Archive for February, 2014

Cat’s : Stealthy Killer, Family Pet, Or Both?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

cats 002Last evening around 7:00 p.m. a rather large black cat walked across my back deck.  I have seen this feline a couple times before and it has always been unapproachable.  I surmise that this is a wild (feral) cat who gets no canned cat food or has a box full of kitty litter!  He lives by stealth and instinct in order to survive, and survive he does!

At the end of my deck is our bird feeder.  I suppose to a cat it’s like a flashing neon sign advertising fresh “bird” meat!  Today I found the feathers from a morning dove not far from that feeder.  Am I supposed to be mad at the cat for following his survival instincts?  Good question.  My wife and I love watching all the various feather friends who visit our little free food establishment.  We do not feed them so cats, in turn, can munch on the birds.  This particular black cat was observed hunting in a field about 1/4 mile from the house.  He has no doubt honed his skills in the “killing fields!”  I suppose most people (cat owners included) believe a few wild animals are eaten by feral cats, but most have no idea just how vicious these killers are!

Researchers in the United States have reported that cats account for killing 1.4 to 3.7 billions birds every year in the U.S.  In addition 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals fall to the fangs and claws of all cats.  Contrary to what you may think; house pets are some of the major culprits behind these statistics!  Researchers explain that, more often than not, the animals our beloved pets kill are birds, mice, shrews, and moles.  Because of this, it is the researchers belief that cats constitute a major threat to wildlife and to the country’s biodiversity.  According to the “Daily Mail” most of these animals are killed by cats that have owners which allow them to roam their surroundings.

I know from personal sightings that house pets are extremely well adapted to stalking, and killing, their intended target.  I once watched my daughters cat (de-clawed) put the “sneak” on a fat robin, and pull him from the air in a move reminiscent of a lion on the prowl.  He had no claws, but man he had sharp teeth!  I’ve seen other house pets do likewise to unsuspecting birds of various species.  So wild cats sometimes take a bum rap for the actions of Susie’s Fluffy!

So where does that leave me with trying to protect my birds?  Is the black cat fair game?  Heck is Fluffy fair game?  Most would not want to harm a neighbors house cat (me included,) but the lives of billions of birds and mammals are at risk if this slaughter continues!

Mike

Supreme Court Rejects Challenges By The NRA

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Supreme Court decline to review three challenges set before them today.  Two of those challenges were brought forth by the NRA (National Rifle Association.)  The decision not to hear the cases  is definitely a loss for gun rights advocates.  In the first case the NRA challenged a Texas law that makes it illegal for a 18-20 year old to carry a handgun in public.  They can get sent to Afghanistan and Iraq with the best weaponry money can by, and take a bullet for their country, but can’t exercise their Second Amendment rights back home!

The second NRA case was a challenge to several federal laws and regulations, dating back to 1968, that made it illegal for firearms dealers to sell guns or ammunition to anyone under 21.

The third case was on the narrow question of whether consumers have the legal right to challenge laws that regulate the sale of firearms.  The challenge to a federal law that restricts the interstate transport of guns, and a related Virginia law, were filed by several residents of the District of Columbia who wished to purchase guns in the neighboring state of Virginia.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether there is a right to carry guns in public.  So far it seems the individual states are deciding this issue, but it’s only a matter of time before the High Court will have to quit side stepping this question!  It would appear that the Justices aren’t very fond of jumping into to this volatile issue.

You can rest assured that Eric Holder and President Obama are not afraid to tackle the issue of gun control.  With retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (93 years old) calling for an amendment to the Second Amendment it’s just a matter of time before a move is made in that direction.  Tyranny is at work make no doubt about it!

Two Heads Are Not Always Better Than One!

Friday, February 21st, 2014

birds and locked horns 007Luke Laha from Kansas has quite a story to tell about the survival of one tough buck!  While scouting out some new deer hunting territory in south central Kansas he got a fleeting glimpse of a large buck, which he thought was running with another buck.  He soon realized that the large framed deer actually had the head, spine, and rib cage from another buck dangling from its horns!

Laha thought about this deer for several months as he continued to teach classes at Pratt Community College’s Wildlife Enterprise Management program.  Laha and his students had set some coyote traps on the property where he saw this deer two months prior, and on January 17 went to check the “yote” traps.  He had told his students to watch for the deer with two (2) heads, but did not expect to find him alive.  The deer was a walking dinner table for the coyotes in the area, as they had reduces the dead deer to little more than a skeleton.  It would be highly unlikely that the live deer could defend himself against a hungry pack of coyotes due to the stress of carrying around another deer for such a long time.

As the students approached the last coyote trap one of them shouted “Hey there’s your deer!”  The deer was stressed out, and weak from it’s winter ordeal as Laha and his students set about in hot pursuit.  The deer kept stumbling and showed signs serious fatigue as the 4×4’s caught up to it.  One student jumped on the deer’s back, and he gave little resistance.  By that time only the head of the other deer was still attached to the large rack of the battle weary buck, as they tried to free it from it’s life threatening “baggage!”  As they pried the attached headgear from the exhausted buck he hardly moved.  Once loose from his “death sentence” the deer stood up and ran off into the woods.  It looked like he was going to be alright after all. Laha uploaded a video of their rescue on You Tube for anyone interested in seeing this amazing encounter.

Mike

Michigan’s Deer Herd Hit Hard By Harsh Winter

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

harsh winter 002harsh winter 001This has been the harshest winter that I can ever going through here in Michigan.  Record snow amounts, sub freezing temperatures, and cold biting arctic wind have been the norm this year.  Multiple car accidents, tractor trailer rigs jack-knifing, school closings, and tow trucks unable to keep up with the stuck vehicles.  Road crews have been stretched to the max, run out of salt and resources, and been lambasted by everyone in Michigan (it seems!)

Now if this extreme winter weather is taking a toll on us humans think what it’s doing to the “game” population! Two nights ago I had a yearling deer in my back yard trying to get some bird seed out of the feeder.  I woke up about 2 a,m. and there he was in my backyard.  I’ve lived here 23 years and have never (to my knowledge) had a deer in the yard!  I woke my wife to show her and we spooked it when we peeked through the blinds.  It had a hard time looping through the belly deep snow.  I wondered why the deer was alone, and what made him risk coming into our subdivision.  Well the simple answer is “hunger!”

We have friends that have 5 apple trees in their front yard next to a busy rural road.  The deer have been digging through the snow to reach the apples buried there.  In fact they have been bedding right next to the road and have been oblivious to the cars driving by.  When you find a food source in this weather, you stick with it, or you will be bait for all the other hungry animals in the woods, sky, and fields!

A friend of mine sent me a few pictures of whats been happening in the northern part of the state.  If deer are dying off this early in the season there could be a huge loss to the heard this winter.  In these pictures a rather healthy bobcat has been feasting on a winter starved deer.  He’s got some competition as the crows and hawks, along with any other meat eating varmints in the area, want a morsel too!  I don’t mind a few deer helping to feed others on the food chain, but I’m hoping for a break in the weather soon so deer starvation stays at a minimum.

For any anti-hunters that may read this article it is not a pleasant way for animals to die.  It is a slow agonizing death.  True cruelty as life plays out for survival of the fittest!

New Michigan Department of Natural Resources Mandatory Penalties

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

poachers 003The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has recently instituted new mandatory penalties for certain violations.  A violation of permits, season, bag limits, shooting hours, and any illegal method of taking game would result in a $50 – $500.00 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Illegal taking or possession of a bear, dear, or turkey would carry a $200 – $1000.00 fine and 5-90 days in jail.  In addition it would cost $1500.00 dollars restitution for a bear and $1000.00 dollars restitution for a deer and turkey.  Also in addition if the deer is a buck it will cost another $1000.00 dollars!  On top of that if the deer has 8-10 points another $500.00 dollars per point will be assessed.  EXAMPLE:  A ten (10) point buck would cost $7000.00 dollars restitution plus fines and court cost.  A large illegally taken non-typical could cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 thousand dollars!  For deer that have 11 points or more the per point fine jumps up to $750.00 dollars  per point!

Other mandatory penalties are illegally using a light with a bow, crossbow, or firearm to take game could result in a $100 – $500.00 dollar fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an automatic $500.00 dollar fine and 93 days in jail!   Multiple offenders (3 convictions over 5 years) could result in a $500.00 – $2000.00 dollar fine and 10-180 days in jail.

It would seem that the DNR is serious about stopping poaching in Michigan, but one thing concerns me.  There are those individuals out there that could care less about the consequences for breaking the game laws.  Some do it for profit, some just for the thrill, and some for trophies.  If these criminals are cornered, turned in, or approached will they now be less willing to “go” peacefully under such a stiff penalty?  Something to think about!

Mike

Tesla Motors

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

For those that jumped on the Tesla bandwagon when the stock was selling for around $4.00 dollars a share, things are looking quite rosy.  As of today the stock is going for just a few cents under $200.00 dollars a share.

I am one of those guys that helps keep the stockbrokers in business.  I buy high and sell low!  Not a good strategy for making any money or keeping much of a retirement fund.  It doesn’t matter whether I have had a broker manage my account or have done it myself-always the same results.  I lost a chunk after 9/11 as many others did, so I pulled the few dollars I had left and started to manage the account myself.

My son give me a tip concerning Tesla so I bought 400 shares at just over $4.00 dollars per share.  I know many of you readers are envious of me and my “smart” decision, but like Paul Harvey used to say “Hears the rest of the story!”  Right after I bought Tesla, along with some Ford stock and La-Z-Boy, things started going south in the stock market.  Because I was paranoid of taking another big hit I dumped everything and put it in a IRA account.  I made about $.50 cents a share on the Tesla and thought “wow” I finally didn’t loose any money on a stock!  Woopi!

Well in today’s market that $1600.00 dollar stock would be worth around $80,000.00 thousand right now!  As Kenny Rogers would say “You got to know when to fold, know when to hold them. Know when to walk away know when to run!”

So don’t be envious of this knucklehead who can only dream of what “Could of been!”  I think all I need is a small (very small) can to bury in the backyard.  As long as I can remember where I buried it my future is secure.  That is depending on how far $37.25 will take me and my wife.  Say like taxi fare to the poor house!

Weather for the Birds

Monday, February 10th, 2014

I received a new Nikon coolpix camera for Christmas, and have been “snapping away” with this versatile little camera.  I love to try and get some good shots of wildlife and so far it seems the birds are cooperating with me.  Maybe it’s the weather but so far I have been able to get up close and personal with many of these feathered friends.  The picture of the chickadee was taken after it perched on my head for about 30 seconds and then flew a few feet away and posed!  I thought I would share some of the photos and hope you enjoy what I’m calling “Weather for the Birds!”Jan.2014 cabin trip 023birds 003Jan.2014 cabin trip 022wood-pecker hepshiba support letter 002 3 doves 004Junco 015

Chicago’s Concealed Carry Fiasco!

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

001Back in December of 2012 a federal appeals court struck down a ban on carrying a concealed weapon in the state of Illinois.  Chicago has has some of the most restrictive rules/laws concerning obtaining a concealed carry permit that many law abiding citizens have just given up on the process.  In other words good citizens have been thwarted from obtaining their second amendments rights, while criminals continue their assault on the unarmed.  Chicago, with it’s restrictive gun laws still has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country including murder.

Recently House bill number (0163) became a state law, that requires schools to post small signs announcing guns cannot be carried in schools.  Now do you suppose these signs are for the criminal element or for those law abiding citizens who have obtained a legal concealed carry permit?  If you guess “law abiding” you are correct!  Anyway many school districts are unhappy about having to post the signs, because they have a “picture” of a weapon on them!  You have got to be kidding!  Well in case you scholars don’t know guns have never been allowed in Illinois public schools, but lawbreakers don’t care about your laws, rules, or permits!  Even though the 2012 court ruling allows Illinois residents the opportunity to get a concealed carry permit, you still cannot carry in churches, government buildings, liquor stores, schools, and certain other organizations.

With the amount of violent crime that still plagues Chicago you would think a small sticker (6″) announcing “no guns” would be the least of an administrators worries.  Paul Enderle, superintendent of the Oak Lawn school district had this to say.  “It is not necessarily something you would want on your school building, but it correlates with the law, and I think if it ultimately helps keep schools safe, that’s the objective.”

Well I say this about that!  When Johnny Criminal doesn’t give a darn about your sign and has the intent to do harm to those within the school (teacher or student) how is it “ultimately” safer with just the criminal shooter having a weapon on school grounds?  Seems to me that an armed administrator, teacher, guard, or concealed carry parent would level the killing field in favor of being safer, and a deterrent to the criminal.

Mike

Giant Python Found in Florida

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

python 001Giant snakes swallowing a whole deer, or even attempting to kill and swallow alligators?  Sounds like science fiction or some kind of “horror” movie except for one thing it’s real, and happening now in Florida!  It’s only a matter of time before a child or some other hapless human being ends up in one of these Burmese Pythons belly!

The Burmese Python is native to Southeast Asia and can grow to 20 foot in length and weigh over 200 pounds.  Pet owners in Florida are to blame for the 150,000 thousand snakes slithering through the state of Florida and in particular the Everglades!  Once the snakes get to big and hard to handle the pet owners have been releasing them into the wild.  The Florida climate is to the snakes liking and natural predators are few and far between.  The snakes are growing to Southeast Asia proportions.

Just recently Bobby Hill was checking a dyke not far from Miami when he spotted a huge snake basking in the sun.  This was no ordinary garden snake, but a huge Python measuring over 18 feet!  Bobby dispatched the snake and sent it to the University of Florida for official measurement and studies. These big snakes eat indigenous species and could totally alter the Everglades ecosystem in a matter of years.  The fact that several Burmese Pythons measuring over 16 feet long have been captured and killed shows that these reptiles are eating hardy and growing fast.  If some sort of plan to eradicate this invasive species isn’t implemented soon it may be to late to save the Everglades as we now know it!

Great Lakes Water levels on the Decline?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

water level 001What a record setting winter this has been here in the Great lakes region, and especially here in Michigan.  January saw all time records established for snow amounts in many area’s around our state.  The end isn’t even close to being in sight, as two more major storms are forecast in the upcoming week.

You would think with all that snow and ice on the great lakes there would be “no problem” concerning lake levels right?  Not so according to a January 21 article published in the Geophysical Research letters.  According to Carl Watras water levels have been declining since 1998, and are presently at their lowest levels ever! Carl is a climate scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and has studied the levels of inland lakes, along with the Great lakes for years.  According to aquifer records going back 70 years the normal 13 year cycle (rise and fall) of the lakes levels has been out of whack since 1998.

Studies conducted show that less rainfall in the summer means more evaporation of the lakes, and warmer winters, with less snowfall and ice cover, work hand in hand on lowering the lake levels.  “The balance between precipitation and evaporation is the key” Watras said.

Around my place in Northern Michigan I have watched the inland lake levels drop dramatically over the years.  The small lake where I take the grandkids has dropped 8-10 feet over the last 15 years. I now have a hard time getting my canoe in the water due to the steep bank that used to be under water.  Of the Great lakes it seems Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have taken the biggest “hit!” It would seem that many Wisconsin and Michigan inland lakes are tied into the same underground aquifer as Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, that are connected by the Mackinac Straits!

There is some potential good news on the horizon due to the polar vortex icing of the Great Lakes and the early ice covering on the inland lakes.  That means less evaporation this winter combined with record amounts of snow equals more replenishing water for the lakes.  I sure hope so!