Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 29, 2012

Respect eagles as well as property owners


— “I bet they see the eagles” said my friend Tom Newsom as we approached an area in rural Howard County. He was referring to the group of people who stood on a bridge spanning the Wildcat Creek. Some had binoculars, others had cameras and one guy had what looked like a large telescope.

As we neared the steel-and-concrete span, it was easy to notice the two huge birds as they majestically perched in a towering Sycamore overlooking the flowing water and the people gathered to watch them.

“I don’t care how many times you see them, they are still beautiful,” Newsom added, pulling his truck onto the shoulder where he could admire the birds of prey.

“Would you look at that?” Newsom said in disbelief as two men disregarded the numerous “no trespassing” signs posted on the property where the eagles had nested. The pair had walked within close proximity of the nest to get a better look.

“It’s people like that who make me sick,” he said in disgust. “If they don’t have any respect for wildlife or another person’s property, they don’t have respect for themselves.”

I had to agree with him.

For most of the 20th century, bald eagles were absent in Indiana. A once rare site in the Hoosier state, it’s not uncommon any more thanks to reintroduction efforts began in the mid 1980s when 73 young eagles were released in a successful attempt to establish a breeding population. The first nesting attempt was noted in 1989 and the first successful nests were observed by biologists in 1991.

The majestic bird, symbolic of our nation’s freedom and independence, currently reside in Indiana in record numbers and predictions are their numbers will continue to swell in coming years.

DNR helicopter surveys of bald eagle populations done between March and April revealed the highest population of eagles ever recorded in Indiana. A state record 119 nests were found to be occupied by eagle pairs. This number eclipsed the previous record of 101 nests recorded in 2008. Bald eagles were removed from the Federal Endangered Species list in 2007 and Indiana’s list in 2008. However, they still are considered a species of special concern and are highly monitored and

protected.

For the first time, active eagle nests were found in Howard County but for several years they have actively raised young in neighboring Carroll, Cass and Miami counties. This makes more than 60 Indiana counties where these birds of prey have found a home to raise their young. Most nests were found along rivers such as the White, Mississinewa, Wabash and Ohio with many scattered on the shores of smaller streams and lake impoundments.

Several years back, wildlife biologist John Castrale revealed a pair of bald eagles had built a nest on something other than a tree — a wooden electrical tower in Sullivan County.

Bald eagles continue to thrive in the Hoosier state and their graceful beauty captivates anyone who sees them sitting majestically high in a tree or effortlessly soaring over head. Even though their numbers

increase and sightings become more common, please respect the birds by not encroaching on their nesting sites and respect the rights of those who own private property.

CheckIN Game System Now in Place

With this spring’s wild turkey hunting season now in full swing, hunters have a new option of reporting harvest information online. Appropriately titled the CheckIN game system, hunters can report their turkey harvest through computer, tablet or wide variety of smart phones without having to visit a designated check-in station.

“The CheckIN system allows hunters to quickly check in their game from the convenience of their own home or directly in the field,” said Mark Reiter, Division of Fish and Wildlife director. “This free online system is a big step forward in giving hunters more options to check in their game.”

To access the new CheckIN system visit hunting.IN.gov/7365.htm. This fall, the new system will more than likely be expanded to include the checking in of white-tailed deer as well.

Mother of All Morels Contest Extended

Because of this spring’s unusual weather, WWKI’s annual Mother of All Morels contest has been extended. If you happen across a fantastic

fungus, you have until 5 p.m. on May 7 to register your find. All you have to do it take it by WWKI business office, 519 N. Main St., during regular business hours.

“There are still a few people finding morels so we wanted to extend it,” said popular radio personality Kevin Burris.

Valuable prize packages will be awarded to the person who finds this season’s largest morel. In addition to a spinning rod and reel, the winner will also take home gift certificates from Bass and Bucks Outdoor Store, Foxes Den Restaurant and morelmania.com.

Turkey Hunting Results

With prolonged unseasonably warm weather earlier this spring, undergrowth is much farther along than in normal years, making turkey hunting season a bit harder due to limited visibility. In spite of this, several area hunters succeeded in taking birds. The following information includes normal turkey measurements which include weight, length of beard in inches and spur length in millimeters.

• Adam Thatcher — 27 pounds; 101⁄2 inch beard; 22mm spurs.

• Roy Hurst — 21 pounds; 8-inch beard; 16mm spurs.

Tournament Results

Members of the Bullseye Outdoor Sports team bass tourney made a recent stop on Lake Palestine. Roby Ahnert and Jerry Picket totally ran away from the rest of the field after boating eight largemouth bass sporting a combined weight of 26.84 pounds. Second place and the tourney’s “big fish” award went to the father-and-son team of Dave and Joel Edwards with five fish dropping the digital scales at 15.92 pounds. Their largest topped out at 6.43 pounds. Phil Reel and Greg Rude grabbed third place with six fish weighing 15.34 pounds.

Tribune Catches

of the Week

Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Larry Combs and Jason Lynch pulled in 19 crappies from Salamonie Reservoir with their largest measuring just under 14 inches. The local anglers were using minnows as bait.

Springhill Camp Ground and Pay Pit: Randy West and Lee Smith caught 14 channel catfish sporting a total weight of 35 pounds. The fish were taken on live bait. Ray Hillman brought in 18 channel catfish also hosting a combined weight of 35 pounds using live bait.

U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle: Emily Littrell hauled in a channel catfish dropping the scales at 9 pounds. She also caught 10 crappies with her largest measuring 16 inches weighing just under 2 pounds. She caught her fish on minnows while on an afternoon outing on Mississinewa Reservoir.

• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.