WILDLIFE young of the year are becoming an every day happening from now and into the early summer. Well meaning, but highly misinformed and misguided, are some typical reactions of mankind to wildlife babies. If one really does care about their survival, then just watch from a distance. The parent bird or mammal is close by and very capable of providing for its young. One must also remember that nature is not Disney. The struggle for life and survival in nature has been going on for many eons. Keeping our human hands off is the best choice always.
Fawn deer will be born anytime now through the next several weeks. It is has been seven months since last season's rut of early November when doe deer were bred. Soon they will deliver a fawn or fawns as the winter population recharges and replaces itself. Another sign of the season for doe deer wanderings is unfortunately, the incidence of road kills by vehicles. May is the month for a spike in the number of deer/car crashes. During the summer the rate goes down. Data shows the biggest month of the year is November for car/deer accidents. Stay alert. Do not swerve to miss deer, just slow down as much as possible and keep control of the car. That way you or other occupants of the car increase the odds for avoiding injury.
For wildlife, Mother Nature knows best. Leave wildlife babies where they belong - in the wild.
T-R PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG
Pretending it is invisible, a young whitetail fawn lays low in hopes of avoiding any potential predator. This is an instinctive behavior of many young cervids, members of the deer family. However tempting it is to “rescue” what does not need human intervention at all, the legal and best policy for any young wildlife is this ...”If you care, leave it there.” Hands off!
Rescue services: Maybe it is a sign of the times to come. The clock may start ticking in more backcountry places for reimbursable expenses related to getting people out of trouble. Last week I related the story of bad judgment on the part of canoeists that went onto the river at flood time. At other places across the world, if you call for help due to life threatening situations that you got yourself into, rescuers may come. But at the end of the day, when the bills are added up for teams of people and their equipment used for that rescue, it can easily become thousands of dollars. At the Grand Canyon, a billboard warns hikers to be fully aware of the consequences of their actions because, if needed, helicopter extraction costs are billed to you and it starts at $3,000. Add in other emergency services to get you to a medical facility and the bill grows very large very quick. In places like Massachusetts, or New Hampshire, fish and game officers can recommend to the Attorney General's Office that the state seek reimbursement for rescue service costs.
After decades of educational efforts, numerous public service advertisements, news reports of close calls and then the 'carry-out' stories of dead bodies, it seems as though the message is still not getting through to some people. If you wander into the wilds of nature on your own, and if you are unprepared for the consequences of the real world, then you should have a healthy credit card balance to cover rescue expenses. In fact, several companies that sell hand held GPS locator devices have you sign an agreement at the time of purchase in which you provide what I just described, a valid credit card account number. If you press the 9-1-1 button on the device by mistake or on purpose, it starts a chain reaction to call emergency service agencies. And your credit card is automatically billed. You have signed the agreement and you can't protest the charges.
Many states offer outdoor hiking, camping, and survival classes that focus on common sense outdoor skills. They are taught by professionals who have been there and done that. The know what defines the right clothes, foods, water (or how to find it and make it safe to drink), navigations skills and other actions that make for a rewarding experience under the terms that nature always dictates. Heed the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared.
Lewis and Clark had the right stuff over 200 years ago when they made the Voyage of Discovery up the Missouri River, and then over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. They successfully returned to St. Louis. MO with a wealth of information that would soon make it to the desk of President Jefferson in Washington DC. Lewis and Clark did not have cell phones, satellite phones, GPS units, two-way radios or pre-stationed emergency service personnel along the route just in case they were needed. Lewis and Clark had the proper skills and knowledge to undertake one of the most grand wilderness exploration assignments ever put together. They were the right people at the right time to pull off this assignment. They survived.
This scribe has several Lewis and Clark publications. While pursuing those pages recently, it reminded me of the contrast between the explorers of that time compared to today. Lewis and Clark recorded through journal entries what they observed in the new country called the Louisiana Purchase. A young America needed to know what was out there. Some present day 'explorers' who watch survivor shows on television think they have the right stuff when they do not. Best advice: turn off the TV. Enroll in outdoor skills classes. Learn all you can about the real world. Then enjoy nature on her terms. If you can't do that, then the future may be a bill in the mail for rescue services. Please pay.
Today at 10 a.m. at the Grimes Farm shelter house, a short but sweet dedication ceremony will be held to officially open the new segment of the American Discovery Trail. This local connection links Marshalltown's bike path system to the Grimes Farm and the trail that parallels highway 330. Each year a few dedicated bicyclists make the trek from New Jersey to California on other portions of the American Discovery Trail. If that is not your mission, that's okay. Just enjoy the healthy exercise that the local trail system offers. Trails improve the quality of life for all residents if they avail themselves to its calling.
A study on the economic value of bike trails in Iowa found that cyclists spending generates $364.8 million in direct and indirect impacts to the State of Iowa. That is about $1 million per day. We know communities recognize the economic impact of RAGBRAI for their area. But what about the rest of the year when cyclists are not concentrated on one route? Biking has health benefits as more physical activity reduces problems associated with sedentary lifestyles. The Center for Disease Control reports that 67.2 percent of Iowans are overweight or obese. Biking can be part of that solution to live healthier lives. Trails call people to make use of them for their own good. Trails are an investment that 41 percent of Iowans use for physical fitness. The use of trails increases when linkages connect one trail to another. That is the case today, at the Grimes Farm, when we can celebrate another step in the process of making Iowa a great place to live. Thanks for being a part of that.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.