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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for February, 2007

Just bears, oh, my.


The results of the 2006 black bear hunting season are in. Big game hunters harvested, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, 318 bears in the Adirondack bear range, 113 bears in the Allegany bear range, and 365 bears in the Catskill bear range.

A list of the state’s bear harvest broken down by region can be found <a href=”http://www.empirenewswire.com/release/downloads/beartake.pdf” target=”_blank”>here</a>

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 at 10:37 am |
| | 1 Comment »

A change coming?



A day after Al Gore’s movie about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Oscar for best documentary, something happened yesterday that may prove even more significant in future thinking about how we can save the planet from ourselves. (Gore’s shown here with Davis Guggenheim, the film’s director.)
A multi-billion-dollar buyout of TXU Corp included concessions to the environmental community that basically were wrung out of the deal makers. The coal-burning Texas electricity generator agreed to drop plans for eight of 11 proposed new coal-burning power plants and to make other green concessions.
Those include plans to invest heavily in renewable energy and conservation. TXU says it plans to become the nation’s largest user of wind power.
Maybe the business world is starting to get the idea of protecting rather than merely using up our natural resources.
An ad in Sierra magazine recently asked if people were planning for their retirement, with two guys on a putting green enjoying their golden years – dressed in yellow containment suit with oxygen masks.
In essence, they have enough money to play golf all day, but where will the clean air come from?
With power plants – nuclear and coal-burning – on both sides of the Hudson River in our area, it’s a trend we should all keep an eye on.
Check out a <a href=http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007702270328>story</a> on the TXU deal on our Web site – Lohud.com – written by David Koenig of the Associated Press.
Or a <a href=http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/chi-0702270280feb27,0,4125299.column?coll=chi-business-hed> column</a> by Bill Barnhart of the Chicago Tribune who puts things into perspective.

Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 at 11:14 am |

Thought we were supposed to be done with this


I figured that with the Pennsylvania groundhog not seeing his shadow, we wouldn’t be in for six more weeks of winter – and that was almost four weeks ago. Guess neither he nor I were right. Still, I thought we ought to collectively count our blessings in the Lower Hudson Valley when we stop and think what we could have gotten this year. Check out a photo that a friend sent to me showing a northeastern section of Canada. Not sure of the date. Some people were sending this around saying it was Oswego earlier in February, but that’s been found to be incorrect. (My apologies for not giving credit to the photographer. I don’t know who took the picture.) That made me feel a little better about the digging out we’ve done recently. I’m not even sure how they were able to plow that road. oswego.jpg

Posted by Greg Clary on Monday, February 26th, 2007 at 12:15 pm |


Beavers, beavers everywhere


Even in New York City, according to this <a href=”http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-23-beaver_x.htm” target=”_blank”>story</a>. More <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/nyregion/23beaver.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin” target=”_blank”>here</a>.
Those who follow the LoHud beaver scene may recall the busy rodents flooding parts of Patterson in recent years. Neighbors on Addison Road did battle with the creatures in the fall of 2005. Last June, some beavers also flooded Farm to Market Road with their handiwork.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 11:40 am |
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Got deer?


Ever wonder what happens to the dead deer, raccoons, skunks, possums and other flattened fauna decorating the area’s roads? Well, if the local highway or public works department doesn’t scoop them up, they become breakfast, lunch or dinner for scavengers. More, plus a somewhat graphic photo, after the jump. Read more of this entry »

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 at 1:43 pm |

Trying to make little wolves . . .



If you haven’t seen it, check out my colleague Sean Gorman’s <a href=”http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070222/NEWS02/702220364/1018/NEWS02″ target=”_blank”>story</a> on the efforts at the Wolf Conservation Center in Lewisboro to breed endangered Mexican gray and red wolves.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 at 12:21 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Remember Westchester Wildlife, Inc.?


Today’s <a href=”http://lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070221/NEWS02/702210341/1232″ target=”_blank”>story</a> about Peekskill’s famous donkey includes Barry Rothfuss – donkey owner, wildlife rehabilitator and former Peekskill resident.

Those who have been around Westchester and Putnam for a while may remember Barry’s local wildlife work.

Barry’s now up in Canada at <a href=”http://www.atlanticwildlife.ca/” target=”_blank”>his Atlantic Wildllife Institute</a>.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, February 21st, 2007 at 12:07 pm |

Martime summer camp


Pirate Camp?

Not exactly, but close. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk over in Connecticut sent me a notice about summer camp sessions where kids can learn about sharks, seals, otters and, yes, even pirates. At the Maritime Explorers Summer Camp, they can also design and set up a working aquarium.

The Marimtime Aquarium is located in this historic South Norwalk district, about a half hour from Westchester up I-95. They feature events like daily seal feedings, and they show nature-themed movies on an IMAX screen.

Rather than have me go on about the summer camp, I’ll simply copy the entire press release below.

Here it is…


NORWALK, CT — This summer your child can explore,
learn and smile discovering sharks, seals, otters, jellies and other
amazing marine creatures from Long Island Sound. He or she can even
learn about the Sound’s pirate past, work with clay, or design and
set up a working aquarium! It’s all possible with The Maritime
Aquarium’s Maritime Explorers Summer Camp, a series of fun and
educational one- and two-week morning, afternoon and full-day
programs for ages six to 11 offered from June 25 through August 24.

Maritime Explorers Summer Camp, which keeps learning alive over the
summer and makes it fun, gives parents the flexibility of morning,
afternoon or (at the end of the summer) full-day themed sessions.
Some sessions, like “Wacky Water� (June 25 – 29) and “Nature
Alive� (July 2 – 13), are available only in the morning. Afternoon-
only sessions are “Watershed Wildlife (June 25 – 29) and “Otterly
Awesome� (July 23 – 27). Other sessions—like “Adventure Under the
Sea,� “Ocean Habitats,� “Sounds Fishy,� and “Survival� are offered in
the morning one week and in the afternoon another week. All sessions
let campers participate in hands-on science activities, have
encounters with live animals, discover Aquarium exhibits related to
the session’s theme, explore a local beach, enjoy an IMAX movie, and

One unique full-day session, “Jr. Marine Biologists,� is being
offered twice this summer (July 16 – 27 or July 30 – August 3) for
ages nine to 11. Participants will learn how The Maritime Aquarium’s
aquarists care for the Aquarium’s animals. Beach and river
exploration, combined with animal collection techniques, will give
campers the final tools needed to design and stock a real aquarium.
The focus then turns to animal care and maintaining a healthy habitat
in this very hands-on, rewarding session.

Two full-day sessions mark the end of a superb summer. “Sea Spray
and Clay� (August 13 – 17) will teach campers about deep sea animals
before helping them create one of their own out of clay. Aspiring
pirates can drop anchor at the “Ahoy There� session (August 20 – 24)
to learn about the real pirates who once roamed Long Island Sound,
use a compass to find treasure, build a model pirate ship, and more.

Some sessions include activities with Camp partners Stepping Stones
Museum for Children, The Clay Place, and The Little Gym.

Maritime Explorer Summer Programs costs vary from $245 to $875,
depending on the program. Precare and extended care is available
during most sessions, for an additional cost. Financial assistance
is also available.

For more information, call The Maritime Aquarium at 203-852-0700,
ext. 2353, or e-mail campdirector@maritimeaquarium.org. A full
brochure with registration application can be downloaded from the
Aquarium’s web site, www.maritimeaquarium.org/kids_camp.html.

Posted by Ken Valenti on Friday, February 16th, 2007 at 2:42 pm |

Pepe Le Pew


So, I was saving this for Valentine’s Day. But the snow, sleet, freezing rain, more sleet, some more snow, etc., threw off my blogging. For those of you who mark the approaching end of winter with a whiff of skunk, the following from the Humane Society of t281x144_skunks_family.jpghe United States explains why.

Ooooh That Smell…..
Valentine’s Day Kicks Off Mating Season for Skunks

WASHINGTON (February 1, 2007) — While humans are courting on February 14, amorous male skunks are busy playing the dating game as well. February through March is mating season for striped, hog–nosed, and hooded skunks, and that translates into “skunk smell.â€? According to The Humane Society of the United States, the stink occurs when males try to court females who may not be in “the mood.” When that happens, female skunks generate an aroma to repel their rejected suitors. Fortunately, skunk romance only lasts a short time.

According to Laura Simon, field director of urban wildlife programs for The HSUS, “Skunks are gentle, non-aggressive creatures who have wrongly earned a bad reputation because of that pungent odor. People don’t appreciate the benefits they provide by eating grubs, insects, mice, and baby rats.�

“People do not realize how difficult it is to get sprayed by a skunk since these animals give a warning when alarmed by stamping their front feet. If you take heed of that warning, they won’t spray. Dogs ignore this warning, which is why they do get sprayed,� Simon explains.

The society also offers <a href=”http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/press_releases/valentines_day_skunk_mating_season.html” target=”_blank”>tips</a> on de-skunking your overly curious dog.

And, for those of you who want to know more about Pepe Le Pew, go <a href=”http://looneytunes.warnerbros.com/stars_of_the_show/pepe_le_pew/pepe_story.html#” target=”_blank”>here</a>.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 15th, 2007 at 2:36 pm |


Sea talk


Carl Safina, an ocean scientist, has worked for more than a decade to get people thinking about ocean conservation, and next month, he’ll bring that mission to Purchase College, his alma mater.

He’ll give a talk, “How the Ocean is Changing and What it Means for You,� at 7 p.m. March 6 in the Purchase College Performing Arts Center, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase. Anyone can attend the talk, no charge.

Safina is the author of three books: “Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World’s Coast and Beneath the Seas;� “Eye of the Albatross: Views of the Endangered Sea;� and “Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur.� He is the founder of the Blue Ocean Institute and the Living Oceans Program at National Audubon.

Expect lots of talk about the perils of overfishing the seas.

On his Web site, which you can reach here, he writes, “I grew up around the seashore, and since the 1980s I’ve studied the ocean as a scientist, stood for it as an advocate, and written several books about my travels among sea creatures and fishing people. I have great empathy for the plight of both, but I know each is served by maintaining abundance and neither by creating scarcity. I believe in using the oceans, but not using them up.â€?

Posted by Ken Valenti on Thursday, February 15th, 2007 at 11:40 am |
| | 1 Comment »

About this blog
The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.


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About the authors
SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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