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National Hunting and Fishing Day Celebration at Stonewall Resort State Park, September 22-23, 2018

The Free Press WV

Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County for West Virginia’s Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day September 22-23, 2018. The event is the largest outdoor hunting and fishing show in the state, with approximately 100 vendors exhibiting hunting, fishing and conservation-related merchandise and information.

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

West Virginia native Frank Addington Jr. will perform hour-long shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. Addington’s “bow and arrow razzle-dazzle” will feature shooting aspirin-sized objects out of the air. The entirety of the show is shot with a recurve bow behind his back.

For the first time, the Mountain State Kayak Anglers are hosting a bass fishing tournament. Up to 200 anglers will be competing Saturday on Stonewall, Stonecoal and Burnsville lakes. A cash prize of $10,000 will go to the top angler during the awards ceremony at noon Sunday.

The Outdoor Youth Challenge will take place 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 hunting- and fishing-related items. Youth who compete in the five scored events can win a scholarship to Conservation Camp and Jr. 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 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 14 and younger. Complete schedules are available at www.wvdnr.gov under the Special Opportunities heading. The event is co-sponsored by the DNR and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation.

Huge squirrel population chomps crops, driving farmers nuts

The Free Press WV

There’s a bumper crop of squirrels in New England, and the frenetic critters are frustrating farmers by chomping their way through apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn fields.

The varmints are fattening themselves for winter while destroying the crops with bite marks.

Robert Randall, who has a 60-acre orchard in Standish, Maine, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“They’re eating the pumpkins. They’re eating the apples. They’re raising some hell this year. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Evidence of the squirrel population explosion is plain to see along New England’s highways, where the critters are becoming roadkill.

Last year, there was a bumper crop of acorns and other food that contributed to a larger-than-normal squirrel population this summer across the region, said Rob Calvert, wildlife biologist from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

This summer, there’s not as much food, so the squirrels are looking for nutrition wherever they can find it, including farms, Calvert said.

New England is home to both red and gray squirrels. Known for their bushy tails, the rodents are a common sight in city parks and backyards, and people enjoy watching their frenetic movements.

They eat everything from beechnuts and acorns to berries and seeds.

And, apparently, apples, peaches, high-bush blueberries, pumpkins and gourds. In New Hampshire, squirrels have been raiding corn fields, dragging away ears.

“It is crazy. You see squirrel tails everywhere,” said Greg Sweetser, who has a boutique apple orchard in Cumberland Center, Maine. In the past, he said, squirrels have sometimes nibbled on apples that had fallen to the ground. But this season they’re skittering into the trees, scurrying to and fro, and making their mark.

Oftentimes, the squirrels will take a single bite, then move on.

But a single bite is all it takes to ruin fruit.

In Vermont, where the harvest is just beginning in earnest, farmers are keeping a watchful eye because rodent damage has been a growing problem for its apple producers, said Eric Boire, the president of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association.

The good news for farmers is that boom years for both acorns and squirrels are uncommon. Thus, it’s likely that populations will return to normal soon.

The fact that squirrels are hustling to find food, and getting run over in prodigious numbers on highways, suggests the culling already has begun, Calvert said.

As hungry as the squirrels are, it’s unlikely that they’ll inflict massive economic damage.

“Every year in farming, there’s something that we’re dealing with,” said Margie Hansel, an owner of Hansel’s orchard in North Yarmouth, Maine. “It is what it is. It’s part of farming. You expect to have something like this happen every once in a while.”

Agriculture Strategic Plan Meetings Set for October

The Free Press WV

A five-year strategic plan to move West Virginia’s Agriculture industry forward is in the works. Now the public has another opportunity to offer their input into the process.

The steering committee of the West Virginia Agriculture Advisory Board, made up of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), WV Farm Bureau, WV Conservation Agency, WVU Extension Service, WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and West Virginia State University Extension Service, is holding 14 community meetings across the state during the month of October.

“This is a chance for West Virginians to have a say in the future of our agriculture economy,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “We are inviting agriculture business owners and stakeholders to participate in a hands-on process to identify specific strategies for how we can help move the industry forward and what direction we need to take.”

More than 500 people completed a survey earlier this summer narrowing down the issues that most impact West Virginia agriculture.

That is the stepping off point for the community meetings. Producers and agriculture stakeholders are urged to attend one of the 14 events and offer their input.

The community meetings are being held in Charleston, New Martinsville, Ghent, Sutton, Martinsburg, Moorefield, Parkersburg, Philippi, Core, Lewisburg, Tridelphia, Wayne, Point Pleasant and Mt. Clare.

In order to take part, participants must register ahead of time.

To locate an event near you and to register, log on HERE

Gilmer County winter grazing field day

The Free Press WV

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, in cooperation with the West Virginia University Extension Service, will co-host a Field Day to discuss stockpiling and winter grazing.

The Field Day will discuss different aspects of stockpiling forage such as winter feeding nutrient management, adding legumes, fencing, and water requirements.

The Field Day will be held at 6 p.m. September 18 at the Westfall Farm in Gilmer County. The farm is located just outside of Glenville.

For more information and directions, contact Zomarys Dumeng at 304.269.8431 ext. 3 or Daisy F. Bailey at 304.462.7061.

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