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Outdoors notebook: Bears, boats and algae blooms

To celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, Saturday to June 12, two events are set at three sites.

Area fishing expert Tom Marks will conduct a free fishing seminar that includes participant activities starting at 10 a.m. on Friday in the Wal Mart store in Fredonia at 10401 Bennett Road. Marks then travels to the Hamburg Wal Mart for an afternoon session from 2 to 4 p.m.

Attendees can test their casting skills, learn more about area fishing, receive a free digital subscription to FLW Bass Fishing magazine, receive a free fishing license holder and enter a drawing for an Amelia Island trip.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge logs its 25th Annual Youth Fishing Derby on Saturday as part of National Fishing and Boating Week. The Friends of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge event is held at Ringneck Overlook at the refuge on Oak Orchard Ridge Road, with registrations starting at 7:30 a.m. and fishing from 8 to 11 a.m.

Prizes are awarded to the top three entrants in three divisions: ages 7-and-under, 8-12, and 13-17.

Derby rules and information about special assistance for individuals with disabilities can be found at or by calling (585) 948-5445.

Outdoors study

Dr. Joshua Russell at Canisius College is conducting a research study of children (ages 8 to 16) participating in fishing and hunting.

The survey/interview takes about 45 minutes, during which photos of youths’ fishing and hunting excursions are welcomed. All participants receive a $25 gift card from a local sporting goods store (Cabela’s, Dicks, Bass Pro, etc.) of their choice.

For details on participation in this study, check with Russell at 888-2751 or email

Dogs and bears

Warmer, nicer weather has pet owners and backyard keepers more active outdoors, with water quality for dogs and bird-feeding cautions for homeowners.

New York Sea Grant cautions pet owners near waterfront areas that might have freshwater HAB (harmful algae bloom) in its waters. HAB, overgrowths of blue-green algae, may produce toxins deadly to dogs and domestic animals.

HAB, known as cyanobacteria, impact liver functions, disrupt nerves, and cause skin irritations when dogs drink water containing HAB.

NY Sea Grant offers detailed information on its web site ( as well as RSS, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube accounts.

The Department of Environmental Conservation and federal wildlife agencies strongly urge home and land owners in areas that black bears inhabit to remove bird feeders and keep edible refuse indoors as spring warmth increases and bears’ metabolism increases with the warmth.

Bears tend to imprint to food sources and can become harmful to human beings. Older animals eventually become incapable of foraging in the wild.

Poaching penalties

Law-abiding hunters look at the illegal harvesting of deer (poaching) as a criminal act not deserving of the term “hunting.” Courts determine penalties for poaching, but New York State Environmental Conservation Law level offenses permit courts to impose strict fines for poaching or attempting to poach deer in New York.

Lower-level offenses such as hunting after legal hours permit fines up to $250. More significant offenses such as shooting from a motor vehicle or taking deer with a spotlight are considered misdemeanors with fines up to $2,000 and a year in jail, depending on the violation. Major felonies involve the sale, trade or bartering of fish and wildlife, which could mean a $5,000 fine and up to seven years in jail.

Some area hunters like West Virginia wildlife regulations, which target deer poaching offenses more specifically. Along with court costs, codes impose replacement fees for trophy buck deer based on antler-spread measurements.

A spread of 14 to 16 inches is a $1,000 fine; deer with antlers measuring 16-18 inches draws a $1,500 payment; an 18-20-inch kill will require a $2,000 payment, and any deer poached with an antler spread over 20 inches garners an automatic $2,500 fee. All fines are a mandated.

Domske honored

Helen Domske, NY Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist, received the 2016 Distinguished Scientist Award from the WNY Science Congress presented during a regional science and engineering fair in early May. Domske has developed educational workshops for kindergarten-12 teachers’ lessons and networks lower Great Lakes fishery programs involving Lake Erie and Lake Ontario for the University at Buffalo.