Woods, Waters & Wildlife

Carp in Lake Erie

Miscues, bloopers, and do-overs

Professional wildlife management, as practiced today by America’s state/national governmental agencies and private conservation organizations, is a high-tech, finely tuned science that has resulted in the restoration of many wildlife species — some absent from Ohio for more

22 million carp?!?

For example, the following item appeared nearly a century ago, in the March 1923 issue of the Fisheries Service Bulletin, published monthly by the Federal Bureau of Fisheries, under the heading “Hatching Carp in Lake Erie”: 

Pileated Woodpecker

Attracting ‘Big Bird’

The largest woodpecker in North America lives in the Buckeye State, and for years I tried unsuccessfully to lure one to my home birdfeeders — and, ultimately, within camera range.

As the photos with this story attest, I eventually achieved my goal of attracting and photographing pileated woodpeckers up close. But I have to give credit where it’s due — I had a little help.  

An owl observed during wintering-owl study.

Whooo’s there?

Regular readers of Ohio Cooperative Living may recall a story that ran exactly a year ago titled “Give a hoot,” describing a statewide wintering-owl study to be conducted by Blake Mathys, an Ohio Dominican University associate professor and Union Rural Electric Coo

“More than 1,600 owl sightings were reported to the project,” says Mathys. “Of those submitted, about half were able to be assigned to species with some certainty, based on a submitted photo, recording, or description.”

He says he received reports from 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with only Jefferson County in eastern Ohio lacking. The top five counties for reported submissions were Hamilton (19.4%), Franklin (7.6%), Butler (6.1%), Warren (5.4%), and Clermont (4.8%). 

Al Brown’s deer-head sculpture, featuring locked whitetail deer antlers.

Deer death duels

Each autumn, testosterone-fueled whitetail bucks, their necks swollen to twice normal size in preparation for battle, clash in combat to determine who will win the right to breed the area’s does.

Clint Walker, a member of Consolidated Cooperative, discovered just such a pair of dead bucks on his farm in Morrow County in north-central Ohio during the autumn of 2017. Interestingly, this is not the first unusual find on the Walker farm. In 2013, a mastodon skeleton was discovered and subsequently excavated by biology professors and students from Ashland University. According to carbon-14 dating techniques, the giant bones were estimated at 13,000 years old.  

Grandma Gatewood Memorial Hiking Trail

Who was Grandma Gatewood?

Do you like to hike? Emma Rowena Gatewood sure did.

Known for her minimalist, no-nonsense approach to hiking, Gatewood used a homemade sassafras walking stick to help steady her on the trail and carried a cloth sack slung over her shoulder, filled with only 18 pounds of food and equipment. Today’s hikers often carry twice that much weight if not more, and they do it with high-tech backpacks. Instead, she had the following advice for would-be AT hikers: 

Ruffed Grouse

Disappearing act

Several successive Ohio winters in the late 1970s were brutal, with temperatures often dipping below zero and heavy snow lasting for months on end. It also happened to be the time when I was attempting to become a ruffed grouse hunter.

Ruffed grouse were plentiful in Ohio during the second half of the 20th century, but no more. Human hunters are not to blame, as their seasonal take of the birds has always been negligible. Rather, it is the bird’s own habitat that is gradually turning against it, and according to the national Ruffed Grouse Society, that change is taking place across much of the ruffed grouse range — some 18 states — from the upper Midwest to New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, and Appalachia.    

The Signing of the Treaty of Green Ville

Ohio's American Indian History: Writ large

Of the many paintings hanging in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, the largest by far measures 22 feet long by 16 feet high and is titled The Signing of the Treaty of Green Ville.

Setting the scene

At the end of the Revolutionary War, England ceded to the fledgling USA ownership of the Northwest Territory — an immense area north and west of the Ohio River that would one day become five states: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as part of Minnesota. 

The major problem with the agreement was that it completely ignored tens of thousands of indigenous people who were already living on that land — from dozens of major tribes — who were not about to give up their claims on the land without a fight.

Gray Treefrog 2

Nature’s rainmaker

Even if you didn’t quite recognize it, you’ve likely heard the sound. Just before or after a summer rain shower, a loud, short trill — just 1 to 3 seconds long — emanates from a nearby tree. Was it a bird?

Some gray treefrogs also call outside of the breeding season — generally April through June in Ohio — but why they do so is a mystery. “It isn’t uncommon to hear a male calling from high in the trees in late summer or early fall,” Lipps says.

Measuring no more than 2 inches long, the gray treefrog is the largest treefrog in the northern United States; it’s found throughout Ohio. Mainly arboreal, the frogs come down out of the trees during breeding season, congregating in vernal pools. 

Grampus ship

Something fishy

In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) turned 150 years old, and to celebrate its sesquicentennial, it has released a new book of its many finny accomplishments titled America’s Bountiful Waters

Henshall (1836–1925) is known as the father of bass fishing in the U.S. He was born in Maryland and moved to Cincinnati after graduating high school. He finished medical studies in 1859, just in time for the Civil War, and promptly joined the Union Army medical corps. One of his most memorable adventures was a run-in with Morgan’s Raiders, a Confederate cavalry unit that crossed the Ohio River and was eventually captured near West Point, in Columbiana County.