Now that Spring has sprung, there are all sorts of outdoor things to be done.
There is a lot of open water already on parts of Chautauqua Lake, which should be entirely open by midweek. Anglers have been connecting with trout in the streams as well as off the City of Dunkirk pier, and bullheads should be happening soon. If you live out in the country, beware of the bears. And if you live in the city, keep an eye out for kids on bikes, especially after dark.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has issued their annual reminder on how to avoid unwelcomed visits from bears and coyotes.
The full-body black bear taxidermy mount.
Black bears will eat almost anything, including garbage and bird seed. People should never intentionally feed bears and should discourage them from seeking out food sources in nature and residential areas.
Usually bears avoid human contact, but tend to overcome that fear when they believe they can get an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out buildings or houses.
Note that it is illegal to intentionally and inadvertently feed them, specifically after a written notice from the DEC has been given. They can order the removal of food attractants like pet food, bird feeders and garbage when bears become problematic.
Once a bear learns to associate certain structures with food, it can become a serious nuisance to people and a threat to itself. When bears lose their fear of humans, it is estimated they will diminish their life expectancy by fifty percent, as they will most likely be hit by a vehicle, illegally shot or destroyed by a DEC nuisance permit.
When a bear becomes a nuisance, the DEC will often try to live trap the animal and relocate it. However, this is very time-consuming, dangerous and presents a danger to curious humans and pets. Often times, due to the bears' keen sense of smell and homing ability, they will return to the scene and more bears may also show up if the food source is not removed. So to avoid unwanted bear problems, remember to never feed the bears! It's illegal.
If you believe bears are being fed, contact the DEC. Stop feeding birds after the snow stops, or melts. Clean up seed fragments, shells etc. The smell will attract bears. Get rid of garbage as soon as possible and store it in a secure building prior to disposal. Do not leave it outside over night for roadside pick up, and store it in a bear-proof container. Clean garbage containers often with ammonia. Burning garbage is illegal and it will attract bears. Do not add meat scraps, bones, melon rinds or fish guts to compost piles. Clean up barbecue grills before nightfall. And after they cool down, store them inside. Turn off outdoor vented exhaust fans whenever possible. Feed pets indoors and keep their food indoors. If they must be fed outdoors, pick up uneaten food and bring their food dishes indoors before dark. When camping, keep food out of sight, secured in the trunk of a hard-topped locked vehicle if one is available. Otherwise, hang food and garbage from a tree at least eight feet off the ground. And keep picnic tables, utensils, fireplaces and surrounding areas clean.
To learn more about black bears, look for the DEC's DVD 'Living with New York Black Bears' at the public library or visit www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.
The Jamestown Rifle Club will hold a pistol class April 28. You must be 21 years old and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours each. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.
There will be a hunter safety training course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on April 18-19. This is a mandatory two-day course that will run from 5-10 p.m. both evenings. This course is free.
There will also be a pistol course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on April 20. There is a $55 fee charged for this course which will run from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. To register or for more information, call Gary at 366-3397.
The Westfield Fish & Game Club, located on Ogden Road, will conduct a hunter safety firearms class starting Monday, April 15 from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., The course will resume on Saturday, April 20 starting at 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Students must be at least 12 years of age and attend both days. For more information call 326-3218.
There will be a firearms hunter safety course at the Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club on Friday, April 12 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. returning on Saturday, April 13 from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Call Rich at 595-3917 for pre-registration.
The 20th annual State of Lake Erie Meeting will be held April 11 at the Southtowns Walleye Association Club House located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg. The meeting is scheduled from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Lake Erie Fisheries Unit Leader Don Einhouse will speak on the warm water species, while Senior Fishery Biologist Jim Markham will focus on the cold water species. Dr. Chris Pennuto will cover invasive species and N.Y. Sea Grant representative Helen Domske will be the moderator. The meeting is free and open to the public.
Little Valley Volunteer Fire Department will host their Sportsmen's Show at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, Route 353, Little Valley, on April 13-14. Call 938- 6928 for information.
Lander, Pa.: Sportsmen's Show will be April 20-21. Call 814-757-9466 for information.
The Westfield Fish & Game Club will host its annual Ham & Steak Shoot on April 14 at their clubhouse located on Ogden Road. The event will be held rain or shine. All legal centerfire firearms will be permitted. Ammo supplied for birdshot and deer slugs. The .22 Caliber shoot, which will be held indoors, is a bring-your-own-ammo event.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.