It’s Spring: Baby Animal Time

It’s Spring: Baby Animal Time

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: With the coming of spring, Sioux Falls residents will likely start seeing more wildlife in their yards and parks. Sioux Falls Animal Control would like people to know some basic facts about young wildlife.

Wild animals leave their young alone for long periods, often from four to six hours at a time. The mother needs to go find food, and the young are not able to follow her yet. Their safest option is to stay still. If you discover a baby bird, bunny, raccoon, or other wild animal, do not pick it up.

Most baby animals that people find have not been abandoned. If you move the animal, then the mother will not be able to find it. Also, the mother may not come back if you are nearby, so give the baby some time and space. The mother is probably coming to feed her young when you are not watching.

Wild animal mothers are better parents for wild animal babies than people are, so let them do their jobs. If you are afraid your pet will injure the baby animals, try to protect the nest and limit your pet’s movements near the nest for a couple of weeks. The young will move on when they are old enough.

baby bunny (Medium)Do not take baby animals to the Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Campus, the Great Plains Zoo, or to the Humane Society. These locations do not relocate or rehabilitate wild baby animals. It is against the law to have wild birds or animals in your home without a permit. Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and bats cannot be kept as pets in the City of Sioux Falls because they are considered non-domestic animals.

If you have questions about wildlife that you have found, call Animal Control at 367-7000 for more information.

The Eagle Has Landed

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. ~ Neil Armstrong

Naturalist Derek Klawitter knew that if he worked hard enough, we’d eventually get an eagle on our trail cam.

Today, he gets to cross one more item off his bucket list.

This mature bald eagle landed on a deer carcass here in the park this week and our trail cam captured it. Enjoy the photos.

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Will That Owl Eat My Cat?

owl
Skitter Photo

Will that owl eat my cat? Probably not.

We get a lot of questions about that here at The Outdoor Campus. There are owls and hawks all over the place – in town and out of town – but we don’t see them very often.  So when we do, it can cause alarm, especially if our pets are out in the yard.

Julie DeJong, animal control supervisor for Sioux Falls, said larger owls may try to pick up a cat, but “cats usually outweigh them and the mission is unsuccessful. If you are concerned about your pets being outside while there are owls or hawks around, keep them inside or keep them near you while you are outside.”

Owls hunt at night and have excellent eye sight. “Just keeping your pets indoors at night could keep them safer,” she said.

If an owl or hawk did steal and eat a person’s pet, there really isn’t

Photo: Keith A. Anderson
Photo: Keith A. Anderson

anything animal control or South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks can do to help the owner. “Owls, hawks, and eagles are all protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which is a federal agreement with Canada and Mexico. These birds cannot be killed or harmed, and their nests cannot be destroyed without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service,” she said.

Keeping owls and hawks out of the yard is nearly impossible, but there are some ways to discourage them from hanging around. “The best and most effective ways are to take away the food source,” DeJong said. “Often these predators are lured to your yard by the birds at your bird feeder. Removing the bird feeder will eliminate that food source.”

DeJong also said some frightening items may work for a while if homeowners vary them. Put up a scarecrow or fake owl to scare away the predators, but move them often. Remove perching locations like dead branches, fence tops and other places the raptors sit. Loud noises will help, but probably not make for good neighbors. Also, an increase in human activity can keep predator birds out of backyards.

 

Winter Sports: Where Can I Rent Snowshoes and Skis?

Winter Sports: Where Can I Rent Snowshoes and Skis?

IMG_20160213_103403Folks get tired of winter, but around here we love long winters!

We offer many classes throughout the winter featuring cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. The more snow, the more classes!

Where Can I Rent Skis or Snowshoes? 

We do not rent them here, we just teach classes. You can rent them in Sioux Falls. Here’s a list of places to call.

Snowshoes

Sun N Fun : 605.361.1456

Great Outdoor Store:605.335.1132

Cross Country Skis

Great Bear Recreation Area:  605.367.4309

 

 

Game Cams, You Can’t Have Just One

TMH Cam (1)

By Travis Huber, Augustana University, Class of ’18. 

About two years ago I finally started using game cams. We had given one to my dad for Christmas awhile back, but since he couldn’t figure out this advanced new technology very well, it wasn’t really used. That was until I finally remembered we actually had one of these things and we wanted to figure out where the bucks liked to hang out on the land we hunted.

So one day my dad and I finally went out and strapped the game cam to a tree on a common deer trail we knew. I took the typical goofy test pictures to make sure the thing was on, and walked away. We came back the next day to check it out and see what was on it, and already had like twenty-some pictures. We were of course excited to find out what was on it, but we didn’t have a laptop or anything with us at the time so I couldn’t view them until later.

TMH Cam (2)          Upon getting home, I immediately put the card in the computer to check it out. I was excited to see whatever was on it, which consisted of a few does, a small buck, and even a squirrel or two. After checking the cam a few more times throughout the next two weeks and getting a continuous flow of pictures, I told my dad we needed more cameras. At first we borrowed both of my brother’s game cams and had a fair amount of pictures coming in every week. Some of some good bucks, plenty of does, and many pictures of windy branches.

 

My beautiful picture

By the end of the fall and winter season I was running seven or eight game cams, watching almost every major area possible on the land. I would check them every other day or so, and with the help of a laptop, my dad and I could sit in the pickup and flip through the cards before we even left the place. By this time, I had figured out how to use the different picture burst modes and set a few cameras to take videos. It’s interesting to see how many different critters go by, and even funny to see when the animals notice the camera is there and come investigate it.

I’ve caught videos of squirrels climbing up my cams and knocking them sideways, pictures of deer basically taking selfies while sniffing the camera, and of course even videos of my dad trying to figure out how to change the settings when I wasn’t around to do it. Game cams are extremely fun to use, but make sure you keep watch on the cards and the batteries, or you may be disappointed to find out you didn’t catch a picture of the deer that left those massive prints right in front of your camera.

Travis is blogging for The Outdoor Campus as part of a 20-hour internship in public relations. 

 

Feeling Like Robin Hood

Feeling Like Robin Hood

2015-08-09 007By Travis Huber, Augustana University, Class of ’18. 

I got my first bow when I was about thirteen years old. I barely used it except for the occasional target shoot or a few fish. I decided to try for archery paddlefish again over summer, so I picked up my old bow and decided it was time to practice.

By this time my bow was really small for me, so I designated it to be my fish shooting bow. Before paddlefish season started, I decided I needed a lot of practice because I had maybe only ten to fifteen fish on my bow and arrow count. I had been out after paddlefish with a bow before, but it had been years. But this time I was also going to be going from shore instead of a boat, so I began chasing carp for practice.

upload 9.2015 322            The weekend before the paddlefish season I went out to my local lake and began looking for carp. There were a fair amount around, and I would pick them out by the dark lump in the water along the shallow edge of the muddy shores. It’s actually pretty easy to spook a carp, so I did my best to sneak through the tall grass and find a decent opening. Not even five minutes into my adventure, without having shot my bow in several months, I looked down the arrow and let it fly at a carp. I surprised myself; I got him. I had him on and reeled him on in to shore. I was excited as could be and ready to look for more.

upload 9.2015 264I walked the shore for about two hundred yards, spooked a bunch, missed a few shots and a couple wiggled off the arrow, but all in all I had arrowed and retrieved twelve carp in under an hour. It certainly wasn’t a whole lot of practice, but for not having shot my bow in so long, I was feeling great. I packed up, and an hour later my dad and I headed out to Yankton to sit at Gavin’s Point Dam and try for a paddlefish.

Paddlefish are a much different situation, though. They don’t like to just hang out on top of the water and wait for you to shoot at them. Paddlefish jump out of the water for a brief second or just come up and roll over. They are there and gone in a split-second. I sat there on a rock for hours and hours, bow drawn at certain times waiting and other times hoping I could just draw2015-08-07 019 and get a snap-shot.

To pass the time waiting for paddlefish when the hours were slow, I was launching arrows at nearly every bighead carp or gar that would pass by. The first gar that came by, I looked at my dad and said, “There’s no way I’m going to hit that thing.” But I’ll be darned, I knocked the arrow, let it fly, and got one of those super narrow gar on my first shot. I would go on to shoot about five more gar, and approximately fifteen bighead carp through the weekend.

2015-08-07 001I spent the entire weekend sitting on shore and shooting arrows, but I think I only really took two or three shots at paddlefish. Paddlefish were a major challenge for me to get a decent shot, but I was having the time of my life shooting at the other fish that came around. I may have left empty-handed for paddlefish, but it was extremely fun and I took the lesson that I should practice even more. A little later that summer I went back out and took out another thirty carp in about two hours.  I had never felt more like Robin Hood in my life.

Travis is blogging for The Outdoor Campus as part of a 20-hour internship in public relations. 

Paddlefishing for the First Time

paddlefish 2010 travBy Travis Huber, Augustana University, Class of ’18. 

The first time I went paddlefish snagging I was about fifteen years old, and it was still the best paddlefish season I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget that first catch, because to this day it’s still the biggest fish I caught in my life.

Getting up early was the first tiring part of the day, but setting the anchor in the rapid current below the dam was the absolute worst. My brother Anthony and I were each holding anchors, dropping them, and waiting, but we had a rough time getting the anchors to catch. While my other brother Jeremy positioned the boat over and over again, it was after lifting the anchors up and down four different times that we finally had the boat set in one place. It wasn’t even fishing hours yet, and I was already drained of energy. I waited a bit to get my energy, and then took my FIRST cast.

paddlefish 2010 trav2I cast down river, and on the second yank I snagged into what felt a brick wall. I couldn’t believe it, I had hooked into what felt like a monster. I immediately knew this was going to be a pretty long, tiring fight. Given that it was only the second yank, my line was at pretty much the farthest distance of the cast, meaning it was DOWNRIVER a long ways, and I was supposed to pull the fish UPRIVER, against the current of the dams. I began reeling, and worked on bringing it in.

After about five minutes of reeling, I was feeling pretty dang tired, but the problem wasn’t really that I wasn’t strong enough to bring it in, it was the fact that the fish was pulling so hard it was digging the string deep into spool of my bait cast reel. The string was trying to feed into the spool where it shouldn’t, so the reel wouldn’t cooperate well while reeling it in. So that made the next ten minutes of reeling an absolute pain.

I finally got the fish to the boat, and upon bringing it in I basically didn’t have the energy to hold it. At first Jeremy held it up, but then after a moment he handed it over to me. I basically had to balance the thing in my arms because after fifteen minutes of fighting that fish I was tired as could be.  It weighed almost 45 pounds, and at first we thought it was 45 inches measured out, right at the keeping length, but it turned out to be around 44 inches. That being said, my giant fish I had just caught had to go back into the water because he was in the slot size for paddlefish. It was an extremely exciting catch, but definitely a sad moment to let it go. For the rest of that day I was so tired I barely tried more, but to this day, I’m still looking forward to catching one even bigger.

Travis is blogging for The Outdoor Campus as part of a 20-hour internship in public relations.