By Jack McShane

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has come out with a report stating that the numbers of our black bears and fishers are declining in the Adirondacks, but both species are thriving in the Southern Tier. Although I have only a couple of shots of bears with no cubs on my trailcams this summer, a friend who lives on the far side of the Pepacton Reservoir with her husband, a retired forest ranger, tells me of their sightings of three sows: one with three cubs, one with two, another with one, and a reliable friend sighted one with four. Do the math: that’s fourteen bears. Yes, Macwa’s numbers are on the rise, at least on the far side of the reservoir. Two newsworthy items having to do with Macwa: the news magazine The Week reported a Colorado couple having a boxing match with a sow and its cub that invaded their home. The man, 71, pummeled the bear with his fists as his wife struck with a baseball bat. The bears fled. Although in this case a successful encounter, I would advise against same as two weeks later the BBC reported that a woman in Canada was killed by a black bear when she went out to check on her dogs. Canadian Mounties, investigating, killed a very aggressive black bear in the vicinity. If you have problems with Macwa approaching your front door, I just read an article about that very problem in the Lake Tahoe region in California where apparently the problem is huge. Electric welcome mats are selling like hot cakes and have been renamed “Un-Welcome” mats. Ah, human ingenuity!

 Today—Labor Day weekend—Macwa has just made his presence known by tearing up two plum trees of ours across the road. After seeing that, I was up the hill on my lawn tractor when I took note of a bench at the top which was flipped over, obviously by the bruin who was attracted to the paper wasp nest under it. Early bear season has opened now on 9/7 and runs through 9/22. We’ll see what happens as any kill reports come in.

One of our good Gazette editors, Maria, sent me a picture of a bird frequenting her pond and asked if I could ID it. Checked my Sibley’s field guide and felt comfortable with Solitary Sandpiper. I have seen this very “solitary” species only twice on our ponds in the past thirty-three years. Over those years I have noted 113 bird species and 33 animal species. (I do not include Homo sapiens in my count.) My ardent birding friends Rich and Alison reported seeing a pair of sharp shinned hawks perched above the old stone bridge on our far field. There seem to be the normal number of Monarch butterflies visiting the milkweed this year, although I have read reports that the Adirondacks have high numbers. Maybe we will see a sharp increase as those beauties continue their annual long journey south to Mexico where they winter.

Today, September 6th during our 6 pm dinnertime, we were treated to the sight of a huge buck deer, an eight pointer with very wide-spread antlers, although with relatively small brow tines, that went beyond his ears, still in velvet, with more time to grow further. He did some thrashing around before moving to a nearby apple tree for a treat before wandering off. Mighty incentive for a visit by my son come archery season October 1st.

Something that we acquiesce to, and often without notice, is what may well be the most pervasive pollutant in America: noise. There is a minimum of this in our rural and somewhat somnolent Town of Andes, other than the occasional howling of our roaming coyotes and cawing crows. There is rumor that some of our visiting hipsters from the city play recordings of midtown and Brooklyn sirens so they can fall asleep at night. I do have to admit that I was an originator of some of those sirens blaring back in the 60s and 70s as I patrolled the upper Westside of Manhattan. I am now happy and sleep well to the howls of our coyote friends and the occasional hoot of an owl. Sleep tight!~