Father and daughter make unique find during canoe ride

Every kid will have stories about their summer vacation, but Michigan’s 10-year-old Sonja Mohele’s may be hard to beat.
It started last April as she and her father, David, were taking a canoe ride on a lake in Benzie County, Michigan, when they spotted something odd sticking from the mud. Sonja’s dad used a fishing rod to snag the object for closer examination.
“So he shoved it down there and he grabbed it and he pulled it up. And it was this giant vertebra and we were like, ‘What? Crazy!'” she told Interlochen Public Radio.
That backbone wasn’t alone. It was attached to a much larger skeleton which, as they pulled, nearly upset the canoe.
The Moheles delivered the bones to the University of Michigan so that paleontologists could identify the animal. The experts believed the creature was most likely an Eastern elk; a species that had been declared extinct. They were unsure of the actual age of the remains.
Not content, Sonja and her family wanted to know more. They launched a successful campaign to fund carbon-dating tests and they’ve finally received the results.
“There’s a 97.5 percent chance that it’s 1850 or older, which would put it firmly into the range of the extinct Eastern elk,” said Lou Bender, a New Mexico State University researcher.
While a 2.5 percent margin of error doesn’t seem like much, the Moheles aren’t satisfied. They’ve launched another fundraiser for DNA testing.
The Eastern elk, a member of the deer family, was bigger than today’s elk species in North America. The last was believed shot in 1877, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declaring them extinct in 1880.
Now that’s a back-to-school story.
Along the Way:
The latest Fish Ohio Report is in for Lake Erie:
The best walleye fishing has been from west of the Bass islands, primarily from west of Rattlesnake Island and north to the Canadian border. Trolling with worm harnesses with inline weights, divers, bottom bouncers and spoons has been successful, as has drifting and casting mayfly rigs, bottom bouncers and harnesses.
In the central basin, walleye are cooperating off of Sawmill Creek, at the dumping grounds off both Huron and Lorain, and at times around Ruggles Reef.
Excellent fishing, the best of the year, has been reported in 65 to 74 feet of water north of Geneva and in 60 to 74 feet north-northeast of Ashtabula.
Anglers are using planer boards, Dipsy and Jet divers with worm harnesses, spoons and stick baits.
Yellow perch fishing has been good near the Toledo water intake, along the northern buoys of the Camp Perry firing range, off Niagara Reef, between Green and Rattlesnake islands, and both north and south of Kelleys Island. Use spreader rigs tipped with shiners near the bottom.
Smallmouth are being caught around Kelleys and North Bass islands on tube jigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits.
Largemouth are being caught in the harbors and bays in the western basin and along the main lake shoreline around Catawba while using crankbaits, spinner baits and soft plastics.
Step Outside:
• Today: No Child Left Indoors, free for kids ages 6-17, 5:30 p.m. Oakwoods Nature Preserve, Findlay.
• Tuesday: Women on Target, 5:30 p.m. HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
• Aug. 23: Swap meet, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay. Tables available for $20, admission free for shoppers. Contact Barry, 419-619-0074 or Tim, 567-208-9151.
• Aug. 24: Pope and Young Archery Shoot, 8 a.m. Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay.
• Sept. 6: Youth trap shooting clinic, Jaquas Gun Club, Findlay. 9 a.m.-noon, sponsored by Pheasants Forever. Limited to 30 registrants, the event includes safety, trap shooting rules and shooting exercises. Contact Louie Scheiderer, 567-429-9644; louischeiderer@iclound.com.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.

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