proof of the kill. Thus the annual program was part of the budget from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act in 2002.
In 2014, Louisiana paid $5 a tail, for a total of $1.94 million, to 252 hunters, with just under half the hunters offering 800 tails or more. The $5 per tail bounty provided an economic stimulus for the coastal region, and provided year-round income hunting for the otherwise unemployed.
Based on these results, a Michigan bounty on Asian carp in the Great Lakes could work. Asian carp are not native to the area, and they are causing environmental damage by wreaking havoc on the local fish and ecosystem. Further support for this bounty comes from the fact that China has eliminated Asian carp in the wild by over-fishing them. Asian carp could be processed, frozen and exported to the markets where this meat is scarce and highly sought as a food source. As the threat from this species continues to threaten the multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries, it is clear that a bounty on Asian carp in the Great Lakes is a solution worth pursuing.
Images from Wikipedia Commons
We almost take it for granted that if your near the lake in Huron county that your a short walk or drive away from being able to put your toes into the water. That was not always the case. I remember stories from my grand parents and others that the beach front was some of the last land to be sold and parcel developed. After the lumber boom had fizzed out in the 1880’s attention turned to farming. Since the dunes and swampy areas near the water were pretty unfit for farming they stayed clear of development until well into the 1900’s.
Parks were available but they were far and few in between. This small article appeared in 1937 in the Harbor Beach newspaper as many miles of M-25 were in process of being paved. It called on Huron leadership to extend the township roadways that stopped at M-25 right to the shore so tourists could access the beach and lake. Sanilac county took the lead on establishment of easements that were a model for much of the Great Lakes region. Today an example of township easement this can be clearly seen at Oak Beach. The road runs right up the water where, for many years, there was a boat ramp available righ on the edge of the park..
It’s widely recognized that the first drive in was Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933. It offered viewing for up to 400 vehicles and a 40 by 50 foot screen. The owner advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” The facility only operated three years, but during that time the concept caught on in other states.
The drive-in’s peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with some 4,000 drive-ins spread across the United States. Huron County is recorded in having two drive-in’s, the Blue Sky between Caseville and Pinnebog and the M-53 near Bad Axe.
The Blue Sky operated from 1950 – 1977. Surrounded by farmland it offered summer nighttime movies for 300. Faced with decline in attendance the drive in showed “blue films” in the 1970’s. Remains of this theater were evident until about 2010 when land owners removed the last of the speaker stands and cement footings.
M-53 opened in 1953 and ran until 1988. Located just west of town, its 400 spaces drew folks from all over the county.
Today there are no drive-ins in the Upper Thumb. The nearest one is the Hi-Way Drive In in Sandusky. The Hi-Way is considered the oldest continuous running drive-in in Michigan.