More than of the state’s bear population lives in the Adirondack region. So it’s no big surprise to have some bear/human interactions in our communities.
This year, however, the activity is either on the rise or the number of “problem bears” has increased. It’s not good news, regardless, as it has resulted in a higher number of dead bears. So far in 2022, the DEC has euthanized 16 bears in northern New York, compared to just two last year.
It’s an issue we’re looking further into and invite you to share your stories. Have you had a negative bear encounter? What steps do you take to “bear proof” your home and yard? What are your thoughts on euthanization? Should we be doing more to educate visitors about bears? Send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding New Yorkers to appreciate wildlife from a distance and resist the urge to pick up newborn fawns and other young wildlife.
“When young wildlife venture into the world, they may have a brief inability to walk or fly on their own, making some people believe they might need help,” Commissioner Seggos said. “However, young wildlife belongs in the wild and in nearly all cases, interaction with people does more harm than good to the animals.”
If You Care, Leave it There
When people encounter young wildlife, they are likely not lost or abandoned, but purposely left there by their parents to keep them hidden from predators while the adult animal is nearby collecting food for the newborn.
White-tailed deer fawns are a good example of how human interaction with young wildlife can be problematic. Fawns are born during late May and early June, and although they can walk shortly after birth, they spend most of their first several days lying still in tall grass, leaf litter, or sometimes relatively unconcealed. During this period, a fawn is usually left alone by the adult female (doe), except when nursing.
Human Interactions Do More Harm than Good to Wild Animals
People occasionally find a lone fawn and mistakenly assume it has been abandoned, which is rare. A fawn’s best chance to survive is to be raised by the adult doe. If human presence is detected by the doe, the doe may delay its next visit to nurse.
Fawns should never be picked up. A fawn’s protective coloration and ability to remain motionless help it to avoid detection by predators and people. By the end of a fawn’s second week of life, it begins to move about, spend more time with the doe, and eat on its own. At about 10 weeks of age, fawns are no longer dependent on milk, although they continue to nurse occasionally into the fall.
The more serious cases of animals being abandoned are due to injury. Anyone that encounters a young wild animal that is obviously injured or orphaned may wish to call a wildlife rehabilitator. Wildlife rehabilitators are trained volunteers licensed by DEC. They are the only people legally allowed to receive and treat distressed wildlife because they have the experience, expertise, and facilities to successfully treat and release wild animals once rehabilitated.
Additionally, DEC reminds the public that young wildlife are not pets. Keeping wildlife in captivity is illegal and harmful to the animal. Wild animals are not well-suited to life in captivity and may carry diseases that can be harmful to humans. DEC also advises New Yorkers to keep pets indoors when young wild animals are present. Many fledgling birds cannot fly when they first leave the nest and are easy prey for a domestic cat.
I honed my trail maintenance skills as a young man on a DEC Trail crew team in the Adirondack high peaks. There I learned a wide variety of valuable skills and techniques, everything from axemanship, to two-man blowdown clearing bowsaw skills, crafting freshly felled cedar trees into water bars, ladders and stringer bridges. I even studied the mystic art of building bases for trailside privies.
One thing that I never gave much thought to back then, as we braved blackfly blitzkriegs, dragging evergreen mountains of hand cut logs, branches and brush clear of mile after mile of winding high peaks trails, was the value resident non-hiking boot clad denizens found in the tangled mass branches we discarded as refuse.
Now is a great time to search for winter tracks (PDF) or other animal signs visible in the snow. It can be fun to be a detective and figure out what animals have been walking through your yard or across a trail. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Snow conditions can make a difference in a track’s appearance—wet snow captures a print better than powdery snow.
Members in the dog family (coyote, fox, or dogs) will usually leave claw prints above the toes, while the cat family (bobcat, housecat) will not. You should see four toes on both front and back feet for both families.
Rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice, muskrats, and voles, usually have four toes on the front feet and five on the back. Claws may or may not be seen.
Bring a notebook, camera, or field guide with you.
Sometimes an animal’s droppings, or scat, can help you identify it—a rabbit’s looks like small balls of sawdust.
Spring time can coincide with an increase in conflicts between people and wildlife. Woodchucks in the garden, squirrels or other critters in the attic, bears at the bird feeders and skunks under the shed are but a few of the problems people may encounter. The best way to reduce common wildlife issues is by eliminating access to food, water, and shelter.
Tips to help you REPEL or prevent and control problems with wild animals:
In a recent press release, the Lake Placid Land Conservancy (LPLC) has revealed that it has been awarded accredited status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission- a significant achievement in the field of land conservation. The Land Trust Accrediation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, granted the accreditation after an in-depth review of the LPCA’s programs, activities and policies. The seal of accreditation represents a commitment to meeting national standards of quality for the permanent protection of important natural places throughout the Adirondacks.
Including Deer Habitat Management as Part of a Forest Management Plan
In early fall, deer’s bodies begin converting large amounts of the food that they consume into stored fat and the deer start to put on weight. This occurs regardless of the quality of the nutrition that’s available, but in years when mast trees, such as oaks or beech, have produced an abundance of acorns or nuts, deer will seek out those high-energy foods, often remaining in areas where they can be found and pawing through the snow to get to them.
As the extreme cold sets in and snow accumulates, they’re forced to seek cover, and they become reliant upon that limited supply of stored fat to help carry them through the winter. If the season isn’t too brutally cold and the snow isn’t too deep, and if March brings welcome warmth and milder conditions overall, even deer that have been struggling will, most likely, survive. But, should winter refuse to let up, deer that have already burned through much of their winter fat reserves and can’t find enough food to sustain their weight will probably die.
It takes a matter of seconds for residents here in the mountains to identify a fox. These small, doglike creatures stick out like a sore thumb as they roam above the now cold, white landscape in their pursuit of their next meal. Foxes are amazing creatures built for the hunt with numerous abilities that aid in survival. What are these abilities?
It’s not evident from a distance but if you’re privileged to come into close proximity, you would see foxes have vertical pupils. This allows them to see well in the dark as well as giving them a wider field of view, 200 degrees compared to humans at 180 degrees. Their eyes also have six to eight times more rod cells, allowing the fox to sense motion in the dark.
Foxes have quite the proboscis! They have a very keen sense of smell and have been known to find carcasses of livestock buried under deep snow and several inches below the surface. Their snouts are long and their noses are wet, allowing them to smell by dissolving the chemicals in the air and indicating the wind direction.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced funding for seven projects throughout the Mohawk River watershed. The projects will contribute to flood risk reduction and resiliency, improve stewardship and stakeholder engagement, and protect fish and wildlife and associated aquatic and riparian habitats. The grants are supported via the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
“The Mohawk River basin is an environmental, recreational, and economic asset that will benefit from the projects announced today and the ongoing partnerships we are helping to strengthen,” Commissioner Seggos said. “This funding will help reduce flooding due to climate change, increase habitat, and improve water quality, ensuring the preservation and protection of the Mohawk watershed and the communities that depend on it.”
The DEC Bureau of Wildlife is seeking photographs to use in all DEC materials, including reports, social media, posters, newsletters, and for their website. New York State’s wildlife has been busier than ever this summer. The DEC invites citizens to capture and share the best moments of their local wildlife. If you sit outside and watch, you may be surprised at what you see.
At this time of year, when spring comes around and the flowers and trees start to bloom, the DEC receives calls about fox sightings around rural and suburban areas.
The Red Fox is small furbearer about 10 – 12 lbs.- (The size of a house cat) and during the spring they seek out den sites in order to raise their young (called “kits”). These den sites happen to sometimes be in less-than-ideal locations occasionally, including under porches and sheds. So, what should you do if this happens? The DEC has some recommendations:
Rolling into the summer months, the High Peak wilderness experiences a sharp expansion of its wildlife community.
Insects adapted for survival in an often cool, high-elevation environment emerge from their long winter dormancy and are engaged in eating and breeding. Various species of birds have traveled to our upper elevation slopes to mate and nest, and numerous mammals that reside in this harsh climatic zone are now busy rearing infants which can temporarily double their populations.
One predator that is occasionally seen by people who pass through this region and whose young are currently developing to the stage at which they are leaving their mother’s den for the first time is the American marten (Martes Americana), a creature that symbolizes the great North woods character of the Central Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
As part of their at-home learning, St. Lawrence County resident Jade Reynolds, art teacher and her husband, a New York State Police Officer, were doing a lesson incorporating owl pellets into their school work by dissecting them for science.
When DEC Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Bret Canary caught wind of their project, he put the concepts into reality by inviting the family to take part in a release of a rehabilitated barred owl. ECO Canary met with the family at their farm and released the owl with the assistance of the two children. Reynolds posted the release live on social media so that her students at Indian River Central School in Philadelphia, Jefferson County, could view it remotely.
Provided photo: Rehabilitated owl in a box getting ready for release
Report and update from NYS DEC on the moose that was seen running at large through the City of Plattsburgh last week:
On March 23, a report came into DEC regarding a moose that had been observed in the City of Plattsburgh. On March 25, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Buffa was checking fishermen at the mouth of the Saranac River in the City of Plattsburgh when he witnessed the moose running through the area. Clinton County ECOs responded to the scene along with DEC Region 5’s Wildlife Unit staff to formulate a plan of capture.
At approximately 5:45 p.m., the moose ran into a residential yard and fell into an inground pool. The response team acted quickly and was able to safely tranquilize the cow moose. ECOs, wildlife staff, State Police, Plattsburgh City Police, and SUNY Police assisted in removing the moose from the pool and loaded it into a trailer to be transported out of the area.
Although my Irish-American mother taught me that the prefix O’ (descendent of) was originally part of common Irish surnames such as Kelly, Murphy, Hogan and Kennedy, it would sound odd to my ears were these families to suddenly revert to the Old-World form.
I have the same issue with the distinctly New-World marsupial, the opossum. In the Genesee Valley of New York State where I grew up, these omnipresent critters were known to all as possums, and it still sounds foreign to hear their name pronounced with three syllables. » Continue Reading.
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