WBEZ | wildlife http://www.wbez.org/tags/wildlife Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hawks on the rise http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hawks-rise-109889 <p><p><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/hawks/#/page1" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bird%20TOPPER.jpg" title="" /></a></p><p><em>Artwork by Chicago-based artist <a href="http://dianasudyka.com/">Diana Sudyka</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140433257&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe><em>Editor&#39;s note: This episode of the Curious City podcast includes a story about the resurgence of Cooper&#39;s Hawks in Chicago. It starts at 4 minutes, 45 seconds into the program.&nbsp;(Subscribe via&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161" target="_blank">iTunes&nbsp;</a>or&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast" target="_blank">Feedburner</a>!)&nbsp;</em></p><p>This story about hawks was a long time coming for Carole Zemont of Chicago&rsquo;s Norwood Park neighborhood. Carole thinks she&rsquo;s &ldquo;genetically predisposed&rdquo; to be interested in birds, after growing up watching them at the bird feeder her mother put up in their backyard.</p><p>That lifelong interest &mdash; as well as a recent hawk sighting of hers &mdash; led Carole to ask Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Is anybody studying the increasing hawk activity in Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods?</em></p><p>Her question covers several topics, including the people on the lookout for hawks, but we thought we owed it to Carole to suss out whether &mdash; in fact &mdash; there&rsquo;s a local population of hawks on the rise. While tracking this down, we came across a bit of a wildlife conservation success story.</p><p><strong>(Chicken) hawks on the increase</strong></p><p>Observant bird-watchers like Carole suspect there are more hawks in the area, but have professional researchers taken note, too?</p><p>Well, there are several local researchers who study and document the goings-on of wild critters in our urban and suburban environment, but when it comes to studying hawks specifically, we can turn up only one: Mason Fidino of the Urban Wildlife Institute. Founded in 2009, the Institute&rsquo;s part of Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park Zoo.</p><p>For the first part of Carole&rsquo;s question, does Fidino&rsquo;s work show that there is an increased hawk population in Chicago? &nbsp;&ldquo;Yes! It&rsquo;s a pretty resounding yes,&rdquo; he says. Fidino is recreating a historic bird count that was conducted in Lincoln Park from 1897 to 1903, and he&rsquo;s able to compare current bird populations with this century-old data. One hawk in particular stands out in Fidino&rsquo;s studies: the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk, which he describes as the &ldquo;most abundant,&rdquo; frequently seen bird of prey in Lincoln Park. This is quite a change from the historic study, where the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk &ldquo;was not seen whatsoever.&rdquo;</p><p>These birds were once widely viewed as a menace and even hunted in the past. Nicknamed &ldquo;chicken hawks,&rdquo; they were despised as chicken thieves.</p><p>Fidino points me to the historical record, where we can find sentiments from people like Alfred O. Gross, a man who eventually became a respected ornithologist. In 1906 Gross conducted a bird census in Illinois. He described the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk as a &ldquo;handsome robber&rdquo; with a &ldquo;perverted taste for chicken.&rdquo;<a href="http://www.thinglink.com/scene/502929837053181952" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cooper's Hawk inline image.jpg" style="height: 443px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Rendering of a Cooper's Hawk, otherwise known as a Chicken Hawk, by Chicago artist Diana Sudyka." /></a></p><p>Later, the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/ddt-brief-history-status.htm" target="_blank">pesticide DDT </a>also damaged their population. Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks mostly eat other birds, so they would have ingested all of the DDT concentrated in their prey animals. The pesticide caused eggshells to thin, and they would crack under the weight of the large birds. The Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk was even on Illinois&rsquo; endangered species list from 1977 through 1997.</p><p>Eventually, human interference loosened: We stopped shooting &ldquo;chicken hawks,&rdquo; we banned DDT, and, according to Fidino, the hawks came back.</p><p><strong>How easy is it to see one?</strong></p><p>Mason Fidino says you can find hawks in the city if you look for them &mdash;especially Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks. &ldquo;Often enough you&rsquo;ll see hawks circling around,&rdquo; he says, adding you can also spot them perched on tree branches. Fidino advises curious residents to &ldquo;spend some time on a weekend, take a walk out in a park. You should be able to see a bird of prey or two.&rdquo;</p><p>Fidino says he sometimes even sees hawks hunting in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park. If you see something quickly zooming towards the ground, it could be a hawk looking for lunch. For his part, Fidino will see the hunting bird just out of the corner of his eye. It will be &ldquo;this really quick movement going from the top of the tree downwards to whatever it&rsquo;s trying to catch. Then its talons go out, and it grabs what it&rsquo;s going after and then it&rsquo;ll swing back up or land with it,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks have nests that are smaller than squirrels&rsquo; bulky, leafy nests. Another way to catch a glimpse of a hawk is to keep an eye on their nest &ldquo;and see who shows up,&rdquo; Fidino says.</p><p><strong>A possible hawk menace?</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s reassuring to see a previously struggling species thrive, but perhaps you&rsquo;re wondering about a downside. Cooper&rsquo;s Hawks survive mostly by hunting smaller birds. Will we be hearing about a &ldquo;save the chickadees&rdquo; campaign in a few years?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr_%20Mike%20Ormsby_Copper%27s%20Hawk.jpg" style="height: 346px; width: 275px; float: left;" title="Cooper's Hawks look very similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks, but differences can be detected with key details like tail feather shape. Our field guide gives more clues for distinguishing the species. (Flickr/Mike Ormsby)" /></p><p>Fidino is not worried. Populations of top predators like hawks tend to be much smaller than their prey species. The relatively few chickadees or pigeons who end up being a hawk&rsquo;s lunch shouldn&rsquo;t significantly damage their population. The various bird populations, Fidino says, &ldquo;should be able to work themselves out into what you&rsquo;d kind of consider an equilibrium.&rdquo;</p><p>Hawks mostly hunt birds, although they&rsquo;ll also dine on small mammals. It&rsquo;s very rare for pets to come under attack by raptors. However, when pressed, Fidino will advise that owners of small pets might want to &ldquo;be mindful of the species that they&rsquo;re adding to the ecosystem,&rdquo; and perhaps not leave especially tiny dogs unattended in the back yard.</p><p><strong>The adaptation game</strong></p><p>Carole wondered if we&rsquo;re seeing more hawks in Chicago because they&rsquo;ve developed adaptive behaviors to live in cities. Dr. Seth Magle, the Urban Wildlife Institute&rsquo;s director, says that&rsquo;s not the case. He described the concept of &ldquo;habitat analogs,&rdquo; where parts of our built environment function to animals the way their natural habitat does.</p><p>Magle provides the example of pigeons. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re cliff-dwelling species, but in cities we build these big tall buildings, so to pigeons they may kind of look like cliffs,&rdquo; and thus look like home, he says.</p><p>Hawk behavior is similar. Red-tailed hawks like to perch on something tall, and power lines along the highway function perfectly for that task. Other species, including the Cooper&rsquo;s Hawk, feel perfectly at home in trees near humans. And why not, now that we city-dwellers and suburbanites are more interested in watching hawks than shooting them.</p><p><em>Special thanks to the <a href="http://www.birds.cornell.edu" target="_blank">Cornell Lab of Ornithology</a> for permission to use images, bird listings and sound for this story.</em></p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent producer. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/katieklocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>.<a name="hawkscreensavers"></a></em></p></p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 17:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hawks-rise-109889 EcoMyths: Do wildlife need our help in winter? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-wildlife-need-our-help-winter-109743 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EcoMyths Wildlife winter.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With the extra-frigid winter we&#39;ve slogged through, it boggles my mind that <em>any</em> wildlife can survive so many sub-zero days outdoors. It has been hard enough for humans. So at EcoMyths we wondered: how do animals survive this challenge within our vast urban landscape? For our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">regular segment</a> on <em>Worldview</em>, Jerome McDonnell and I explored this topic with wildlife expert Bill Ziegler, Senior Vice President of Collections and Animal Programs at the <a href="http://www.czs.org/CZS/Brookfield/Zoo-Home.aspx">Brookfield Zoo</a>.</p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134285676&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe>Can Wild Animals Be Homeless?</strong></p><p>Bill explained that &quot;many of our native animals are, in fact, homeless because their habitats have been disappeared or dwindled, not just in Illinois, but also further afield.&nbsp; In a well-intentioned effort to beautify our cities and neighborhoods, we have gradually almost completely replaced native habitats that once provided both food and shelter for thousands of species of birds, animals, and insects.&quot;</p><p>Bill continues, &quot;Based on positive motivations, we have planted beautiful exotic flowers, bushes, and trees from other parts of the world. We have cleared oak forests and drained wetlands to build safe, dry homes. And we have replaced our messy native tall grass prairies with pristine lawns so that our kids can play soccer and baseball in the yard.&quot;</p><p><strong>Some Fixes Are As Simple as Falling Off A Log</strong></p><p>Whether inadvertent or not, in many places only small pockets of habitat remain for native creatures such as red fox, white tailed deer, opossum, frogs, salamanders, and songbirds. But even with forest preserves and parks, Bill encouraged us to take steps to help wildlife find food and shelter in residential areas. In our own yards and parks, it can be as simple as keeping a pile of leaves or old hollow logs in the yard over the winter to provide homes for small animals.</p><p>In the summer we can prepare friendly year-round habitat by planting groupings of bushes to provide &ldquo;micro-habitat&rdquo; sanctuaries with seeds and berries for food.</p><p>Bill also emphasized the importance of providing connections between wild spaces. In some parts of Illinois we are fortunate to have many natural greenways due to the efforts of the County Forest Preserves and other conservation organizations. Preserving corridors and providing new connections between separate open areas are essential to the health of the animals, so that they can move easily from place to place to find additional food, shelter, and breeding grounds.</p><p><strong>Where Palm Trees Sway</strong></p><p>Not only did Bill enlighten us on wildlife habitat in Illinois, we also discussed the recovery of panther populations in Florida and vast habitat losses and restoration efforts in Southeast Asia. Development in Florida has drastically reduced the cypress swamps and pinelands which the panther inhabits. Now living in only 5% of its former habitat, the panther is more likely to venture out into human territory. Efforts are underway to expand the Florida Panther habitat so they can live and breed in the large interconnected spaces they need. In much of Southeast Asia, such as Sumatra and Borneo, where rainforests are being clear-cut to make way for profitable palm oil plantations, thousands of plant and animal species have been displaced.Much of the land has become a monoculture &ndash; home to a single species of plant. Orangutans and tigers are being driven out, as are the indigenous people who depend on these forests. In spite of agreements to make these plantations more sustainable, habitats continues to be lost and damaged.</p><p><strong>Healthy Wildlife Habitat is Healthier for Humans Too</strong></p><p>Although the protection of any particular single species may seem unimportant, it turns out that the restoration of native habitats is actually important to the human species as well. Why? Because native plantings absorb rainwater to prevent flooding and refill our groundwater wells; forests absorb excess CO2 from the atmosphere moderating the rate of global warming; native plants attract and support the insects that depend on them; the native insects support the diets of the birds and mammals which in turn help the local plants to thrive by pollinating and spreading their seeds. There is no need to take extreme measures, like throwing out all our exotic plants and flowers from other areas of the world. These help make the landscape beautiful. But non-natives can also co-exist with healthy populations of native plants. Including native plants as part of your landscape can complement your colorful garden and also provide important habitat for local creatures. ;</p><p><strong>One Green Thing You Can Do: <u>Incorporate Native Plants</u></strong></p><p>Bill recommended consulting your local nurseries for advice on incorporating native plants into your yard. Not only will you be helping the wildlife, but your plants will be easier to care for!</p><p>Listen to today&rsquo;s EcoMyths Worldview podcast (link this) to hear the whole interview on the value of snow! To learn more about this myth, listen to the podcast of today&rsquo;s show or go to the <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance website</a> to read further about the how we can help wildlife in winter and all year long.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-wildlife-need-our-help-winter-109743 Where can you hunt in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-can-you-hunt-chicago-108954 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hunting%20Topper.jpg" title="Hunting has been a tradition for generations of Chicagoans. (Courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115791960&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Curious citizen Andrew Eubank&rsquo;s hunting experience consists of exactly one unsuccessful Wisconsin expedition in pursuit of squirrel.</p><p>&ldquo;I shot nothing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We saw one squirrel, and it got away.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a different story for the Lincoln Square resident&rsquo;s downstate relatives.</p><p>His grandfather graduated third in his class from the University of Illinois, but decided to raise hogs back home in Willow Hill, Ill. &mdash; a village of 300 people. Andrew&rsquo;s father, Arthur Eubank, has fond memories of shooting squirrel, rabbits and quail downstate. They still visit their Jasper County relatives for holidays.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s that kind of cultural dissonance from here to down there and back,&rdquo; Eubank said. &ldquo;When one of my friends sees a rabbit in the park, they say &lsquo;It&rsquo;s a cute little bunny rabbit!&rsquo; And I kind of think of how it would taste in a stew.&rdquo;</p><p>So Andrew wanted to know:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What are local policies on urban hunting?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s generally assumed that hunting in your backyard is something you need to give up when you move to the city. As distant as city life may at times seem from the rural lifestyle, food is one thing that unites the two &mdash; a trend explored at great depth in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/books/new-breed-of-hunter-shoots-eats-and-writes.html?_r=0" target="_blank">the recent wave of books in which previously unlikely sportsmen rediscover hunting</a>. Still, as Andrew points out, there is a cultural gap. But you don&rsquo;t have to travel to Jasper County to find out.</p><p><strong>Huntable lands</strong></p><p>So where can Chicagoans hunt? Well, <a href="http://fpdcc.com/preserves-and-trails/rules-and-regulations/" target="_blank">you can&rsquo;t hunt in any of the Cook County Forest Preserves</a>. And Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/island-gary-guns-or-laws-which-protects-us-better-106538" target="_blank">gun laws seem to constitute a de facto ban</a> on hunting in the city. But we wanted to know what was actually on the books.</p><p>Roderick Drew with the city&rsquo;s Department of Law <a href="http://chicagocode.org/8-24-050/" target="_blank">dug this up</a> from the city&rsquo;s municipal code (Prior code &sect; 193-32; Amend Coun. J. 5-16-90, p. 15819):</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Any person licensed to hunt under the provisions of The Illinois Wildlife Code, as amended, may hunt or kill game birds in the open season as provided by the laws of the state, within the following prescribed districts and portions of the city: upon Wolf Lake and along the shores thereof; upon Lake Calumet and along the shores thereof; and upon the Calumet River and along the banks thereof.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Provided, however, that no weapons shall be used for the purpose of&nbsp;hunting such birds, or killing or wounding, or attempting to kill or wound such birds, other than a shotgun, and that such shotgun shall not be discharged anywhere within 750 feet of (1) any building or structure used or intended for human habitation or employment, or to be used as a barn or stable; or (2) the centerline of the right-of-way of Stony Island Avenue.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $250.00.&rdquo;</em></p><p>So, there are only two public hunting areas within city limits: <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r2/wmpow.htm" target="_blank">William W. Powers State Recreation Area </a>on the Illinois-Indiana border, and Lake Calumet just to the west. You have to get a <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/pages/gettingstarted.aspx" target="_blank">state permit</a>, obey state hunting season and limits, and you can&rsquo;t hunt there with anything except a shotgun.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%2082-70-27.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Duck hunting at Wolf Lake has been a tradition for decades. (Photo courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /></p><p>Andrew could also take a boat onto Lake Michigan, where Chicago&rsquo;s jurisdiction only goes out one mile.</p><p>Better known as Wolf Lake, the state acquired the William W. Powers site in 1947. About half of its 800 acres lie in Illinois, where the state&rsquo;s Department of Natural Resources presides. (You can&rsquo;t hunt on the Indiana side.) In total you&rsquo;ve got 419 acres on which to shoot waterfowl.</p><p>As on most public lands, <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/hunter_fact_sheet/R2hfs/wlpw.htm" target="_blank">hunting on and around Wolf Lake is heavily regulated</a>. (Check <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/HuntTrapDigest.pdf" target="_blank">IDNR&#39;s annual hunting digest</a> for comprehensive information.) There are 26 duck blinds &mdash;&nbsp;huts built onshore or out in the lake, which is quite shallow throughout, and camouflaged with reeds and sticks. Hunters set up shop early in the morning during duck season, using duck calls and decoys to lull their game into a false sense of security, and fire from the blind.</p><p>Each blind has a direction &mdash; the local Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials regulate this to make sure hunters aren&rsquo;t firing toward one another. Access to the park is restricted each day during duck hunting season until 1:00 p.m., when hunting ends.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WEB%20IMG_1434.jpg" style="height: 116px; width: 175px; float: left;" title="A duck on Wolf Lake being shot, for now, by a photographer. (Courtesy of Chris Rollins)" /></p><p>The blinds are reassigned each year by public drawing. Anyone 16 years or older with a valid hunting license can apply, but there&rsquo;s more demand than supply &mdash;&nbsp;this year there were about 100 entrants. If a blind is unoccupied and you&rsquo;ve got your state permit in order, it&rsquo;s fair game to use a blind even if you didn&rsquo;t win the public drawing. But those hunters who did get priority.</p><p><strong>Southeast side oasis</strong></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of one of those sportsman&rsquo;s secrets,&rdquo; said Chris Rollins, who manages Wolf Lake for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Rollins grew up in Quincy, Ill., where he hunted waterfowl. &ldquo;I thought I&rsquo;d seen a lot of ducks in my day,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Here there&rsquo;s mergansers, teal, golden-eye ducks &mdash; lots of species.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">Once a Cold War-era Nike missile base</a>, William Powers is now part of a pastiche of natural areas and industrial sites that stretches from Chicago&rsquo;s far South Side into northwest Indiana.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bentley pic Chris Rollins DNR.jpg" style="height: 212px; width: 320px; float: right;" title="Chris Rollins manages Wolf Lake for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He said the waterfowl hunting in this area is among the best in the state. (WBEZ/Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;At Wolf Lake not only was the idea to preserve a natural environment, because a lot of the environment has been impacted by human activity, but it was also to preserve a way of life here,&rdquo; Rollins said. &ldquo;A lot of folks living on the southeast side are avid outdoorsmen. They&rsquo;re just as big on the outdoors as any northwoods guy you&rsquo;re gonna find.&rdquo;</p><p>So our question asker Andrew Eubank doesn&rsquo;t need to traverse the state to plumb the depths of that &ldquo;cultural dissonance&rdquo; he associates with hunting.</p><p>One Chicago-area hunter, Kraig Kaatz, told me he comes to Wolf Lake in part to escape the hustle of Chicago and its sprawling suburbs.</p><p>We went out on the lake one morning in his 12-foot metal boat, joined by his wife Arlene and four-year-old retriever Buddy. It wasn&rsquo;t hunting season yet (that starts Oct. 19), so Kaatz tested his duck calls and decoys while Buddy splashed around.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re in the rural culture more than in the city culture,&rdquo; he said. Kaatz grew up in northeastern Wisconsin, so it&rsquo;s easy to see which one he prefers. &ldquo;The hum of a motor is a lot better than the honk of a horn at a stoplight.&rdquo;</p><p>On our way back to shore, Kaatz said he thought Wolf Lake could stand to have more hunters.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bentley%20pic%20Buddy%20and%20blind.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Buddy the dog and a duck blind on Wolf Lake near the Illinois and Indiana state border. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Years and years ago everyone hunted,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Not having a place to hunt is obviously the biggest deterrent. People hear bad things about public hunting areas, and if they don&rsquo;t experience it for themselves they don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p>The number of hunters in the U.S. is actually up after years of decline, <a href="http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/2011_Survey.htm" target="_blank">according to the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife and Wildlife Service&#39;s latest report</a>. If the trend continues, urban hunters may have to go farther afield than the southeast side. Rollins said the number of duck blinds at Wolf Lake isn&rsquo;t likely to change soon.</p><p><strong>Other options</strong></p><p>So there isn&rsquo;t much hunting in Cook County. But Chicago isn&rsquo;t very far from several public hunting areas in the region. To name a few: <a href="http://www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/R2/Chaino.htm" target="_blank">Chain O&rsquo; Lakes</a> in Spring Grove; <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/Lands/landmgt/parks/R2/MAZONIA.HTM" target="_blank">Mazonia/Braidwood</a> in Grundy County; and Will County&rsquo;s <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/I&amp;M/EAST/DESPLAIN/Park.htm#Shooting" target="_blank">Des Plaines Conservation Area, which offers the largest pheasant hunting (by permit only) facility</a> in the state.&nbsp;<a name="HUNTINGMAP"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="475" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/hunting/HuntingEmbed.html" width="610"></iframe></p><p>Northeast Illinois hunters made <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/programs/Hunting/Iphar/10Table2.pdf" target="_blank">more than 35,000 trips on public lands during the 2010-2011 season</a>, according to IDNR records, bagging more than 27,000 animals. The bulk of that (71 percent) was pheasants.</p><p>Until December Wolf Lake&rsquo;s steward Chris Rollins was the regional land manager for IDNR, meaning he watched over state sites in Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties.</p><p>&ldquo;Hunters have some wonderful choices here in the Chicagoland region,&rdquo; Rollins said. &ldquo;Man, I would stack this region up against any region in the state as far as waterfowl hunting goes, for the people who would seek it out.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The kicker: Trapping</strong></p><p>Andrew also wondered about trapping, and for Chicagoans the situation is similar to hunting &mdash; in the city your options are limited, but you don&rsquo;t need to go too far. In Northeast Illinois there are three IDNR areas that allow trapping: <a href="https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/hunter_fact_sheet/R2hfs/dsp_archerydeer.htm" target="_blank">Des Plaines Game Propagation Center</a>, <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/i&amp;m/main.htm" target="_blank">I &amp; M Canal State Trail</a>, and <a href="http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r2/kankakee.htm" target="_blank">Kankakee River State Park</a>.</p><p>Trapping requires a state permit separate from hunting. The state issues limited licenses for &ldquo;nuisance animals,&rdquo; say a bat caught in your attic, and&nbsp;there are plenty of private animal control firms that will do that work for you, too &mdash; <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/professionals.cfm#nwco" target="_blank">the state maintains a list of licensed operators</a> by county.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s a different story if you want to keep the trapped animal to eat. IDNR regulations &ldquo;prohibit commercialization or other use of animals taken under authority of a Nuisance Animal Removal Permit.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Animal Control can trap animals, but they won&rsquo;t set a trap for rabbits pillaging your backyard garden; only if it&rsquo;s a direct threat to public health or safety &mdash; like coyotes behaving aggressively.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> reports for Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://twitter.com/cementley">@cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-can-you-hunt-chicago-108954 'Devastating' bat disease reaches Illinois, scientists report http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/devastating-bat-disease-reaches-illinois-scientists-report-105920 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/6847107816/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/white-nose%20bat%20by%20%20USFWS%20Headquarters.jpg" title="A bat with White-nose Syndrome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Scientists have confirmed the arrival of the fungus known for causing White-Nose Syndrome, a disease blamed for more than 5.7 million bat deaths since its discovery in 2006.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s devastating news,&rdquo; said Julia Kilgour, a bat ecologist with the Urban Wildlife Institute.</p><p>Its arrival was predicted years ago, in light of <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/a-bat-fungus-on-the-march/">the disease&#39;s unrelenting march through bat populations</a> as far west as Oklahoma and as far north as Québec. Some infected caves on the East Coast have lost 90 to 100 percent of their population of little brown bats, a species also common in Illinois.</p><p>Perhaps as troubling as the disease&rsquo;s severity is how little scientists know about its pathology.</p><p>&ldquo;This disease has come up so quickly and spread so rapidly that it&rsquo;s very difficult for scientists to keep up with it,&rdquo; Kilgour said.</p><p>&nbsp;The name White-Nose Syndrome describes the fuzzy white fungus that accumulates on the noses of infected bats, but also on their wings, ears and tails. One prevalent hypothesis for how it affects its host is that it interrupts the bat&rsquo;s hibernation cycle. Irritated by the infection, bats rouse from their winter rest too frequently, burning up fat stores meant to carry them through lean winter months.</p><p>The disease also destroys skin tissue on the wings of infected bats, dehydrating the bats and leaving them with holes sometimes as large as an inch in diameter (the typical little brown bat wingspan is less than 10 inches). Scientists have not been able to determine whether the hibernation disruption, dehydration, or something else entirely is chiefly responsible for the disease&rsquo;s massive mortality.</p><p>Bats flock together from hundreds of miles around to hibernate, potentially spreading the fungus across state lines. And while humans cannot contract the disease, they may unknowingly ferry it between hibernacula, the scientific term for hibernation locations. White-Nose Syndrome <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/threat-bat-syndrome-closes-some-midwest-caves">has prompted cave closures and outright bans</a> on spelunking in some areas, and Kilgour said cavers should disinfect their gear with bleach solution or Lysol before entering a new cave.</p><p><a href="http://static.whitenosesyndrome.org/sites/default/files/wns_map_03-01-13_ds.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wns_map_03-01-13_ds.jpg" style="height: 524px; width: 610px;" title="White-Nose Syndrome has been found in 20 states to date. In Illinois, scientists detected it in LaSalle, Monroe, Hardin and Pope counties. (Map by Cal Butchkoski, PA Game Commission, courtesy whitenosesyndrome.org)" /></a></p><p>The fungus <em>Geomyces destructans </em>was first found afflicting U.S. bats in Schoharie County, N.Y., near the state capital Albany. But <em>G. destructans </em>is native to Europe, where it does not seem to cause the disease. Bats that migrate to Mexico or the southern U.S. can escape the cold-loving fungus.</p><p>Bats are responsible for perhaps billions of dollars worth of agricultural services each year, by way of pest-control and pollination. Although <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/13/white-nose-syndrome-scien_n_714426.html">research done in 2010 by New York state&#39;s Department of Health</a> suggested antifungal drugs already used to treat people and animals, the logistical difficulties of treating millions of bats in the wild are prohibitive.</p><p>&ldquo;Sterilizing nature is not really an option,&rdquo; Kilgour said.</p><p>Although the fungus is here, widespread bat fatalities typically don&rsquo;t happen until a year later.</p><p>Kilgour runs <a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/conservation-science/projects/monitoring-bat-diversity-and-around-chicago">a project attempting to take stock of Chicago&#39;s bat population</a>. Outbreaks like White-Nose Syndrome underscore the importance of wildlife monitoring programs, she said, because they provide a benchmark for future population losses.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be listening this summer,&rdquo; she said.</p></p> Wed, 06 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/devastating-bat-disease-reaches-illinois-scientists-report-105920 Chicago zoo helps vaccinate dogs in Tanzania http://www.wbez.org/science/environment/chicago-zoo-helps-vaccinate-dogs-tanzania-98574 <p><p>Officials with a Chicago zoo say they've vaccinated a million dogs in Tanzania as part of a project to eliminate rabies and save endangered carnivores in the Serengeti National Park.</p><p>The Lincoln Park Zoo says its project began in 2003 and the zoo's Serengeti Health Initiative team has worked in villages in northern Tanzania to administer the donated vaccines.</p><p>Zoo officials announced their one millionth vaccination in a news release Wednesday.</p><p>Steve Thompson is the zoo's vice president of conservation. He says the populations of already-endangered carnivores like lions and African wild dogs were declining as native species were contracting rabies from local domestic dogs.</p><p>Zoo officials estimate that the vaccinations have saved about 150 humans from rabies infections as well.</p></p> Thu, 26 Apr 2012 14:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/science/environment/chicago-zoo-helps-vaccinate-dogs-tanzania-98574 Swan linked to suburban Chicago man's drowning http://www.wbez.org/science/environment/swan-linked-suburban-chicago-mans-drowning-98305 <p><p>Officials say an aggressive swan may have contributed to the death of a suburban Chicago kayaker who drowned.</p><p>Anthony Hensley of Villa Park was pulled from a pond at a Des Plaines area condominium complex Saturday morning. The medical examiner's office ruled his death an accident.</p><p>Cook County sheriff's spokesman Frank Bilecki says the 37-year-old, an experienced kayaker, may have paddled too close to a nesting swan as he checked on the birds.</p><p>Bilecki says a jogger reported seeing Hensley fall from the kayak into the water. No one saw any swans attack him, but witnesses said they saw two birds circling him after he fell into the water. He went under as he attempted to swim to shore.</p></p> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 10:02:16 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/science/environment/swan-linked-suburban-chicago-mans-drowning-98305 JoJo the gorilla moves from Chicago zoo to 'burbs http://www.wbez.org/story/jojo-gorilla-moves-chicago-zoo-burbs-97534 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-22/JoJo the gorilla_ Lincoln Park zoo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>JoJo the silverback gorilla is leaving Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo for a new home in the suburbs. And zoo officials hope he'll start a family once he's there.</p><p>The 31-year-old is being moved from the city's North Side to Brookfield Zoo in the western suburbs. There are female gorillas at Brookfield who zoo officials hope the 485-pound ape will mate with. Two female gorillas are also leaving Lincoln Park Zoo as part of a breeding program. They'll go to zoos in Kansas City and Columbus, Ohio.</p><p>A goodbye birthday party will be held for JoJo on April 10.</p><p>In more moves, two young male apes will arrive at Lincoln Park this summer to share a habitat with two other males who live there.</p></p> Thu, 22 Mar 2012 14:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jojo-gorilla-moves-chicago-zoo-burbs-97534 Sea lion dies at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium http://www.wbez.org/story/sea-lion-dies-chicagos-shedd-aquarium-96961 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-05/Otis 480P9236.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/Otis 480P9236.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="Otis, a 13-year-old male sea lion, was euthanized by the Shedd Aquarium last week. (Courtesy of the Shedd Aquarium)"><br> Caretakers at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium say they have euthanized a 13-year-old male California sea lion named Otis.</p><p>Aquarium officials say they made the decision after the sea lion showed a rapid decline in health due to progressive urogenital cancer. Otis came to the Shedd Aquarium in 2009 as part of a program to relocate sea lions from the Bonneville Dam in Washington state. Dozens of sea lions were endangering fish stocks in the Columbia River.</p><p>Veterinarians say Otis started losing his appetite and showing signs of lethargy a few weeks ago. He was euthanized last week. Shedd Aquarium animal care and training vice president Ken Ramirez said euthanizing the sea lion was a "difficult but necessary decision."</p><p>Shedd has two other male California sea lions named Biff and Tyler.</p></p> Mon, 05 Mar 2012 15:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sea-lion-dies-chicagos-shedd-aquarium-96961 Postcard: Scientists climb into bald eagle nests to measure health of the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes <p><p><em>Biologists with the National Park Service are in their sixth year of visiting eagle nests on Lake Superior for blood and feather samples that help them monitor the level of toxic pollutants in the lake</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/25677824?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="513" frameborder="0" height="341" scrolling="no"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/25677824">Feisty is good</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/wbez">WBEZ</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>Jim Spickler is wearing an orange hardhat and hanging on a climbing rope 100 feet up in a white pine tree on Basswood Island in Lake Superior.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-23/runaway-algae-returns-lake-erie-88249">Runaway Algae</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-23/front-and-center-how-chicagos-excrement-killing-fish-gulf-mexico-88234">How Chicago's excrement is killing fish in the Gulf of Mexico </a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-21/how-likely-fear-west-could-steal-great-lakes-water-88162">Could the West steal Great Lakes Water? </a></strong></li></ul><p><strong>SLIDESHOW</strong></p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/img_1542.jpg" style="width: 120px; height: 90px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title=""></a><p 12="" font-size:=""><br> <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-14/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-88094">&nbsp;J.W. Westcott,</a></strong><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"><br> Detroit's floating<br> post office</a></strong><br> &nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postcard-detroits-floating-post-office-87236"> </a></strong></p></div></div><p>“Good morning, Mr. Eagle,” he says to a fuzzy brown bird sitting on the six-foot-wide jumble of sticks that serves as the eaglet’s nest. Spickler is a wildlife biologist and an expert climber from northern California where he works in giant redwood trees. It’s his job to gently stuff the eaglet into a sack and bring it to the ground for a quick checkup. The eaglet is only seven weeks old, but it’s already the size of a small goose, and it has formidable talons attached to its bright yellow feet.Waiting for Spickler on the ground is Bill Route, an ecologist with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program, which keeps tabs on the wellbeing of plants and animals on Park Service land.&nbsp; Route heads up this survey of eagle nests.“Eagles are a success story,” Route says. “Their numbers are increasing.”</p><p>Route says there were no eagles at all nesting on the Great Lakes in the late 1960s, thanks in part to the insecticide DDT, which left the eagle’s eggs perilously thin and nearly wiped the birds out. But DDT was banned in 1972, and eagles started to bounce back. They were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.</p><p>“We still find traces of DDT in eagles,” Route says. “It’s very persistent. And that’s what we’re worried about: persistent, toxic chemicals that accumulate up the food chain.”</p><p>Like some flame-retardant and stain resistant chemicals. The scientists will screen the eaglet’s blood for those, too.</p><p>“Eagles are a sentinel species,” Route says.&nbsp; “They get this magnification. Since bald eagles sit on top of the food chain, they get a lot of the contaminant because they eat other organisms that are also contaminated.”</p><p>As Route is talking, Jim Spickler descends the climbing rope with the eaglet. They draw a blood sample from the bird and make some measurements. The eaglet hisses at them and makes some klutzy attempts at biting their hands. In minutes, Spickler is on his way back up the rope to put the eaglet back on its nest.</p><p>Two adult eagles circle above the trees letting out a steady stream of cries. The sound is surprisingly thin and high-pitched for a bird with a seven-foot wingspan. The biologists say adult eagles can be noisy, but they rarely attack humans. The adults will be back on the nest soon after the humans leave.</p><p>A few minutes later, the eaglet is in its nest and Jim Spickler is on the ground.</p><p>“It’s a little bit of a feisty chick,” he says as he starts packing his climbing gear. “But that means that it’s well fed and it’s likely to survive. So, mission accomplished.”</p><ul></ul></p> Wed, 29 Jun 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/postcard-scientists-climb-bald-eagle-nests-measure-health-great-lakes