Animals will find ways to remain cool

In case it slipped your mind that antlerless licenses are being accepted at the moment, you need to get on it now. Being so distracted with COVID-19 and all its complications, many of us found that sending for the doe licenses simply got by us.

How do wild creatures cope with a prolonged heat wave?

With all that thick black fur, bears get overheated quickly and so spend time lounging in marshy, swampy areas where they can stay wet and cool. This is the time of year that breeding begins for black bears.

Big males travel for miles looking for a compatible female. Young bears suddenly found Mama very unfriendly, chasing them off to find their own territory. So young bears are traveling around looking for some part of the woods that some other bear doesn’t claim for its own.

Such a confused bear bumbled into Pittsburgh a week or so ago and caused a panic. When the crowd got tired of gawking at a terrified bear up a tree, the wildlife officials tranquilized it and moved it to somewhere new. By now it has probably found a new home, perhaps 25 or more miles away from where he was released, perhaps still looking for his mama.

Deer shed their winter coats in early March and are now lounging around in their summer coats. Still, they don’t like standing around in the direct sun so they feed very early in the morning, and just as dark is coming on in the evening. And they drink more often.

They lie up during the hottest parts of the day in the shade of pine thickets and probably suffer more from constantly-buzzing insects than from heat.

Wild turkeys also avoid the heat and direct sunshine of the day. Their thick dark feathers hold the heat in and make them uncomfortable. So they too cruise the fields for insects and berries but when the sun gets hot they disappear into the shade.

Contrary to the tales one hears about snakes loving to bask in the sun it is usually not true. If a day is damp and chilly a snake will lie in the weak sun a bit to warm up. Remember that snakes are cold-blooded creatures, which means their bodies are the same temperature as the air surrounding it.

They may often be out on trails in the woods just before daylight and will stay in the sun until they warm up. But when the sun gets hot, they crawl to cover under a log or rock or a bush. They love curling up under wild blueberry bushes, Ihave found out to my dismay several times.

Professional rattlesnake hunters take the air temperature into consideration when they decided on the best places to look for snakes.

This time of year, early morning and just at dusk is the favored time to be able to spot wildlife.

Yearly, many people mistakenly believe that the young animal they discover has been abandoned or orphaned. In most cases, this is not the case at all. It’s common for adult wild animals to separate from their young while they search for food.

Separating from the young, the adult animal lessens the chance of a predator coming upon the young. This hider strategy has the young lying motionless thereby being less easily spotted. Predators have a better chance of walking by and not finding them.

“While our well-intentioned urge is to want to care for young wild animals, they’re not meant to be pets. We have to resist the temptation to treat them as pets” Information & Education Supervisor, Barry Leonard said.

“It’s not only illegal to possess these animals, you could also be opening yourself to the risk of contracting a disease or parasites. They can carry everything from fleas and ticks, to lice. Never attempt to pick up or handle a sick or injured wild animal.”

Most “cute” little animals grow up to be aggressive adults, scratching and biting and not at all cute anymore. Animals that have been imprinted and fed cannot just be thrown back into the forest because they have no idea how to find food or to protect themselves.

I once was on a forest trail at least three miles away from my truck when a half-grown fawn stepped onto the trail. I stopped but it ran toward me and would not leave me. It followed me all the way back to my truck despite all my attempts to scare it away or lose it.

When I woke up in my cabin next morning, it waa standing on the doorstep. I had to call the Game Commission to come get it and the responding officer looked at me and said, ” Only you, Shirley !”


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