The wild, er, weird, outdoors

Posted on: October 8, 2015 | Bob Frye | Comments

Wildlife is unpredictable. People certainly are. Mix the two and there’s always the chance you’ll see something really whacky.
Doubt that? Consider these cases…
= When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant failed, 31 people were killed and 116,000 displaced, as the area around it was declared uninhabitable. To this day, no people live within 1,000 square miles of the site.
But wildlife is thriving, apparently.
According to researchers from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and University of Portsmouth, populations of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar inside the “containment” zone are not only comparable to those in four study sites outside it, but are actually increasing. Wolf numbers, meanwhile, are seven times higher inside the zone now than outside it.
“These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures,” they wrote in an article published in the journal “Current Biology.”
= Wildlife conservation officers here in Pennsylvania are occasionally called out to deal with a black bear that’s wandered into an urban or suburban area, gotten scared by all the commotion, and climbed a tree.
This was a little different.
In California, according to an ABC news affiliate, a mountain lion startled by school children returning home on the bus climbed 35 feet up a power pole. Under attack from angry crows at least part of the time, it was positioned near high voltage and wildlife officials feared it would be killed or injured if they shot it with tranquilizers that far off the ground.
Instead, they kept tabs on it and the area until it climbed down on its own.
= Speaking of bears, there’s a black bear in New Jersey making news for adapting to an injury.
Part of the animal’s right front leg is missing; it’s left paw appears permanently injured, too.
So the bear has taken to walking around, at all times, on its back two legs.
Remember the man in the bear costume from those Labatt Blue beer commercials? That’s what it looks like.
You can see it on video here.
= In another bear case, a hunter attacked by a grizzly is crediting his grandmother with saving his life.
According to the Associated Press, a 26-year-old hunter named Chase Dellwo was bowhunting in Montana when he walked up on a sleeping male grizzly thought to weigh 350 to 400 pounds. He tried to back away, but the startled animal attacked.
Dellwo was bitten on the head and leg and thrown through the air. When the bear came at him again, his grandmother’s advice came back to him.
“I remembered an article that my grandmother gave me a long time ago that said large animals have bad gag reflexes,” Dellwo told the AP. “So I shoved my right arm down his throat.”
The advice worked and the bear left.
= This might have been animal-on-animal road kill.
Presque Isle Downs and Casinos operates a thoroughbred race track in Erie County. It was scheduled to close for the season in early October.
According to the Erie Times-News, though, the season had to be extended three days to make up for cancellations caused when white-tailed tried to get in on the act.
According to the paper, track canceled racing for two days after a deer jumped onto the track during a race June 28. Five deer also joined a race on June 22, prompting the track to cancel the rest of that night’s races.
= We’ve all heard of people trying to make a fish bigger or heavier to win a tournament or get a record. But trying to make one smaller?
That’s what got a Texas man in trouble recently.
According to multiple news accounts, a man fishing in a bass tournament on a lake managed using a slot limit faces felony charges for trying to make his bass appear smaller than it was.
The rules on Lake Fork say anglers can only keep fish shorter than 16 and or longer than 24. One man caught a heavy fish that was just longer than 16 inches, so he snipped off part of its tail, aiming to get the $2,500 price for the heaviest small fish.
Officers with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department figured out what he’d done, though. They did not release his name or details on the fines he’ll face as the investigation is ongoing, but because the top prize at the event was more than $10,000, Texas regulations make his crime considered a felony.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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