Cheaha Hosts Conservation Festival Nov. 18

Cheaha State Park is hosting “Bigfoot BioBash,” a conservation festival this Saturday, November 18, from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Highlights of the festival include a 5K trail race and 1-mile fun run, conservation exhibits, and storytelling by some of the best “tellers” in the Southeast.
The festival will have something for all ages and includes exhibitors, demonstrations, vendors, guided hikes, archery instruction and live birds of prey.
The 5k trail run will begin at 8:30 a.m. All skill levels are welcome, and dressing up as Bigfoot is highly encouraged. Race day registration begins at 7 a.m. at Bald Rock Lodge. A registration fee is required for the 5K and 1-mile fun run, but all other events are free with park admission. Food vendors will be on-site and Cheaha’s Vista Cliffside restaurant will be open as well.
Alabama’s Tenth Annual Tellabration on the Bigfoot Stage begins at 11 a.m. Alabama’s best storytellers will entertain with humorous, thought-provoking, and just plain fun stories. Each story will incorporate a hands-on craft activity for children, such as mask-making and clay art. This event is part of the International Tellabration, a worldwide event devoted to storytelling that always takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Bigfoot BioBash is presented in cooperation with the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce. Visit http://www.alapark.com/bigfoot-bio-bash for additional details about the event.
Location:
Cheaha State Park, 19644 Hwy 281 Delta, Ala., 36258
Contact Email:
cheaha.naturalist@dcnr.alabama.gov
Contact Phone:
256-488-5115 ext. 2814
The Alabama State Parks Division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.


Sunset November 15, 2017 Tuscaloosa, Alabama by Kasey DeCastra, Sumter County Record Journal and Moundville Times Community News Editor.
We’re looking for your outdoors stories and photos! Fall leaf views, beautiful sunset/sunrise, hiking photos, wildlife, hunting trophy, interesting vegetables and plants, big fish… You get the idea. Email it to scrjmedia@yahoo.com and not only will you get in the paper, but you’ll get spotlighted on the outdoors page too! Don’t send anything to Facebook.

Lifetime Heritage Hunting License Awaits Alabama Black Belt Adventures Contest Winner

A free lifetime Alabama hunting license is up for grabs for deer hunters in Alabama’s Black Belt this season as they head into the woods for the opening of gun season on Saturday.
The prize for the winner of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association’s sixth Big Buck Photo Contest is a Lifetime Alabama Wildlife Heritage License, valued at more than $200. The winner is selected based on the number of “likes” of photos shared with the ALBBAA and posted on its Facebook page.
This license allows the holder to hunt all small game – except waterfowl – on any of Alabama’s 35 Wildlife Management Areas, Waterfowl Refuges and Community Hunting Areas; shoot on any of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ 13 public shooting ranges or archery parks; fish at any of the 20 state-owned public fishing lakes (with a daily permit); and freshwater fish with a hook-and-line from the bank in public waters in all 67 counties.
Wildlife Heritage Licenses are only available to Alabama residents and the money from the purchase is matched at a 3-to-1 level by the federal government with the funds going toward conservation efforts in the state. For more information on the Wildlife Heritage License, visit outdooralabama.com/wildlife-heritage-license.
“With the opening of gun season on Saturday, we can’t wait to see some of the excited faces of the hunters in the Black Belt in their trophy photos,” said Pam Swanner, executive director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “We usually get a lot of entries from young people and it’s wonderful to see our great hunting tradition being carried forward and passed down from generation to generation. Teens have won our contest the past two seasons!”
To enter, photos must be emailed to photocontest@albbaa.org and the deer must be taken
in one of the 23 Black Belt counties during the 2017-18 season. The contest ends on Feb. 14,
2018. Winners of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Big Buck Photo Contest are ineligible.
The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke,
Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe,
Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.
The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and
enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner
that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens. For
information, go to www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org.

We want your critter, hunting and fishing photos! We’re looking to post them on our new Outdoors, Hunting and Fishing page on www.recordjournal.net. 

Found a enormous turtle? A funky bug? Want to show off that fish, deer, turkey, rabbit or squirrel? Nice photos of sunsets, sun rises, stars, hikes? We want to show them off for you! Email us your photo and a short who, what, when and where to scrjmedia@yahoo.com. We know Outdoors men and women don’t like to give away their secret hunting and fishing spots, so you can tell us generic places like town/area if you would like. PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM TO FACEBOOK. We delete those emails/messages automatically, because of the high volume of spam we get everyday.

 

Kalee’s Biggest Buck Award

Kalee Long’s 5th year at MWPF Super Hunt is one for the record books. Alex Taylor and Scott Parenteau where Kalee and her three friends went 8 for 8. Killing 7 bucks and 1 doe at Australia Island on Eagle Lake. The best food, hunting and fellowship around. Kalee saved her best hunt for the last when she shot a 10 point buck. Kalee was also awarded the biggest buck award for the super hunt. Email us your hunting trophy pictures to scrjmedia@yahoo.com. It’s free and a week after we run them in the paper, we’ll put them on the website. Photo submitted by Claire Smith

Auburn University study shows growing bear population in northeast Alabama and distinct genetic group near Mobile

An Auburn University study on the black bear population in Alabama shows a growing number of bears in northeast Alabama and a distinct genetic group in southwest Alabama.

The state has two areas with bear populations: one with an estimated 30 bears centered around Little River Canyon near Fort Payne and another with an estimated 85 bears in Mobile and Washington counties north of Mobile. The latter number could be as high as 165, though.

Professor Todd Steury of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and graduate students Christopher Seals and John Draper conducted the multiyear study and recently published the results in the Nov. 8 edition of the scientific journal, PLOS One. Their article, “Genetic health and population monitoring of two small black bear populations in Alabama, with a regional perspective of genetic diversity and exchange,” is online at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186701.

The researchers collected DNA samples from hair left on more than 300 hair snares placed in bear habitats; finding and collecting bear scat using Auburn’s EcoDogs program; using game cameras; and tracking bears with radio collars.

“We got over 1,000 DNA samples,” Steury said. “Several groups around the state helped us collect data.”

Munford High School students helped gather information in Talladega National Forest; the National Park Service assisted in Little River Canyon National Preserve; and the Birmingham Zoo helped with the capture of bears in north Alabama. The study was funded primarily by the State Wildlife Grants program from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which also helped with fieldwork.

The north Alabama black bear population, which originally migrated from north Georgia, has more than doubled in the past four years. “One interesting aspect we observed is that mother bears in north Alabama often have three or four cubs in a litter,” he said. “Normally a mother bear has only two cubs.”

The bears north of Mobile seem to be their own distinct group without any genetic connection to other bear populations. “We found high inbreeding in those bears,” Steury said. “They have the lowest genetic diversity of any comparison population in Southeast.”

Previous studies conducted in lab settings have shown low genetic diversity can lead to lower survival rates and lower reproduction rates, according to Draper. However, he says those lab results are very difficult to prove in a wild population.

“We look at low genetic diversity as a proxy of likely harmful changes at the genetic level,” Draper said. “Long-term studies are needed to determine the effect on the population.”

Steury says the Mobile bear population’s growth rate is unknown at this time and that the population is continuous with bears in eastern Mississippi.

The research team put radio collars on a total of 20 bears in the two populations and received location information via the internet every hour for a year. The location data was superimposed over Google Earth map images so the locations of individual bears could be mapped. He also used a phone app that would let him monitor the locations and even remotely remove the collar if it got too tight or began rubbing the bear.

“Male bears roam widely,” Steury said. “At two years old, they leave their mother and find a new place to live. Females settle close to the mother bear and expand their range slowly, thus the area occupied by the breeding population is slow to expand. A lot of females don’t cross roads or powerline right-of-ways. Males will cross them as well as rivers.”

He says bears in the South are active in the winter, too, because they don’t really hibernate, but will take what could be considered long naps at times. They will build nests on the ground that resemble a bird’s nest.

The researchers also aged the 20 collared bears by pulling a tiny back tooth, finding an average age of 6 years old and the oldest one being 12 years old. Bears generally live an estimated 18-20 years in the wild and can live 20-30 years in captivity.

“The biggest one we trapped and collared weighed 318 pounds,” he said. “Most were around 150 to 250 pounds.”

While technically a game species, there is no hunting season for bears in Alabama because the population numbers are too low. It is illegal to kill a bear in the state.

“If you encounter a black bear, you should stay calm, make yourself big and loud, and back away slowly,” Steury said. “A black bear will almost always run away, but, if you are attacked, you should fight back. That differs from a grizzly bear, which, in that case, you should play dead if attacked.”

He also recommends steps to discourage bears from roaming into populated areas, such as not feeding bears and not leaving trash and pet food outside. If a person sees a bear, he or she should contact a local conservation officer or the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

(Written by Charles Martin.)Auburn University study shows growing bear population in northeast Alabama and distinct genetic group near Mobile

AUBURN, Ala. – An Auburn University study on the black bear population in Alabama shows a growing number of bears in northeast Alabama and a distinct genetic group in southwest Alabama.

The state has two areas with bear populations: one with an estimated 30 bears centered around Little River Canyon near Fort Payne and another with an estimated 85 bears in Mobile and Washington counties north of Mobile. The latter number could be as high as 165, though.

Professor Todd Steury of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and graduate students Christopher Seals and John Draper conducted the multiyear study and recently published the results in the Nov. 8 edition of the scientific journal, PLOS One. Their article, “Genetic health and population monitoring of two small black bear populations in Alabama, with a regional perspective of genetic diversity and exchange,” is online at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186701.

The researchers collected DNA samples from hair left on more than 300 hair snares placed in bear habitats; finding and collecting bear scat using Auburn’s EcoDogs program; using game cameras; and tracking bears with radio collars.

“We got over 1,000 DNA samples,” Steury said. “Several groups around the state helped us collect data.”

Munford High School students helped gather information in Talladega National Forest; the National Park Service assisted in Little River Canyon National Preserve; and the Birmingham Zoo helped with the capture of bears in north Alabama. The study was funded primarily by the State Wildlife Grants program from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which also helped with fieldwork.

The north Alabama black bear population, which originally migrated from north Georgia, has more than doubled in the past four years. “One interesting aspect we observed is that mother bears in north Alabama often have three or four cubs in a litter,” he said. “Normally a mother bear has only two cubs.”

The bears north of Mobile seem to be their own distinct group without any genetic connection to other bear populations. “We found high inbreeding in those bears,” Steury said. “They have the lowest genetic diversity of any comparison population in Southeast.”

Previous studies conducted in lab settings have shown low genetic diversity can lead to lower survival rates and lower reproduction rates, according to Draper. However, he says those lab results are very difficult to prove in a wild population.

“We look at low genetic diversity as a proxy of likely harmful changes at the genetic level,” Draper said. “Long-term studies are needed to determine the effect on the population.”

Steury says the Mobile bear population’s growth rate is unknown at this time and that the population is continuous with bears in eastern Mississippi.

The research team put radio collars on a total of 20 bears in the two populations and received location information via the internet every hour for a year. The location data was superimposed over Google Earth map images so the locations of individual bears could be mapped. He also used a phone app that would let him monitor the locations and even remotely remove the collar if it got too tight or began rubbing the bear.

“Male bears roam widely,” Steury said. “At two years old, they leave their mother and find a new place to live. Females settle close to the mother bear and expand their range slowly, thus the area occupied by the breeding population is slow to expand. A lot of females don’t cross roads or powerline right-of-ways. Males will cross them as well as rivers.”

He says bears in the South are active in the winter, too, because they don’t really hibernate, but will take what could be considered long naps at times. They will build nests on the ground that resemble a bird’s nest.

The researchers also aged the 20 collared bears by pulling a tiny back tooth, finding an average age of 6 years old and the oldest one being 12 years old. Bears generally live an estimated 18-20 years in the wild and can live 20-30 years in captivity.

“The biggest one we trapped and collared weighed 318 pounds,” he said. “Most were around 150 to 250 pounds.”

While technically a game species, there is no hunting season for bears in Alabama because the population numbers are too low. It is illegal to kill a bear in the state.

“If you encounter a black bear, you should stay calm, make yourself big and loud, and back away slowly,” Steury said. “A black bear will almost always run away, but, if you are attacked, you should fight back. That differs from a grizzly bear, which, in that case, you should play dead if attacked.”

He also recommends steps to discourage bears from roaming into populated areas, such as not feeding bears and not leaving trash and pet food outside. If a person sees a bear, he or she should contact a local conservation officer or the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Written by Charles Martin

Tree Pumpkin?

This “Tree Pumpkin” is growing in a tree in Lucy Gallman’s yard in Livingston. The real pumpkin is about 20 feet up from the ground. The seedlings that grew the “Tree” pumpkin came from a friendly, family contest event the Gallmans have every year. Mrs. Gallman explained, “Every Thanksgiving my great nieces and nephews and grandchildren bring their Halloween pumpkins for our annual ‘punkin chunkin.’ They compete to see who can roll their pumpkin down the hill and smash it into the most pieces. This pumpkin is the result of the competition and the vine grew up the tree. I just noticed it today. I thought your readers might enjoy this photo.”

Sharks in Lake LU?

Sharks in Lake LU? That was the question the SCRJ photographer asked himself in disbelief as he traveled across the Lake LU dam Monday morning, Oct. 23 at about 9 a.m. on Country Club Rd. Upon a closer look, and after photographing and videoing the two “shark like fins” protruding above the water line, the fins seemed to be stationary for the ten to 15 minutes the reporter gazed upon the sight. The two “fins” were near the pier on the south side of the lake near the dam. A call to the University of West Alabama Campus Police revealed the fins were placed in the lake as a prank by some unknown individuals. See more photos on Page 2-A and video on www.recordjournal.net and on Facebook. Photo by Tommy McGraw

Auburn scientist part of international research team that identifies impacts of deforestation on global biodiversity; results published in Nature journal

AUBURN, Ala. – An Auburn University scientist is part of an international research team that has identified the impacts of deforestation on global biodiversity. Breaking up the rainforest into small, isolated patches is forcing more species to live at the forest edge and putting those that are dependent on the forest core at risk, according to the team’s study.

The research article, “Creation of forest edges has a global impact on forest vertebrates,” published today in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, highlights how biodiversity is changing as a result of deforestation—forcing some species to the brink of extinction while others flourish in the changing environment.

The team includes Auburn University postdoctoral fellow Brian Klingbeil of Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and was led by Newcastle University, United Kingdom, and Imperial College London. The scientists collected data for over 1,500 forest vertebrates and found that 85 percent of species are now being impacted by this forest fragmentation.

The winners are those that seek out the forest edge while the losers are those that rely on the forest core and whose habitat is being constantly squeezed.

“Tropical forest loss and fragmentation is a global threat to biodiversity and many vertebrate species are at risk of extinction from human activities,” said Klingbeil. “An important step to protect these species, is to know exactly how human-induced fragmentation of the land is impacting the animals that live there.”

Marion Pfeifer, lead author now based at Newcastle University, said, “This is critical for the hundreds of species that we identified as being clearly dependent on intact forest core areas—that is forest which is at least 200-400 meters from the edge. These include species such as the Sunda pangolin [Manis javanica], the Bahia Tapaculo [Eleoscytalopus psychopompus], the Long-billed Black Cockatoo [Zanda baudinii] and Baird’s tapir [Tapirus bairdii].

“These species were highly sensitive to the changing habitat and therefore more likely to disappear in landscapes that encompass only a small proportion of intact forest.”

Winners and losers: 85 percent of species affected

Half the world’s forest habitat is now within 500 meters of a “forest edge” due to the expansion of road networks, logging, agriculture and other human activity. These edges look different to the rest of the forest: with more light, less moisture and generally higher temperatures.

Using species’ abundance data collected from fragmented landscapes worldwide, the team analysed 1,673 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians to see how they respond to edges.

Using new spatial and statistical analyses developed at Imperial College London, they were able to show that 85 percent of species’ abundances are affected, either positively or negatively, by forest edges.

More importantly, edge effects create species communities near edges that bear little resemblance to the communities of forest interiors, and this species turnover likely reflects dramatic changes to the ecological functioning of modified forest habitats.

Robert Ewers, professor of ecology at Imperial College London, said, “About half of species win from the forest change; they like the edges and so avoid the deep forest, preferring instead to live near forest edges.

“The other half lose; they don’t like the edges and instead hide away in the deep forest. The winners and losers aren’t equal though. Some of the species that like edges are invasive like the boa constrictor, while the ones huddled into the deep forest are more likely to be threatened with extinction—like the Sunda pangolin.”

“Our analysis allows us to track species’ abundances in response to edge effects to predict the impact on biodiversity caused by forest loss and fragmentation,” added Pfeifer.

“This is useful for land management and as a tool to help guide our conservation efforts. The next step is to use this data and our software to allow managers to create ‘optimal landscapes’ that combine forest use with biodiversity conservation.” Written by Louella Houldcroft and Jamie Anderson.

 

 

Giant Destroying Angel

Gloria Harrell of Daphne, sent in this photo of a “Destroying Angel” (Amanita virosa, A. verna, A. bisporigera) in her back yard “as big as a washtub and came up to my knees,” she stated. It was a foot and a half tall and eighteen inches wide. According to USDA’s Field Guide to Common Macrofungi in Eastern Forests and Their Ecosystem Functions by Michael E. Ostry, Neil A. Anderson and Joseph G. O’Brien. “Identification: Cap white, smooth; white gills free from stalk; bulbous base; white veil. Season of fruiting: Summer-Fall, Ecosystem function: Mycorrhizal with hardwoods and conifers Edibility: Highly poisonous and often fatal, Fungal note: These three mushrooms can only be distinguished from each other by their spore characteristics; collectively. They cause 95 percent of fatal mushroom poisonings. DO NOT eat any mushroom unless you are absolutely certain of its identity. Photo by Gloria Harrell, story by Kasey DeCastra, SCRJ & MVT Community News Editor

Thompson Makes Big Catch

Tony Thompson of Gainesville caught this 45 pound flathead catfish while fishing at the Gainesville Lock and Dam.

Hunting Works For Alabama’s Economy

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources There’s an old saying that to find a person’s passion, follow the money. That apparently is true for Alabama’s hunters, who fuel the economies in many parts of the state that need it the most. To ensure the citizens of the state understand how important hunting is to the state’s well-being, both economically and culturally, Hunting Works for Alabama was formed last year to enlist the aid of the  business community to spread this important message. “Hunting Works for Alabama is basically a grass-roots group of people who want to make sure we inform the public about the enormous impact hunters have on our economy,” said Tim Wood, one of the four co-chairs of Hunting Works for Alabama. “You’re talking about a $1.8 billion industry in the state. You’re talking about $375 million that people spend on just hunting-related equipment. Travel expenses, hunters are spending about $405 million a year. That’s travel, fuel, food and lodging. “In the rural part of the state, that is extremely important.

The tax dollars and economic benefits in these rural areas, it would be devastating if they didn’t have it. You could look at Demopolis, Selma, Camden and Faunsdale and look at the effects on these areas. It would be absolutely devastating.” Wood, the general manager of Central Alabama Farmers Co-Ops in Selma, said the co-ops he manages cover the Alabama Black Belt, which is known for its rich soil, great hunting and fragile economy. Wood said the importance of hunting is reflected in their business model. “Our business has changed,” said Wood at the second annual Hunting Works for Alabama meeting at the Civilian Marksmanship Program Talladega range last week. “We used to make money three months out of the year, March, April and May, from selling fertilizer, chemicals and seeds. Now we make our money in September, October and November. The paradigm has absolutely swapped. We’re also a sporting goods company that sells firearms. You don’t see that at farm stores. We sell hunting apparel. Our focus is on the hunting industry.” According to the latest figures, about 44,000 non-residents hunt in Alabama annually. Because the costs of non-resident licenses are significantly higher than resident licenses, those non-resident sales provide a significant funding source for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. The economic impact from non-resident hunters also ripples throughout the state.

“What I think is so important is the out-of-state dollars coming into the state,” Wood said. “You’re talking about some of the poorest areas in Alabama in the Black Belt. People travel from all over the United States to go deer hunting in Alabama. These people are paying lodging taxes, buying food and gas, and buying hunting licenses, which supports the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. These tax dollars are not just being used by people in the hunting industry. It affects everybody in Alabama. Even the birders benefit from hunting in Alabama because the habitat enhancement made for hunting benefits all wildlife.” Wood also outlines the importance of more hunting opportunities for the general public.

“Hunting leases have become so expensive,” he said. “People are having to pay $15 to $20 an acre for a place to hunt. The everyday hunter back in the old days didn’t pay anything. If you wanted to go hunting, you could go up the road and some farmer or landowner would let you hunt. Those days aren’t here anymore. “That is why it is absolutely critical that programs like Forever Wild and the Wildlife Management Areas from Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries provide the everyday citizen places to hunt and give them a reason to buy hunting licenses. It is crucial that this Division is properly funded.” Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, said that proper funding Wood mentioned can only be realized when people buy hunting licenses. “We rank seventh in the nation on hunting-related expenditures,” Sykes said. “If you’re not familiar with the Pittman-Robertson Act, it levies a tax on firearms, ammunition and other hunting equipment. That money goes to Washington, and it’s divvied back out to the state wildlife agencies, based on states’ hunting license sales, so they have a constant source of funding. For every dollar of hunting licenses sold, Pittman-Robertson matches that with 3 federal dollars, which is a great return on our investment.

“When I first started in 2012, our apportionment was $8 million. Last year, it was $18 million. How did that happen? During the previous administration in Washington, people were buying firearms and stocking up on ammunition because they were scared of potential gun legislation. The problem was those same people weren’t buying hunting licenses. We can’t get to that money unless people buy hunting licenses. So the money that hunters pay into that fund, if we can’t sell enough hunting licenses, that money will go to another state. For us to be able to provide goods and services for the people of the state and to help support the economics, we have to have hunting license sales that will allow us to put conservation officers and biologists in the field.” Sykes offered a statistic that stuns just about everybody who hears it. Sykes asks for an estimate on the percentage of Alabama’s almost 5 million citizens who buy hunting licenses. The estimate normally ranges from 15 to 50 percent.

“We receive not one penny from the State General Fund. Not one tax dollar goes to provide goods and services,” Sykes said. “It’s all hunting and fishing licenses. Most people have no idea that only 3.8 percent of Alabama citizens buy hunting licenses. We’ve got to get that number up if we’re going to be competitive. We have to have licenses sold and the dollars from those sales to get to the federal money from Pittman-Robertson.” Wood said anybody or any business that wants to become a member of Hunting Works for Alabama can sign up and it won’t cost a dime. Go to www.huntingworksforal.com for information or to join the organization. “When you become a member, you’re able to come to our meetings and meet with other people in the industry,” he said. “You learn the facts and figures about the economic importance of hunting in the state. We are fortunate to be in Alabama, where we are a hunting and gun-friendly state. It’s a luxury, and we want to keep it that way. “We’re trying to build a network of support. Eventually, we’re going to have to talk to our legislators, because there will be issues that come up that will end up in the Legislature. We need to have voices in the different districts who will contact these legislators to express how important hunting is to the state.” After one year, Hunting Works for Alabama has 107 members with a goal of reaching at least 150 by the end of the year. Pam Swanner of Alabama Black Belt Adventures, David Dexter of Mobile and Grant Lynch, chairman of the Talladega Superspeedway, serve as the other co-chairs for the organization. “We’re looking for slow growth,” Wood said. “When you have an all-volunteer staff, we have paying jobs we have to tend to. But for many of us, this does affect our paying jobs. And it also affects our way of life, which I think is more important.”

 

A “Luna” Legacy

Actias luna, the Luna Moth, can be found as far north as Canada and south as Florida. This lovely specimen was found above our door for a week. By Kasey DeCastra, SCRJ & MVT Community News Editor

Auburn scientists identify factors contributing to West Nile virus outbreaks

Texas health officials have reported 89 cases of West Nile virus in the state and three deaths as of late September, with 49 deaths reported nationwide so far in 2017. It is expected by the Center for Disease Control that this number will likely increase as the floodwaters continue to recede from Hurricane Harvey, leaving standing pockets of organically rich water pooling among storm debris that acts as a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. In a study published in the Journal of Vector Ecology, Auburn researchers have identified climatic, ecological and socioeconomic factors contributing to the incidence of West Nile virus, with further studies underway to refine risk predictions that could help public officials save lives during West Nile virus outbreaks within flood-prone or hurricane impacted areas. Graeme Lockaby, professor and associate dean of research in Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, is the lead author of “Climatic, ecological, and socioeconomic factors associated with West Nile virus incidence in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.”

His Auburn colleagues, Associate Professor Wayde Morse, Professor Latif Kalin and researchers Robin Governo and Rajesh Sawant, served as co-authors among the multi-agency research team that included scientists from the University of Georgia and Pennsylvania and the USDA Forest Service. “Our research indicates that climate and meteorological conditions, vegetation characteristics, land use and land cover type and socioeconomic factors directly contribute to the presence of West Nile Virus,” Lockaby said. “More specifically, soil moisture and temperature, as well as forest size and pine composition of forests were significantly correlated to the vector index.” Forest size and composition is believed to be correlated with the presence of Corvidae, the family of birds which includes such common species as crows, ravens, jays and nutcrackers. Corvids are a reservoir of West Nile virus and can carry the disease. When mosquitoes bite one of the birds, the mosquitoes then infect themselves and transmit the virus to their next victim. Corvids prefer open areas with scattered tree cover. Researchers found that the presence of West Nile virus decreased with larger forest patch size and increased percentage of pines.

This may be due to increased diversity of bird species. This phenomenon is referred to as the “dilution effect” which infers that with increased species diversity, the probability of a mosquito biting an infected Corvid decreases. It is important to understand both what influences the presence of the Corvids who infect mosquitoes, and what areas are ideal breading grounds for the Culex sp. mosquitoes which transmit the disease to other species. “The initial run of mosquitoes is not too much of a disease threat although a huge nuisance to people but it’s the next run we really need to be concerned about,” said Sonja Swiger, Texas AgriLife Extension medical/veterinary entomologist, in a recent statement. “As conditions dry up, we will cycle out of those weeks of floodwater mosquitoes, and then begin cycling into a period of time where the disease-transmitting mosquitoes will emerge and build up,” Swiger said. Lockaby is heading a new two-year study with graduate student Nicole Castaneda, in conjunction with the Audubon Society and U.S. Forest Service, to further refine our ability to determine locations of highest or lowest risk for West Nile virus based on the presence of specific risk factors.

Castaneda will characterize bird species diversity, soil wetness, age and species of trees and socioeconomic factors near mosquito sampling sites across Atlanta. Her data will clarify the mechanisms behind some of the first study’s findings and improve the accuracy of risk predictions. “Significant flood events like those experienced in Houston are predicted to drive an increase in the number of cases of West Nile virus,” said Lockaby. “Our goal is to refine our ability to estimate degree of risk based on the presence of risk factors that help to drive the disease vectors, which will be very useful for protecting human life in areas most vulnerable to hurricanes.” Written by Jamie Anderson.

Alabama Game Breeder Receives $750,000 Fine for Illegally Importing Deer

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham have charged two Northport men with knowingly transporting and receiving white-tailed deer into the state – a violation of state law and the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold. In November 2016, Conservation Enforcement Officers with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) arrested deer breeder Lewis H. “Sonny” Skinner and his associate Franklin Banks Loden for knowingly importing six live white-tailed deer into Alabama from a farm in Indiana. Federal and state charges against the men were announced in Birmingham on Monday, October 2, 2017.

As part of a plea agreement announced Monday, Skinner’s privilege to possess an Alabama Game Breeder License or be associated with a game breeder operation has been revoked. Skinner has also agreed to pay a $100,000 fine to the federal Lacey Act Reward Fund, and $650,000 in fines and restitution to the State of Alabama, which will be used to further WFF Law Enforcement activities and continue disease testing on wild deer within the state. According to the plea agreement, Skinner owned and controlled all activities occurring on Skinner Farms, a private deer breeding business located in Sumter County, Ala. Skinner had obtained a game breeder license from the state of Alabama and knew it is a “closed border” state that prohibits the importation of deer.

In November 2016, Skinner arranged for Loden to covertly move the deer from Indiana to Skinner Farms in Alabama. Loden was stopped by WFF Enforcement Officers in Tuscaloosa, at which time the deer were seized. The seized deer and all captive deer held in Skinner’s facility will be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Comparable to mad cow disease, CWD is a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of deer. The disease attacks the brain of an infected animal causing it to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die. Once CWD is introduced into the environment, it is impossible to eradicate. “Over the last 15 years, we have watched this disease insidiously spread across the country,” said Capt. Carter Hendrix with the WFF Law Enforcement Section. “In fact, it has spread much faster than it naturally should have.

This is due largely to human transportation across state lines of infected, harvested animal parts or live animals.” In 2016, Alabama enacted a ban on the import of deer carcasses from states where CWD has been confirmed. CWD has been found in captive and/or wild deer in 24 states, two Canadian provinces, Norway, and South Korea. It is not known to be transmissible to humans or domestic livestock. For a map of CWD states, visit www.outdooralabama.com/map-cwd-north-america. Additionally, CWD has devastating economic effects on deer hunting. The deer hunting industry results in $1.8 billion in annual revenues for the State of Alabama. States where CWD occurs have experienced a 10-40 percent decrease in license sales. Those states also experience a decrease in hunting opportunities through the loss of access to public and/or leased land if they fall within a CWD management zone.

“Not only is deer hunting in Alabama a $1 billion industry, more importantly it is an integral part of the lifestyle and heritage of many residents and non-residents who enjoy our abundant natural resources,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. There have been no known cases of CWD in Alabama. Currently, Alabama has 231 licensed game breeders, which primarily raise white-tailed deer for sale to hunting-enclosure operators throughout the state. “The arrests and prosecutions of Skinner and Loden are examples of an approach to the enforcement of statutes already in place to protect the resource,” said Michael Weathers, WFF Chief of Law Enforcement.

“The most effective way to keep Alabama CWD-free was to prohibit the importation of members of the deer family that are known to be susceptible to the disease.” The importation of deer from other states to Alabama has been prohibited by regulation since 1973. Violations of this regulation are actively investigated by WFF Law Enforcement. “We’ve focused on preventing the spread of CWD by introducing regulations that place restrictions on certain activities within the commercial industry, of which Skinner was a member,” Weathers said. “The illegal transport of deer from outside the state by a licensed deer breeder, who is motivated solely by profit, places our entire white-tailed deer herd at risk of this fatal disease.” The traceability of animals in the breeder industry is vastly important to protection of a state’s wildlife populations. The spread of CWD in Texas in 2015, which was discovered in a captive herd, was mitigated by utilizing a deer breeder electronic database that had been in place since 2009.

“Implementing an electronic database to track animals transported by breeders within Alabama would allow an animal’s location history to be immediately determined,” Weathers said. “It would reduce the number of animals and locations put at risk by an infected animal. It would also allow game breeders not linked to a breeding facility affected by CWD to continue business as usual.” WFF Law Enforcement continues a 110-year commitment to protect the state’s resources for the benefit of all Alabamians. WFF needs your help in maintaining Alabama’s CWD-free status. To report the importation of live or harvested deer from out-of-state, or resident deer exhibiting signs of CWD, call the Operation Game Watch line at 1-800-272 4263 (GAME). The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

Guard Spider

Dolomedes Tenebrosus, the dark fishing spider are another large, sprawling arachnids are most often found on vertical surfaces: tree trunks, fence posts, bridge pilings, or the exterior walls of buildings, usually at night although this friend hung out over our doorway which we were thankful for the keeping our pest population at bay. They are ambush predators who wait for large insects to come within striking distance. They do not spin webs.

Hogging the Side of the Road

Wild hogs were spotted south of Linden in Marengo County. Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Lady of the Garden

Argiope Aurantia, more commonly known as the black and yellow garden spider, is usually seen around the end of summer and start of fall. The mature females are enormous and up to 19 to 28 mm in body length. The males are much smaller at a third of the female’s size. You’ll see them pretty much anywhere: gardens, orchards, forest edges, old fields, under lights and farms. They spin a classic round orb web with a zigzag band of silk called a “stabilimentum.” By Kasey DeCastra, Moundville Times & Sumter County Record Journal Community News Editor

Surprise! Lily

Lycoris radiata, or more commonly known in Alabama as the Red Surprise Lilly, Red Spider Lily or British Soldier, (Madoline Thurn once told me a relative liked to call them “Naked Ladies” after I asked what they were when I first came to Livingston in 2007) actually comes from Japan and came over as a garden flower in 1854. The flowers bloom after the first heavy rain in late September through mid October. In Japan the Red Spider Lily signals the arrival of fall. Many Buddhist will use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors. They plant them on graves as a tribute to the dead. People believe that since the Red Spider Lily is mostly associated with death that one should never give a bouquet of these flowers. By Kasey DeCastra, Sumter County Record Journal and Moundville Times Community News Editor

Hurricane Irma drains parts of Mobile Bay

A photo similar to this one posted on facebook by ABC 33/40 Meteorologist James Spann showing Mobile Bay appearing dry in places went viral over the weekend. This led some to believe that Hurricane Irma was somehow sucking water out of the bay and others to accuse Spann sharing a faked photo. This “real” photo was taken by a friend of the SCRJ, William “Billy” Harrall and shared for readers to see at Lake Forest Marina in Daphne. Spann went on to say that “this happens on shallow parts of bays and is not that unusual.” And that’s certainly true for Mobile Bay, which has expansive shallows in its northern reaches, near the Bayway and Causeway. A sustained north wind – be it from a hurricane or the regular winter pattern – will expose extensive flats in those areas, especially at low tide. Photo by William “Billy” Harrall

Trail Rider’s annual fishing derby

  Southwest Alabama and Southeast Mississippi Trail Rider’s Association held their 6th annual Fishing Derby on Aug. 19 at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives along with the Federation’s 50th anniversary. More than 50 people participated in the fishing derby. Trophies were awarded for the most fish, smallest fish, biggest fish, most excited, first time fishing and best sportsmanship. Winners for the most fish were Mike Jackson and Rodrick Epps (adult), Shemara Washington and Robert Smith (youth). Diann Ware (adult), Nicholas Jones and Jaylen Hale (youth) received awards for the smallest fish. Biggest fish winners were Jadarvion Green (youth) and Jimmy Newell (adult). AJ Hale (youth) brought home the trophy for most excited. Jeremiah Campbell and Zykirea Long received awards for first time fishing and Tommy Epps, Jr., received the best sportsmanship award. Submitted by Dorothy Burrell

 

Ben Guin Got One

Benjamin Guin with his first fish, with uncle Ryan . “I got one, I got one!” Submitted by Livingston Lines Columnist Claire Smith

Hog control is one of the top issues for Sumter County and West Alabama – ADCNR’s Matt Brock explains what to do

By Kasey DeCastra, SCRJ & MVT Community News Editor As Ward News columnists June and Jean Stephenson havebeen reporting for the last few weeks, wild hogs are a problem out here in Sumter County. Matt Brock Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources gave a presentation on wild Hog Control at the annual Area III Association of Conservation Districts meeting in Jasper at Beville State Community College July 19. They are not native to North America. Brought by the Spanish explorers as a mobile form of food back in the 1600’s, the fast repopulating, omnivors have wrecked havic ever since. They displace major game such as deer and turkey. And are known to destroy the habitat of our native amphibians and reptiles by rooting, wallowing and tree rubbing around swamps and water ways. They damage livestock, farming land, forests. Hogs can live up to 21 years, mature in 6-8 months, reproduce twice a year with 4-10 piglets. They are former domestic pigs and Eurasian wild boar that are a range of colors. They can spread disease to both animals and people. If you have shot one hunting, protect yourself when butchering the meat with rubber gloves, gogles and try not to breath the gases of the animal. Be sure to cook the meat fully as well. The two most effective ways of dealing with the animals are hunting and trapping. You will need a permit to hunt wild hogs and should contact local Conservation Enforcement Officer or local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries District office for more information regarding this permit according to http://www.outdooralabama.com/feral-hogs. To download a free .pdf on how to take care of hogs visit https://store.aces.edu/ItemDetail.aspx?ReturnTo=0&ProductID=14291 Printed copies may also be ordered through Mississippi State University Extension Service and Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Mississippi State University Extension Service: Contact your county Extension office. Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Call (334) 844-1592 or e-mail publications@aces.edu

Not Fake Fish News

Sumter County Record Journal Publisher, Tommy McGraw went on secret assignment to the Black Warrior River near Akron recently to investigate whether the recent high water levels from the many rain storms effected the bass biting. The publisher/fisherman found some fresh water off the main channel and landed about 15 to 20 bass in the middle of a hot summer day, some in the two to three pound category like the one pictured. McGraw affirmed that this was “Real News” and not the “Fake Fish News” some fisherman occasionally spin. Photo by Tommy McGraw

Loitering Rhinobeetle

Easily recognizable by the horn on it’s head, which is used to keep other males from the females, these beetles are mostly active at night and mostly found in Eastern wooded areas of Alabama, although we found this one on the sidewalk outside of Moundville Times. They like to eat tree roots and are most active at night. By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

AL Gopher Tortoise Conservation Project

If you see a gopher tortoise, we’d like you to report it online through iNatural. Sign up online or download the app today.https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/al-gopher-tortoise-conservation-project

Eastern Box Turtle turns up for a visit

Ben Noppenberger found a friend wandering through his yard Saturday between storms. The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is a subspecies within a group of hinge-shelled turtles, normally called box turtles. It’s native to the eastern part of the United States, found as far north as Maine and West as Texas. The box turtle is largely terrestrial (they like to walk from one pond or stream to another), but are slow crawlers, extremely long lived, slow to mature, and have relatively few offspring per year. Males have red irises and females have brown. Story by By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editorand Photo by Ben Noppenberger

Rose… Jelly?

Roses have more uses than just a ornamental flower in the garden. Rose hips can be made into jam, jelly, marmalade, and soup or are brewed for tea, or filtered for syrup. Rose hips are also used to produce rose hip seed oil, which is used in skin products and some makeup products and of course perfume. They have been used in medicine for stomach issues. (See http://pfaf.org/user/ Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rosa+c hinensis) By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

Musical Moundville Times Visitor

We had a musical visitor hop on into our sister paper’s office, the Moundville Times office June 5th. Our lead editor, Travis Vaughn, gently helped him back outside to his home in our Tulip tree outside the office. Our best guess is he wanted to read some news on the fly. We looked him up and he is a Sedge Wren. Learn more at http://www.outdooralabama.com/sedge-wren By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

Color of a Rose

Roses are native to North America, Europe, Asia and North Africa. There are over a hundred pecies and thousands of cultivars (assemblage of plants selected for desirable characteristics that are maintained during propagation. Roses have acquired cultural significance in many societies. You may have heard a red rose is for true love, a yellow for friendship, or a pink for sweetness. Check out https://www.abetterflorist.com/blog/colours-rainbow-colour-bouquet-say/ to learn more about rose color meanings. By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

Magnolia’s are very useful

Magnolia bark has been used to treat menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and gas, nausea, and indigestion. It is also an ingredient in formulas used for treating coughs and asthma. Learn more about Magnolia uses at http://www.herbwisdom.com/ herb-magnolia.html. By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

Carp to the rescue! Say what?!

These grass crap are going to help rehabilitate the UWA duck pond. A small number of these fish have been stocked on campus to eat away at the invasive and overwhelming filamentous algae, Alligator weed and pond weed instead of using chemicals harmful to the creatures who make it their home. Learn more about the Black Belt Museum at https://www.facebook.com/blackbeltmuseum/

Eighteenth Annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day

On May 11, 2017, the Eighteenth Annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day was held at Lake LU on the University of West Alabama campus for all third graders in the county from public schools and private schools. Students rotated thorough eight, twenty-minute stations throughout the day. A large group demonstration was held at the end of the day with a power-take-off (PTO) demonstration instructed by Sid Nelson. Stations were set up to teach about all different types of safety. Instructors from different parts of the West Alabama area came to help teach on safety. The following stations and the instructor for each station is listed below: 1) Disability Awareness, David Perry, Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems; 2) Fire Safety, Livingston Fire Department; 3) Be Safe Bullying, Leigh Akins, Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems; 4) Zane Thrash, ATV Safety; 5) Firearm Safety, Jeff Shaw, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; 6) Healthy Lifestyles, Erin Reznicek, Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems; 7) Underground Utilities, McKay Levers, Alabama One Call; and 8) Tractor Safety, Donny Sanders, H&R Agri-Power. We would like to thank these people for taking time out of their busy schedules to help make this event a success. We would also like to thank the University of West Alabama, Sumter County Farmers Federation, State Farm Insurance, First South Farm Credit, and Alabama Ag Credit for their contributions to the safety day. A very special thanks to the volunteers who helped on this day. Without them, the safety day would not have been possible. For more information on this program, please call Mandee Carrier at (205) 652-5105. Photos by SCRJ Reporter Thomas Ausborn

Magnolia, our sweet smelling southern staple

Magnolia’s were one of the very first trees to evolve a flower. The petals still resemble the tree’s leaves. It’s theprized this was to encourage bees to pollintate the trees. According to “Convergent evolution and adaptive radiation of beetle-pollinated angiosperms” by Bernhardt, P. “Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae date to 95 million years ago.” It’s the state flower of Mississippi and Lousiana. Alabama’s state flowers are the camelia and oak-leaf hydrangea (state wild flower). They come in both evergreen version and deciduous with a wide range of colors: white, pink, red, purple, or yellow. By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor

When and where you least expect it…

Tiffany Vaughn escaped a snake bite Sunday afternoon in her front yard on Market Street in Moundville and dispatched the juvenile copperhead. She wrote, “It attacked me when I almost stepped on him. Thank God it was a small one and not full grown. Thank God I had long pants on because he struck my pant leg. Y’all be careful in your yards. We get complacent and forget that they are here with us.†Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Cobbler Incoming!

Wild black berries are in season now. Blackberries are one of the two state fruits for Alabama. The other is the peach. (By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor)

String Beaning Us Along

Wondering what kind of tree this is? It’s a Catalpa. A deciduous tree that produces long string pods in late summer (also a sap that will eat the paint off your car if you park it under it.) It’s nick names are “String Bean Tree,” the “Indian Been Tree,” and “Cigar Tree.” This one lives beside at our sister paper the Moundville Times in Moundville in Hale County and is in full bloom. (By Kasey DeCastra, MVT & SCRJ Community News Editor)

Big Boss Gobbler taken in “Hale”

 Sumter County Record Journal Publisher Tommy McGraw had to go through “Hale” to get this boss gobbler Saturday, April 8 deep in the Hale County woods. The 22 pound bird sported an 11.5 inch paint brush of a beard and had one inch long spurs. The bird and a companion marched within gun range at 6:50 a.m. The two birds came in after McGraw stirred the two gobblers with his irresistible cackling and yelps. The 35 yard shot was made with a “Quick Draw McGraw†move as the birds circled behind the hunter as they came in to greet their invisible mate. Photo by Jane McGraw

A useful southern plant, Kudzu

By Kasey DeCastra, Sumter County Record Journal & Moundville Times Editor Hale and Tuscaloosa Counties are extremely beautiful during the summer. One thing we see creeping over our fences and covering entire fields as most of the south is, is kudzu. Kudzu first came over to the United States in the 1800’s. It was originally a garden plant used for decoration. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. Hundreds of young men were given work planting kudzu through

the Civilian Conservation Corps. Farmers were paid as much as eight dollars an acre as incentive to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. The problem is that it grows too well! The climate of the south is perfect for kudzu. The vines grow as much as a foot per day during summer months. Under ideal conditions kudzu vines can grow sixty feet each year. While they help prevent erosion, the vines can also destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting sunlight. The USDA finally declared kudzu to be a weed in 1972.

The vines pull down telephone poles, choke crops and cover rural railroad tracks causing problems for trains. However animals, including humans, can eat kudzu! It can be used like spinach, fried like potato chips and made into tea. Make sure that the kudzu you gathered is not sprayed with chemical control agents that may be harmful to humans. Pick tender kudzu leaves in spring and early summer. Young leaves at the end of the vines may be collected at any time. Make sure it is kudzu that you have picked. It has a three leaf arrangement, but so does poison ivy and poison oak. Kudzu Fried Chicken Dredge chicken breast strips in kudzu powder; dip in lightly beaten egg, and dredge in dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Deep-fry in hot oil (350) for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Kudzu root powder, also called kuzu, and capsules are available at most health food stores. Kudzu Quiche (4-6 servings) 1 cup heavy cream 3 eggs, beaten 1 cup chopped, young, tender kudzu leaves and stems 1/2 teaspoon salt ground pepper to taste 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese 1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, eggs, kudzu, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in pie shell. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Kudzu is great for basket making and I have even seen it made into bird houses by local artists. The vine can be made into soap and candles. It has been used for clothing and rope. It is a good feed for animals and can be made into pulp for cardboard and particle board. Also it’s a great cover plant for unsightly parts of the yard. What ever you chose to use it for one thing you can be sure of, we are not lacking in kudzu.

Thompson Makes Big Catch Tony Thompson of Gainesville caught this big 45 lbs flathead catfish while fishing at the Gainesville Lock and Dam.

 

A “Luna” Legacy

Actias luna, the Luna Moth, can be found as far north as Canada and south as Florida. This lovely specimen was found above our door for a week. By Kasey DeCastra, SCRJ & MVT Community News Editor

 

Guard Spider

Dolomedes Tenebrosus, the dark fishing spider are another large, sprawling arachnids are most often found on vertical surfaces: tree trunks, fence posts, bridge pilings, or the exterior walls of buildings, usually at night although this friend hung out over our doorway which we were thankful for the keeping our pest population at bay. They are ambush predators who wait for large insects to come within striking distance. They do not spin webs.

For Safe Hunting, Remember the Obvious

When using a treestand like this climber, always have your body harness connected to the tree. When hunters take to the woods Oct. 14 for the start of archery deer season in Alabama, Hunter Education Coordinator Marisa Futral hopes that those using treestands will remember to wear and use a vital piece of equipment, the full-body harness. “It sounds obvious, but wearing your harness and not attaching it to the tree will not save you if you fall,” said Futral. “Most falls occur while ascending and descending, or stepping into and out of the tree stand, so it is extremely important to be attached to the tree at all times.” Futral says hunters should attach their full-body harness to the tree the moment they leave the ground, and it should stay attached until they are safely back on the ground. “Many hunters are diligent about wearing a harness,” she said, “but they don’t attach it to the tree until they have already climbed up and are seated. You are more likely to fall when you are moving, so attaching the harness before you start climbing is vital.” Once at the desired height, hunters should keep a short tether between them and the tree with no slack when sitting. The tether should be fastened to the tree at eye level or above. This will allow an easier recovery if a fall happens. Never allow the tether strap to get under your chin or around your neck. Hunting bows should be pulled up and lowered with a strong cord or rope. When hunting with a gun, it should be unloaded prior to pulling it up or lowering it. Hunting is one of the safest outdoor recreational activities. According to American Sports Data and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunting ranks lower than basketball, football, tennis, cheerleading, bicycling, golf, and even bowling in the total number of injuries per 100 participants. However, each hunting season, Futral receives reports on hunting accidents that could have been avoided. Last hunting season in Alabama, 11 nonfatal and two fatal incidents were reported relating to treestands, while seven incidents were attributed to firearms (one fatal and six non-fatal). In all of the treestand-related incidents, the hunter was not wearing a safety harness. Futral stresses that hunters should carefully inspect their treestand and harness before each use. “Never use a damaged or expired harness, and make sure it can support your body weight,” she said. “And, most importantly, keep it attached to the tree at all times.” For more information about how to properly use a full-body harness and other hunting safety tips, visit www.outdooralabama.com/tree-stand-safety.

 

Hogging the Side of the Road

Wild hogs were spotted south of Linden in Marengo County. Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Lady of the Garden

Argiope Aurantia, more commonly known as the black and yellow garden spider, is usually seen around the end of summer and start of fall. The mature females are enormous and up to 19 to 28 mm in body length. The males are much smaller at a third of the female’s size. You’ll see them pretty much anywhere: gardens, orchards, forest edges, old fields, under lights and farms. They spin a classic round orb web with a zigzag band of silk called a “stabilimentum.” By Kasey DeCastra, Moundville Times & Sumter County Record Journal Community News Editor

Surprise! Lily

Lycoris radiata, or more commonly known in Alabama as the Red Surprise Lilly, Red Spider Lily or British Soldier, (Madoline Thurn once told me a relative liked to call them “Naked Ladies” after I asked what they were when I first came to Livingston in 2007) actually comes from Japan and came over as a garden flower in 1854. The flowers bloom after the first heavy rain in late September through mid October. In Japan the Red Spider Lily signals the arrival of fall. Many Buddhist will use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors. They plant them on graves as a tribute to the dead. People believe that since the Red Spider Lily is mostly associated with death that one should never give a bouquet of these flowers. By Kasey DeCastra, Sumter County Record Journal and Moundville Times Community News Editor