As the summer season begins to wind down, outdoor travelers are scurrying to pack in one last adventure prior to the crowded Labor Day weekend. Whether out for a long hike, a quick bike or a lonely paddle, outdoor enthusiasts will be out in force.
In anticipation of the upcoming Big Game season, hunters have likewise been busy fixing up camp, splitting wood and dusting the mustiness out of cabins that have been mostly vacant, since the last season.
This is also a good time to begin preseason scouting, to clean brush and limbs from the trails, put up a new tree stand or set out a trail camera. These are just a few of the pleasant chores that can consume a hunter's time until the season begins.
The Quadski, a vehicle that is part All Terrain Vehicle, part Jet Ski, has raised the ire of Adirondack advocacy groups, who fear it may become popular in the park. Peter Bauer, former Director of the Residents Committee has already raised the alarm. The vehicle converts for use on land or water with the push of a button, but with a price tag of over $20,000; it's not likely to become a big seller in the Adirondacks.
It is also high time for archers to sight in and tune up their bows. Regular practice is the only sure method for an archer to insure accuracy. The new year's Big Game Season begins in just a few weeks when Early Bear Season opens on Sept. 19.
Deer hunters will have to be content with the slower pace of this year's season opener. For the first time in a while, the trout season will be closed before Muzzleloading Season for deer will begin. Trout season ends on Oct. 15 and Muzzleloaders don't get out with their smoke poles until Oct. 17. The Northern Zone Regular Big Game Season begins a week later, on Oct. 24.
Moose on the loose
The early, Northern Zone hunting seasons coincide with the beginning of the mating season for moose. The resident moose population is currently estimated to number over 500 animals, and this is the time of year that they are known to travel searching for love, in all the wrong places. According to the DEC, New York's moose population is now sustained by natural breeding rather than migrants from out of state. The resident population is large enough that it is secure and firmly established.
Although many outdoor travelers view moose as a friendly, sort of goofy, Bullwinkle type character, they can be dangerous, especially at this time of year when the rutting season diminishes their natural wariness and increases their aggression.
It's not wise to fool around with 1,200-pound animal that is ruled by a one track mind at this time of year. Although Moose are not listed as endangered or threatened in New York, they are protected. Moose are strictly off limits to hunters.
Bear with me
While human beings have a better likelihood of being struck dead by a falling piano than being attacked by a black bear, there's no reason to let your guard down. Although statistics reveal that only one in a million black bears have been known to kill a human being, New Jersey residents have good reason to fear the big, black marauders.
Since animal rights and anti-hunting groups were successful in convincing New Jersey's Gov. Jon Corzine to end bear hunting when he took office in 2006, state residents have experienced the growing pains of a burgeoning black bear population.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP) the number of bear "incidents" are growing in the state. Between Jan. 1 and May 20 of this year, the DEP received 693 calls about bears. During the same period last year, it received 591.
Reports show that 71 of the calls this year have involved livestock deaths, home break-ins and aggressive behavior compared to 62 last year.
On July 1, Henry Rouwendal, a resident of Vernon, NJ defied the odds and ended up nursing his wounds after being attacked by a black bear that was estimated to be between 350 and 400 pounds.
He was was left with a head injury, a dislocated shoulder and other injuries after a run-in with a hungry black bear, which he described as "a pretty wild ordeal."
Rouwendal was in his residential neighborhood when he was attacked by a bear in his driveway. The bear made off with his submarine sandwich and left him battered and bleeding.
Police said the "attack" was the first of its kind in more than 25 years in the Sussex County township, which normally has a large number of bear sightings and reports.
Authorities said it appears the bear went for his submarine sandwich and not Rouwendal. Maybe it was just Jared in a bear costume, on the prowl looking for a Subway.
State authorities and local police have had to kill seven aggressive bears already this year, the same total for all of last year. Yet, bear conflicts with humans have become a controversial item in the state.
Two hunts were permitted to control the state's growing bear population, in 2003 and 2005, but opposition from animal rights activists prompted a ban on bear hunting in 2006.
Ending the hunts removed the only effective method of managing the state's black bear population. It had proven to be a successful tool in controlling an otherwise uncontrollable population. Until the hunts are restored, NJ residents will have to learn to live with them. Jared, are you listening?
Bauer still at it
Peter Bauer, the former Executive Director of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, moved on to bigger and better things when he took a position as the Director of the Fund for Lake George, an advocacy group seeking to save the Lake George watershed.
Bauer earned a reputation for being confrontational during his tenure at the Residents Committee. It appears he is up to his old tricks. According to a story published recently by the Adirondack Almanac, a local blog, Bauer has recently focused his attention on the most insidious threat to the waters of the Queen of American Lakes. Why worry about such nuisances as milfoil, phosphorous or wayward boaters when there's a new toy on the block.
Bauer made his bones with his former employers by attacking snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts, claiming that "we got rid of the four wheelers" after publishing a pictorial spread in a anti-ATV brochure that featured the worse case scenarios of ATV use and abuse.
And Bauer's campaign was successful in achieving a ban on ATV use within the Forest Preserve. Now, it appears that Bauer is looking for a bit of the old magic. He's dusting off the rhetoric and raising fears of a new threat in the form of a combination ATV/Jet Ski that can convert 'on the fly' to manage either water, mud or dry land.
Known as the Quadski, the vehicle is manufactured by the Simms Corporation. The company produced the first aquacar , a vehicle capable of navigating the waters of the English Channel and driving back via the English Chunnel. Bauer wants to put an end to the perceived threat before it arrives, just as the APA did with mountain bikes - ban them before there is an constituency.
Unfortunately for Bauer, the actual threat posed by the ATV/Jet Ski combos is likely quite minor. With a price tag in the range of $30,000, it's highly unlikely that Quadski's will over run the Adirondacks anytime soon. But it's nice to know he's still trying.