HLSIO Volunteers Needed!!!

Dear HLSIO supporters,

We received a strong response to our fall fly though pyrotechnic harassment (Bird Banger) program with 17 volunteers so far. Much of the southern basin of the lake is now covered however it could be improved with one volunteer a bit south of the Cut River and another at or a bit south of Point Detroit.  Additional volunteers are needed for optimal northern basin coverage. We need volunteers specifically in the areas of Camp Curnalia, Cottage Grove, Sovereign/Sunset Parks and The Norways.

Our 4 years of effort to fight swimmer’s itch on Higgins Lake has resulted in a significant reduction in SI.  We want to thank you for your support that made this all possible but the fight continues and we will not be satisfied until there are no reports of SI on Higgins Lake.  To continue to reduce SI, and to advance our knowledge of the complex SI infection life cycles, the HLSIO and HLPOA boards are working together on two important fall programs.  We need your support to make these programs successful.

2018 Fall Hunting Research Program

The first program is a fall hunting research study working with Crystal Lake and Dr. Curt Blankespoor on Oct 12 and Oct 26.

The purpose of the study is to gain more knowledge about the SI infection levels of various species of ducks including common mergansers, mallards, buffleheads and red breasted mergansers that fly through our lake in the fall and create a risk of SI infection.

Licensed hunters are needed on Higgins Lake to work with our team of experts to lethally take various species of ducks during the fall hunting season on Oct 12 and 26.  Dr. Blankespoor will conduct necropsies of the ducks to determine their level of SI infection and to retain parasite samples for further research.

If you are a licensed duck hunter and can volunteer to help us, please contact Greg Semack at cmaks3@msn.com to indicate your willingness to help.   We need a team of about 6 licensed hunters for those days on Higgins Lake.

Fall Pyrotechnic Harassment Program

Our current trap and relocation program targets common merganser broods in the summer because decades of research show they are the primary cause of SI in northern Michigan lakes.  But we continue to be concerned about fall fly-through ducks of various species that can be highly infected with SI and can spend a few days on the lake.  We have various species of snails on Higgins Lake including the snail that matches up with Mallards.  So far, our very limited research on Mallards show no contribution by Mallards to SI on Higgins Lake. But we need to increase that body of research and continue to monitor the Mallard population.

Our trap and relocation permit only allows us to focus on common mergansers in the summer.  Common mergansers as well as other species of ducks have been shown to carry SI infection.  We would like to take steps to chase all these ducks from the lake in the fall when the water is still warm enough to promote SI infection.  Snails that become infected in the fall of 2018 will live through the winter and following spring and summer to cause cases of SI next year.  We believe they are the likely cause of the continued, reduced level of SI infection we are seeing in the summer on Higgins Lake.

The HLSIO and HLPOA boards are working together to purchase “bird-bangers”, which are pistols that shoot loud pyrotechnics to scare ducks from the lake.  If ducks are spotted in or around your frontage, you can help protect your lake frontage from SI infection and help scare the ducks into moving further south to another body of water.  With volunteers located around the lake we can work together for a low cost fall harassment program.

To be effective, we need to identify volunteers around the lake and on the island who will be at the lake this fall.  No permit is needed to use the “bird-bangers” and they can be safely used with proper training.  Crystal Lake has used 25 volunteers around the lake for a number of years and our program is modeled after theirs.  Hand-held pyrotechnic pistols and ammunition will be supplied to volunteers at no charge.

Please contact Bob Wagner at bobbywags1@yahoo.ca to indicate your interest in this pyrotechnic harassment program.


Thank you for your continued support for the fight against SI on Higgins Lake.



Higgins Lake Swimmer’s Itch Organization Board

P.O. Drawer 665, Grayling  MI  49738

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