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  • May 30, 2008

    Carolina Coon Kissing Costs $40K-1


    When a vacationing family found and adopted a 3-week-old baby raccoon at Wexford Plantation on Hilton Head Island, S. Carolina earlier this spring, everyone they showed it to agreed it was adorable.

    Friends and neighbors back home in Okatie, S.C. held and cuddled the precious little critter, hand-feeding it, touching its nose and tongue—even kissing it.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Right, rabies.

    When it was all over, more than 35 people and 20 pets were part of an extensive S. Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control investigation.


    Of those exposed to the rabid animal, 24 received rabies vaccinations and follow-up prevention shots as a result of their affectionate actions toward the baby raccoon. The remaining 12 did not need treatment because they did not touch the animal or come in contact with its saliva, said DHEC spokeswoman Clair Boatwright.

    “There was a lot of affectionate handling, kissing it and feeding it,” Boatwright told the Island Packet newspaper. “Part of that is it was three weeks old, and they inserted fingers into the raccoon’s mouth. Saliva is one way that rabies spreads.”

    In the end, the coon kissing cost the taxpayers of the state of South Carolina more than $40K.

    According to the DHEC, the rabies vaccines and prevention shots cost about $1,000 per person, totaling $36,677.75. With investigation costs and personnel time, the ending tally was a whopping $43,028.50.

    That’s one costly coon, eh?

    Obviously, there’s an important lesson to be learned from the unfortunate occurrence.

    Every year, state wildlife agencies send out press releases advising folks not to adopt young wild animals that appear to be abandoned or in need of care.

    That’s good advice.

    Oh, and don’t kiss them, either.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 28, 2008

    North, to Alaska: Yellow Jackets Expanding Range?-1


    When it comes to the alleged impact of man-caused global warming and the scientific proof of either its existence or non-existence, I’ve remained fairly ambivalent on the subject as the debate continues on Capitol Hill and in the media.

    However, a new study by a University of Alaska-Fairbanks researcher may or may not have anything to do with rising temperatures in The Last Frontier.

    What piqued my interest was the study subject—the yellow-jacket wasp—and the species’ apparent expansion into parts of Alaska in increasing numbers.


    I’ll wager I’m not alone among sportsmen when I admit to hating yellow jackets more than any other winged, hoofed, pawed or slithering critter found in mountains, fields or swampland. I’ve had close encounters with nefarious snakes, coyotes, bobcats, boars, javelinas, skunks—even mountain lions—but if I had the power to magically remove a living creature from the planet, my first choice would be the carnivorous, violently aggressive wasp with the black and yellow posterior.

    While researching a tenfold spike in the number of yellow jackets in the Fairbanks area during 2006, Derek Sikes, entomologist and curator of insects at the University of Alaska Museum, became convinced that the notorious stinging wasps are indeed spreading northward. The emergency room at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital that summer treated 178 patients with insect stings, about four times more than normal. In addition, two men died from wasp encounters.

    Since it’s darn-near impossible to actually count the number of yellow jackets in a region (they’re hard to trap and putting on those tiny radio tracking collars is a pain!), Sikes and his associate, Dr. Jeffrey Demain, the director of the Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center of Alaska, decided to investigate the state’s medical records.

    Reviewing a database of Alaska’s Medicaid patients, Demain found a seven-fold increase in insect stings in northern Alaska within the past decade—from an average of 16 people (per 100,000) per year between 1999 and 2001, to 119 people a year from 2004 to 2006.

    The study results appear in this month’s Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin.

    The Fairbanks News-Miner reports that all other regions of the state--with the exception of Southeast Alaska—also saw in increase in stings requiring medical treatment. In the Interior, which includes Fairbanks, insect stings increased from 260 a year per 100,000 patients in 1999 to an average of 437 a year between 2000 and 2006.

    Any hunter who’s battled these bloodthirsty beasts while attempting to quarter an elk in the mountains of Colorado in the early fall knows how excruciatingly painful its sting can be.

    Besides that, about 4 percent of the population is especially susceptible to yellow jacket venom.

    “These (venomous) chemicals not only can cause hives and itching, but they can cause airways to close; the larynx can close. You can have an asthma-like attack,” said Demain.

    The study also addresses—though without conclusion—that wasp populations in Alaska are possibly increasing due to warming, considering that average temperatures in northern Alaska have risen about 4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, Demain said.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 28, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1


    “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protect against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are wholly ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping wild creatures from total extermination.”

    -Theodore Roosevelt
    Outdoor Pastimes of the American Hunter, 1905

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 27, 2008

    Gun or Gas? Pistols Win Over Petrol-2


    Max Motors, a auto dealership in Butler, Missouri, is offering customers a choice between two sales incentives with their vehicle purchase: $250 in gasoline or $250 credit at a local gun shop.


    So far, most buyers from The Show Me State have opted for pistols over petrol.

    Every buyer so far “except one guy from Canada and one old guy” has chosen the firearm, said owner Mark Muller. He recommends his customers select a Kel-Tec .380.

    “This thing has taken off. Sales have quadrupled,” said Muller, whose dealership sells both used and new vehicles, including General Motors and Ford products.

    Muller told Reuter’s News Service that he got the idea for the promo after hearing some recent U.S. Presidential campaign rhetoric about guns, religion and gun owners who reside in America’s heartland.

    “We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns,” said Muller. “I’ve got a gun in my pocket right now. I have a rifle in my truck. We’ve got to shoot the coyotes out here, they’re attacking our cows, our chickens. We’re not clinging to nothing. We’re just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want. This is the way it ought to be.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 22, 2008

    Dad Decks Door-Destroying Deer-0


    Randy Goepfert had just finished paying for his haircut at Holiday Hair in Quakertown, Penn. when an antlered whitetail buck came crashing through the glass door and bolted into the busy salon, narrowly missing his son.

    “He was charging right at my son, so I decked him,” Goepfert said Tuesday, after he his 11-year-old son, Tyler, came face-to-face with a wayward whitetail sporting 6-inch spike antlers inside a shopping mall hair-cutting establishment.


    “The only thing I could do, I grabbed him by the neck and slammed him to the ground,” said the 36-year-old resident of Richland Township.

    Goepfert wrestled with the deer for several minutes, pinning it to the floor, and then corralling it in an empty breakroom, where it remained until authorities arrived and tranquilized it. The animal was later euthanized when it was found to be seriously injured.

    The Allentown Morning Call newspaper reports that William Frei, 9, was waiting for his haircut when he heard a loud crash at the window behind his head. Seconds later, the deer charged through the door, just a few feet away from where he sat with his mother.

    “I was just sitting there minding my own business, playing a video game,” the third grader recalled. “It crashed through the window, and me and my mom jumped onto a chair.”

    The 2-year-old buck was estimated to weigh 135 pounds, but it put up quite a fight for its size, Goepfert told the Allentown paper.

    “I weigh 225 pounds and he threw me right off,” said the stocky deer-wrestler. “I couldn’t believe that they’re that strong an animal.”

    Though the junior Goepfert says he regularly accompanies his dad during Pennsylvania’s popular deer-hunting season, they’ve never scored on venison while together—until Tuesday.

    “We can never get deer during hunting season,” the fifth grader admitted. “But we can get one now.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 21, 2008

    Gator Bucks the Law-0


    Volusia County, Fla. Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Baughman attempted to subdue an 8-foot, 210-pound alligator at an apartment complex parking lot Thursday night by throwing a towel over its eyes and climbing onto its back, rodeo style.

    Bad move, deputy. But you know what they say about hindsight.

    According to the official sheriff’s report, “the alligator began to shake violently and rolled, at which time deputy Baughman lost his balance.”


    In other words, the lawman was unable to remain mounted for a full eight seconds in order to qualify for the next go-round.

    Not only that, but when the agile reptile dismounted Baughman, its toothy jaws connected with his thigh and lower leg, leaving the deputy with something to help him remember their encounter for many years to come.


    “We’re very fortunate he didn’t suffer any more injuries than he did,” said Brandon Haught, sheriff’s spokesman.

    As the alligator chomped down on the officer’s lower extremities, Deputy Jason Stickels pulled Baughman to safety, later firing multiple shots from his service weapon, Haught said. One bullet struck the alligator.

    According to the Daytona News-Journal, Jerry Flynn, a trapper dispatched by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, subbed and killed the ornery gator.

    “He had already been shot at,” said Flynn, a certified alligator trapper for six years. “It kind of went crazy.”

    Deputy Baughman was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he was treated for puncture wounds below his knee and the inside of his thigh. He was released the following day.

    “We recommend to the public never to engage an alligator. The same (goes) for our deputies--never engage the wildlife like that,” Haught told the Daytona newspaper. “It was just a case of bad judgment on his part.”

    Considering this is the time of year that alligators are known to be especially active—and amorous—it might be a good time for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department to offer a refresher course on how to safely subdue the dangerous reptiles.

    Lesson One: Never jump onto the back of an alligator.

    Class instructor: Deputy Keith Baughman

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 20, 2008

    Ball-Pilfering Critters a Hazard for Maine Golfers-0


    Golfers at three courses in southern Maine who have witnessed their golf balls being swiped off the greens by 4-legged thieves are well aware of the rule that no penalty is assessed when a ball at rest is moved by “an outside agency.”

    It’s widely understood by golfers here that there’s no need to add a stroke to the scorecard when the offending culprit is a fox or coyote.


    Dozens of incidents involving ball-stealing critters have been reported at courses in the region during the past year.

    The most credible theory to explain the unusual behavior is that the bouncing ball and its resemblance to an egg triggers a wild canine’s animal instinct to pounce and grab.

    The Kennebec Journal reports that last week Tom MacDowell and Bill Fogel were playing a round at Portland’s Riverside Golf Course as they watched MacDowell’s ball fall just short of the 14th green. A coyote immediately shot out of a nearby wooded area, scooped up the ball in its mouth and trotted back to the trees.

    “Maybe he collects Nike golf balls,” MacDowell opined.

    The newspaper reports that foxes have become as much of a hazard as the ponds and sandtraps at the Highland Green Adult Resort Community and Golf Course in Topsham for the past several years.


    Highland Green resident Lyn Adams said she found a cache of balls near a fox den while walking with her husband in the woods near the course.

    “There were 30 balls buried, covered with leaves and dirt,” she said.

    While their antics and ball thievery can be somewhat of a nuisance to golfers, course officials have nothing but kind words to say about the ball-hunting inhabitants of the woods and rough. That’s because in addition to pilfering Titleists during the day, the foxes and coyotes are also keeping the groundhog, mole and vole population in check.

    And for groundskeepers striving to maintain smooth greens and hole-free fairways, that’s a good thing.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 20, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1


    “When I get up at five in the morning to go fishing, I wake my wife up and ask, ‘What’ll it be dear, sex or fishing?’ And she says, “Don’t forget your waders.’”

    -Paul Quinnett
    Darwin’s Bass, 1996

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 14, 2008

    Gas Pains-1


    Here’s some sage advice for anglers and boaters already reeling from the record-high gas prices that have ushered-in this year’s fishing season: When you’re filling your boat with gas, make sure you place the pump nozzle in the gas tank and not in the fishing rod holder.


    And, if by chance you happen to mistake the fuel intake hole on your craft, let’s hope you’d recognize your error before you pump 100 gallons of pricey petroleum product overflowing into the water at a marina.

    Today’s Palm Beach Post used a fair share of discretion in its article about yesterday’s fueling mishap that required the response of the Martin County Fire Rescue Hazmat team to Finest Kid Marina fuel dock in Port Salerno, Fla.

    After all, the news report conveniently failed to mention the name of the male boater who pumped 100 gallons of marina-priced gas into his rod holder, overflowing into the craft’s bilge tank.

    It was an editorial decision for which we’re certain the perpetrator is extremely grateful.

    It’s bad enough that the poor guy probably is out around $500 or more for his numbskull move. At least he didn’t have to deal with the added embarrassment of having his name in the paper.

    According to the report, only about 15 gallons went into the water around the fuel dock. Hazmat crew members towed the boat from the fuel dock to a safe location, where they secured the fuel, said Jeff Alter, Fire Rescue bureau chief.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 13, 2008

    Colorado Agency: Don’t Put Frogs in Freezer-0


    The Colorado Division of Wildlife has reversed an earlier public statement in which it recommended that unwanted exotic frogs, fish and salamanders should be euthanized by placing them in freezers as an alternative to releasing them into ponds and lakes.

    “It might sound cruel, but the best thing to do with unwanted pet frogs, salamanders, baby alligators, goldfish, and the like--is to freeze them,” herptile specialist Tina Jackson said in the agency’s initial release. “As they cool down they enter into a hibernation sleep state and then pass away.”


    The idea behind the release was to educate the public about the potential harm that non-native fish, reptiles and amphibians can cause to the environment. It is an increasingly important issue for state game and fish agencies, as they’re faced with mounting problems caused by invasive aquatic species such as Asian carp, Northern snakeheads and zebra mussels.

    Unfortunately, not everyone thought the concept of quietly sending frogs to that big lily pad in the sky by placing them in the deep freeze was responsible, humane advice.

    Responding to the recommendation, the American Veterinarian Medical Association contacted the Colorado agency and announced it does not consider freezing reptiles and amphibians to be a humane method of euthanasia.

    As a result, the agency issued a follow-up press release last week to clarify the situation, and to apologize.

    “The DOW sincerely apologizes for any misinformation and suggesting an inappropriate method of euthanasia,” said the press material. “Euthanizing unwanted animals should only be done as a measure of last resort. It is preferable to give them to someone who will responsibly take care of them, return them to where they were purchased, or donate them to a local natural history museum, aquarium, or zoo.”

    The release went on to reiterate the threat that non-native species pose to the ecosystem.

    So, unless you’re personally experienced with preparing sodium pentobarbital cocktails, or Dr. Jack Kevorkian has started offering his services to the cold-blooded, you probably shouldn’t be trying any in-home amphibian and reptile euthanasia. Or, just don’t tell anyone about it.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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