Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Paul Hetzler: Black Flies Bite, Spiders Burn

spidersSpiders can be dangerous, but mostly in ways you would never imagine.

A couple of years ago a guy in Seattle burned his house down trying to kill spiders with a blowtorch. In 2015 at a Michigan gas station, a man tried to kill one with a lighter and burned up a pump island, narrowly escaping injury. And Mazda had to recall 42,000 vehicles in 2014 because spiders could clog a small fuel vent line with silk, potentially cracking the gas tank and causing a fire. It’s no wonder we are afraid of spiders, right?

Fear of spiders is so common and widespread, it may well be encoded in our DNA. Obviously it would have behooved early humans to learn to be wary of spiders, as a few species are poisonous. Mind you, it’s a tiny minority, but spiders can be hard to tell apart. If something with way too many legs and eyes scurries up our leg, most of us will swat first and ask questions later. It’s a rare person whose first reaction is “Great—hand it over so I can key it out!” when their partner announces there’s a big spider in the bed. You know that person is a hardcore nerd. And that they probably have a relationship issue to work out if they don’t want to sleep alone that night. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 18, 2016

You Found A Baby Animal: Now What?

Porcupine Baby PorcupetteSpring is here, which means baby season! Most mammals and birds in the northern hemisphere, are born in Spring to allow them time to mature physically before Winter, giving them a shot at survival, and many of us will find baby animals in our yards, or while hiking. What should you do?

If it’s a fawn, and it’s lying down, usually surrounded by shrubbery or tall grass, leave it alone. Mom is off browsing, getting the nutrition she’ll need to provide milk for her fawn, while the fawn is doing its job, staying hidden from predators. Thanks to natural selection, which favors prey which are harder to detect, and therefore more likely to survive to breed, and pass along their genes, fawns, as well as moose and elk calves, are nearly odor free, meaning predators like bears and coyotes will pretty much have to step on them to discover them, so get out of the area, as you may spook Mom, who may be watching, or worse, alert predators, who can definitely smell your presence, indicating there may be something of interest to investigate. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Research On NY’s Ice Age Large Mammals

woodland caribou drawing by wikimedia user foresmanNew York State Museum scientists have completed research that reveals when and why large mammals — including caribou, mammoths, and mastodons — re-colonized and ultimately went extinct in New York State after the last Ice Age. This research may help scientists better understand how ecosystems formed and why certain species went extinct after the last Ice Age.

Dr. Robert Feranec, the Museum’s curator of Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology, and Dr. Andrew Kozlowski, the Museum’s glacial geologist, co-authored the research that appears in the most recent issue of the journal Quaternary Research (Volume 85, Issue 2). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

DEC Announces 2015 Bear Hunting Results

black_bear_mammalNew York bear hunters killed 1,715 black bears during the 2015 hunting seasons, the second largest bear harvest on record in New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Only the 2003 harvest (1,863) surpassed the 2015 year’s take.

In the Northern Zone, a total of 583 bears were killed, 27 percent above the recent five-year average. Based primarily on cyclers of food availability, bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next, according to DEC wildlife biologists. This year, hunters were more successful during the regular season, taking 253 bears, whereas 183 bears were taken during the early season.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Adirondack Fungus: Turkey Tails

turkey tailDuring my walks through the woods these days, I am often accompanied by curious children. These children, who are my own, notice many things that I often do not, and they are filled with questions. Who made that track? Why does this grow here? What kind of mushroom is that? With fledgling naturalists – including one who wants to grow up to be a mycologist, an entomologist, or a zoologist, depending on the day – it’s nice to have a few things in the woods I can identify easily at any time of year. Enter Trametes versicolor, the turkey tail fungus.

This common polypore has a name that’s indicative of its appearance. The fruiting body (the part of the fungus that we can see and which contains the reproductive spores) looks much like the tail of a Tom turkey strutting his stuff for prospective hen companions. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Loons Are Returning To The Adirondacks

Loon in Adirondacks.JLM. (1)When I was a child, I looked forward to spending summers with my grandmother at our family cottage on a Canadian lake. Every year, as soon as I was out of the car, we would run to the point to look and listen for loons.

As an adult, I still watch loons. But it wasn’t until this past fall, when the loons began to migrate, that it occurred to me that I had no idea where they were going.

According to Eric Hanson, a conservation biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the common loon, Gavia immer, makes its way east from our region, out into the New England coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Some adults might leave their breeding lake in September, but usually to a nearby lake at this time. The bulk of adults migrate to the ocean in October, while chicks usually remain until early November. By some instinct, juveniles find their way to the ocean without the guidance of adults. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ticonderoga: Herbal History Exhibit Opens Friday

herb gardenThe Ticonderoga Historical Society will open its second exhibit of the 2016 season on Friday, April 8 at 7 pm at the Hancock House.

“Herbal History of the Adirondacks” looks at how Native Americans and early settlers utilized native plants as medicinal and culinary preparations and how this has led to a contemporary herbal culture that continues to thrive today.

Noted local herbalist Nancy Scarzello is a co-designer of the exhibit and will speak at the opening. A Ticonderoga resident, Scarzello has more than 35 years of experience studying and teaching about herbs, native plants, natural healing and plant medicines. She is a regular presenter at the New England Women’s Herbal Conference. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Music: Peepers, Wood Frogs, And Chorus Frogs

Spring PeeperEvery spring, Mother Nature takes the choir out of the freezer. And sometimes – this year for example – she pops them back in for a while. The choir to which I refer is that all-male horde of early-spring frogs: spring peepers, wood frogs, and chorus frogs. Even while an ice rind still clings to the pond edges, untold numbers of these guys roust themselves from torpor to sing for female attention.

While in our species it is mostly an inflated ego which causes males to become unusually loud attention-mongers when seeking mates, it is an inflated vocal sac which allows male frogs to be so noisy. This air-filled structure balloons out tight, acting as a resonance chamber to amplify sound. I don’t know how it is with all frog species, but the inflated vocal sac of a peeper is almost as big as it is. This contrasts with the human male, whose ego can sometimes swell to many times his body size. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DEC Announces Zero Hunting Fatalities During 2015 Season

nys hunting accident historyThe 2015 New York hunting season proved to be one of the safest on record and yielded the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality since the 1950s according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC’s 2015 Hunting Safety Statistics report highlighted a total of only 23 hunting incidents, the third lowest number on record, with 10 incidents self-inflicted and 13 two-party incidents.

This is the first year without a hunting-related shooting fatality in New York since record-keeping on hunting statistics began in the mid 1950s. 2015 also continued the trend of declining incidents with New York’s hunting-related shooting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) declining almost 80 percent since the 1960s. The past five-year average is down to four incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Experts: Cat In Crown Point Video Is House Cat, Not Cougar

cougarsThe state Department of Environmental Conservation has concluded that an animal shown in a Crown Point video posted online last week is a house cat, not a mountain lion.

DEC placed a life-size cutout of a mountain lion in the area where the animal was filmed and determined that the animal was small enough that it could have passed under the belly of a mountain lion. (See photos below.)

DEC announced its findings in an email this morning, a week after the video had attracted attention online.

Three wildlife scientists from Panthera, a nonprofit organization that works to conserve the habitat of wild cats around the world, came to the same conclusion after reviewing the video, according to Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation.

“They all suggested it was a house cat, judging by the gait,” said Spatz, whose organization favors restoring cougars to the East and other parts of the country.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Cougar In Crown Point? You Be The Judge

CougarA trail camera recently captured video of an animal that may be a cougar sauntering through a backyard in Crown Point near Lake Champlain.

Cara Cowan posted the video on her Facebook page this week. The video was taken a little after noon on March 20, according to its time stamp.

The 18-second clip shows a long-tailed tawny animal walking and then trotting through the yard before it disappears while descending into a large bowl-like swale.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Springtime Skunks: Amorous And Odoriferous

skunk the outsiderDriving home from work the other day, I saw my first road-killed skunk of the year. And if this year is anything like the last few, it won’t be the last one I see this season. While April showers do indeed bring May flowers, it’s also true that warm weather in March and early April is a certain sign that skunks will turn up dead in the road in great numbers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Trout Power Event At Great Camp Sagamore

trout power

On Father’s Day Weekend, June 16-19, 2016, catch-and-release anglers and conservationists can assist in a two-day creel study and three-day celebration of wild trout and historic conservation and protection at Great Camp Sagamore near Raquette Lake.

Anglers participating in this Trout Power event will be able to choose from over 10 miles of secluded and rarely-fished sections of the South Inlet Watershed to fish, part of a weekend-long data collection survey of wild fish. Anglers will receive training on how to catch, photograph, and record their catch. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Lawsuit Filed Over Wood Turtle Protection

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its delay in deciding whether to extend Endangered Species Act protections to the rare wood turtle, found in the Midwest and Northeast.

The Center first petitioned for this turtle — along with more than 50 other amphibians and reptiles — in July 2012 arguing that habitat loss and other factors are threatening them with extinction. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lost Brook Dispatches: Moose, Part Twose

Moose At Helldiver Pond by John Warren(This letter to my father-in-law is a follow-on to my column “You Moose Be Kidding”

Dear Howard:

I’m thinking of you, stuck in your hospital bed, red-legged and bored to death.  I sympathize, but I am very happy that you are where you are, remembering as I do my son Zach’s bout with cellulitis in the Blue Ridge Wilderness some years ago.   Cellulitis is a very serious thing and I’m glad you are out of danger.

Still, boredom is its own danger too, potentially injurious to your most excellent mental make-up.  So I thought I’d entertain you with some wonderful news.  Of course, this may not be news you want to hear, as it forces upon you a terrible choice: either accept the demise of your bothersome claim there are no moose in the Adirondacks (because you haven’t seen one); or instead accuse your own beautiful daughter, your precious flesh and blood, of being a bald-faced liar. For indeed, glory has been visited upon us!  Oh hail the great hand of fate that has delivered unto us a primary source to quiet you once and for all: last Friday we saw a moose! » Continue Reading.


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