Boy spearheads efforts to bring arctic shadow back to Michigan | News, Sports, Jobs

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) – To understand how a 9-year-old boy became a champion of a fish that hasn’t been to Michigan in 85 years, we first need to tell you about the love between the boy and his grandfather. .

When Declan O’Reilly was born, his grandfather didn’t buy him a teddy bear but a stuffed fish. When Declan visits Grandpa Sherm Shultz at his cabin in Grayling, they are fishing on the Au Sable River.

The Fish Crazy Grandpa will then teach the Fish Crazy Grandson the four stroke rhythm of fly fishing.

When Declan learned of an effort to bring arctic shadow back to Michigan this summer, he wanted to help.

He has raised funds, educated the public, formed a club, and works with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The DNR recently hosted a species program for its class at Keller Elementary School, The Detroit News reports.

“I like them to be thin” he said. “I like their points. They are like a rainbow trout.

Shultz said he was proud of his grandson.

“A lot of work has been done” he said. “It really caught his attention.”

When not campaigning for the arctic shadow, Declan enjoys the gym, video games, and fencing.

Fencing?

“I have no idea where it came from” said his mother, Laura Shultz. “It’s the most random thing I’ve heard.”

But Declan gives up the sword for a basketball. He created a form of gambling that the more points you score, the more big fish you earn. He calls it Fish Ball.

Children are known for their fleeting fantasies but, in Declan’s case, all things merge into one and a fish runs through him.

He has four goldfish, Big, Zebra, Pumpkin, and Fuli (named after a cartoon character), and the late Dot. He disguised himself as bluegill many Halloweens ago.

As others frolic at Paw Patrol kids’ parties, he celebrated his fifth birthday with a sane fish theme.

He likes to watch “Monster fish” and “In pursuit of monsters” wildlife documentary television shows. During a family visit to the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium last year, he identified the arapaima, a torpedo-shaped fish from the Amazon, before his family had a chance to read the sign of the ‘exposure.

“I bet you’re the only 8 year old watching extreme fishing shows,” Laura told him at the time.

Declan admits he’s only the second best angler in the family. His grandfather beats him in their frequent competitions, although the youngster said he won once.

“I felt happy because every time I never win” he said.

The arctic shadow joined this love story in summer.

Declan and his family were visiting the Oden Hatchery near Petoskey, a family tradition started by Sherm Shultz. During the July visit, Declan was drawn to a sticker that showed a slender fish with a huge dorsal fin.

Written on the sticker was “Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative” and the MNR website.

Declan and Laura researched and learned that freshwater species, which can grow up to 30 inches, were once the king of northern Michigan. The town of Grayling bears his name.

Thymallus arcticus thrived in cold waterways until numbers began to decline in the mid-1800s. By 1936, they were gone. Causes of death: overfishing, loss of habitat and engulfing by brown trout.

The MNR and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announced plans to bring the species back in 2016. Three years later, eggs from grayling Alaska were transferred to Michigan. Researchers hope the fish will inhabit state waters by 2025.

“It would be fun to fish them” Declan said, with Grandpa in tow, of course.

In the meantime, however, the bills must be paid.

Declan began raising funds for the initiative on his ninth birthday in October. Instead of gifts, he asked for donations for Project Grayling. He raised $ 1,400.

When Laura informed the DNR of the windfall, a light bulb lit up in the agency’s head.

MNR invited Declan to visit its six hatcheries, including behind the scenes.

Laura joked that she was relieved when Declan wasn’t interested in playing for a sports travel team, which would have involved a lot of driving, only to prepare to haul him to aquatic nurseries all over Michigan.

The DNR also made its best fish producer available to Declan. Ed Eisch, a biologist who runs the six hatcheries, was going to do a Zoom presentation at the brand new Arctic Shadow Club in Declan.

But the club has only four members, Laura said. Why not shoot bigger? With his help, Eisch gave the speech to Declan’s entire class on Monday.

During the session, many hands were raised in the air during the question period.

Among the 17 students’ questions: How does fish tell the difference between its eggs and gravel? What type of bugs do they like the most? (Mayflies, but they eat pretty much anything that floats on water, Eisch said.)

Another question was what could be done to bring arctic shadow back to Michigan, which Eisch had just spent 30 minutes explaining.

Eisch said he was impressed with Declan’s efforts.

“The best thing we can do is educate people” he said. “There are a lot of people like Declan who are fundraising. “

But the pint-sized ambassador for arctic grayling is not over yet.

He sells t-shirts and other items with a gray logo drawn by his uncle. Uncle, artist Matt Shultz, donates his share of the proceeds to the Fish Initiative. Items can be purchased at teepublic.com/user/arcticgraylingclub.

As for the club, its first meeting was on November 14. Declan and his three pals, dressed in shadow T-shirts, watched a PowerPoint presentation of different Michigan fish. They wrote down the names of the dozen species and then took a quiz.

Laura worried the kids would take him seriously, but they were really serious. Goldfish crackers helped.

Declan plans to introduce more fish at the next meeting.

Indeed, the MRN put his family in contact with Sturgeon For Tomorrow, a group which fights to rehabilitate the lake sturgeon. Declan is already planning to have his class talk about the organization.

First arctic grayling, then lake sturgeon. Afterwards, who knows? It is a vast state and our young king of fishermen is still in its infancy.

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