Rushville Republican

June 13, 2014

Hummingbird hosts respond


Rushville Republican

---- — I’ve received a lot of feedback from my request concerning hummingbird counts this year. All of the responses except for one reported far fewer numbers than in years’ past. Some of the hummingbird hobbyists were “big time” into feeding the birds, and reported their multiple feeders were only bringing in a handful of birds.

Apparently the late spring like weather along with the last cold front, really kept a lot of birds out of Central Indiana. Hopefully, the hummingbirds who have braved the elements will have a successful nesting season and produce a lot more little hummingbirds.

Again, thanks to all who responded!

Program To Help Relieve Urban Deer Conflicts

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has introduced an innovative program to help communities alleviate their urban deer conflicts. The new program is known as “The Urban Deer Hunting Access Program.” The program is designed to assist communities experiencing problems with overabundant deer to manage deer through hunting. Communities will be eligible to apply for funding to open public land for access by licensed deer hunters to resolve documented conflicts.

“Hunting is a highly favored form of management for deer by hunters and many non-hunters alike,” said DNR deer biologist Chad Stewart. “It is incredibly safe, cost-effective, and efficient. However, it is difficult for communities to take that leap into allowing public hunting because of the perception and opposition of hunting by small and vocal groups of people.”

Funding for the project is provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Communities or public entities can enter into a contract with the DNR for up to three years with a maximum of $15,000 available per year.

Communities must submit their applications by July 31, with a general outline of how the funds will be used. Applications will be scored and ranked, with the highest ranking communities eligible to be awarded the funds.

“Hopefully by providing a financial incentive to open up or expand hunting in their community, we can show that hunting is a logical option to solving deer problems,” Stewart said. “And hopefully it will lead to a resolution of conflicts and the start of a long term management program.”

Fish Surveys For 16 Northern Indiana Lakes

DNR fisheries biologists will conduct standard fish surveys at 16 northern Indiana natural lakes this month as part of an annual project to monitor the long-term status and trends of fish populations in the region’s lakes.

Lakes to be surveyed are: Indiana Lake in Elkhart County; Hill, McClure, and Waubee lakes in Kosciusko County; Adams and Royer lakes in LaGrange County; Crooked, Gordy and Miller lakes in Noble County; Flint Lake in Porter County; Riddles Lake in St. Joseph County; Arrowhead, Hamilton, Little Lime, and Silver lakes in Steuben County, and Little Cedar Lake in Whitley County.

During the surveys, biologists will use electrofishing boats, gill nets, and trap nets to capture fish. Each fish will be identified, measured and released. Scale samples will be taken from popular sport fish to determine their growth rate. The surveys will be conducted over two days.

“Our sampling gives us a basic picture of the fish species, their number and their size,” said Steve Donabauer, a DNR research biologist who is overseeing the project. “Because the lakes are chosen randomly and represent a variety of lake habitats, we can put together a composite view of how fish populations are changing through time.”

Donabauer has already identified some trends based on earlier results.

“Since the mid-1980s, we’ve seen a two-fold increase in the number of 14-inch and greater legal-size largemouth bass and a three-fold increase in bluegill greater than 8 inches,” he said.

Donabauer thinks the increase in bass numbers is due to larger minimum size limits established in the late 1990s and an increase in catch-and-release fishing. The increase in catch and release has led to greater bass predation on bluegill. As a result, fewer bluegill survive and have more food and grow larger.

In contrast, the survey results indicate some fish are declining.

“There has been a subtle decrease in species richness,” Donabauer said. “Our data suggest that the loss of one species from a lake over a 15-year period is the new norm.”

Species showing the largest declines are specie Donabauer describes as “cool-water” fish, or fish generally found in clean lakes where oxygen is present in deeper, cooler water.

“Northern pike is a good example of a cool-water fish,” Donabauer said. “They survive, grow, and reproduce best where water temperatures are less than 73 degrees and at least 3 parts per million of oxygen occur.

As lakes age and become nutrient enriched, they can lose their layer of cool-water habitat and stress fish.

Pike were found in 40 percent of our lakes in the 1980s. Now the figure has dropped to 30 percent, Donabauer said.

“This is the type of information we get from surveys and is crucial for us to understand what’s going on in lakes,” Donabauer said. “More important, it serves as a basis for taking corrective management actions and provides a way to measure their success.”

‘till next time,

Jack

Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net or by writing to him in care of this publication.