Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wildlife Quiz - Spiders

Spiders exist within the class of arachnids, which also includes ticks, mites and scorpions. A spider’s body is divided into two sections, a cephalothorax, containing the eyes, mouthparts, and legs and an abdomen, containing the genitals, spiracles and anus. Unlike insects, spiders have eight legs and lack antennae. Spiders also have the unique ability to spin silk which is used to make webs for trapping prey or transportation/escape.
Spiders are beneficial because they feed heavily on insects, thus helping to keep global numbers in check. Some spiders (like the funnel building Grass Spider) wait for prey to get caught in their webs while others (like the Dark Fishing Spider) actively hunt for prey.
Spiders inhabit every continent except for Antarctica and have been on earth since the Triassic period, over 200 million years ago. Scientists have currently identified approximately 45,700 different species of spiders. Currently 40 different species of spiders call Maine home. 
Only a relatively small number of spiders are very poisonous and even these seldom bite humans unless provoked. Because many people have a strong aversion to spiders, they tend to be killed indiscriminately even if they are harmless. Only two spiders have been found in Maine that are dangerous to human. While not Maine natives, both the black widow and brown recluse spiders occasionally hitch hike their way into the state via shipping boxes, old furniture or luggage. For this reason, it is important when traveling or receiving clothing or furniture from southern climates that they be thoroughly inspected for possible infestation.

Wildlife Quiz - Fisher Cat

The Fisher (Pekania pennanti) exists as a member of the mustelid family. While frequently called Fisher Cat, the Fisher is not in any way related to the feline species. Instead, the Fisher shares many common traits with other mustelids such as; weasels, martens and otters.
The Fisher’s native range includes Canada and the northern United States where it thrives in these regions boreal forests. A crepuscular creature, the fisher prefers to hunt during dusk and dawn. Despite its common name, the Fisher rarely eats fish, instead it spends a majority of its time stalking small mammals, including squirrels, rabbits and its favorite prey the porcupine. The Fisher exits as one of the few animals able to effective dispatch and consume porcupines without becoming injured. 
Male and female fisher share similar features. Both possess long, thin, bodies and a sleek black coloration similar to an oversized mink. Fishers however are much larger than their comparatively diminutive mink cousins, with male averaging around 10 pounds and females averaging 5 pounds. The largest Fisher ever recorded weighed 20 pounds. Retractable claws allow the Fisher with the ability to maneuver well in trees, even possessing the ability to climb down trees head-first a trait shared by very few mammalian species.
The Fisher mating cycle starts with both males and females actively finding mates during March and April. After implantation, the pregnancy is delayed for 10 months until the following February. Female Fishers then give birth to a litter of three or four kits in the early spring. The female nurses and cares for the kits until late summer, when they are 5 months the kits set out on their own to establish new ranges.

Spectacular Brown Trout

Historically Speaking 
 Resilient and possessing an innate ability to survive in adverse conditions, the Brown Trout thrives in “marginal” waters that would likely kill other trout species. Because of this, Brown Trout will likely become the future of sport fishing in Central Maine. Since 2003, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been studying three different strains of Brown Trout brood stock, in an effort to determine which is best to use to stock Maine waters. The study, set to conclude in 2020, will ultimately determine which of the three Brown Trout will be most successful in competing for survival in waters currently home to many aggressive fish species.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, “Brown Trout Management Plan” states that, “Brown trout are a well-accepted part of Maine’s fisheries management program. Their attractiveness as a sport fish and their ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats has made them invaluable in providing a sport fishery in many lakes, ponds and streams which otherwise would have none.” Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has obviously put a lot of effort into determining how the Brown Trout best fits into the Maine biome and should be commended. Brown Trout aren’t native to Maine, but they are still a challenging fish worthy of catching.

Kill Coyotes in Central Maine

Kill More Coyotes
            Regularly killing coyotes is something I equate to an art form. These wily predators are incredibly gifted in knowing and effectively avoiding danger. To consistently out smart these canines, hunters must be flexible and not afraid to try new techniques and tactics.
Baiting and Calling Coyotes
            For many years, I hunted coyotes over bait sites. While extremely effective, the hassle of securing landowner permission, setting up a shack, finding fresh bait and hunting the bait almost every night (who wants to feed coyotes!) finally all had me reaching a point where baiting was no longer fun, it was just work. I knew that there had to be a simpler way to hunt coyotes that was easier but also continued to remain extremely effective.
            Hunters who practice the art of calling coyotes not only free themselves from the burden of managing bait sites but also expose them to a whole new world of coyote hunting that bait hunters don’t get to experience. This isn’t to say anything negative about bait hunting, as I still believe this is an extremely effective way of killing coyotes and helping manage their population. Similar to the sportsman, who prefers to stand hunt rather than still hunt for deer or vice versa, running, calling and gunning for coyotes differs greatly from baiting and is a fun challenge all sportsmen should try.

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