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There are things to avoid out there

Late spring and early summer affords all a comfortable time to watch a flow of flora and fauna afield.

Cute or just curious, new growth and beasts making their mating moves afford wildlife watchers all kinds of interesting things to view. But many tend to reach out to assist wild creatures at times and in places where they really do not need human help.

This time of year the Department of Environmental Conservation issues a handy piece of advice about wildlife seen in the field: "If you care, leave it there."

That prompting applies to all kinds of fauna, but especially whitetail deer fawns. Some newborns will not arrive until later in June and can be found in early stages of movement in early July.


When first seen curled up in a clump of tall grass, a newborn fawn looks helpless and in need of some kind of help. Not so. In fact, a young fawn has its best protection left alone, because the animal does not exude an odor during its first days of life. Predators such as coyotes, foxes, bears and other feral carnivores would pass nearby and miss seeing that fawn curled up in the tall grass.

Picking up a young fawn creates more problems than care-giving or soothing. Along with distributing the fawn's odors, the pickup might leave a human's scent that might frighten the mother doe away during a time when she should be nursing the fawn.

These kinds of encounters are enjoyable, but should be done so with caution. DEC officials suggest keeping the meeting brief, keep your distance, take a picture if you'd like, but maintain a distance and do not try to touch the animal or disturb surrounding vegetation.

This past spring a mother doe has been regularly crossing a wheat field next to our digs. We never got to see if and where she kept her young charge until we set out a trail camera and caught the kid crossing a newly-plowed field corner. Even now, weeks later, the mother has made her moves well away from the new kid — her particular style of child-rearing.

It is illegal to take in and harbor young deer as pets, and, when left unattended in the wilds, deer and other newborn wildlife have a much better chance of survival than if they were cared for like a house pet.
The same general approach and viewing procedure applies to young fox kits, or the nesting sites of rabbits, opossums, raccoons, and other ground and near-ground nesting animals.


It took some time to adapt to turtle traffic when we first moved into the swamp-sided new digs a half-dozen years ago. While we had seen numerous snapping and painted turtles on ventures along creek and pond shorelines, having a backyard next to hundreds of acres of swampland allowed for some spectacular sighting of these seemingly slow creatures.

When a mama turtle decides it's time to lay her eggs, she leaves the swamp's comfortable goop and reed cover and moves to higher ground to find a soft spot in which to deposit a cluster of eggs.

Having a few patches of open garden plots out back affords these rolling boulders all kinds of soft earth in which to hide and bury a bunch of eggs each spring.

We put marker flags on places where we think a turtle-egg nest might be covered. Our success rate for seeing newborns emerge from their nest and make it back into the swamp is very low. But of the few that we have seen come alive, birds take their share before they get to relative safety of swamp waters.

Should you decide to move one of these monsters, know that snapping turtles are fitfully named. They snap.

Experts suggest placing one hand on the rear quarter of the shell and the other near the tail to avoid contact with the front feet and head. Never carry a turtle by its tail, if you want the reptile to survive where released.

If a snapper is too snappy when you try to pick it up, have it bite onto a broom handle or small branch before you make another try to carry it to a release site.

Turtles can live for decades, serve as a key in the cycle of wetland wildlife, and, like snakes, often appear when and where you least expect to see them. This species belongs there just as much as beautiful birds and land beasts.

>Giant Hogweed

A plant growth has become a land beast of late.

Once imported from Great Britain as on ornamental garden plant, the giant hogweed has become a menace to native flora and a medical woe for human beings who come in contact with this oversized weed.

Capable of growing to 14-foot heights, sap from this invasive plant can cause painful burning and heavy scarring of skin that comes in contact with broken stems of giant hogweed.

DEC sources note, if you believe you have seen giant hogweed, take photographs and report it immediately to the DEC.

To see photos of this weed, get detailed descriptions and information on controlling it, go to

Despite these cautions, the summer season is off to a warmly wonderful start for plantings and nature watching. Enjoy.?