June 7, 2010 Rotogram

GOLDEN TRIANGLE DEVELOPMENT

The Golden Triangle as an Economic Development Region is the topic for Rotarian Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.

NEXT WEEK: ARMY AVIATION

Starkville native Tom Edwards will tell us of “The Wandering of an Ex-Army Aviator.”

MAY 24

Invocation and pledge:   Brian Jones

Attendance: There were 98 members (33 exempt, 1 honorary) present and 91 (17 exempt, 11 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Member guests were Kasey Strickland of Jack Forbus, and John Forde of Ned Browning.  Guests of the Club were Danny Smith,Starkville Daily News, and Youth Exchange student Francesca Scaravelli and her host family members David Lewis, Rachel McCann, Kathy and Mariel Marcum, and Melissa Follett.

Makeups: Frank Chiles and Joe Bumgardner in West Point, Gary Chism in Columbus.

Tornado relief: President Martha reported that we collected $926 for Red Cross relief for Choctaw County tornado victims. Our May 3 speakers, the Kings of Tort authors, pledge of $5 per book accounted for $205 of the total.

New member induction: Lloyd Rose, New Member Induction Committee chair, formally welcomed five new members and recognized their member sponsors. Inductees included:

  • Taylor Adams sponsored by Bob Wolverton
  • John Frasier sponsored by Rodney Foil
  • Jeremy Brock sponsored by Larry Anthony
  • Barbara Spencer sponsored by Martin Jue
  • Neal First sponsored by John Robert Arnold

GOOD BYE, FRANCESCA

Francesca Scaravelli ended her year’s Rotary Youth Exchange with a tearful and heartfelt good bye. Fresh off her graduation from Starkville High, she was preparing to return to Milan, Italy.

      As she struggled to compose herself, the spontaneous wit she always exhibits showed through.

      Vice President Tommy, wanting to put her at ease, quipped, “Do you want me to sing?”

      “That’s alright it’s already painful enough” was her swift repartee.

      To her declaration that Starkville always will have “a special place in my heart,” President Martha responded, “We send a lot of love with you.”

      On Tuesday evening, board and RYE committee members and Francesca’s host families gathered at Ruth and Keith Remy’s home for a going-away dinner.

      Keith later reported: “Francesca left Birmingham on schedule Saturday morning and, believe it or not, stayed on schedule all the way to Milan. E-mail Sunday noon (May 30) from her Mom reported that she was home safely and pretty tired. No delays from volcanic ash or British Airways strike.”

MISSISSIPPI’S BEAR BOOM

In just a decade, Mississippi’s black bear population has begun a comeback. Brad Young of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks explained that other states are feeding our population.

      When the MSU-trained wildlife biologist began his career in 2002, there were between 25 to 40 bears in the state.

      “That’s beyond a ‘needle in haystack’,” said Young. “Now we have about 120 bears documented.”

      The population that has tripled in eight years is beginning to sustain itself. Growth is through female bears’ migrating from Alabama’s Mobile swamp, the Tensaw Refuge in Louisiana just across from Vicksburg, and the White River Refuge in Arkansas across from Bolivar County.

      Researchers have caught a couple of bears on the Coast, but they have moved into Mobile County, Ala.

      Bear habitat is concentrated in Sharkey, Issaquena, Warren and Bolivar Counties.

      “The Mississippi River poses absolutely no challenge to a bear,” said Young. “We see it as a state line. The bear sees it as an obstacle to getting to the other side.”

      Mississippi’s place in bear lore was set when President Theodore Roosevelt came to hunt. His refusal to shoot a tethered bear inspired the cuddly stuffed Teddy Bear. Now the Great Delta Bear Affair in Rolling Fork yearly commemorates the event.

      Scientifically, the real story is that only 20 years after Roosevelt came to hunt in Sharkey County, there were less than 12 bears estimated in a statewide 1929 game survey.

      Using his job duties as an outline, Young taught us how to catch a bear and what to do with it after it’s caught.

      As Mississippi’s black bear program leader, he has two basic tasks: 1) Inform and educate the public; and 2) conduct animal research.

      His goal as an educator is to show bears as “more than claws and teeth seen in Discovery Channel documentaries.”

      Since black bears have been absent for so long, we don’t really know much about the few bears in Mississippi; thus, the research dimension is very important.

      The animals are listed as endangered throughout the state and are federally protected in the southern two-thirds of the state.

      “First and foremost, we have to get our hands on them,” said Young. “It’s good to get information about sightings, but we really need details.”

      The biologist’s first example was a culvert trap, a piece of pipe with bait in back. When the bear reaches the bait, it trips a lever and the door closes on it.

      Young showed video clips of success and failure. In the latter view, a mother and cub chose to eat the confidence bait outside and ignore the trap bait inside.

      “This is where you have to get a bit sneaky,” said Young. “You’ve got to be smarter than a bear.”

      The trip snare, though primitive, is most effective. The bear’s attention is drawn to the first bait suspended ahead of the trap. The trapper lays a trail with the trap between the first and  second bait

      Bears don’t have any better eyesight than humans do, so they make up for the limitation with an ability to detect an odor up to five miles away. That sets up the best bait known—Shipley’s donuts.

      Bears are actually dainty and don’t like to step on sticks or rocks. A specially laid trail can make a bear walk where you want it to and direct it into a shallow hole with a wire lasso and spring trip mechanism. Once the bear is snared to a tree, it has to be tranquilized with a dart gun.

      At that point the researchers measure its length, height, weight, ears and tail. They take hair samples for DNA, draw blood for a nutrition check, and pull a tooth to age the bear as one would age a tree through its growth rings. The bear’s dormant periods are shown in rings.

      The animal is given an ear tag with an identifying number, a pit tag (tiny microchip) that works like a grocery bar code, and a GPS-equipped radio collar. Every five hours, the radio sends a signal to record its location.

      Young showed two GPS points maps to illustrate bears’ home range size. The example from Issaquena County showed a year in the life of female bear F-920 that ranged over about 40 square miles.

      Her main area was around an oxbow lake in an old soybean field replanted in bottomland oak. She stayed a month eating sawtooth oak acorns about the size of golf balls, then, about November 17, she moved into a thicket and had cubs.

      The other example was her “love-sick” suitor from the edge of Twin Oaks Management Area in Sharkey County. The map showed him traveling about 80 miles to find the mate who promptly sent him away.

      As weather cools, bears eat as much as they can for hibernation period. In this hyperphagia state, the male bear ate every bit of a standing corn crop that had been left for deer. Two days after Christmas, he denned up in a briar thicket in Delta National Forest and slept for three  months.

BEAR FACTS

  • Males weigh from 250 to 350 pounds.
  • Females weigh from 150 to 250 pounds.
  • Bears can live to be 25- to 30-years-old in the wild.
  • They usually produce two cubs per year.
  • Ninety percent of their diet is plant material such as acorns, berries, leaves and grasses.
  • Their long claws are for defensive escape climbing trees, not for attack.

Previous post:

Next post: