Indiana, PA - Indiana County

ZEKE WILSON: Days getting shorter

on July 16, 2013 10:45 AM

For those with friends or family living out of the state, county treasurers will begin accepting non-residents antlerless applications on July 29. On Aug. 5, applications for any unsold licenses will be accepted from residents and non-residents.

If the Internet is an option, you can view the status of your current applications, should any questions arise.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is now offering emails as well that remind hunters of upcoming applications and seasons.

• Blistering heat can make it difficult to think of anything but staying cool, but the days are growing shorter. Young of the year are on the move, and sadly, I have seen fawns, raccoon, fox and skunk laying dead along the road. Amphibians and snakes also succumb to the paved paradise, although little evidence is seen.

The heavy rains of this month misplaced a lot of frogs and turtles, with many of them now finding themselves high and dry.

Some wildlife adapt better to traffic, although all suffer from a road system that eventually will eliminate a host of native species. Our destruction and consumption of habitat has made living with wildlife inevitable.

Snakes have always held a special place in the hearts of many, with most thinking that the only good snake is a dead one. Unfortunately, this mentality, combined with death by motor vehicle, has made numbers scarce.

The other day as I climbed into my skid steer and fired it up, I had a good laugh after the fact. As I went to push a button on the instrument panel to allow the boom to move, I saw a snake skin, which my eyes followed for three-quarters of the perimeter of the cab. I was already shut down and unbuckled by the time I realized it was only the shed skin of a black snake. The headliner had been removed because of mice nesting and chewing wires, and I couldn’t be happier that the snake is on the job.

Many would argue to just get a cat, but I cannot see logic in using an evasive species to do the job of a native one. Cats, too, prey on amphibians and reptiles, further contributing to man’s impact on them.

• Speaking of evasive species, Japanese Knotweed continues to thrive and outcompete natives. While I was working at a rental cabin in the Conemaugh River watershed, the plant was growing rampant throughout the flood plain. Sadly, right alongside the Japanese Knotweed were blackberry plants producing some fantastic fruit, but in a few years they will be smothered.

Eradication of the Japanese Knotweed is difficult because the plant must be cut at the base and then sprayed with undiluted Roundup. Secondary measures are often necessary before the patch can be eliminated.

Perhaps those who are incarcerated could be utilized similar to the current litter cleanup efforts to help wage war on this invasive plant.

• As the Midwest battles Asian carp and the Great Lakes hold their breath in hopes the carp won’t breach preventative barriers, one has to look at all exotics. Florida and the federal government are dealing with the pet pythons that are now established and thriving in the everglades.

Marsh rabbits were once one of the most common creatures in the park at nearly 40 percent of the entire animal population and now have been virtually eliminated thanks to the python. If it does not belong in the environment, chances are good that sooner or later indications of its presence will be felt.

With bats and bees struggling, you have to wonder what each person can do to help lessen our impact on the ecosystem.

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