WILDLIFE RELATED STORY IDEAS
Here are some highlights of the Division of Wildlife’s current projects and other events.
Click here to view upcoming wildlife-related events in northeast Ohio.
Bald Eagles Begin Nesting Activities
The eagles have landed. From February to mid-April bald eagles will initiate nesting activities throughout the state. Wildlife officials expect another successful breeding season this year. In 2008, 119 successful nesting pairs produced a record 222 eaglets in Ohio. As our national symbol, these large, majestic birds attract a lot of attention. And more and more Ohioans are seeing eagles as the state's breeding population expands throughout the state and the number of offspring produced each year continues to increase. Read more about bald eagles in Ohio.
Canada Geese: Use of harassment techniques now can prevent nesting later!
Nearly extirpated from Ohio in the early part of the century, Canada geese are now so numerous that they can cause conflicts, especially in urban areas. Urban areas contribute to the growth in the Canada goose population in three ways- an abundance of food (short grass for grazing), plenty of nesting habitat, (ponds, small lakes and water retention basins), and protection (city ordinances against goose hunting). Contrary to popular opinion, Canada geese are not being pushed into urban areas because of development and destruction of their habitat. Rather, they are being drawn to urban areas because development often increases their habitat. As urban areas continue to grow in Ohio and the amount of goose habitat expands, it is very likely that urban geese will also continue to grow in numbers. The Division of Wildlife routinely responds to inquiries about what can be done to alleviate problems associated with conflict geese. Most complaints come from apartment complexes, golf courses and businesses where ponds or small lakes are surrounded by lush green grass, the perfect combination of food and cover for the adaptable Canada goose. The critical element in goose problem solving is timing. NOW is the time to drive geese off of property, plan ways to reduce the amount of mowed grass around ponds, and/or put up barriers to keep geese out of specific areas. If you still have an aerator running in your pond or lake, turn it off to allow the water to freeze, forcing geese to move on. Work on your problem now. It is too late if landowners who wait until geese start to lay eggs before they decide to do something about them. Once that first egg is laid, almost nothing will cause that Canada goose to leave the area. And last but not least, if you don't want Canada geese around, do not allow people to feed them on your property. Click here to view additional resources online
Great Backyard Bird Count
The annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is taking place February 13 - 16, 2009. No fee or advance registration is necessary, and participants can count birds for as little or as long as they wish. They note the highest number of each species they see at any one time and enter their sightings online at www.birdsource.org/gbbc. The web site also includes instructions and bird watching tips. The count is run by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with sponsorship by Wild Birds Unlimited and the National Resources Conservation Service. Click here to visit the GBBC official website
Shreve Migration Sensation
Visit the unique village of Shreve for the annual fun-filled Shreve Spring Migration Sensation on Saturday, March 28, 2009. The event, not far from birders’ paradise Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area as well as the state’s largest inland wetland complex Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area, is full of fun activities throughout the day. Learn how to teach kids about conservation and wildlife using nature’s classroom, peregrine falcon monitoring, Ohio’s wild heritage, Understanding Bird ID, or enjoy a self-guided tour around Wayne County! There is even much, much more! Learn more about the Migration Sensation
Spring-Cleaning is for the Birds
Landlords: are you ready for the spring and summer residents moving into the accommodations in your backyard? Now is the time to ready birdhouses for their occupants. Ohio's cavity nesting birds, like eastern bluebirds, will soon begin looking for places to raise their broods and the nest box in your backyard can provide for their needs as well as offer an opportunity for you to learn more about avian family life. Native house wrens, tree swallows, tufted titmice, chickadees, and bluebirds move into accommodations without checking carefully for hidden hazards. As the landlord, you can contribute to their nesting success by investing a few moments in routine maintenance. View nest box plans booklet
The Sweet Smell of Spring is in the Air
Spring is just around the corner and one of the first signs can't be seen or heard. This sign is highly odoriferous and quite unmistakable. It's the scent of the striped skunk, a common Ohio furbearer. Skunks begin their mating season in February and March. The male skunks become very active and go in search of females in dens. The males will travel several miles in a night in search of receptive females, which accounts for the increased numbers of road-killed skunks this time of year. Striped skunks are promiscuous in their mating habits and the male will mate with more than one female. Read more about skunks
Native Spotlight: Striped Skunk
The striped skunk is likely the most recognizable member of the weasel family in Ohio. It is easily identified by its black fur and two white stripes that meet on the head and continue down to the tail. Skunks and other weasels have a unique defense mechanism, a form of protection to help them escape predators. They produce a foul smelling liquid that can be sprayed from a gland near their tails when they are alarmed. However, before spraying, they often display warning behaviors such as shuffling backward and showing their teeth. If those actions do not ward off the predator, the spray more than likely will. Skunks are omnivorous, meaning they’ll eat a variety of food and often they scavenge from trash cans. They are found in a variety of habitats throughout the state. Therefore, human interactions with skunks are fairly common. If you find yourself face-to-face with one, slowly back away and leave the area. A skunk is more likely to spray if it feels threatened!
Ice and bitter cold weather doesn’t stop anglers in northeast Ohio!
When the weather cooperates, ice fishing opportunities abound in the Buckeye State with opportunities to catch a variety of fish such as perch, sunfish, crappie, walleye, and in a few places, northern pike. Most lakes and ponds that anglers fish in the warmer months are just as good in the winter, so with a little skill and knowledge about fishing on the frozen water, you can be reeling in fish in no time. Anglers must be aware of ice thickness and safety first and foremost, however. Learning about the body of water to be fished, necessary equipment, how to dress warmly, and most importantly, knowing safety precautions are all components of a pleasant winter fishing experience. View an ice fishing safety chart. For details about ice fishing safety and proper equipment click here.
Steelhead Fishing Heats up in the Cold
Stream and pier anglers in northern Ohio have an excellent opportunity to catch quality-sized steelhead trout from September through April. Ohio's primary steelhead streams are Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers and Conneaut Creek. Several other rivers including the Huron, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula rivers, and French, Euclid, Arcola, and Cowles creeks get runs of stray steelhead. Fantastic fishing has been maintained by annual stocking and by the practice of most anglers to catch and release. So, instead of heading south to cure the winter blues, visit Lake Erie and try your hand at some serious steelhead fishing! Click here for more on steelheading in the Buckeye State.
*Extremely cold weather recently has turned anglers to ice fishing at inland bodies of water. Contact Wildlife District Three Fish Management for more information (330) 644-2293.
Hunting & Trapping
Otter season going well for trappers
Week two of Ohio’s fourth river otter trapping season is going very well for trappers. Opening week produced 15 otters and the second week so far produce 19. The Mosquito Creek area of Trumbull County is producing the highest harvest thus far. River otter season opened December 26, 2008 and continues through February 28, 2009. More information can be attained by contacting Wildlife Management at Wildlife District Three (330) 644-2293. Final results will be distributed in the beginning of March. Read more about river otters or view Ohio’s trapping regulations