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Three Hoosiers charged for 15 whitetail poaching

Indiana conservation officers have filed 48 charges of alleged poaching against three Orange County men: Matthew A. Thomas Sr., 50, Gabriel A. Thomas, 27, and Zachary R. Cook, 19, all of Paoli Indiana. They are accused of poaching as many as 15 whitetail deer during the 2006 hunting season.

The arrests are the result of a four-month investigation, beginning with complaints received by conservation officers from landowners and sportsmen in the Patoka Lake area of Orange County.

As a result of the complaints, officers concentrated patrols in the Grimes Lake Road area, and at one time overheard conversation about illegal hunting activity on hand-held radios. Unfortunately, officers were unable to locate the alleged violators at the time, but later learned the overheard conversation was that of the suspects.

Charges filed were Illegal Taking and Possession Of Deer, Illegal Tagging of Deer, Shooting from a Public Roadway, Jack-lighting, Hunting by Aide of a Motor Vehicle and Over-Bagging of Whitetail Deer. All charges are class B and C misdemeanors.

If convicted, the three could face several hundred dollars in fines, confiscation of all hunting equipment used during the convicted hunting and a five-year suspension of their hunting licenses and hunting privileges. State conservation officers seized nine antler racks and three 30-30 high-powered rifles from the defendants as a result of the investigation.

Raptors lunch at Spring Mill
The popular Wild Lunch with Live Raptors program returns to historic Spring Mill Inn. The event promises to once again be one of the most entertaining, engaging lunchtime outings around.

In conjunction with the famed Dwight Chamberlain Raptor Center, Spring Mill will host different opportunities for guests to get an up-close, personal view of live birds of prey, such as falcons, hawks and owls. The remaining programs are set for April 21 and May 16.  Cost is $8.95 per person and reservations are recommended.

The raptor center, which is located at Hardy Lake, has rescued more than 3,000 different animals since 1987. The center has been recognized for maintaining one of the nation’s highest rates of releasing animals back into the wild.

The center gives people who come across protected, injured birds a legal option for assisting the animals. State and federal guidelines require a permit for housing even a feather of a protected bird of prey. To make reservations or for more information, contact Spring Mill Inn at 812-849-4091 or toll-free at 877-9SPRING.

A gate fee of $5 in-state or $7 per out-of-state license will be charged for each vehicle at the entrance to the park for the April 21 and May 16 events. For more information, call Spring Mill State
Park at 812-849-4129.

Spring Mill to dedicate trail
Spring Mill State Park will dedicate a newly-restored section of Trail 1 during a ceremony on March 31 at 1 p.m.

The redesigned section of trail meets current standards for accessibility and is part of the ongoing efforts of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to provide access to all Indiana citizens.

The dedication will be held at the trailhead, near the stone bridge below Spring Mill Inn.

The public is invited to attend and join Division of State Parks and Reservoirs Director Dan Bortner and park Property Manager Mark Young for a trip along the trail. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the park’s nature center auditorium. 

The dedication will be held in conjunction with Disability Awareness Month, sponsored by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. For details about the month’s activities  and the trail dedication, contact the park at 812-849-4129.

Controlled burns for March 30
IDNR will conduct a controlled burn at Fort Harrison State Park on March 30 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weather permitting. 

The reason for the burn is restoration for prairie grasses and flowers planted from 1997-2000 as part of a wetlands project, approximately 20 acres.

No trails or roads will be closed, but people in the area may encounter particularly heavy smoke because the ground is still very wet and the fuels matted. The burn crew will be comprised of IDNR and non-IDNR personnel who are red-carded, wild-land firefighters from across central and southern Indiana.

Facility improvements at Shades State Park
Shades State Park guests using the park’s Class B campground this year will notice new features available in early May. A new shower house with new shower, bath, sink and mirror fixtures and accessible fixtures in both the men’s and women’s facilities heads the remodeling list.

In addition to the hardware improvements, shower house aesthetics have been spruced up with an interior beautification effort. The new features include vandal-resistant wall coverings, new shower and toilet partitions and new windows.

Improvements have made the shower house more environmentally-friendly. Wastewater will now be treated using plants instead of harsh chemicals, where possible. The entire improvement package is expected to greatly reduce the need for electricity, extensive laboratory tests and manpower.

Because the final touches are still in progress, the Class B campground is not expected to be in full operation until early May. People wishing to camp at Shades before then may do so, but only under primitive (Class C) conditions – meaning no showers, no modern restrooms and no dump station. 

Dunes plans amphibians show
Soon the ancient choruses and local migrations of amphibians will be noticed throughout Northwest Indiana.

As the creatures head into another breeding season, Indiana Dunes State Park will help you understand what’s going on with a special hour-long presentation on March 29 at 7 p.m. at the park’s Nature Center. Dr. Spencer Cortwright from the biology department at Indiana University Northwest will lead the program, which includes a slide show and a look into the typical habitats, life cycles and ecological challenges of local frogs and salamanders.

“Amphibian populations face many challenges today and serve as quality indicators of different natural areas,” said Mike Mycroft, interpretive naturalist and stewardship coordinator at the park. Dr. Cortwright has a perspective that can help both land managers and interested residents of the area do more to understand these often-overlooked creatures.”

This farm news was published in the March 28, 2007 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.