I love my job! I never can predict what tidbit of knowledge I might discover any given day. I get to meet with people who are experts in areas that I find fascinating. And while meetings are not high on my list of fun things to do at work, nearly all of them include someone with whom I look forward to conversing. A meeting last week included a biologist from the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). Did you know that DOW is interested in people, like you and me, reporting the wildlife we see when we are out and about?
The DOW website is under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the reporting page can be reached via wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/report-wildlife-sightings. There is a list of the terrestrial wildlife in which they are especially interested, and of the 18 listed, I have seen four: wild turkeys, bald eagle nests, ruffed grouse, and sandhill cranes. Turkeys are often walking around behind our house, and I observed a group of 10 on my ride home from work yesterday. A couple of bald eagle nests are not too far from us, and occasionally, we spy an immature eagle feeding on a deer carcass as we cruise along our local roads. The website has an easy-to-use online form where you can indicate the species and click on a map to indicate the location of the sighting. Photos or videos can be uploaded, if you desire.
This collection of data from around the Buckeye State helps Ohio biologists track these species and their locations for research purposes. There are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Wildlife should be viewed from a safe distance, for your safety as well as the safety of the animal. In the spring and summer, wildlife production is at its peak, and people are often concerned when a baby animal appears to be unattended. The DOW website has detailed information on this topic and how to determine if an animal is truly orphaned. Occasionally, wildlife can be a nuisance, and the DOW has suggestions on how to minimize conflict as well.
In addition to the terrestrial wildlife list, there is an aquatic fish and wildlife reporting section and a citizen science section. DOW is interested in tagged fish, muskie catch data, and turtle harvests, all of which can be reported online. The DOW depends on residents to serve as citizen scientists, so check out the Ohio Bat Roost Monitoring Project, Ohio Frog and Toad Calling Survey, Breeding Bird Atlas II, and Spider Survey. The Ohio Bowhunters Survey began in 1990, and DOW is keen to increase the number of outdoorsmen and women participating in this annual survey. Summaries of abundance and distribution of raccoon, opossum, coyote, gray fox, red fox, and skunk are included. For skunks, the graph shows a decline in skunk relative abundance, and a rating of medium skunk relative distribution for our area; however, we have had three skunks stuffing themselves under our bird feeders at the same time. A couple of Sundays ago, we discovered that our two dogs and one of those skunks are not buddies! For you Looney Tunes cartoon fans, the skunk did not demonstrate love and romance like Pepe Le Pew did.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website is chock-full of information about forestry, state parks, nature preserves, watercraft, geology, water, mineral resources, and more! Visit ohiodnr.gov.
Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District’s open house and election will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19. Stop by for a chat with staff and board members, meet neighbors and friends, enjoy a snack, and vote. Details on this year’s candidates, the election, and the open house can be found at soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us.