I recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti, a country I am acquainted with, as I have been there seven times. Overall the western side of the island of Hispaniola is mostly devoid of jungle and woodland, having been stripped for wood to be made into charcoal for cooking fires.
It is difficult to imagine the bareness of the land around and north of Port-au-Prince; however, the southern portion in the Les Cayes area has a proliferation of jungle, farm fields and banana, plantain and mango groves. In Haiti, any critter caught or captured is fair game to be cooked. Needless to say, wildlife is scarce.
I always try to make a mental list of my wildlife encounters while “in country.” The trip was typical, with only a few species listed. I had three egrets, uncountable geckoes, a few small unidentifiable brush land birds, mourning doves and a rat.
I didn’t actually see it, but members of our group on the return to PAP from Les Cayes shouted out, “There’s a squirrel!” Our native Haitian missionary said, “No … it was a mongoose.”
Holy Rikki-Tikki-Tavi – I’ve read The Jungle Book, and mongooses are from India, not Haiti. Looks like Ol’ Jack was about to get a lesson in invasive species in a country other than the United States.
It seems the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) was introduced to Haiti in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and quickly became an invasive species, greatly damaging the natural ecosystem on the island. They were originally introduced to help control the enormous populations of mice and rats, but when the rodents ran low, the mongooses started eating everything else.
In doing a little research on the mongoose population of Haiti, I learned a Ball State grad from Muncie did an honors thesis on the Haitian mongoose. To say the least, this struck me as odd learning that a certified mongoose master had matriculated from my favorite college, Old Fruit Jar Tech!
I read the thesis with interest and was struck by the fact mongooses are not easy to trap, even with dried fish, shredded coconut, Alpo dog food or Haitian peanut butter (which contains cayenne pepper). I’d say the peanut butter was a poor choice.
The thesis makes for an interesting read, and is online at http://bit.ly/2sDqaQW
New DNR recreation and fishing guides online
Your guide to Indiana's best values in outdoor recreation is now available at www.dnr.IN.gov/5280.htm and your guide to Indiana fishing is available at www.wildlife.IN.gov/2347.htm
The Department of Natural Resources’ 2018 Indiana Recreation Guide is the source for information on state parks, lakes, state park inns, Fish & Wildlife Areas, state forests and other DNR properties. Soon, free printed copies of each will be available at these locations, and at the DNR booth at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show through Feb. 25 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Annual entrance passes for state park properties can be purchased in person at the gatehouse or offices of state park properties during business hours, at the Indiana Government Center South in Indianapolis during business hours or at http://stores.innsgifts.com
Indiana resident passes cost $50. For individuals 65 years old or older, the price is $25. Annual passes for vehicles with out-of-state plates are $70. Normal daily gate fees for residents at most properties are $7 per in-state vehicle. For more information on Indiana state park properties, visit www.stateparks.IN.gov
Fishing licenses can be purchased and printed at www.INHuntFish.com but they can also be purchased at retailers, county clerks and most DNR properties throughout the state.
Men charged with vandalism of nature preserve
Two men have been charged with trespassing and criminal mischief, allegedly causing at least $50,000 in damage to Fort Harrison State Park’s Chinquapin Rookery Nature Preserve. The two are accused of creating and/or maintaining an illegal mountain bike trail running for several miles through the nature preserve. They have been charged in Marion County Superior Court.
The preserve is a protected rookery (an area of nests or breeding grounds for birds) and is home to such wildlife as great blue herons and egrets. It was created in 2011 and covers more than 100 acres.
Firewood permits at McCormick’s Creek SP
The public is invited to cut certain downed trees in designated areas at McCormick’s Creek State Park for firewood. Trees eligible for firewood have fallen as a result of natural causes or have been dropped by property staff. They are along roadsides or in public areas such as campsites and picnic areas.
A firewood permit must be obtained for each load at the park office or gatehouse, and wood may be cut, between 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday. Permits cannot be purchased on observed state holidays. Permit sales and cutting begin Feb. 12 and end on March 30.
The cost of one pickup load is $10. All proceeds from firewood permit sales are used for resource management and restoration efforts, including replacement of trees in campgrounds and other public areas. For more information, call 812-829-2235.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is located at 250 McCormick’s Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN 47460.
The ban on transporting ash wood among Indiana counties no longer exists because the emerald ash borer insect is now widespread in the state. Rules for bringing firewood to DNR properties remain in place.
The DNR does not recommend long-distance movement of firewood of any species due to the potential for moving other insect pests and tree diseases beyond locally impacted areas. “Long-distance movement” is moving beyond the immediate county or surrounding counties.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at email@example.com or by writing to him in care of this publication.