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Here, there & everywhere: Animals in strange places


August 19, 2012
By Shirley Grenoble , The Altoona Mirror

I recently spent several days in the Midwest where they are enduring a severe drought. The complaint I heard often was that deer are coming into suburban yards and destroying gardens, shrubs and flowers.

The folks I talked to were incredulous that animals they had never seen in their yards were now brazenly showing up at all times of day.

My own relatives, who have a home in a suburb of Indianapolis, were voicing this complaint and showing me deer droppings under the small trees in their yard. This is within a few blocks of a major highway in a very residential neighborhood.

Then while in Missouri, I heard the same complaint from various folks. Deer are invading the roadsides, lawns and gardens of homes where they hadn't been seen before. I was astonished that these folks couldn't seem to figure out what was happening.

A drought as severe as Midwesterners are now experiencing will dry up/kill the grass and browse that deer especially eat daily. So they are drawn to lawns and gardens where people are watering almost daily in their efforts to survive. My son, a Missourian told me that the acorn and apple crops in or near wooded areas are already dried up so wildlife is desperate for food and water. The incidents of deer/car collisions are rising as well as animals move about trying to locate food.

So the drought is seriously impacting wildlife. Folks are dealing with all sorts of wildlife around the house and of course, wildlife professionals are concerned with rabies and other diseases spreading in the wake of it.

Even though our area is not really having a drought as drastic as I saw in a couple states last week, plenty of folks are seeing wildlife in their environments these days. Deer are browsers and if leaves dry up in the woods they will come to town for green browse. Cornfields attract bears, deer, and turkeys. And, as the black bears are very active this time of year with the breeding season, many 2-year-old "cubs" have been kicked out of the house, so to speak, and often wander into a town as they search for a new territory to call their own.

A bear near Pittsburgh broke into a candy store recently and had its fill. While we chuckle at such an event, I'm sure the storeowner did not see the humor. In another two months, bears will be actively searching for every calorie they can find to pack on the pounds they will need for hibernation. So there is no need for panic if you spot a bear passing through your back forty or your yard for that matter. Leave it alone and tomorrow it will be 25 miles away, ambling through some one else's lawn.

On another subject, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today offered his praise to the 26 sportsmen's clubs throughout Pennsylvania that signed up to host junior pheasant hunts. The clubs will share about 1,800 pheasants the agency is providing for junior pheasant hunts, which all will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Providing pheasants to clubs sponsoring junior pheasant hunts is a wise investment, Roe said. The only two stipulations for clubs to be eligible to receive Game Commission birds are that these hunts must have registration open to the public and must be held on public lands or private lands enrolled in the Game Commission's Hunter Access Program

The long-standing two-pheasant daily bag limit will apply to junior hunters participating in the season. In addition, depending on the area in which they are hunting, juniors will be required to comply with restrictions on hunting male or female pheasants. Eligible juniors must be between 12 and 16 years of age, and have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course. There is no requirement that participating juniors purchase a license, but they must wear the necessary orange and be accompanied as required by law. noted the junior pheasant hunt is not part of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program for those hunters under the age of 12, which allows mentored youth to hunt for groundhog, squirrel, coyotes, spring gobbler and antlered and antlerless deer. (For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, please see page 15 of the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to each license buyer.)

The junior pheasant season runs from Saturday, Oct. 6, through Saturday, Oct. 13. The season also takes advantage of many schools having off for the Columbus Day holiday. In addition to the pheasants being provided to clubs hosting a junior pheasant hunt, the Game Commission will stock 15,000 pheasants for the junior pheasant season on various sites throughout Pennsylvania on Friday, Oct. 5.

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