Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 5, 2012

We should leave young animals alone

DNR seeks input on hunting, fishing and trapping regulations

By John Martino
Tribune staff writer

— Marcia and Kent Logan are like most good parents. They work hard and try to spend free time outdoors as a family with their two sons, Kaleb, 8, and Kyle, who just turned 10. So it was only fitting when they decided to enjoy a Sunday afternoon looking for morel mushrooms.

They had barely reached the woodlot when both boys rocketed ahead.

“I think they’re more interested in exploring than looking for mushrooms,” Logan told his wife.

He had just spotted his first morel poking up from the moist forest floor when he heard his sons yell, “Dad, come here quick.”

As Logan reached the two boys, he noticed the focus of their excitement.

“Look at what we found!” they both said in unison pointing to the base of large tree. Clinging to the bark was a small, baby raccoon.

“Please can we keep it?” Kyle pleaded in a sincere, innocent voice — the kind of voice that would grab the heart of almost any caring adult.

“We promise to take real good care of it,” Kaleb assured.

“And it doesn’t have any parents,” Kyle quickly added, trying to convince his father.

Although Logan did consider it for a few seconds, he did the right thing.

“It belongs here in the woods so we better leave it here,” he explained to his sons. “And just because we don’t see its parents, doesn’t mean they are not around.”

Springtime is a season of birth, especially for many forms of wildlife. At the same time, woodlots become popular places for turkey hunters and people looking for morel mushrooms, like the Logan family.

Biologists from the Division of Wildlife warn that well-meaning Hoosiers can upset the course of nature by removing young animals or birds from their den or nests. Besides jeopardizing the baby’s well being, taking any form of wildlife from their natural environment is against the law.

Contrary to popular belief, young rabbits, raccoons, birds and most forms of juvenile wildlife are rarely left by their parents. Adult wildlife oftentimes leave the nest while foraging for food or to distract predators away from the nest or den. But some types of wildlife will actively protect their young — just try getting too close to a Canada goose nest!

But in the natural scheme of species propagation, most animals protect themselves first by fleeing or hiding when their nest is threatened only to return later when the danger is gone.

I’ll agree there is no such thing as an ugly baby. Even though young animals are cute and cuddly, they are not meant to be handled or raised as pets. In order to survive, most forms of wildlife need special care that only their mother can provide. Trying to raise these critters usually only leads to problems down the road.

Animals that become domesticated lose their natural fear of man, making them easy targets for predators and household pets. After several months, it doesn’t take long for proud owners to find that the once cute, little baby does not have the appeal it did when first found. In addition, some types of wildlife are susceptible to diseases which can be transmitted to humans or domestic animals.

In the event you happen across a young animal that appears to be abandoned, it is always best to view it for a minute, then leave it alone. If you must pick up an animal that has become injured, cover it with a soft cloth. This not only helps keep it calm, it protects you as well. Then contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitator which can be found on the web. These special groups of dedicated volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in caring for orphaned and injured animals.

Oh, and by the way — if a situation arises where you are forced to handle young birds or animals, such as moving a rabbit’s nest from the path of a mower or to place a baby bird back into the nest it fell from, don’t worry about leaving your scent, as some myths would lead you to believe. In most cases the parents are more concerned about their baby than your obnoxious smell.

Peregrine Falcon Numbers Continue to Grow

Powerful and fast flying, peregrine falcons are the fighter jets of the bird world. They hunt medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. They can reach speeds exceeding 200 mph, making them the fastest creature in the entire animal kingdom.

For years they were totally void in Hoosier skies, but an experiment started in 1992 to reintroduce peregrine falcons is paying off with big dividends.

This spring, the DNR has noted a record 16 nests. Peregrines also have been seen at four other nesting sites, but no nesting activity was observed. These swift-flying raptors generally set up home on sky scrapers, towers and other manmade structures. Several of the closest nests are located atop Market Tower and IPL’s Harding Street Station in Indianapolis.

“We are grateful that building and plant managers have allowed us to erect nest boxes, monitor nesting activity and protect the birds from undue disturbance,” said John Castrale, nongame bird biologist for the DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “The successful recovery of peregrine falcons in Indiana could not have been accomplished without cooperation of governmental agencies, private organizations, businesses and dedicated individuals.”

DNR Seeks Input

As I have said many times before, if you don’t provide your input or opinions, especially when they are solicited, then don’t complain when new rules are adopted.

The DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife wants to hear your ideas on our state’s hunting, fishing and trapping regulations and it does not require attending any meetings. It’s kind of like a “virtual” open house.

From May 15 to June 1, the public will be able to use a convenient online form to contribute ideas and suggestions as well as provide input on a variety of issues the DNR has identified for consideration.

To find the online form, go to wildlife.IN.gov and click on the “Got Input?” box near the middle of the page. The form will be available beginning May 15.

“This is an opportunity for people to let us know what changes they would like for us to consider,” said Gregg McCollam, assistant director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “This easy process allows us to get much needed feedback on important issues.”

After all the input is compiled, the DFW will evaluate the comments and suggestions then come back in mid-summer with a second round of online feedback before proposing rules to the Natural Resources Commission.

Adams Auto Group Sponsors Bass Tourney

If you are looking for a fun activity, Adams Auto Group will host its ninth annual open team benefit bass tourney Saturday at our Kokomo Reservoir. The event will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registrations will be taken at the public boat launch located on Howard County road 400 east.

A portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase fishing equipment and safety related items for the students involved in the Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic scheduled in July.

“We have always believed in promoting children, the outdoors and our community,” said business owner Brian Adams. “This is one way we felt we could accomplish this.”

Turkey Hunting Results

Here is this week’s list of turkey hunters who have collected birds. This information was provided by our area’s check-in station which includes Bryant’s Outdoor Store and U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle.

Daryl Beachy — 25 pounds, 12-inch beard, 30mm spurs; John Crow Jr. — 26 pounds, 12-inch beard, 28mm spurs; Larry Smith — 21 pounds, 14-inch beard, 22mm spurs; Russell Lawson — 16 pounds, nine-inch beard, 18mm spurs; Lawrence Dulworth — 18 pounds, nine-inch beard, 26mm spurs; Hink Hinkle — 20 pounds, 11-inch beard, 24mm spurs; Sheldon Bowser — 21 pounds, 11 inch beard, 22 mm spurs; Jason Seal — 19 pounds, nine-inch beard, 25mm spurs; Brad Welsh — 24 pounds, 10-inch beard, 24mm spurs; Homer Campbell — 19 pounds, 10-inch beard, 20mm spurs.

Tribune Catches of the Week

Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Shane Carrigan along with his son Tyler hauled in 16 crappies with the largest stretching 13 inches. They also caught and released four smallmouth bass averaging a foot in length. The Carrigans enjoyed their success while plying the waters of Wildcat Creek.

Springhill Camp Ground and Pay Pit: Mike and Dylan Strain hooked 17 channel cats weighing in at 25 pounds, 11 ounces. The Strains caught the fish from the popular western Howard County pit on processed bait.

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