Fred’s outdoor potpourri

Helicopters have proven to be useful tools in the fight against wild hogs

A black bear found dead in Hyde County, North Carolina, has tested positive for rabies, the first known case of a rabid black bear in that state. Biologists say that rabies in wild bears has been documented only four times in the lower 48 states since 1999. Rabies is nearly always fatal and can infect other mammals including people and their pets. Symptoms of rabies include abnormally aggressive behavior, loss of balance, fever, anorexia, and eye and nose discharge. You can only get rabies by coming in direct contact with the saliva, tears, or brain nervous tissue of an infected animal.

Darren Troseth of Minnesota had no idea he was about to set a new state record for catch and release lake sturgeon, but that's what he did on the St. Croix River. He had to cut five extra holes in the ice just to get the fish out. After taking a few photos and measuring the fish at 6 and a half feet, he and other fishermen released the fish back into the river. Speaking of sturgeon, 479 sturgeon were taken during a special 12-day spearing season on the Winnebago System in Wisconsin. Up in South Carolina, they've got a new idea how to help bird dog owners. Borrowing from a Georgia idea, South Carolina has opened three new bird-dog training areas that include the entirety of the Angelus WMA, a portion of the Cliff Pitts WMA, and a portion of the Landsford Canal WMA.

A fourth training area planned for the Edisto River WMA is not open yet. Carolina officials reason that the average person who does not own a sizable tract of rural land has little opportunity for training a bird dog. Anyone with a valid hunting license and WMA permit can train dogs for six months, September 15 through March 15 (excluding Sundays), and trainers may release and shoot pen-raised quail or pigeons in posted areas. You should already know it, but Alabama is pairing new adult hunters with experienced mentors for one-on-one outings that include instruction in game cleaning and cooking. New hunters must be 19 years of age or older, and may apply for up to three of the mentored hunts (deer, turkey, squirrel, and rabbit). E-Mail Justin.Grider@dcnr.alabama.gov for more information.

It's raining lead in Arkansas! Not really, but it might seem like it! In an effort to reduce the state's wild hog population, Arkansas Game and Fish and the United States Dept. of Agriculture teamed-up to go after the porkers with the use of a helicopter. A mid-February operation downed 121 of the animals from southeast Arkansas, though bad weather kept the chopper grounded much of the time over the three-day operation. A similar operation the year before yielded 615 of the beasts. The aerial gunning is used in conjunction with a large-scale trapping effort to control the pigs across Arkansas. The animals cause millions of dollars in damage to Arkansas farmland and forests each year. Not to mention ruining deer habitat, and the ground nests of quail and turkey. The hogs can be hunted day or night 365 days a year on private land in Arkansas.

South Dakota's fed-up with varmints that raid the nests of ducks and pheasant. So much so that the state is paying a bounty to encourage the trapping of raccoon, skunks, badgers, possums, and red fox during duck and pheasant nesting season. The state is also providing thousands of live traps for the purpose and is paying a bounty of $10 per tail. If you're thinking of heading that way to cash-in, better get the full details first. Go to https://gfp.sd.gov/bounty-program/ Let us know how you come out!