"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Bolstering Habitat For Wild Things
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

The Department of Natural Resources and its Division of Fish and Wildlife are to be commended for a plan announced last week to bolster habitat for both game and non-game species of birds and animals (see story on this web page, www.bayoubill.com).
Still, there is plenty of room for individuals who care about wild things to get in the habitat act on a smaller, but important, scale. 
Let’s face it, birds (and a great variety of wild things) can always use some help in fighting the rigors of winter, not to mention the natural inclination of nature’s children to prey upon each other. 
I have never quite known--or been able to develop a philosophy--on how far man should go in taking sides in struggles that pit one natural thing against another. But one day last fall I watched in awe as a beautiful monarch butterfly became entangled in the web of a huge (identity unknown) spider. Sensing a good meal, the spider headed for its prey. Before the spider could reach the struggling butterfly I used a long stick to extract the butterfly from the web, remove the silver threads of the web, and watch the monarch flutter on with its business of perpetuating the species. 
On another occasion I became aware of crows trying to rob the young of a robin’s nest. I shushed the crows off a couple of times, but knew they would return until the turned the little birds into lunch. So the next time the crows approached the nest I interveined with my little 20-gage shotgun . . . making sure the doses of number six shot went wide, but too close for comfort. And the boom . . . boom of the shotgun must have helped.   
In more than 50 years of turning out columns on hunting, fishing, and enjoying the bounties of nature in other ways, I have from time to time tried to encourage individuals to help wild things with simple, but important, projects.
Back in the ‘60s, when bluebirds were finding it difficult to find nesting quarters my “Hoosier Bluebird Club” inspired hundreds individuals (including entire classes of many schools) to build and put up bluebird nest boxes. Later, we encouraged individuals to simply construct or develop dens for any species of animal.
Now we will go such projects one better by encouraging the development of any kind of place to live for any species of wild creature or plant.
Launch a project of any kind to help some form of animal or plant survive at a time when all kinds of habitat is on the wane, and tell me about it via e-mail (billscifres @aol.com), or US mail, and we will share your experiences with others who might like to get involved. Pictures will be helpful, but not necessary.

HONOR FOR PAULA--The late Paula Yeager, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation for six years until her death last fall, recently was honored as the first recipient of the Indiana Bow Hunters Association’s (IBA) first Dick Mercier Conservation Award.
In presenting the award to Paula’s son, Corey Yeager, Mercier, longtime director of the Indiana Sportsman’s Roundtable, said he had always been impressed by Paula's knowledge of environmental and conservation subjects and her energetic application of that knowledge."

Mercier noted that her tireless efforts on behalf of Hoosier sportsmen and women had brought her the 2001 Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Conservationist of the Year Award. She twice received the IWF President's Award, and in 2004 was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation with its Conservation Service Citation. “She will be sorely missed as we fight CWD, canned hunting, poor wetland legislation, and the hundreds of other battles that we must face,".Mercier said.

The annual award of the IBA also I designed to honor the work Mercier has done as the only director of the Roundtable, the state’s largest organization of sportsmen and women.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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