A cougar in Richfield, Ohio?

Are there cougars in northeast Ohio? State and federal officials seem to be skeptical. Eye witnesses seem sure. What is the truth?

Based on my experience in the outdoors, as well as a little bit of logic, my best educated guess is: maybe it is true. Maybe it isn’t true.

We do have bobcats, and bear are getting more and more common all the time. There are mountain lion populations in nearby states. They have large ranges. There is also the possibility that a captive lion was released or escaped…Take a look at the article and let the world know what you think!

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Time for steelhead fishing to begin for the fall.

Soon, cooler temperatures and perfect water levels will signal the ideal time for steelhead fishing around northeast Ohio. Steelhead fishing is great on Conneaut Creek, the Ashtabula River, the Grand River, the Chagrin River, Rocky River, Vermilion River, and even spots on the Cuyahoga. This challenging outdoor pursuit is not for the faint-hearted. Cold rushing water, cold air, and feisty fish make steelhead fishing strenuous, so be careful.

To learn more check out the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders web site. If you are so inclined, join the group. Their President, Joe Moravec and the rest of the Central Basin Steelheaders care about nature and conservation and our northeast Ohio environment. Their club shows it by participating in and leading a number of efforts at education throughout the year, as well as supporting conservation groups in the area.

Check out this article in the Plain Dealer for yet more information: Cooler weather brings steelhead – Cleveland.com:


Division of Wildlife engaging Birders in Conservation

Hunters have bought Duck Stamps for almost a hundred years to help conserve waterfowl habitat. Will Ohio birders soon be able to purchase a “Bird Stamp” to support conservation or other bird habitat? Read about this at the Plain Dealer’s web site: Should birders have to pay to play? | Ohio Birding – cleveland.com.

Seems to me to be a no-brainer. There should be Bird Stamps, Fish Stamps (maybe even Steelhead, Bass, Walleye and other gamefish separately), and private land conservation stamps. Anything that we all can do to help the state and private entities out there conserving land ought to be done. If birding is our outdoor recreational activity of choice, we should have the opportunity to support our habit by helping to preserve habitat.

If just 2% of the birders who seek out our feathered friends in Ohio each year would buy a Bird Stamp, at $25.00 each, it would raise $1.5 million dollars per year. This could pay for preservation of lots of habitat. Especially when you consider that the money can be used to match federal grant programs that magnify the impact of our local & state money.

If you agree, contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife at the address or number listed here.


Fall migrations playing near you!

My last post, about the Asters of September, reminded me that we will soon be seeing lots of changes in Nature. Late summer and fall is the time of wildlife migration. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies,, whales, bats and other creatures change their routines at this time. In Northeast Ohio, we are blessed with several flyways crossing our skies.

This month and next month are a great time to get out and explore Nature, witnessing the diversity of wildlife as the birds fly through. We have some great federal parks and preserves in Ohio, and an abundance of state lands suitable for observing bird migrations as well.

Check out this article from enature.com about fall migrations to learn a bit more: eNature: The Fall Lineup.


The Stalking of the Wild Turkeys

Sorry, this image was lost in the transition from blogger to WordPress.I stumbled upon this small flock of Wild Turkeys yesterday. While I did stalk to within 8 feet or so without alarming them too badly, I have to admit that the turkeys actually snuck up on me initially. There were two hens with four poults walking toward me from the woods through a small long-grass meadow I let grow up at the back of my yard. They say curiosity killed the cat.

In this case, the turkeys were decidedly feline in nature. Apparently, they were out for a family picnic and were interested in the behavior of suburban humans. They were intently staring at me and moving toward me cautiously. I saw first one hen, then the other. I could tell the turkeys were interested in what they were seeing. All I could see was the goofy looking heads hovering above the tops of ryegrass and bluegrass. I pretended to ignore them until they were within about 20 feet.

I decided I had to get a photograph. Problem was, I didn’t have my camera. I also was not sure how long the birds would stick around if I quit what I was doing and returned to the house to dig out the camera. After a few minutes, I could resist the urge no longer. I had to risk disturbing the elusive and skittish turkeys.

While I mean no disrespect to turkey hunters, who spend days in the woods patterning turkeys, refining their calls, and perfecting their stalking skills in an attempt to get close enough to take a shot at these secretive birds with bow or shotgun, these birds were not the smartest, wariest of prey. When I shut the lawnmower off and walked to the house, the turkeys finally decided there might be something out of place here. They slowly started makign their way toward the woods.

Three minutes later, I returned with my camera. The birds never gave me a second look. They were pecking at Sorry, this image was lost in the transition from blogger to WordPress.insects and seedheads of grasses as I stalked toward them cautiously. As I moved to within about 15 feet, they started to retreat in an orderly manner. The young followed the hens and poked at interesting plants and insects with their beaks as they leisurely withdrew into the edge of the forest. I snapped a few quick and blurry photos as I took larger steps to close the gap. At the edge of the woods I decided to let them live their lives in peace so that I could finish mowing and spend some time with the kids. As I started the mower up once more, the turkeys poked their blue heads out of the forest edge and came back up the hill to watch for a bit longer.