Fins, feathers and fines usher in spring season

Following fast on the tail of an unusually long winter, the spring season has finally arrived. However, as most Adirondack residents realize, it is possible for winter’s wrath to reappear at any moment.

Despite such realities, now is the time to get out and enjoy the bounty of the season.

The ponds have finally shed their cover, and brook trout and lakers will likely be on the feed. Salmon have moved into the rivers and streams along Lake Champlain, and soon suckers will begin to spawn on many of the inland lakes.

Rivers and streams are still running a bit high with snow melt and water temperatures remain in the 40s, but fish are being taken by patient and persistent anglers.

I landed my first fish of the year on a fly over the weekend. The size wasn’t much to brag about, but the colorful speckles of the little native brookie were well worth the price of admission. It was promptly returned to the brook to fight another day.

Birds are returning every day now, with Merlins nesting in the tall pines and peregrine falcons back on the cliffs. Loons are back on the ponds, and so are the anglers.

Frogs are again singing in the bogs, and turkeys are strutting their stuff, albeit a bit nervously.

Although it took the spring season quite awhile to arrive, now that it is finally here it appears to be bursting at the seams, with pussy willows already in bloom and wild flowers coming to life every day.

Spring turkey season

It’s that time of year again, where camo-clad hunters sneak silently into the local woods in the morning darkness to sit in the cold and wait patiently for the sound of a gobbler.

Hunting turkey is truly a game, in the sense that hunters must be able to deceive the gobblers with calls they believe come from a receptive female.

In the process, hunters must remain absolutely still as turkeys have keen vision and a natural wariness. Hunters utilize a variety of calls and clucks to bring the birds into shooting range, and in this regard they are very closely connected to their quarry.

Turkey hunters are also advised to take precautions to avoid ticks at this time of year. Most hunters tend to sit on the ground, with their back to a tree, which puts them in a prime location for ticks.

Although the prevalence of Lyme disease remain quite low in Essex County as compared to most downstate locations, precautions should be taken.

Tuck pant legs into socks and sleeves into gloves and use a DEET-based bug repellent. Be sure to check yourself after returning from the field.

Lyme disease is no joke. It is a debilitating ailment that lingers long after the initial infection. It can ruin a sportsman’s career.

New York’s spring turkey season begins May 1 and ends May 31 at noon. Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, and hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license.

Shooting hours are from a half-hour before sunrise to noon each day and hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season but only one bird per day.

Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or a handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8. Bow and arrows are also permitted.

Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested. They are required to report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird by calling 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT).

No boar no more

Following an all-out attack on invasive wild boar, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to change the rules of engagement.

Wild boar were first discovered in the Southern Tier counties, where they were first believed to have escaped from game preserves. Since 2000, wild boars have been reported breeding in the wild in at least six counties (Tioga, Cortland, Onondaga, Clinton, Sullivan and Delaware).

DEC is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to remove any Eurasian boars that are reported in New York.

With no known predators, the wild hogs went hog wild. Fortunately, the North Country was largely spared their wrath, although an outbreak of feral pigs near Peru provided a sampling of the damage they can do to the environment.

In response to DEC’s all-out war against the hogs, which had permitted hunters to use any means – including baiting, spotlighting, trapping, etc. – the department realized such methods were not working. In fact, such efforts often serve to disperse the hogs into a much wider area.

Department biologists realized the importance of containment and the effectiveness of trapping the hogs, rather than hunting them. They discovered the animals were highly intelligent and extremely elusive.

As a result, the new regulation prohibits the hunting or trapping of free-ranging Eurasian boars in New York in order to ensure the maximum effectiveness of current DEC eradication efforts statewide.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in Oct. 2013 that prohibits the importation, breeding or introduction of any Eurasian boars to the wild. Furthermore, the law prohibits possession, sale, transport or marketing of live Eurasian boars as of Sept. 1, 2015. The new law was an essential step in the state’s efforts to prevent Eurasian boars from becoming established in the wild.

To date, more than 150 animals have been captured and destroyed. However, eradication is expensive, time consuming and requires a great deal of manpower.

Anyone who observes a Eurasian boar (dead or alive) in the wild in New York should report it as soon as possible to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or to: fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us and include “Eurasian boar” in the subject line.

Because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot belly pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all free-roaming swine is encouraged. Please report the number of animals seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark, etc.). Photographs of the animals are especially helpful, so please try to get a picture and include it with your report.