BY JESSICA LOUGHNER, ALPENA FWCO - WATERFORD, MI SUBSTATION
This year the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) – Waterford Substation attended the 69th annual Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival in the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area located near Brownstown, Michigan. This two-day event typically draws in around 8,000 – 10,000 attendees. Proceeds from this festival go to the Pointe Mouillee Marsh Restoration Project, which is the largest marsh restoration project in North America. The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area is also located within the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, the future home of the Waterford Substation.
Participants could get involved in different events, contests, and championships. Events this year included decoy contests, an arts and craft show, duck and goose calling contests, dog jumping contests, sling shot contests, hip boot races, and multiple shooting championships. Many local vendors were selling outdoor and hunting related items at the event. There were also many kids’ activities, such as a BB gun and archery shoot, a bounce house, and face painting. Children particularly enjoyed building their own birdhouses with assistance from staff of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Alpena FWCO staff was able to display the restoration and monitoring programs that they work on in this area of Michigan, specifically in the Detroit River and Lake Erie. Two young Lake Sturgeon, gear and equipment used to conduct field work, Lake Sturgeon field work photos and videos, two replicas of different Asian Carp species, and other preserved samples of invasive species in the Great Lakes such as the Round Goby, Sea Lamprey, and Zebra Mussels were on display. Children and adults were able to see Lake Sturgeon up close, several for the first time, and many asked great questions about Lake Sturgeon and the status of their restoration in the Great Lakes. Several people were also interested in the state of invasive species in the Great Lakes and the potential impact if more invasive fish species were to enter the Great Lakes. This event was a great opportunity for Alpena FWCO staff to inform thousands of people about the work that is currently being conducted in an area that many of these people use for recreation and hunting, as well as reside.