Bowhunter Sighting Log program is a great way to watch in the woods, and help monitor health of populations

Every so often my desk becomes cluttered with all kinds of outdoor news items, covering every aspect of hunting, angling, wildlife watching and many other activities. 

It doesn’t matter what the subject might be, sooner or later it ends up in the “pile” of stuff on that table. And it is my solemn duty to my 88 semi-regular readers to write it right into the light of day. So, with that said, here is the latest installment.

Did you know that some bowhunters keep a daily log? And, if you did know that, did you know that those individuals also record all other wildlife they happen to view? Well, they do, and the results of their various sightings are quite impressive if not somewhat astounding. Here are a few facts to ponder.

Last hunting season there were 3,805 bowhunters who participated in the Bowhunter Sighting Log. Collectively they logged 186,110 hours afield, which included some pre-season scouting, stand building and lane clearing. And both the quantity and quality of the wildlife species they were blessed with observing was very awesome, at least to me.

The total of deer that this group observed was quite large as might be expected. That total was 120,067. Since only “deer” were recorded there is no record of the number of bucks, does or fawns that fell within that group. But the total number of deer sighted was still impressive.

Here are some other wildlife species that these lucky hunters watched. There were 47,772 wild turkeys that hunters observed. And, they also monitored 2,698 ruffed grouse. The spring of 2016 was almost ideal for ground-nesting bird survival, and these figures indicate to me that overall survival in the fall was excellent, too. 

Other wildlife species that archers observed included 2,232 coyotes, 1,376 red fox, 1,323 raccoons, 446 fisher, 382 gray fox, 339 black bear, 128 bobcat, 7 river otter, and 5 moose. Collectively those figures clearly indicate that our overall wildlife population is healthy and growing if not solidly stable. Of course, those numbers will vary somewhat from year to year, but that is also something to be expected. 

So here is my tip to non-hunters who might want to observe some of these critters. First, obtain permission from one or more landowners. Then, purchase and put up a quality tree stand (and a quality safety harness) to the height you are comfortable with (eight to 10 feet will do). And lastly, go there as often as possible and sit quietly for as long as you can, emphasizing sunrise and sunset periods.

As for locating the stand, look for “edge” habitats such as where forests meets fields. Setting up near a stream or pond is also a good idea. Finding a natural, well-used game path will increase your odds of seeing all sorts of animals because almost all animals will use the path of least resistance. 

The DEC is gearing up for the 2017 Bowhunter Sighting Log program, and they welcome any and all new participants. If you hunt during the bow season and have not participated before but would like to begin now just send them an email to wildlife@dec.ny.gov, subject: BowLog. Include your name, address, hunter ID (back tag number), and the county where you primarily hunt. That’s all there is to it.

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Misery loves company, to coin an old phrase. And it seems Australia has the same problem we have. 

Research from the University of Queensland indicates feral cats cover over 99.8% of Australia’s land area, including almost 80% of the area of its islands. And these are just some of the findings of new research which looks at the number of feral cats in Australia.

This research was undertaken by over 40 of Australia's top environmental scientists and brings together evidence from nearly 100 separate studies across the country. In a troublesome finding for conservation managers, cat densities were found to be the same both inside and outside conservation reserves, such as National Parks. This showed that declaring protected areas alone is not enough to safeguard their native wildlife.

Most troubling of all, this study proved feral cats are undermining the efforts of conservation managers and threatened species recovery teams across Australia. 

Keep in mind that Australia is the only continent on Earth other than Antarctica where the animals evolved without cats. That is a reason their wildlife is so vulnerable to cats. Add to that obvious problem the fact that feral cats have already driven at least 20 Australian mammals to extinction adds emphasis on the need to eliminate them. 

We have more feral cats in America than exists in all of Australia. And we have proven that co-existence with them simply does not work. They are killers of wildlife and do not play by the rules. Therefore the only real answer is clear, even if not palatable for everyone.

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And now for a tale of a person who is most despicable. An unidentified man was apprehended last week in connection with the poaching of two deer fawns in Greenbriar County, West Virginia. Wildlife officers, acting on a complaint, executed a search warrant. They found the remains of two whitetail fawns, which had apparently been processed for food.

The remnants of both fawns were reported to be bagged and ready for disposal. Both hides were discovered hanging in the barn when officers served their warrant. 

This is one of the most despicable crimes against nature that any human can commit. I wish this bozo has been identified so I could spread his name among my readers. 

But my last two contacts in that beautiful state have retired and the local press does not seem to care much for wildlife stories. Oh well!

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net.