Thursday, June 18, 2015

Feds Look To Remove Eastern Cougar Protections

Cougar in Montana Photo by BigStockPhoto dot comThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing the eastern cougar from the endangered species list, claiming that scientific evidence shows the animal is extinct.

Thousands of cougar sightings have been reported in the eastern United States (including the Adirondacks) and Canada in recent decades, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says these animals are either dispersers from western populations or pets that have been released or escaped captivity. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bee Mimics: Pretending To Be Bees

Honey beeA while back I had a few hives of honey bees parked at a beef farm down the road, tucked up against a stone wall just outside a pasture. One day the owner called to say that my bees had invaded a building in a barn complex and were laying eggs in manure puddles.

I went down to check it out, and the building did have a lot of buzzing insects butting their heads against the windows. I looked closer. They looked like honey bees, but… not quite. And there were weird larvae wriggling in water seeping from manure. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oldest Known Bald Eagle Killed By Motor Vehicle

bald eagle with a fishNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff responded to a report of a dead bald eagle killed by a motor vehicle on road in Henrietta, Monroe County, on June 2nd.

Vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of eagle deaths in New York State, accounting for more than 30 percent of known recorded mortality. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Questions Answered About Black Flies

A-Buckskin-Man-s-Pocket-46To celebrate my 25th birthday a few weeks ago, I went for a trail run in Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, I forgot that we were in the midst of a yearly Adirondack tradition — black fly season.

Blissfully unaware, I decided to run while my companion, (my mother) walked. I’m not exactly Usain Bolt, so I kept my pace moderate. I paused a few times to catch my breath, but for the most part I kept moving.

An hour later, we emerged from the woods, and my mother was bleeding. She had been bitten viciously by the black flies. Meanwhile, I had escaped virtually unscathed. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Windshield Survey of Back-Country Bugs

Dragonfly SplatterNext time you arrive at your cottage, camp or favorite fishing spot and the car’s grille is bristling with wings and other insect body parts, its windshield greased with bug guts, you should be happy. Those insects develop underwater, and they are an indication that the water quality thereabouts is very good. And that you should bring paper towels and glass cleaner next time.

Flying fish excepted, it seems odd to call an airborne creature aquatic. But these insects spend the vast majority of their lives in an aquatic life stage called a naiad, or nymph. They breathe through gills that, while well-developed, are readily damaged by sediment and other kinds of water pollution. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Short Primer On Adirondack Turtles

Turtles - Photo by John WarrenOn the surface, we all know that turtles are animals with shells. They plod along on land, or swim gracefully in the water. Some live in the oceans, some in the deserts – what wonderful extremes they have come to inhabit. They have been around for over 200 million years – since the late Triassic. Some species can live well over a hundred years. If we dig deeper though, they are even more fascinating.

Four species of turtles live within the Blue Line of the Adirondack Park: snapping turtles, wood turtles, painted turtles (eastern and midland species), and Blanding’s turtles. Let me share with you a little bit about each of these species before detouring into some generalized nifty turtle traits. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Whitetail Fawns Hide In Plain Sight

TOS_FawnLast May, while out hiking, I came across a young fawn curled up in the ferns only three feet from the Appalachian Trail. My husband and our dog had already walked right by without noticing it. I quickly snapped a few photos as the creature lay motionless, its large eyes wide open, a picture of innocence. Then I alerted my husband, we put the dog on a leash, and hurried away. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Trees: Understanding Roots And Root Care

PaulHetzlerTreeRootAngelaPerry4002.5April showers bring May flowers, the calls of spring peeper frogs, and of course, backhoes. Yes, it’s construction season, which for arborists and trees is also root-damage season.

As far as trees are concerned, root injury is the source of all evil. Well, most of it, anyway; chainsaws and forest fires aren’t so kind to trees, either. But regardless of the worrisome signs a tree may develop, whether early fall leaf color, tip dieback, slow growth, or even some diseases and insect infestations, the problem is below ground in the majority of cases. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alder and Willow Flycatchers: Sibling Species

TOS_FlycatcherBy mid-May each year I begin to look forward to the return of the alder flycatchers that nest in the willows along the stream near our house. Usually the last migrant to arrive on our property, this small, drab, gray bird with its sneeze-like song, signifies that summer is indeed just around the corner. But last year, for the first time in 20 years, another bird joined the neighborhood.

A willow flycatcher announced his presence, just a few days after I first heard the alder flycatcher. To my surprise, the two sibling species co-existed all summer, presumably both nesting in the same acre or so of shrubby wetland habitat. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Experts Say Adirondack Lynx Return Unlikely

lynx by Larry MastersA fellow carnivore scientist once showed Cristina Eisenberg the skeleton of an animal and asked her to identify it. Looking at the large hindquarters and feet, she guessed snowshoe hare. Told she guessed wrong, she took a closer look.

“I looked at the skull, and it was a lynx,” said Eisenberg, a scientist with Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental organization.

Eisenberg might be forgiven for her initial mistake: the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare have some anatomical similarities. “They have very big, soft feet that don’t punch through the snow,” she said. “Their feet are like snowshoes.” » Continue Reading.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Annual Whitetail Deer Hunt Numbers Released

Adult Buck Take Density 2014About 238,670 whitetail deer were taken during the 2014-15 hunting seasons, slightly less than the statewide take the previous year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Regulated deer reduces the negative impacts of deer on forests, communities and crop producers while also providing over 10 million pounds of high quality local protein annually,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement to the press announcing the numbers. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Report: Cougar, Elk, Wolf Return Would Boost Economy

DSCN6114An economic study published by the the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, an organization dedicated to the recovery of cougars to their former range, argues that restoring the Adirondack ecosystem with native wildlife would establish Adirondack Park as an international wildlife recreation destination.

The report estimates that restoring native woodland elk, bison, wolves and cougars to the Adirondack Park would add upwards of $583 million annually in wildlife watching and big game hunting tourism and create 3,540 new jobs. The study reports that restoration would create opportunities for wildlife tracking classes and vacations, darting, howling and photography safaris, and big game hunting. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nature As Artist: How Tree Burls Grow

TOS_BurlI’ve had my eye on this maple in my woods for some time. Not because it’s a beautiful timber tree. It’s only about eight inches in diameter, after all. But, it has an interesting burl about 14 feet up the trunk.

As a woodturner, I love the twisted wood grain found in most burls. A burl is a surprise package on a tree. Yes, straight grained wood is beautiful. I love the open grain of red oak, the milky brightness of birch, the rich burnished glow of cherry. But they are predictable. A burl is anything but.

I’m not the only one who loves burls. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Questions Over DEC’s Trout Stocking Practices

Trout-rainbow-300x196When people think of invasive species in the Adirondack Park, they think of Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, Asian clams, or any number of other exotic plants and animals that have made the headlines.

People don’t usually think of brown trout and rainbow trout, but neither fish, though abundant now, is native to the region.

Brown trout are native to Germany and were introduced to New York State in the late 1800s. Rainbow trout, native to the West Coast, were introduced around the same time. In both cases, the goal was to enhance fishing opportunities. » Continue Reading.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Vernal Pools: Hatch, Grow and Get Out

Vernal_poolsThree things happened this week: bluebirds and tree swallows returned, my road was graded, and the red maple buds popped. It’s time to search for vernal pools.

Vernal pools are small areas of wetland that form in the spring and dry up during the summer. Water collects in saucer-shaped depressions that have an impermeable layer of soil, leaves, or debris. Snowmelt and spring rains fill these puddles. Without an inlet to replenish the supply, summer’s sun and heat eventually evaporate the water, though a dense forest canopy helps delay the inevitable drying up. Some vernal pools may refill after a heavy rain, but the main characteristic is their temporary nature. » Continue Reading.

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