Outdoor Indiana Magazine - July / August 2008


News and Views

July/August 2008

Apprentice hunting license now available ...

In an effort to help recruit new hunters, Indiana’s apprentice license allows individuals of any age to go hunting before taking a hunter education class. Prospective hunters must purchase an apprentice hunting license and be accompanied by a licensed adult.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the apprentice license bill into law April 24; the licenses went on sale for the first time July 1.

An apprentice hunter can be of any age and may be a resident or non-resident. No more than three apprentice licenses may be purchased during a hunter’s lifetime.

This initiative, which allows individuals to try hunting to see if it’s a sport they wish to pursue without having to invest a lot of time and money to find out, has been done in other states as part of a nationwide effort to recruit new hunters.

An individual who is at least 18 years old and has a valid hunting license (or is exempt from needing a hunting license under State law) must be in close proximity and be able to communicate at all times with the apprentice hunter.

The individual who accompanies the apprentice hunter cannot accompany more than two apprentice hunters at one time while in the field. All hunting license types are available for purchase as an apprentice license.

Apprentice hunting license fees will be established by the Natural Resources Commission, but are expected to be the same as for a regular hunting license of that type.

For more information, contact Linnea Petercheff, Division of Fish and Wildlife, (317) 233-6527 or lpetercheff@dnr.IN.gov.

DNR photographer exposed for the last time ...

Rich Fields at workThe shutter has closed on a distinguished chapter of photography at the DNR and OI. Long-time photographer Rich Fields has moved to a new position as photographer for DePauw University in Greencastle. Fields spent 23 years roaming the state taking images that have graced the pages (and covers) of OI and numerous other state publications and graphics.

“I enjoyed Rich’s photography long before I came to the DNR,” said DNR communications director and OI editor Phil Bloom. “I appreciated it even more once I started here and got to witness the hard work, care and passion he put into getting every photo just right, whether it was shooting an important bill signing or capturing the essence of Indiana’s natural beauty with his camera.

“We will miss both Rich and his skills greatly.”

The staff wishes Fields good luck and good light at his new position.

DNR biologist saves young eagle ...

Young, emaciated bald eagle  being released into the wild at the spot from where the bird was rescuedA young, emaciated bald eagle spotted by birdwatchers at Monroe Reservoir April 8 was released into the wild in good health, May 13, at the spot from where the bird was rescued.

Monroe Lake wildlife specialist Rex Watters captured the bird, which he identified as an immature bald eagle between 1 and 2 years old. Watters followed the struggling bird until it crashed into the water, where he rescued it.

“It was not injured in any way, just suffering from lack of food,” he said.

Watters, who has worked at Monroe Lake since 1978, and was heavily involved in the DNR’s successful bald eagle reintroduction program, which ran from 1985 to 1989, said that no one who is untrained at handling such a bird should ever approach one or “they’d remember it for a long time.”

After he rescued the eagle, he took it to WildCare, Inc., a private non-profit wildlife rehabilitator in Monroe County, but Watters’ involvement didn’t end there. At the time of the find, Watters was working with DNR fisheries biologists who were tagging walleyes at the reservoir. The biologists were able to secure 80 to 90 pounds of carp, which they sent to WildCare, which transformed the catch into eagle food. The result was that a 6-pound refugee grew into a 9-pound bird in a hurry.

“It just made a short visit to the all-you-can eat bar,” Watters said. “This bird would not have survived had we not found it. Half of young bald eagles don’t survive to adulthood.”

A young eagle preens and roosts in a tree near Monroe LakeThe DNR veteran said there’s no way to tell where the eagle came from. He said the eagle could have lost its way when migrating with adults or could have been fledged locally. According to Watters, banded eagles hacked and radio-tagged in Indiana have been found as far away as Texas.

“They end up wherever the wind blows them,” he said.

Mike Mycroft, DNR resource management coordinator for the DNR Division of State Parks and Reservoirs, said the rescue is typical of the often overlooked wildlife management done by the biologists at Indiana’s properties.

Above right: DNR avian biologist John Castrale, WildCare Inc. raptor rehabilitator Charli Taylor, Monre Lake wildlife specialist Rex Waters and DNR assistant avian biologist Amy Beringer place a leg ID band on an immature bald eagle May 13 at Monroe Lake. Above left: The young eagle preens and roosts in a tree near Monroe Lake after release.

Herons, egrets play politics with nesting site ...

Photo of a great blue heronDNR nongame avian biologist John Castrale made an interesting discovery in March while checking eagle nests from the air along the White River. Just over a mile south of I-465, he found egrets nesting with great blue herons (photo at right), something he called an uncommon occurrence.

Further inspection revealed that the nesting site also was notable. It happened to sit on land owned by Sen. Richard Lugar.

Upon learning of the discovery Lugar said: “Almost 200 acres of Lugar Farm are devoted to wooded areas that we have been improving and expanding. We have been excited to learn that a blue heron rookery on the farm has been joined by nesting great egrets. In addition, we have been delighted to learn that eagle nests have been found along the White River very close to our farm and we look forward to welcoming them.”

These colonies can be dynamic and may change from year to year. Castrale said he’ll keep an eye on the site during the every-five-year egret studies and when he’s in the area checking eagle nests.