All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

Farms & Wildlife

Lock The Bears Out

Republished June 23, 2017

Retail spaces, residential apartments, and private homes produce garbage. Unfortunately, the garbage will attract and feed black bears. We need to be cautious to avoid attracting bears to town. Many parents have rightfully expressed concerns about their kids attending outdoor camps in town.

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation will not capture the bears. North Castle Police are restricted to shooting a bear with rubber bullets; this tactic is intended only to scare them away. NYSDEC want us to learn to live with the wild animals.

The key to keeping the bears away is to avoid feeding them with our disposable garbage. It is no surprise that the bears return to look for trash containers filled with leftover food.

Did you know that bears are driven by a powerful sense of smell that is 100-times stronger than a dog's sense of smell?

We can do a better job with the disposal of garbage at our homes, schools and public parks. It's suggested to put household garbage out the day of pick-up, not the night before. Do not dispose of leftover food in public places: bring it home. And most importantly, use of bear-resistant canisters.

Out west, where the bear population is greater than on the east coast, large, bear-proof storage containers, known as "bear boxes,” are a proven method of preventing bears from picking through the garbage.

Bears are big, hungry and dangerous animals. They consume a lot of food. If a bear is accustomed to eating people’s leftovers, the leftovers may become his only source of food. The bear will become aggressive and do anything to get food. That's typically when we see them wandering around, scavenging for food.

Let's get serious and keep the bears out of our garbage. Check out some of the products online at

Shield Your Landscape from Tick-Borne Disease with Organics

Warm weather brings with it lots of good things including longer days spent enjoying our yards with our families. Unfortunately, more time spent outdoors also means an increased risk of contracting a tick-borne disease.
By SavaTree

April 12, 2013
Deer ticks are known vectors of Lyme disease which, according to the Tick Borne Disease Alliance is the number one tick-borne illness in the US. The CDC has reported that there are 24,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the US each year. Ticks are also well known as vectors for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Babesiosis-and more. For these hungry parasites, our increased outdoor activity means more opportunities for them to find their next blood meal and potentially infect us.

Ticks can enter your landscape any number of ways including being carried in by animals such as deer, birds or rodents but once there, the majority of ticks will reside in what is called the ecotone area. Research shows that approximately 90% of deer ticks on a property will be found in this transition area between your yard and the woodline while less than 2% will be found in lawn areas.

So what options are available to protect your family and pets from a potentially dangerous infection? For customers who prefer a green solution to managing tick populations in their landscape, Organic Tick Control treatments are an effective option. SavATree currently offers an organic solution that uses active ingredients such as cedar oil and raspberry extract to kill ticks on contact and provides residual control that lasts from 30-60 days. Organic treatments offer a minimum risk solution that does not require EPA registration because its ingredients are considered to be nonhazardous.

Protecting Your Pets
The threat of contracting a tick-borne illness is very real for humans as well as our beloved pets. Remember to check your pets for ticks after they've been outside and look for warning signs of a bite including a stiff, painful-looking gait. It's also important to note that certain breeds of dogs, including Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are more susceptible to potentially life-threatening kidney complications so if you suspect that your animal has been infected, contact your vet immediately.

To learn more, visit

The Mourning Dove is a very common bird across our area and across the continent. You can see Mourning Doves nearly anywhere in Westchester, though they are most commonly seen perching on power lines and exposed branches of trees.
Mourning Doves are frequent singers during morning and late afternoon hours. The song is usually described as coo-OO-ooo-ooo-ooo.  Sometimes people confuse the Mourning Dove's song for that of an owl. The easiest way to tell the difference is to remember doves are active during the day and owls are active at night.

As a seed-eating bird, Mourning Doves are easily attracted to bird feeders.  They feed from the ground picking up many of the seeds other birds spill from the feeders. They gather and store the seeds in their throat in a special pouch called the crop. When their crop is full, they fly off to a safe place in a tree to begin digesting their meal. Strong stomach muscles and a few small stones inside the stomach aid in crushing the seeds for better digestion. When Mourning Doves are young, their parents feed them a special fluid called crop milk that is produced in the adult's throat.  Once large enough, the parents begin to transition the young to a diet of seeds.

There's an audio recording and a lot of other cool information about Mourning Doves on

Adam Zorn
Westmoreland Sanctuary

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is usually transmitted by the bite of the deer tick. While not all animals that are bitten show signs, some have mild reactions and still others show severe symptoms.

Although other species of animals can be infected with the organism, dogs are often the most symptomatic. They usually present with lameness, either associated with one or more joints or else non-localizable within a limb. Often they also demonstrate lethargy and loss of appetite. Dogs do not commonly develop the rash that is characteristically associated with human cases.

Diagnosis of Lyme disease generally involves measurement of the antibody level in the blood (titer) that is produced by the animal in response to infection.

If detected early, this disease is readily cured with antibiotics.  However, if left untreated for a period of time, it can have more serious consequences, though it can still respond to treatment at this stage.

To decrease the chance of your pet’s contracting Lyme disease, the most effective means is tick control, generally with an appropriate collar or spot-on medication. A daily check for ticks, especially around the neck, will facilitate their rapid removal. To remove an attached tick, grasp it at the skin level with tweezers and slowly pull straight up.

Source:North Castle Veterinary Hospital, P.C.

Bear Update

Oct. 20, 2010
Arriving home at night to find a bear rummaging through your garbage is a frightening thought. But unfortunately, the number of local bear encounters is on the rise. Since July, bear sightings have been recorded in North Castle's police blotter, and residents are obviously very concerned. The police have responded to these calls of sightings, but the bear is gone by the time they arrive.  

This past week a neighbor reported, "My husband and son encountered the bear eating garbage on our driveway. Thankfully, they noticed it before they got out of the car; otherwise, they would have been a few feet away from the bear, if not face-to-face with it.”  Another neighbor reported, "We had another visit from the bear on Saturday night in Windmill. It tore up our garbage container, kids toys etc. The noise the bear made sounded like Godzilla!” Both residents called the local police. North Castle police responded that if residents are concerned, they should contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). One resident told us, "When I called the police, I was told they could do nothing. They said we should make a lot of noise, and the bear would go away." Furthermore, a witness said, "The bear hung out for 15 minutes and was not afraid of people, cars, or half a case of firecrackers lit and thrown in his direction."

Another resident claims, "I called the police Sunday, and they told me to call DEC, as there was very little they could do. The police do not have a bear unit, training or what is needed to respond effectively to the situation. They said if enough people call, hopefully, they will take care of it." Calling DEC wasn't entirely productive for him, he says. “They gave me some story about bears in their natural habitat."

DEC requires a licensed permit to pursue wildlife, and they will not issue a special permit for anyone to pursue the bear. DEC explained that bears are expanding the range of their habitat from Ulster and Sullivan Counties to Westchester County. They feel it doesn't make sense to remove them, because they anticipate more bears will naturally move to our area. They recommend that we get used to the bears’ presence.

DEC set a trap last week near Coman Hill Elementary School, but it proved unsuccessful. In fact, it caused concern and has since been removed. When captured, the plan is to negatively condition the animal's behavior. The idea is to dart and tag it, and record its weight, length and age. Before releasing the bear, they use pepper spray and pellets, in an effort to scare the bear and keep it away from people and their homes. Then the bear is to be released. 

Typically, bears are timid, non-aggressive animals that eat plant material. However, during this time of year, bears consume as many calories as possible, before they den from early-to-mid November until March. Certain precautions are recommended to avoid “bear conflicts”, such as removing anything near a house that may attract them. On their website,, they suggest that homeowners reduce potential conflicts by securing garbage in a shed or using bear-proof canisters. In addition, putting the garbage out the morning of pick- up, rather than the night before, is helpful. They also recommend removing bird feeders, thoroughly cleaning outdoor barbecues and avoid feeding animals outside. Finally, they suggest making loud noises, such as using an air horn to frighten the bears. 


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wants to hear from you if you’ve had a bear encounter. Call them at (845) 256-3098.

Human Health

"A major benefit of biodiversity is its direct impact on human health, including the prevalence of Lyme disease. Research conducted in southeastern New York has revealed that the diversity of small mammals (e.g., mice, moles, voles, shrews) is reduced by forest fragmentation. The small mammal that ends up dominating these isolated fragments—the white-footed mouse—is the primary carrier of the Lyme bacterium. The risk of Lyme disease is much lower in intact forest ecosystems where the infection rate is suppressed by a diversity of small mammals. By maintaining larger tracts of interconnected forest habitat, we can maintain high biodiversity levels and simultaneously reduce human health risks (Allan et al. 2003)."
Read further information about Lyme disease.

The Box Turtle Population
The fact that only a single individual box turtle was found in the North Castle Biodiversity study could be an indication that box turtles numbers in North Castle are diminishing. The individual observed in the study area was an adult male of thirty to forty years and therefore, unfortunately, does not illuminate the reproductive status of
the population. "Additionally, box turtles are long- lived species, so presence of adults does not necessarily indicate a healthy, reproducing population. Older individuals can remain long after the population has ceased to reproduce." If reproduction is still occurring, the known predators: raccoon, skunk, and opossum that prey on hatchlings may be so high that no turtle hatchlings survive to reproductive age. Only if a  variety of age classes is evident does it indicate that the population is  reproducing.

North Castle Biodiversity Plan by Danielle T. LaBruna, M.A. and Michael W. Klemens, Ph.D.
Metropolitan Conservation Alliance,Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx, New York, Michael W. Klemens, LLC

armonk swiss re
Home of the Bobcats

They don't call the Byram Hills' sports team Bobcats for nothing. This bobcat was spotted recently roaming outside Swizz Re Headquarters on King Street. He doesn't appear to be looking for insurance.... Just like our young athletes, he looks fit and ready for competition.  Let's keep the Bobcat competition on the athletic fields.
Bobcat Integral Piece of our Local Ecosystems Should be Cause for Celebration

The bobcat certainly falls at the top of the list of Westchester's least known animals.  One reason is the fact that their presence is relatively new to this area.  (This photo was taken looking out from Swiss Re on King Street) Additionally, their habits and behavior make them incredibly elusive and difficult to observe.
They will move about at nearly any time of day, though they are most active during the early morning hours and late afternoon/early evening hours of the day.  This is when the majority of their prey species (mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds, etc) are active as well.  Typical habitats are forests, successional fields (ie. fields turning back to forest), and wetlands.  They are typically solitary with the exception of the breeding season and when females are raising their kittens.
Normally weighing around 20-30 lbs, males and females occupy separate territories for the majority of the year.  These territories can be anywhere from 12 to 136 square miles depending on terrain, suitable habitat, and availability of food.  It is likely that bobcats in this area are occupying territories on the small end of this range.
Not a whole lot is know about the population levels of bobcats in the state of NY, let alone the Southern Tier and Westchester County.  Individuals should be encouraged to report their bobcat sightings to the NYS DEC.  Information on how to report sightings can be found at
Westmoreland Santuary would also like to know about local bobcat sightings, email:  For the past 4 years we've been recording bobcat sightings from individuals in the area.  Keeping track of individual sights may help to shed some light on approximately how many individuals are occupying territories in our local area.
Should the public know that there are bobcats in the area?  Yes.  Should the public be concerned about the well-being of pets and children? Not really.  Their secretive and shy nature creates a highly improbable scenario in which anyone may come into direct contact with one of these animals.  In very rare instances, wildlife (bobcats included) may pose a threat to humans when cornered, injured, or ill.  These anomalies shouldn't be dismissed but also should not be cause for an unnecessary level of concern.
People should always be diligent as to the whereabouts of their children and pets.  Any form of wildlife has the potential to react adversely to people and pets: Bees sting, mosquitoes bite, ticks bite, and birds dive-bomb unwanted visitors near a nest.  Mice, chipmunks, and squirrels pose a danger to cats who attempt to secure them as prey.  Skunks and raccoons pose a threat to curious dogs.  Hawks, fox, coyote, and bobcat have the potential to do harm to livestock like our ducks and chickens or to someone's outdoor cat or small dog when left unsupervised.
Animals need food to survive.  When we as humans create favorable conditions or opportunities for wildlife to secure an easy meal, they take advantage.  When wild animals take advantage of the easy meals we provide, it often comes to the detriment of the animals and us.  This is why people shouldn't feed bears, trash cans should be secured from rummaging raccoons, and small pets (and their food) should be brought in or locked up for the night.
Hopefully people will see the inherent value of our area's wildlife as a benefit and a reason to be proud to live in this part of the state.  All of our area's native wildlife, both the familiar and unfamiliar, should be revered and respected for the role they play in keeping ecosystems in balance.
I guess I'm just asking to give the photographed bobcat (and our other wildlife) the benefit of being appreciated and not feared.  It's really the only way we'll be able to effectively continue to protect habitats and species now and into the future.
By Adam Zorn, Naturalist, Westmoreland Sanctuary
Read about hiking in Westmoreland and other local locations.

Control of Canada Geese

The following suggestions for controlling Canada geese populations, presented at a symposium hosted by Westchester County have been compiled by the Parks Department. These methods have been met with success in many instances.

Alter the habitat

Reduce grassy expanses by planting trees and shrubs and turn lawns into meadows. Establish large ground cover areas in place of manicured lawns. Leave an apron of tall grass (6? to 10?) around ponds or approaching bodies of water. Shrub areas around bodies of water make access to ponds difficult for Canada geese. This strategy discourages the geese and encourages them to relocate. This strategy is also easy, inexpensive and proven.*
(*In public parks and recreational areas, these measures should be explained to visitors through appropriate signage.)

Encourage the Canada geese to feed from nature

Feeding Canada geese or other wild fowl promotes a dependency on humans and creates problems for them. Wild animals should be free to be wild and encouraged to migrate. Most humans do not provide the right nutritional balance when they feed waterfowl at our ponds and lakes. In public areas, appropriate signage that explains why feeding is discouraged could be part of a campaign to get people to stop feeding and domesticating Canada geese.

Install mechanical barriers

North Castle Conservation Board recommends growing all grass and appropriate shrubs should serve as natural barriers around waterways. Natural  barriers and habitat alterations should be tried and their results analyzed before considering mechanical barriers such as fencing.

Employ scarecrows

This can be done easily and provide a fun family project, although it is should be considered after the other tactics are tried. Moving limbs of the scarecrow may show more success, as European studies have shown that some motion is necessary to deter Canada geese.

Chemical repellant

There are concerns of environmental impact while using commercial products, although they may be effective but only until the next rainfall. The Parks Department is not interested in this strategy.

Border Collies

Border Collies Dogs are effective in protecting property and harassing Canada geese, especially during fall migration and thereby discouraging geese from settling in for the winter. In the spring the dogs can interrupt the Canada geese from developing nesting sites. Although expensive, this method of controlling geese is effective but is primarily a short-term or temporary measure. It is not, however, a preferred strategy.

Employ plastic swans and cygnets

This strategy is not favored since studies are inconclusive about mixing swans and Canada geese.

Egg substitution

Professionals can be hired for  intervening  Canada geese reproductive cycle.

Oral contraception

This is the newest option and requires further testing,  but shows promise for the future.


Further Family Programs at Muscoot Farm

Muscoot Farm has a collection of old fashioned farm toys.
For more information or to register for a program, call Muscoot at (914) 864-7282.

General information about Westchester County Parks
Muscoot is a Westchester County Park located on Route 100 in Somers and can be reached via I-684, exit 6.
Go west on Route 35 to Route 100 and turn left; the farm is a mile and a half ahead on the right.

The farm is accessible to the disabled with assistance.

Nearby Muscoot Farm
Family Programs

Muscoot Farm dates to the 1860-1960 period of Westchester history.
Farm hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week to view the outdoor sculptures;
the Main House gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

Children can tour the dairy barn, milk house, ice house, blacksmith shop and several other barns and buildings. Activites and family programmingand workshops are offered. They farms houses cows, sheep, pigs, goats and horses.
“Birds and Beasts Show” by Susan Halls consists  of both small pieces inside the main house and enormous bunnies outside in the barnyard amid the farm’s live animals. Her The sculptures highlight the artist’s affection and fascination with a diversity of animals.

County Wide Fertilizer Law

A county legislation bans the sale and use of fertilizers containing phosphorus. The law prohibits applications of lawn fertilizers between Dec. 1st and April 1st. This is intended to minimize nutrient run-off from nitrogen components of fertilizers.  Exceptions apply for flower and vegetable gardens, as well as new lawns and lawns deficient of phosphorous.

Armonk bear
In 2010, this Black Bear was captured in Armonk. Click for a larger view.

Bear Sightings in North Castle

June 3, 2016
This time of year through early fall, bear sightings are common in Westchester County. Recently, several sightings have been reported in the Bedford area of North Castle, Katonah and Pound Ridge.

Bears usually demonstrate fear of people, but with more frequent sightings, bears have been seen wondering close to peoples' home in search for easy food from bird feeders and garbage cans.

If you see a bear near your home, it can be both frightening and mesmerizing. Please stay prepared for an encounter with facts and tips from NY/NJ Trail Conference.

Learn how to stay safe before an encounter may with tips from NY/NJ Trail Conference.

The NJDEP offers the following advice:

Don’t ever feed a bear;

Stay alert while outdoors;

While camping, hang your food high between two trees;

Avoid eye contact; don’t run, but make loud noises, stretch out your arms and slowly back away.

If you see a bear, especially one that does not show any fear, immediately call the North Castle Police 273-9500.

More information is here NYS DEC "Living With Bears"

Armonk Bear
Armonk Bear Sightings: Simple Solutions?

September 5, 2015
On Wednesday at 10:15 p.m., a black bear was sighted on Stony Brook Way in Armonk’s Whippoorwill Road East area. The North Castle Police Department say they have received several reports of black bears sightings in residential neighborhoods of Armonk.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) rarely trap bears. The exception is when a bear becomes a public nuisance. Such was the case five years ago when a young black bear was wandering through Armonk for weeks. Not until the animal became a nuisance around Halloween, when the bear appeared near a public schoolyard, did NYSDEC set out a cage. Finally they entraped the 300 lb. black bear with sweets near the woods of Blair Road.

In captivity, the bear was tranquilized by a Matt Merchant, a conservation ranger. Then the wild animal was removed from the cage, and weighed, tagged, and a tooth was pulled to reveal his age. See the video from 2010 above.

“To instill a fear of humans” and to deter the bear from getting comfortable near people, the ranger encouraged onlookers to interact with the bear. Some bystanders held the animal’s head in their lap while he was tranquilized, yet still awake.

The rangers intention was to transport the bear to a distant New York State parkland, but in this case, the bear died during transportation.

NYSDEC offers advice on how to avoid attracting bears. From March through November, bears are known to rummage for food from scattered garbage cans and restaurant dumpsters. Not only should residents avoid putting out garbage cans the night before pick-up, it’s advised not to feed your pets outside, and not to leave their empty feeding bowls outdoors. Also avoid putting out birdseed that may attract bears seeking an easy meal. Bears are attracted to grease catchers on barbecue grills. Therefore, it’s suggested to remove grease cans and turn the grill on high for a few minutes after cooking to burn off any remaining food or grease.

Because bears are attracted to garbage cans, including public dumpsters at the schoolyards, near the library and elsewhere, garbage may best placed in bear-proof garbage containers. Perhaps a bear-proof dumpster legislation can be enforced for public space and any new multi-family housing such as the affordable housing that will open next spring on Old Route 22.

The New York black bear population is estimated to be about 6,000 animals and growing. The black bear is known to be attracted to areas with deep woods and wetlands which are plentiful in Armonk. NYSDEC says most black bears avoid people, unless they are associated with food. They also say bears rarely behave aggressively toward people. But if a bear does show aggressive behavior such as growling, hissing or popping its teeth, beware that it might attack. It’s suggested to immediately back off, but don’t run, rather wave your arms or flap your coat. Any bear sighting should be reported to 911 or the North Castle Police Department at 914-273-9500. If a bear is not aggressive, NYSDEC says loud noises and flashing lights are known to scare them off. But please be sure to use this technique from a safe distance such as inside your home.

Flower Show Highlights Creative Arrangements

August 23, 2013
The Green Acres Garden Club is gearing up for their annual Flowers in Art Show. The two-day event will be held on September 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hergenhan Recreation Center at 10 Maple Avenue in Armonk. Visitors will be asked to vote for their choice of each of the nine categories, including small is beautiful, hoop design, and freestyle. The variety of displays includes a large array of creative flower arrangements.

The tabulation of votes will take place after the close of the show and the winners will receive ribbons and be listed on All ages are invited and a light snack will be served.

Wild Suburbia Project Seeks Bobcat, Other Wildlife Observations
Westchester and Fairfield County residents are encouraged to participate

April 3, 2013
Over the past few decades, our suburbia has been getting wilder. Bobcats, coyotes, fishers, foxes, and black bears all call Westchester and Fairfield home.

However, not much is known about exactly where they live (e.g. Are there bobcats in Rye? Coyotes in Yonkers?) or when they first appeared. The Westmoreland Sanctuary and the Mianus River Gorge have joined forces in the Wild Suburbia Project to address these two questions. And they are turning to local residents to find some answers. Project coordinators are enlisting citizen scientists to provide information about where and when these animals have been seen.

“We’re eager to get a better picture of where these species are being observed in Westchester and Fairfield,” said Project co-coordinator and Westmoreland Sanctuary naturalist Adam Zorn. “After collecting bobcat sightings from around Westchester County for the last 8 years, we’re looking forward to developing a more thorough understanding of where they are carving out a living in this suburban landscape. And except for the coyote, these species were found historically in our area. They were originally driven out by human activities. The ones coming back have learned to live with us. That is fascinating.”

Zorn, along with Chris Nagy and Mark Weckel of the Mianus River Gorge will be hosting a series of workshops to launch the Wild Suburbia Project ( 7pm on April 4 at Teatown Lake Reservation, April 18 at Westmoreland Sanctuary, April 25 at Greenburgh Nature Center, and May 2 at Rye Nature Center). “We are inviting the public to attend these events, learn about these new critters, ask us questions, and find how to participate in our project. We need as many people as possible to get involved and tell us about their wildlife sightings for this study to work.”

Joining the project is very easy. Participants can easily register for the project by filling out an initial survey regarding the presence or absence of each of the species at their place of residence at (or in paper if they attend the workshop). Upon completion of the initial survey detailing any past sightings, participants will be able to report any new sightings of the five target species from any location in the NYC metropolitan area. “The Mianus River Gorge has used similar methods to map coyote and owl habitat, but never five species at once,” said Dr. Chris Nagy of the Mianus River Gorge. “We are very excited to be teaming up with Westmoreland on this project.”

Once residents begin to submit their residence surveys, sightings maps for each of the five target species will be displayed on the Project website. The website is also a wealth of information regarding proper identification of each species and natural history notes. More information on the Wild Suburbia Project and the animals being studied can be found at

The Mianus River Gorge, located in Bedford, NY works to protect and promote appreciation of the natural heritage of the Mianus River watershed through land acquisition, conservation science, research, and education throughout the region. Westmoreland Sanctuary is a non-profit nature center and 640-acre wildlife preserve located in the Towns of Bedford and North Castle, NY. Established in 1957, the Sanctuary works to promote nature appreciation, preservation, and conservation for the present and future benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Bees Our Friends
By Amanda Boyle

August 30, 2011
Albert Einstein is credited with having once said that if bees became extinct, the human species would have at most four years to live. Now, it's doubtful that Einstein ever actually said this, but is it true? Keith S. Delaplane, a professor of  Entomology at the University of Georgia, wrote that it is not true that human existence relies wholly on bee pollination, but if we "value a diverse food supply with minimized trauma to the environments where it is produced" then it'd be wise for us to keep an eye out for our fuzzy friends. Consider it even a matter of taste: Delaplane cites ice cream, watermelon, almond chocolate bars and coffee as products that depend on bee pollination.  

So what should we do? Be aware that the bumble bee is friend, not foe. Try not to freak out when you see one near you, they don't want to sting you anymore than you want to be stung, and possibly even less. A bee's stinger is attached to part of its internal organs, when the stinger leaves a bee after stinging, so does part of its body, and it dies. Bees are docile insects and will only attack if they are provoked, so don't start waving your arms around the bee. If bees make you uncomfortable, it's best to just calmly walk away from the area. However, bees are fascinating creatures to watch, and if you stand quietly as they weave through flowers, they won't mind the audience.    

Delaplane, Keith S. "On Einstein, Bees and Survival" 

Minaus River Gorge Preserve
Study Sites for Coyote Habitat Research
(Mountain) Lions, Coyotes and Bears, Nearby!

June 13, 2011
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) wants us to share our woods with wild animals, but not our yards and driveways. Its number one recommendation is to put garbage out on the morning of pickup, and not the night before. Bird feeders also shouldn't be left out overnight.

Last October, a bear was trapped in Armonk and transported upstate.  NYDEC says that it is common for bears to follow trails south, and just this week, we've had two bear sightings. Last Thursday (June 9) a report of a mountain lion led to the closing of the Brunswick School in Purchase.

Wildlife experts will visit the Mianus River Gorge Preserve (MRGP) to as far south as Queens during the next three years to study how coyotes have adapted to urbanization, and to learn how to prevent conflicts between coyotes and people.

It's Not Thanksgiving

Male turkeys court multiple females beginning in March and April.  This tom turkey got excited when three motorcycles drove up to us. His head turned blue, he strutted his tail feathers, and dragged his wings.

The long, fleshy object over his beak is called a snood. His beard is a tuft of coarse hair growing from the center of his breast. He has somewhere between 5,000 to 6,000 feathers.  There were two smaller hens following him into the marsh.

Red-Eared Slider

Ian investigates a turtle spotted meandering on the town park track. At the age of four, Ian is allowed to spend a quarter of his monthly allowance on anything of his choice. He recently choose to buy a wildlife documentary, which he preferred more than an animated film.  Offering a blade of grass, the turtle shows no interest.  

According to Adam Zorn, Naturalist at the Westmoreland Sanctuary, "The turtle looks like a non-native Red-eared slider.  They look similar to the native Eastern Painted turtle, but are much larger, have a more ornate shell, and also have small red patches (ears) on each side of their head behind the eyes."

Furthermore,  Zorn writes, "They turn up in ponds all over the place when people purchase them as pets and then release them into the wild when they no longer want to care for it.  It's becoming a big problem because they compete with the native turtles for food and habitat.  As a result, some states (FL) and countries (Australia) have banned them from being sold in the pet trade."

We placed the turtle in the direction of the wetlands, but it crawled back and forth along the fence separating the track from the wetlands.  Eventually, Ian's Dad picked it up and placed it closer to the pond.

Deer Population
The North Castle Town Board has raised the limits of deer fencing from 6 feet to 8 feet in attempt to reduce the deer population feeding on landscaping at residential homes. It has been reported that this will not solve the regional deer overpopulation, as exclosures may increase the density of deer in non-exclosed areas. This could also increase the number of traffic collisions that remain a concern and are reported weekly in the police blotter.

"Long-term reduction and stabilization of the deer herd in Westchester will require multiple management techniques at multiple scales and the involvement of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Representatives of the DEC, Westchester County, and conservation, education, hunting, and humane organizations banded together in 2006 to deal with the deer overpopulation issue, forming the Westchester County Forest Regeneration Citizens’ Task Force." The group has studied and a report in early 2008 was scheduled to  provide guidelines to towns, villages, and the county on options for controlling the deer population.

You can also contact the DEC Region 3 Wildlife Department at (845) 256-3098 to inquire about what they are doing to control the deer herd in Westchester.


North Castle Biodiversity Plan by Danielle T. LaBruna, M.A. and Michael W. Klemens, Ph.D.
Metropolitan Conservation Alliance,Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx, New York, Michael W. Klemens, LLC