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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for June, 2008



There’s a big push on lately to bring “lapsed anglers” back to boat and shore and entice them to start fishing again. The state has been part of that effort.

Maybe because it’s more or less summer, I’ve been hearing a public service announcement about this on the radio lately. The spot extols the Norman Rockwellian virtues of fishing and explains how a day with line in hand can wash away all your worries and tension.

While that PSA may be relaxing, the same, I think, can’t be said about this other one this other one I found – courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Part of the same campaign, it ends with a little girl beseeching her father to take her fishing “because my wedding will be sooner than you think.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
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Peekskill bear


Here’s a photo of the black bear currently treed in Peekskill, courtesy of our roving bear correspondent, Terry Corcoran. The bear is hanging out in a tree in front of the First Hebrew Congregation of Peekskill on Route 6. State wildlife authorities toting a tranquilizer gun are on their way from the Department of Environmental Conservation office in New Paltz. As Terry reports, the plan is to tranquilize the bruin and remove him to less-congested pastures. bearterry2.jpg

The dark blotch in the middle of the tree is the bear.

Here’s a video of a similar operation in Montana.

Here’s a story about bears in neighboring Connecticut and more info on bears is in this recent blog post.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
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Want to meet the leading world authority on orangutans? If so, Willie Smits, an internationally known conservationist, will be speaking tomorrow at The Wainwright House in Rye. Smits will be speaking about his book, “Thinkers of the Jungle: The Orangutan Report.” The book covers the plight of orangutans in Indonesia.orange.jpg

Here’s a video of orangutans.

From the announcement about Smits’ appearance:

“Thinkers of the Jungle is a unique documentation of an exceptional and very special endangered species’ way of life, based on the very latest research on the subject. The book features previously unpublished photographic material as well as the findings of new scientific research on protecting the climate, the environment, and the orangutan.

Thinkers of the Jungle also reveals the story of Dr. Willie Smits, a man who evolved from a protector of orangutans to a protector of the climate. Dr. Smits’ efforts in the preservation and rejuvenation of the orangutans’ natural habitat is what has made him such a special man. With his profound knowledge in forestry, he has initiated an up-to-now matchless project when he in 2000 presented the idea to revive burnt down and dead areas with new rain forest. Soon thereafter, the Orangutan Survival Foundation acquired destroyed forest areas near the town of Samboja in Borneo, and the invention of a distinct mold containing a micro-biological accelerator of growth resembling the natural composition of rain forest soil enabled Smits to replant the area with different plants initially cultured in his tree nursery. The results were staggering and successful.”

The event is free and suitable for those 12 and older. It will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase. To register, call 914-967-6080 pr go to the Web site.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 2:10 pm |


More on da bears


Bruce Springsteen never sang about them, but it seems many of the black bears found in Rockland and Orange counties are Jersey bears, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Wendy Rosenbach, a DEC spokeswoman, told me that yesterday, when we were talking about the bear in Somers. The DEC knows this because the bears are sporting tags placed on them by NJ wildlife authorities. bear2.JPG

Here’s yesterday’s bear post. You can follow that to DEC’s bear information page, which includes tips on living with bears.

And, here’s another story of a bear encounter. It was sent in by a Kent resident who lives on Bowen Road:

This past April, on a Saturday night, we had a visit from a very large, very beautiful Black Bear. It was 9:45 PM. My friend Marty had just left for home. I was sitting at the computer and my wife was watching TV. My house is basically a ranch style, set sideways with two huge sliding glass doors looking out on a wrap around deck which faces the street. All of a sudden my dogs started going crazy, my wife yelled ‘Johnny!’ and got up and headed towards the sliders. I looked out, and here was this very large bear walking towards the door. I must first tell you that the previous Thursday, my bird feeders were taken down from the deck by what I assume was the same bear. Anyway, this bear ambled right up to the glass, and suddenly we were eye to eye. He was very dark brown, or black except for a golden colored muzzle and two gold rings around his eyes. My dogs, who are very little, wanted at him. My wife calmly walked around me and locked the slider. At this, the bear stared for a moment, very non-threatening, turned and ambled off the deck and into the night.

Photo is courtesy of Una Sterman of Somers, who briefly hosted the bear in her yard Tuesday afternoon.

Sha la la la la la la . . .

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 at 12:25 pm |
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Da bears


Seems it’s wandering-bear season, according to accounts from Mahopac, Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond.

For starters, check out my colleague Susan Elan’s account of the Mahopac black bear. Then there’s the bear over in Connecticut who was peering in residents’ windows. And in Massachusetts, wildlife authorities tranquilized and relocated a bear found in city of Worcester. tjndc5-5k9zkhduaxt1ebnqre5o_layout.jpg

The animals are no longer creatures of large forests, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Once thought to inhabit only large forests, over the past two decades, black bears have been expanding their range throughout New York and can now be found in a variety of habitats including developed areas.”

Young black bears spend almost two years with mom and are pushed out to their own lives during their second spring, hence, in some cases, the wandering bruins.

“They are ususally weaned at around 6 to 8 months of age, but remain with the mother and den with her during their second winter of life, until they are about 17 months old. At this time the female is coming into estrus and forces the young out of her territory.”

The photo, courtesy of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, shows a bear found in Monsey earlier this month.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 at 11:10 am |

Horseshoes among us


Want to know why horseshoe crabs are important, both to us and birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians? Then read this story in the science section of today’s NY Times. tjndc5-5batvssut8312envr6bw_layout.jpg

Here’s an entire Web site dedicated to the creatures that predate dinosaurs by millions of years.

The photo by TJN photographer Carucha L. Meuse shows a horseshoe crab at the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye in 2006.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
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Fooling a hummingbird


The nest of a ruby-throated hummingbird sounds like something from a children’s tale, a materials list compiled by fairies.

“Made of thistle and dandelion down, held together with spider web and covered on outside with lichens.”

You can read all about the tiny birds here.


I bring up ruby-throated hummingbirds because of this wind chime . The wind chime hangs on my front porch. It attracts hummingbirds. They zip up to the thing, ponder the pink flower hanging beneath the chimes for a few seconds and then zip away.

We routinely spot them in the garden or zooming around the yard. I put up a hummingbird feeder last year but no one seemed to be interested in it. Maybe I’ll try again.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, June 9th, 2008 at 4:29 pm |

Cost-cutting measures


You never know just where in a budget belt-tightening might occur. In Illinois, state officials considered leaving the roadkill to scavengers — vultures, crows, coyotes, etc. — instead of having highway crews burn fuel while picking up carcasses from the roadsides. But a $20 million supplemental appropriation made them change their minds and resume scraping up the dead.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, June 6th, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
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I don’t have a problem


OK. It may sound like I’m obsessed with woodchucks. I’m not, though. Really. I’m not.

Sure, I’ve written about them here a few times. And, yes, my mother did mail me a gardening column from the Hartford Courant in which another unlucky soul vented about his battle with the devils. And maybe I did chase two baby woodchuckstjndc5-5b5s18d61j42jqw2ezi_layout.jpg away from my vegetable garden the other day, almost stepping on one in the process, which caused the little bugger to turn and advance toward me while hissing. And maybe I did try to bury the thieving creatures alive by filling in with rocks the hole into which they disappeared. And maybe I was disappointed to see them later that day in the yard.

But I’m not obsessed. I’m not.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, June 5th, 2008 at 10:30 am |


Snapping turtles among us


Why did the snapping turtle try to cross the Merritt Parkway? Probably to lay her eggs somewhere on the other side. At least that’s the response my colleague Thane Grauel got from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection this weekend after he spotted a snapping turtle stuck on the parkway’s median in Greenwich. It’s egg-laying season and female turtles are on the move. tjndc5-5f3vkofpide1joiuc29t_layout.jpg

Want a chance to check out snapping turtles up close? Boscobel, the Federal-style mansion in Garrison, is hosting its annual snapping turtle walk on Saturday (6/7), led by Constitution Marsh Audubon Center staff. It’s early, 7:30 a.m., and is $12 for adults and $8 for kids.

The photo by TJN photographer Joe Larese shows a post-laying female snapper last spring making her way to a Philipstown pond.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
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