Out & About: Critters in mood for Valentine’s Day

SUNDAY, FEB. 13, 2011

A female great horned owl, left, sits on her nest while her mate watches for intruders.
A female great horned owl, left, sits on her nest while her mate watches for intruders.

OUTLAY – Mating season is an exciting time to get out the binoculars.

Eagles, owls, hawks and other large birds such as ravens and magpies are making whoopee in the skies and treetops of the Inland Northwest.

Golden eagles have been seen swooping in mating flights above the Lake Roosevelt cliffs.

Coyotes paring up also have reason to howl.

But while there are similarities between human and critter behavior around Valentine’s Day, here’s a point at which men may want to stray:

When looking for mates, male meadow voles – grassland rodents that look like mice with short tails – listen for the pitter-patter of little feet.

Female voles are most receptive when males catch them hours after giving birth. New moms will mate after 5 minutes of courtship, compared with up to 90 minutes for other females.

ATVers attack game agency rules

OUTCRY – Some hunters who ride all-terrain vehicles to pursue their quarry have gone to the Idaho Legislature to expand where they can drive.

Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, is giving the off-roaders some traction with a bill that would strip the Idaho Fish and Game’s authority to regulate where hunters can ride their ATVs.

The agency limits hunter ATV travel to established roads on about a third of Idaho’s 99 hunting units, mostly in southern Idaho.

Research indicates restrictions are needed to protect big-game herds from overhunting and too much disturbance.

Some ATV riders told lawmakers in Boise last week that they see the state agency in cahoots with the federal government to limit access to public lands.

Less-biased observers note that complaints prompting IFG restrictions on ATV use have come from other hunters, not Uncle Sam.

PDO biologists tell ‘State of the Lake’

OUTLOOK – The Idaho Fish and Game and the Lake Pend Oreille fishery recovery task force will present the annual “State of the Lake” meeting Thursday to offer updates on fish populations and answer questions.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Ponderay Events Center by the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint.

It wasn’t even a snake in the grass

OUTSMART – Last week, while fly fishing on Rocky Ford Creek north of Moses Lake, Pat Kendall of Spokane was startled to walk up on a rattlesnake coiled on a large flat rock.

“It’s mouth was open ready to strike and its tail was up ready to rattle,” he recounted, noting that the surprise rattled the hackle on his Stimulator.

“I froze and the snake seemed to do the same. I then backed away, touched the snake with my fly rod, and discovered it was plastic.

“Some joker had pulled a good one on me, putting the snake in just the right place. I’m sure he scared a bunch of others.”

Kendall didn’t think twice about what to do.

“The snake’s still there doing its thing,” he said.


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