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Mammal madness

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Well, its September now; the kids are back to school and some folks have made preparations to close summer cottages for the season. It is still officially summer, and green still abounds in the environment, but there are subtle changes that can be seen that tell of a change of seasons. Some of the bird calls, such as the wood thrush heard during the summer, are gone; they have already started their migration, as well as nighthawks and some early broad-winged hawks and ospreys. Nature’s clock is telling some critters to get moving.

For some fur bearers, that clock is running as well. Deer have lost their red summer coats and now sport a darker gray-brown coat. This is a thicker coat designed for the colder weather that is soon to come. During this transition, the fur may be patchy looking and resemble mange or some other disease to a person not familiar with deer. This is not the case; as soon as the transition to the winter coat is complete, the deer look ready to “strut their stuff.”

Speaking of strutting their stuff, deer will soon enter their rutting season, an event that will last through the fall. Drivers should be wary of deer of both sexes racing across the roadway unexpectedly during this time.

Bear are preparing for the cold season as well. They do not change appearance much, except for the fact that they are putting on weight for the winter. The bears had a bumper crop of blueberries this summer throughout public lands in Pike and Wayne Counties. However, the blueberries are now gone, and the bears are foraging for grubs, seeds, and any other thing they can find to eat. Garbage cans, and other human generated food sources are likely to be targets through the fall. Visit this page for some hints for living with bears: www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeSpecies/BlackBear/Pages/LivingwithBlackBears.aspx

Other mammals get ready in other ways: for instance, beavers usually step up dam-building efforts in the fall. However, none are more observable than the region’s two largest mammals. At times, the fall “mammal madness” may try people’s patience with garbage strewn about or deer damage on that six-month-old car, but with a few hints for how to deter bears and taking care on the roads, adverse effects of nature’s preparations for the long cold winter can be minimized.

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