Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Plague of Ticks: Scientists Search for Solutions

tick life cycleOn a hike this spring, we walked through a clear-cut area with tall grass and brambles. Afterwards, our pant legs were crawling with black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), also known as deer ticks, the kind that carry Lyme disease. Scientists with the Vermont Department of Health recently examined over 2,000 ticks and found that 53% of black-legged ticks tested positive for Lyme disease. A small percentage of the ticks carried pathogens that cause anaplasmosis or babesiosis, two other tick-borne diseases that can make people gravely ill.

Understanding the two-year life cycle of the black-legged tick can help prevent Lyme disease. In the spring of the first year, tick larvae hatch from honey-colored eggs in the leaf litter. The six-legged larvae, about the size of a poppy seed, soon seek their first blood meal. The larvae may become infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease through this blood meal; it all depends on what kind of animal they find as a host. If it’s a white-footed mouse, they’re very likely to contract the Lyme spirochete. If it’s a chipmunk or shrew, they’re somewhat likely. If it’s a squirrel or a larger mammal, they probably won’t. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 18, 2017

A Celebration of Adirondack Moose

Moose At Helldiver Pond There are several creatures that serve as symbols of the rugged and majestic character of the Great North Woods, yet none is as fitting as the moose. When initially seen, a moose may be perceived as being quite ugly and an unusual choice to represent the beauty of the northern wilderness.

Its disproportionately long legs, awkward gait, protruding hump on its back above its shoulders, rather rough coat and odd looking facial features create an image that may not be very appealing at first glance. Yet, together these characteristics create a unique and overwhelming image to those lucky enough to see one of these giants in the wilds, and they help this massive mammal flourish in a sub-arctic region. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Michale Glennon: A Slow Loss of Northern Forest Icons

Bloomingdale Bog In our work, most studies last one to three years; we find a problem, a way to examine it, and we report our findings. Rarely do we have the chance to connect with the naturalists of old and observe just to observe.

In the bogs and cold forests of the Adirondacks, I have had the chance to do just that. In 2007, WCS was awarded a New York State Wildlife Grant to embark on a project that we as biologists rarely have the luxury of doing these days, and that is the old-fashioned collection of baseline data. This sort of work is important, but it is increasingly hard to convince funders of its importance.

We were not testing a hypothesis or exploring a cause-effect relationship; our aim was just to gather information on the distribution and abundance of a group of fairly specialized peatland-associated birds that most people are unaware of and fewer get a chance to see. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cornell’s History of Protecting Adirondack Fisheries

2016 Cornell Adirondack Fisheries Research Program Boat CrewI recently wrote about the impacts of acid rain, which results from burning fossil fuels, on Adirondack lakes and streams. But, did you know that Cornell University has been a leader in efforts to safeguard natural fisheries within the Adirondacks and to protect them from the damaging effects of acid rain, invasive species, and climate change for well-over half-a-century?

In fact, Cornell’s cold-water fishery research has historically focused on the Adirondack region. And just last year, the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University (CALS) established a new faculty fellowship in fisheries and aquatic sciences, named for the late (and extremely-well-respected) Professor of Fishery Biology, Dr. Dwight A. Webster; the educator who laid the groundwork for what is now the Adirondack Fishery Research Program (AFRP). » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cat Ponds: A Brook Trout Story

Fall fingerling growth rateIn July 1950, I had my first fishing experience on a cold, spring-fed brook that meandered down from the hills near Great Barrington, Massachusetts. My parents and I had planned a break from the heat and crowding of our small Brooklyn apartment and would be staying for a week with their friends.

My eighth birthday was coming up in September, but I was presented with an early present before we left, a child’s fishing outfit that contained a stiff little metal rod and miniature reel, a selection of snelled hooks and split-shot sinkers, a pencil bobber, and some “flies,” which should have been used to adorn some lucky woman’s hat. All of it came packed in a metal tube with carrying handle, clearly stamped “Made in Occupied Japan.” I was delighted and couldn’t wait to use my new tackle!

» Continue Reading.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Northern New York

emerald ash borer photo courtesy DECThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that invasive pest emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found and confirmed for the first time in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties. DEC captured the insects in monitoring traps at the two locations.

DEC confirmed the specimens as adult EABs on August 25. The invasive pest was found within a few miles of the Canadian border and may represent an expansion of Canadian infestations into New York. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

DEC: Endangered Adirondack Round Whitefish Recovering

Round WhitefishThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Round Whitefish may soon be taken off New York’s list of endangered species and reclassified as threatened.

Fisheries biologists recently netted 15 Round Whitefish in Bug Lake of Hamilton County near Inlet. Six of these fish were second generation after stocking.

This will be the third water with offspring found after stocking. The first two include Trout Pond of St. Lawrence County and Evergreen Lake of Herkimer County.  DEC chose Bug Lake for stocking because it is a cold and clean lake which has provided a high-quality fishery for brook trout and lake trout. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Early Adirondack Bear Hunting Seasons Start Soon

black bearEarly bear hunting seasons are about to begin across New York State. Hunting is generally permitted on Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park. Hunting accidents are rare, but hikers should wear bright colors and keep pets leashed as a precaution.

During the Early Bear Season, hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed).  Because of the likelihood of warm weather, DEC is telling hunters they should be prepared to skin and cool dead bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat. DEC suggests hunters skin and quarter the bear in the field, then pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Red-Backed Salamander Party Tricks

red backed salamanderI once heard of a biologist with a clever party trick: regardless of where or when a given party was taking place, he claimed that he could produce a wild salamander in 15 minutes or less, and more often than not, he delivered. I suspect he never tried this at any New Year’s Eve parties in northern Vermont, where salamanders are wintering well underground, and where the ground itself is buried under several feet of fresh powder. At the same time, I’d wager that much of his success was due to a single species: the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

This small, slender salamander (also known as a “redback”) has disproportionately small legs and is often, though not always, distinguished by a rust-red stripe running the length of its back and tail. Redbacks spend their lives under logs and in deep underground burrows, dining on earthworms, ants, mites, and other small, subterranean delicacies. The females demonstrate remarkable maternal devotion, aggressively defending their eggs against predators for the full month until the young hatch out – a display of parental care that is quite rare among amphibians. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

North Country Deerflies

deerfly My students and I were conducting research in the Winooski River floodplain at Saint Michael’s College last week when the buzzing became particularly intense. A brisk walk is enough to outdistance mosquitoes, but deerflies combine fighter jet speed with helicopter maneuverability. And a slap that might incapacitate a mosquito seems to have little effect on these relentless pests. Deerfly season 2017 started slowly, but by late July there were enough to carry off small children. On trails between wetlands and farm fields, we were dive-bombed by countless, persistent, little winged vampires. Insect repellent did little to repel them. We slapped, feinted, grabbed at thin air, and usually came up empty. It was like Caddyshack, but with flies rather than gophers.

The horsefly family Tabanidae includes deerflies, along with larger Alaskan “mooseflies,” and the greenheads that ruin many a trip to New England’s beaches. Iridescent green eyes that make up most of the fly’s head give them their common name. Far more impressive is their bite: they truly hurt. Because greenheads emerge only from saltmarshes, we know they travel up to two miles in search of blood. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

DEC Announces Public Meetings On Trout Stream Management

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that public meetings will be held in each DEC region this fall to provide an overview of the state’s approach to trout stream management.

The meetings will also elicit feedback from trout stream anglers regarding their preferences and expectations for the management of these waters. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Adirondack Loons Were Once Hunted

The common loon is referred to by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as the “spirit of the northern waters.” Here in the Adirondacks, you can find images of loons seemingly everywhere, from T-shirts to coffee mugs to throw pillows.

The birds are revered as the spirit of the wilderness. But there was a time when they were hunted. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Among the Rocks: The Pottersville Cave Man

stone bridge rock shop A brown, irregularly shaped hunk of fossilized dinosaur dung is circulating around the stone-floored rock shop.

The middle-school students, surrounded by shelves full of amethyst, pyrite, quartz crystals, and cracked open geodes, let their hands roam over the hunk and then pass it along. They don’t know that the mystery rock they’re scrutinizing is a chunk of prehistoric waste. Greg Beckler, owner of Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, will tell them eventually.

This game of pass the poop continues in a semi-circle as Beckler encourages the kids to really explore the fossil. Dip their fingers into its cracks and seams. Give the poop a deep, full inhale. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 25, 2017

10th Annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day Sept 3rd

mooseOn Sunday, September 3rd, Adirondack Wildlife Refuge will host their 10th annual Habitat Awareness Day, from 10 am to 4 pm.

The theme this year will be Wildlife Habitat Challenges. Keynote speaker will be 2013’s New York State Professor of the Year, Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College, author of Deep Future and many other books and studies. Attendees can hear Stager, along with other local nature authorities, observers, rehabbers and the college interns working at Adirondack Wildlife, discuss what they’re seeing and learning on the ground in the Adirondack region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kids And Wildlife: A Young Monarch Among Us

Monarch Caterpillar Earlier this summer, my daughter persuaded me to bring home a monarch egg. I had misgivings. This wasn’t my first butterfly rodeo, and previous experience was discouraging. Two summers past, a friend gave us several black swallowtail caterpillars. One lived to adulthood, but all the siblings wasted away, taking on the form of burnt bacon gristle.

On the plus side, this time we’d be starting with an egg, and a new one at that. We had found it minutes after watching the mother butterfly flutter down into a milkweed patch. » Continue Reading.