Late last spring, while visiting the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's new headquarters in Westborough, Mass., I picked up a flyer about why we shouldn't move wildlife from one place to another, thinking I would include it in a future Naturewatch at an appropriate time. And, having just received a query from a reader in Cummington, Mass., about trapping and relocating a skunk elsewhere, I decided this to be the appropriate time.
A number of reasonable points are listed on that particular flyer that hold true regardless of what town, county, state or country you reside in:
• Never move an animal because you think it would be better elsewhere. The animal may try to return and is likely to be hit by a vehicle or otherwise killed while trying to return.
• A relocated animal will have a more difficult time finding food, water and shelter in an unfamiliar area. If those are hard to find or not available, the animal will probably die.
• If food, water and shelter are available, chances are the area is already home to other members of the same species. They will not welcome the newcomer.
• If the relocated animal is carrying disease, it may spread that disease to other animals in the area.
• If your area is attractive to this species, and you move the individual out, others will simply move in.
• If the animal being moved has lost its fear of humans, moving it simply transfers the problem to someone else.
• If there is a problem, moving the animal does not address the cause of the problem. If the cause of the problem is not addressed, it will re-occur.
In Massachusetts and Vermont, it is against the law to release mammals off your property. For other states, contact your Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Q: Is the bald eagle becoming more common locally? I saw one flying across Route 9 near the center of Dalton, Mass.
— A Hinsdale reader
A: Yes, and they are now seen throughout the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, or should I just say, throughout the Northeast.
Staying with the question, I can say the bald eagle has frequently been seen at Center Pond. And like it's name suggests, the pond is in the center of Dalton, maybe not geographically, but close enough, Main Street and North Street (Route 9), and stretching northeast along Route 9. Eagles are also being seen at Holiday Brook Farm on Route 9; recently, two adults and a juvenile were spotted.
Following my March 20 Naturewatch mentioning bears, I received seven or so reports of bears being "already out." The earliest date three dates I received were March 9, 11 and 12.
Thom Smith welcomes your questions and comments. Email him at Naturewatch@live.com or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.