Bear encounter on and near the Trail
Patty Martin Burns, of Lewisburg, was walking Oreo, her English Setter/Border Collie mix, in the field adjacent to Stillwell Park on Sunday, July 8. Soon after letting Oreo off the leash, Burns spotted a black bear near an old pond site. She quickly distracted her dog and got him back on the leash. As they made their way down the trail toward W.M. Cramer Lumber Company, the bear crossed their paths again. With two sightings being enough for one outing, Burns completed the circle to her parents' home near the park entrance. A short while later, she spotted the bear again - this time in the yard, checking out the apple tree.
Well, I'll bee
After several years of concern about the dwindling number of honey bees, it seems that they are everywhere now - or at least in the news.
Pat Beck has had a hive on Second Avenue in Marlinton for about six months. He got the hive and instructions for establishing an apiary from Don Heishman, of Wardensville, owner of Heishman's HoneyB Hut.
As the number of bees increased, Heishman told Beck that eventually another queen would come along and some of them would leave with her.
A couple of weeks ago someone was walking by Jane Price Sharp's home at the lower end of Second Avenue and spotted a swarm of bees on a tree limb. They contacted Beck to see if the bees had left his hive.
As it turned out, nearly half of them had taken up with a new queen.
Beck put a cardboard box over the swarm, cut the limb and shook the bees into the box. He put them in the backseat of his car and took them to Heishman who put them in a hive.
"By the time I got there [Wardensville] the bees had started a comb in the top of the box," Beck said.
Beck and Heishman didn't count the swarm by number, but rather by weight - nearly five pounds of bees. And that's a lot of bees, honey.
"Bees won't sting when they're swarming," Beck said. "They're full of honey and happy."
To test this theory, Beck stuck his hand into the swarm with no ill effects.
"He [Heishman] has them working now," Beck said. But the bees will eventually return - in their new hive - to their old home on Second Avenue.
It's called ﾑwildlife' for a reason
There have been reports of well meaning folks feeding deer in and near residential areas in the county.
Rob Sylvester, Wildlife Biologist with the DNR French Creek district, said the DNR does not encourage such feeding, if for no other reason than the deer will eventually cause homeowners problems when they eat ornamental shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens.
Enticing any kind of wildlife into a domesticated atmosphere is not a good idea for the deer or the people.
Although animals are adaptive, and tend to not be afraid, they get their instincts from being chased by predators, Sylvester said. As long as no one tries to hurt them or chase them, they will be tame, but if someone scares them, they will run.
And they may run directly into trouble.
"The biggest problem is they get accustomed to coming into areas that are not really suited for them," Sylvester said. "People driving through are not used to seeing deer in towns."
Therein lies another problem - more deer/vehicle collisions.
"Most people think they're helping the deer to survive,"Sylvester said. "They are wild animals; they can make it on their own."
Most of us are not wildlife biologists and the first thing that comes to mind is that tame deer will be the first trophies come the fall hunting season.
But there are obviously other issues to consider.
The folks in Hainsport, New Jersey, have learned their lesson the hard way.
Feeding wild turkeys seemed to be a good idea, until the turkeys, more or less, took over the town - terrorizing the residents, eating at will in their gardens and pecking at the tomatoes at a produce stand.
After several town meetings to try to find ways to reverse the "town-turkey mentality," residents now face $2,000 fines if they are caught feeding the wildlife.
Nest box update
by Dave Curry, NRAO
As the summer nesting season begins to wind down, some cavity nesters are making late attempts to produce families. Of the 22 nest boxes observed, nine are still occupied and active as of July 11. Two are occupied by Bluebirds and five are occupied by house wrens. Tree swallows and house sparrows occupy the remainder. Next month we should be able to generate some statistics on the successes and failures of the year.
About a dozen nests were destroyed last month by raccoons. Whether this is because of a big spike in the raccoon population or because there was little for them to eat, is unknown. A high protein snack of eggs, baby birds or even the occasional adult bird would be difficult for any raccoon to pass up. Greasing the poles did little to deter them from climbing and reaching their long narrow front paws into the houses. Baffles and aluminum funnels on the poles work better but can take a considerable effort, time and expense.
At any rate, coon predation has slowed considerably, probably due to availability of other food sources such as berries and fruits as well as crabs and minnows from quick drying up watersheds.
Of the three wood duck families that showed up at the wastewater ponds with their 30 young, only eight have made it through to the juvenile stage. If they can survive to six weeks old, they have a pretty good chance to make it. And in late June and early July, two more duck families have shown up with five and seven young. Hopefully, some will survive.
A lone sparrow hawk was seen several times earlier this summer. On June 20 she fledged a family of three young kestrels that were camped out under the 85-1 antenna. She may have nested here or at the Beard house onsite. Since the antenna has several nesting starlings, this is a good place to feed the young and teach them to hunt. The distinctive kee-kee-kee call of the young hawks can often be heard when they are hungry.
For some other off the wall observations, there seem to more bugs and moths hovering around the street and parking lot lights this year. However, there may be fewer bats feeding on them. Bats are scarce this year, probably due to the White Nose fungus that has killed thousands.
And finally, many thanks to whomever it is that has released the quail in the Arbovale area. It is nice to hear the rich, soothing Bob White call as they communicate with each other around the neighborhood. Now and then, one will be seen passing through the backyard, possibly stopping by to visit with the chickens. They appear unafraid of cages and pens and probably appreciate some chicken feed.