Feeding Wildlife Discouraged
Inside the Outdoors, July 12
, 2012

When we think of feeding wildlife, most often, it’s more of a winter thing than summer. After all, there is snow covering everything, and make no doubt about it, human beings have heart.

Recently, I was told about one incident where a certain resident feeds deer all year long because the people like to see the animals come and forage on the food left for them. One of the sons commented to me that the sightings of deer are numerous any time of day because of this practice. A matter of fact, there are so many, that animals have been killed on the busy road in front of the family residence.

So, the questions remains. Should one feed wildlife any time of the year? Are we compelling wild birds to become more dependent on or unnecessarily comfortable with people? And what about other types of animals.

According to Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist, “It is important to get past the, “Is it important to feed …question before engaging in any discussion about …feeding. Of course, our preferred answers to the questions are for folks to plant vegetation beneficial to wildlife before hanging birdfeeders, for example. Birds, along with other species, can never have too much good habitat,” he said.

With that said, there are still going to be people that insist on feeding birds. Seeing them just outside our windows is a real treat. I have to put myself in the same category as others who love to watch wildlife whatever they may be, whatever the size, whether it has no legs and swims, two legs and flies or four legs and scampers about in my back yard or through the fields.

Gross pointed out a rule of thumb when it comes to the placement of bird feeders. They should be 15 feet away from windows and groundcover cats can hide in or behind.

As mentioned before Latrobe does have a cat problem. There is an ordinance that states that cats can not run free. If residents let pets run free or cats are feral, they are subject to being caught. One can rent traps from the City for $35 as did a Latrobean when he saw the animal was causing a mess in his yard. There is one hitch that may be a problem. It used to be that once a cat was caught, all one need do is call the dogcatcher and the cat would be transferred out of the area. No more. Cats are not being accepted at animal shelters so I was told by the person who rented such a trap. After catching one of these critters he found himself in a dilemma and had to let it go when he found no one would take it. Returning the trap, he got the deposit back.

Getting back to feeding wildlife, birds and animals may become dependent upon being fed. However, Gross said, it is highly unlikely they won’t stop their daily foraging route.

If one is going to have birdfeeders, the PGC recommends keeping them clean. If not, a multiple number of diseases will set in and be passed along to the birds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Loyalhanna Creek is really low and according to a couple of fellows, no one is fishing it. However with that said, there were two outstanding catches this week – one angler caught what was described to me as very large catfish, and the other, a 16 ½ smallmouth bass.

The latter was hauled in by Stan Akins, long-time friend and polished angler. He was fishing the lower part of the creek using a chartreuse-colored rubber worm. “When I realized it took it,” he said, “it put up such a fight up and down the creek, I thought I had a musky on the end of my line. By the time I brought it in, I was sweatin.’” As always, he returned back into the water.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My last story of the week should bring a smile to your face.

Carpmaster Frank Miedel was fishing out at St. Vincent Lake one sunny morning when he noticed a senior citizen and a little girl fishing across the lake. From all indications, they weren't catching anything. Eventually, they meandered over to Miedel’s side of the lake and watched him tag a carp and wind it in.

The gent had explained to Frank that he brought his granddaughter from Philadelphia to the lake to catch fish, but was not blessed to any extent of degree of catching anything. Miedel said to the little girl, “Here, this fish is yours. Hold it and have your picture taken with it by your grandfather. Her frowns turned to smiles. Thinking the fish would go back to Frank, the little girl attempted to give it to him. He stated. “That’s your fish. You return it! Words could not express the emotions the youth displayed. There are going to be some great stories told upon returning to Philly. People like Frank make me feel proud I am a Latrobean!


- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.