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National Hunting and Fishing Day Celebration to be held at Stonewall Resort State Park

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County for West Virginia’s Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day, September 23-24.

The event is the state’s largest outdoor hunting and fishing show, with more than 50 vendors exhibiting hunting, fishing and conservation-related merchandise and information.

Staff from the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources, Law Enforcement and State Parks sections will be available throughout the weekend to assist visitors in learning skills and to answer any questions.

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Byron Ferguson, longbow exhibition shooter, will perform hourling shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. both days.

Returning this year is Neal James of Animal Planet’s “Call of the Wildman” show. He will be on-site to meet visitors and play his banjo. Additionally, James will be visiting local schools, retailers and th Veterans Affairs Hospital in Clarksburg before performing at the National Hunting and Fishing Day Celebration.

The Outdoor Youth Challenge will take place both Saturday and Sunday.

Youth ages 6-18 may participate and will be eligible to win prizes, such as a lifetime hunting and fishing license and other hunting- and fishing-related items.

Youth who compete in the five scored events also can win a scholarship to Conservation Camp.

Seminars on wild game cooking, snakes, coyote calling and hunting, waterfowl hunting with dogs and recording your own hunts will be presented each day.

The event is open Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is $6 for adults and free for children 15 and younger.

Complete schedules are available at www.wvdnr.gov under the “Special Opportunities” heading. The event is cosponsored by the WVDNR and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation.

Outdoors

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►  National Zoo’s Sumatran tiger cub will grow up with another cub in San Diego

It almost seems like a Disney-made movie - two Sumatran tiger cubs from different mothers will grow up together as brothers.

The two nameless tiger cubs - one from the National Zoo and the other at the San Diego Zoo - were born within a week of each other in July, and both do not have mothers to take care of them. And in a tale of zoo partnership - and a lot of luck - the two cubs will be placed together at the San Diego Zoo, grow up together and learn to become tigers together, according to animal experts.

Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats at the National Zoo, described the matching of the two young cubs as similar to seeing a shooting star.

“It is a one-in-a-million shot that it would have worked out this way,“ Saffoe said. He said he expects the two cubs to learn to “rough and tumble” together and learn how to approach other tigers.

On Monday, the 2-month-old, roughly-15-pound tiger cub left the National Zoo in Washington. He was flown in the cabin of a Southwest Airlines nonstop flight out of Baltimore-Washington airport by zookeepers to join his new, surrogate brother cub at the San Diego Zoo.

The San Diego cub was brought to the zoo there after it was confiscated earlier in the summer at the Mexican border.

The D.C. tiger cub was born July 11. At first, his 8-year-old mother Damai cared for him and allowed him to nurse.

But that changed.

When the cub was 19 days old, zookeepers noticed he was losing weight when he should have been steadily gaining. And Damai started to show she may have been in pain or have troubles in nursing.

Saffoe said at times Damai would groom her cub and play as normal. But when he moved to her belly, she would “vocalize aggressively.“ At times, she would roll over or push him away with her hind feet. This behavior gradually became more frequent.

Even after a hands-on exam of the cub and a visual exam of Damai, zookeepers couldn’t figure out an “obvious medical cause” for the mother tiger’s behavior. She was treated at one point with antibiotics, and things seemed normal until she began to act out aggressively again toward her cub.

Damai’s nursing of the cub was never consistent. So zookeepers started to bottle feed formula to the cub.

“It was really a roller coaster,“ Saffoe said of the mother-cub relationship over the last few months.

“She was a great mom caring for him, but something happened,“ he said.

Zookeepers aren’t exactly sure what caused Damai to shun her cub. Damai successfully raised two other cubs in 2013. Experts think it could possibly be mastitis or a lack of milk. By the end of August, zookeepers believed the mother tiger was in an estrus cycle, and her milk supply had likely dried up.

Damai then had a change in appetite and started to respond vocally to “male tigers’ solicitations,“ zookeepers said. But when her cub wanted to socialize with her, she started to growl, bark and bite at her cub.

The D.C. cub never went on display to visitors. And after an incident in early September when Damai sat on a bench and growled when the cub came near, zookeepers decided to separate the two.

“That’s not how a mom should treat her offspring,“ said Saffoe.

Zookeepers took more care of the cub, concerned it would lose too much weight, and eventually increased his feedings.

Then coincidence - or maybe luck - struck.

Great cat experts and zookeepers at the National Zoo had been emailing with colleagues at the San Diego Zoo on other feline-related matters and mentioned the troubles with their tiger cub. They found out that the San Diego Zoo had recently received a tiger cub that had been confiscated in August at the Mexican border.

An 18-year-old man had the tiger cub on the front passenger-side floor of a 2017 Chevy Camaro when authorities stopped him. He told officials he planned to keep it as a pet. Tigers can grow to weigh 400 to 500 pounds.

Keepers of the California cub told the San Diego Union-Tribune he was active and chewing on toys like a puppy. His favorite stuffed animal is a giraffe that he reportedly cuddles with. The San Diego cub was likely already raised by humans, officials said, as it is comfortable being fed with a bottle and had an easy transition to going on display at the zoo.

The San Diego Zoo estimates that its cub was born within a week of the one at the National Zoo - based on weight, size, actions, etc.

Zookeepers hope putting the two tiger cubs together will benefit both, as they will grow up and learn how to be tigers together rather than being raised more by humans. Because of legal restrictions, the National Zoo said, the San Diego cub is not allowed to leave California.

“It’s incredible timing,“ Saffoe said. “They’ll grow up as siblings and learn to be tigers together.“ Once tigers reach about 1 to 1 1/2 years old they become solitary animals.

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered animals. There are roughly 65 Sumatran tigers in zoos throughout North America. And in the wild, there are only about 200 to 400 that live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The D.C. tiger will some day become part of a breeding program to try to save the Sumatran tiger species. The San Diego tiger, because of its unknown genetic history, cannot be bred and will at some point be sent to a sanctuary.

“Our first choice would be to have mom take care of this guy,“ Saffoe said of the D.C. tiger cub. But there’s “no normal at a zoo.“

So, he said, “this is the next best scenario.“

The D.C. tiger’s journey to San Diego can be followed on Instagram under the hashtag #TigerStory.


►  Phones help crabbers retrieve gear before it kills whales

Fisherman Jake Bunch leans over the side of the fishing boat “Sadie K,” spears his catch, and reels it aboard: an abandoned crab pot, dangling one limp lasagna noodle of kelp and dozens of feet of rope, just the kind of fishing gear that has been snaring an increasing number of whales off U.S. coasts.

Confirmed counts of humpbacks, blue and other endangered or threatened species of whale entangled by the ropes, buoys and anchors of fishing gear hit a record 50 on the East Coast last year, and tied the record on the West Coast at 48, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The accidental entanglements can gouge whales’ flesh and mouth, weaken the animals, drown them, or kill them painfully, over months.

This year, Bunch is one of small number of commercial fishermen out of Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, and five other ports up and down California who headed to sea again after the West Coast’s Dungeness crab season ended this summer.

The California fishermen are part of a new effort using their cellphones’ GPS and new software pinpointing areas where lost or abandoned crabbing gear has been spotted. They retrieve the gear for a payment — at Half Moon Bay, it’s $65 per pot —before the fishing ropes can snag a whale.

Especially stormy weather this year has meant more wayward crabbing gear than usual, Bunch said recently on a gray late-summer morning at sea.

“Makes it all the more important to pick it up,” he says.

Bunch spots the algae-blackened buoy of his first derelict crab pot of the day just after a humpback surfaces near the Sadie K.

Leaning out the window of his boat’s cabin, Bunch uses his phone to snap a picture of the spot, capturing its location via the GPS setting. Then he hauls in the crab pot, the size and shape of a giant truck tire, and removes the owner’s tag inside that California mandates. He tosses the lone live crab inside the pot back into the water — it’s the offseason.

The crab gear goes back to Bunch’s port, which charges the original owners $100 for returning the lost gear — a bargain, compared to the $250 a new pot costs.

California fishermen and port officials working with the Nature Conservancy environmental group developed the program, designed to be affordable and easy enough for ports to manage on their own.

West Coast fishermen annually lose thousands of pots for Dungeness crabs, which are a staple of Thanksgiving dinners and community crab feeds across California.

Dungeness bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue in a good year. But they also are the single-largest identifiable source of fishing gear entangling whales on the West Coast. Crab pots and the lines can get carried away by waves or by vessels that accidentally snag them. Sometimes fishermen abandon their pots or lose them.

On the East Coast, meanwhile, lobster traps and gillnets are among the culprits in whale entanglements.

On both coasts, fishermen and others regularly join missions to cut free whales found tangled in gear. Last July, a Canadian fisherman was killed while rescuing an Atlantic right whale snagged by lines.

Clearly, “taking gear off the whales is not the solution to the problem. At all,” said Justin Viezbicke, who tracks West Coast entanglements for NOAA federal fisheries. The answer is “prevent these things from happening in the future.”

Off the West Coast, changes in ocean temperatures in recent years mean fishermen and whales increasingly have found themselves in the same waters.

The surge in whale entanglements has fueled tensions in California between commercial fishing operators eager to show they are trying to tackle the problems and some conservationists.

Some environmental groups say the state should put in place more mandatory protection measures, such as blocking fishermen from especially important waters for whales.

One group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed notice this summer that it plans to sue California for allegedly not doing enough to keep the Dungeness crab fishery from killing protected whale species.

“We’ve been hearing for years now from both the state of California and fishermen that they care about the problem and want to address it,” said Kristen Monsell, a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

“But nothing has changed other than more whales are getting tangled off our coast and dying painful, tragic deaths,” Monsell said.

On this morning, Bunch quickly reels in nine derelict crab pots in fewer than two hours.

Back at Half Moon Bay port, Lisa Damrosch, executive director of the local seafood marketing association, has taken in about 450 recovered crab pots so far this year, stacking them behind a fence to return them to their owners before the crucial holiday season for Dungeness crab.

“No one wants to entangle a single whale,” Damrosch said. But “the best fishermen in the world are going to lose a pot.”

Outdoors

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►  Ghostly, translucent lobster hauled from ocean off Maine

Maine lobstermen Alex Todd has hauled in blue lobsters and even some lobsters that were half blue, or half orange. But he says those don’t compare on the scale of weirdness to the translucent crustacean that he recently pulled up in a trap.

The lobster that Todd caught on August 24 is a ghostly, pale blue. It almost looks to be transparent.

Todd, from Chebeague Island, said he knew when he saw the translucent lobster in his trap alongside mottled green and brown lobsters that this was “definitely weird.”

His photos have made the rounds on social media.

As for the lobster, he tossed it back into the ocean because its tail had been notched, flagging the lobster as an egg-bearing female. Those lobsters are off-limits for conservation reasons.


►  Flight attendant wins discrimination case against Aeroflot

A Moscow court ruled in favor of a flight attendant who said Russia’s flagship airline stopped assigning her to work long-haul international flights because of her weight.

The Moscow City Court overturned a ruling by a district court that had rejected Yevgeniya Magurina’s contention that she was sidelined as part of Aeroflot’s drive to make its cabin crews younger and more physically attractive.

The flight attendant’s lawsuit put a spotlight on how women in Russia are still often judged by their looks, not their skills.

The 42-year-old Magurina had submitted pay slips showing that she had stopped receiving bonus pay, which comprised roughly 20 percent of her income, after she asked for a larger-sized uniform. She also says she no longer was assigned the role of senior steward after asking for a bigger uniform.

Magurina had requested 500,000 rubles ($8,700) in damages and for the court to rule that Aeroflot’s regulations on clothing sizes is discriminatory. The court on Wednesday upheld Magurina’s discrimination claim, ordered Aeroflot to pay her the missing bonus pay but awarded her just 5,000 rubles ($87) in damages.

Her attorney welcomed the ruling, calling it “definitely a victory.”

“We were not suing for money. We wanted the court to acknowledge that you cannot treat people like that,” lawyer Ksenia Michaylichenko said.

Russia courts do not normally award major damages even if they do uphold a claim in full.

Aeroflot’s press office did not have any immediate comment on the lawsuit.

Magurina said her experience was part of a broader move that affected hundreds of other Aeroflot flight attendants who faced pay cuts and were taken off prestigious long-haul flights. An appeal by another Aeroflot flight attendant with a similar claim is expected to be heard later this month.

Magurina said a sympathetic manager leaked her documents showing that some 600 of Aeroflot’s 7,000 cabin crew employees, most of them women, were reassigned to shorter flights without bonus pay because they were considered too “old, fat and ugly.”

Aeroflot in court denied the claims of discrimination, arguing that the company had no obligation to pay bonuses.

But the company acknowledged its preference for slimmer cabin crews, claiming that there were objective reasons for it. Aeroflot said overweight attendants could pose a safety risk by blocking emergency exits and required more costly fuel to transport.


►  Why ‘Hotel Impossible’ star likes a good roadside motel

You’d think a guy like Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,” would settle for nothing less than luxury hotels when he travels.

But Melchiorri, entering his seventh season as the fixer of failing hotels, says he’d just as soon stay in a roadside motel if it’s got good reviews online.

“Those are mom and pops that are working their butts off,” Melchiorri said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “They live in the back of the hotel, they get up in the morning, they put out fresh flowers, they make you breakfast ... I can’t wait to meet that owner. I can’t wait to have their breakfast. I can’t wait to sleep in that bed.”

Melchiorri, who’s got a new show called “Extreme Hotels” in the pipeline, also offered advice for getting good hotel deals and reflected on growing up poor. Here are excerpts from the interview, airing Wednesday on the AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here !”

GROWING UP POOR

“I actually grew up really poor. My dad died when I was 2 years old. My mom struggled to make a living. ... We were on welfare, had the block of cheese. She couldn’t afford college. So I went into the military and got my college degree and got some hotel experience. It was the best way to grow up because you understand the struggles so when you do have some easier times, you still work like you’re getting a block of cheese on Thursday.”

CAREER PATH

“I started my career at the Embassy Suites in Times Square. Then I was fortunate enough to work at the Plaza Hotel. At that time the current president (Trump) owned the hotel and it was in bankruptcy. We were brought in to help come off that, went to work at the Algonquin Hotel, the Lucerne Hotel and turned those hotels around with some of the greatest teams ever. ... Even before I was on television, I was always the guy they called in when things couldn’t be fixed.”

“People say, what’s your secret. It’s that I can identify talent. ... A kid that worked for me at the Plaza, who worked for seven years at McDonald’s, and no one would give him a shot as a bellman. Patrice. He was the best bellman I ever had in my career. The ability to recognize talent has been my key.”

BOOKING

“When you go online you have to be aware that all the ads on the side of the websites and all the ads on top, those are usually third parties. Say you put in the Algonquin New York. The Algonquin New York comes up but it says underneath the URL, Hotels.com. You have to be really savvy about making sure you find the website of the hotel. That sometimes could take you to the second or third or fourth page. ... You book with a third party, it’s really difficult to get your money back. The hotel’s hands are tied.”

“The hotel is guaranteed to have the lowest rate. Expedia is not allowed to have a lower rate than the hotel. When you go to the more opaque websites like Priceline and those, sometimes you can get a better deal. I hate to even say that. Those rates are hidden and sometimes the hotel will drop their rate last-minute, ridiculously low, just to fill up the rooms, but it’s always better to go to the hotels.”

CALL THE HOTEL

“I’m so frustrated with visitors that are afraid to call the hotel. The hospitality field by definition, that’s what we do. We’re hospitable. We want to talk to our guests. ... Make a personal connection. ... That gives that person at the hotel ownership of your reservation. ... It costs a lot to get you to my hotel. Once you get there, I want to keep you as my guest.”

“Ask for anything you want. You want flowers. You want an upgrade. You want to be by the pool. You want to be upstairs, downstairs, ask for everything. There are limits of what we can do. But it’s not whether we say no or yes. It’s how we say no. If we say no, that’s just a bad answer. If we say, ‘Unfortunately the upgrade is not available today, it’s available tomorrow if you want to change rooms,’ which most people don’t want to, at least you’re giving them an option. No one likes the word no. People do like explanations. If you’re explaining things to people, 99.9 percent of the time, people are understanding.”

HOW TO COMPLAIN

“There’s three stages of complaint: polite complaint; direct aggressive complaint; third, go to the internet and blow the damn hotel up on the internet and tell them how bad they are. I am a very big proponent of giving hotels two chances to fix their problems. If they don’t, I am a huge proponent of going online and telling everybody in the world the hotel’s problems. ... The training priorities, the passion has to be to take care of every single problem.”

BEDBUGS

“I got my badge of honor in Europe a couple weeks ago. I finally got bit by bedbugs.”

Outdoors

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►  West Virginia ag officials say flooding may contaminate hay

West Virginia officials are warning farmers about the possibility that their hay could be contaminated by recent flooding.

The state Agriculture Department said in a news release feeding contaminated hay to animals can be dangerous.

The agency said forages that are affected by flood waters become contaminated with soil, bacteria and debris. Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt recommends that farmers make sure they know where hay comes from before buying it.

The department said not to feed bales that aren’t sealed on both ends and said some individually plastic-wrapped baleage may be usable. Farmers should closely inspect bales for punctures or separation of plastic layers. If the plastic separates, discard the forage. If it remains intact until feeding, inspect for abnormal smells or colors and presence of molds or excess moisture.


►  Maine’s ‘Passy Pete’ lobster predicts 6 more weeks of summer

A group of Mainers says Passy Pete the Lobster has predicted six more weeks of summer at an annual ceremony.

The crustacean has been fished out of the Passagassawakeag River for the past three years in a tradition modeled after famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil’s winter prediction in Pennsylvania.

David Crabiel and his business partner, David Brassbridge, thought up the eccentric ceremony as a way to have some fun. Each year, a group of barons flank Passy Pete as he picks a scroll to determine whether Maine will see an extended summer or be greeted by winter. This year’s ceremony took place Monday.

Crabiel tells WLBZ-TV Pete’s been right the past two years. Brassbridge says they hope to carry on the tradition.


►  Dog helps sniff out invasive ants on California island

Scientists assessing long-term efforts to eradicate invasive ants on the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast have enlisted a four-legged expert to make sure an effort to kill off the destructive pests has succeeded.

A yellow Labrador named Tobias has lived for three months with a handler on Santa Cruz Island. The specially-trained dog keeps its snout to the ground, rooting through more than 1.6 square miles (4.1 square kilometers) of underbrush, searching for nests of Argentine ants that threatened the ecosystem after they were introduced decades ago.

Christina Boser, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy group, said Tuesday that Tobias has not yet discovered any new ant populations — a sign that a project started in 2009 to wipe out the unwanted insects has probably worked.

“The ants are very hard to find,” said Boser, adding that researchers decided to try a detection dog after first using lures made with a synthetic ant pheromone. “He’s good at his job, and he enjoys it a lot.”

Researchers speculate the ants arrived in the Channel Islands more than 30 years ago when boats used by Navy contractors did work there.

Boser researchers have not destroyed several old nests to make sure Tobias has something to sniff out so he can get his work reward: A favorite ball.

Argentine ants found in the country and in other South American nations have crossed borders and bedeviled homeowners and farmers along the U.S. West Coast for decades.

In a protected environment like Santa Cruz Island, part of Channel Islands National Park, the tiny pests aggressively compete with local ants for nectar, Boser said. Ultimately they can prevent bees from pollinating flowers — stopping seed production and killing off plant species, she said.

Starting seven years ago teams began using helicopters to distribute beads containing a low dose of toxicant mixed with sugar water across infested areas of the islands northwest of Los Angeles. Seduced by the sweetness, foraging worker ants gobbled up the bait and headed back to their nests, where they poisoned ant queens. Without queens, the colonies eventually died off.

“We’re now at the point that we’re going back in there to see if it worked,” Boser said.

The fact that Tobias’ searches are coming up empty gives scientists hope, she said, but it will take further study of long-term data for them to declare the ants “functionally eradicated.”

Tobias, owned by the Working Dogs For Conservation group, previously sniffed out invasive quagga mussels at a lake in Montana.

When the stint on Santa Cruz Island ends, the dog will get a before being dispatched for the same ant-sniffing job on San Clemente Island, the southernmost link in the Channel Islands chain.

“We’re happy to keep him working, and he’s happy to do it,” Boser said.


►  Campfire Stories at Twin Falls Resort State Park Captivate the Imagination in September 2017

Renowned storyteller David “Bugs” Stover will tell tall tales at Twin Falls State Park in Wyoming County four evenings during the month of September. Each event will start at 6:30 p.m. at the campfire circle beside the Twin Falls campfire store.

On Friday, September 08, and Friday, September 15, Stover will tell stories of local lore. During the annual Lumberjackin’ Bluegrassin’ Jamboree at Twin Falls Resort State Park on September 22-23, Stover will be joined by Cully McCurdy for two additional storytelling dates. On Friday, September 22, they’ll share lumberjack stories and lore, and on Saturday, September 23, they’ll tell ghost stories of West Virginia and beyond.

“’Bugs’ draws a crowd. He’s memorable. He’s a character,” said Deana Cook, activities coordinator at Twin Falls. “He can weave a story that is mostly true or highly believable, and everyone has a great time.”

The campfire stories are open to the public at no cost. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating.

For more information about Twin Falls State Park, visit www.wvstateparks.com or call 304.294.4000.

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