▶️ The Great Outdoors: Dangers of trapping season and how to free a trapped pet

It is trapping season, a time of year when fur-bearing animals such as coyotes and bobcats are sought for their winter pelts.

Problems arise when domestic dogs get caught in traps intended for other animals.

On this edition of the Great Outdoors, Brooke Snavely shows how to release dogs that get caught in traps.

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▶️ The Great Outdoors: Rescued bald eagle finds new purpose with Yakama Nation

An injured bald eagle that could not be released back into the wild has a new purpose as a wildlife ambassador for Native Americans.

Late last summer, Think Wild, Central Oregon’s wildlife hospital and conservation center, received a call about an injured eagle near Pringle Falls west of La Pine. 

Think Wild volunteer Gary Lauder was dispatched to assess the situation. 

“Some hikers had seen it for three days. They had thrown salmon at it and the eagle ate it. They noticed it wasn’t flighted and it was abnormal for it to be near or on the ground,” said Pauline Hice, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Think Wild. “They gave us a call and we sent a volunteer out there. The volunteer was able to chase the eagle down. Even not flighted, it was difficult to catch.”  

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An x-ray showed a portion of the eagle’s wing was amputated. It’s believed the eagle flew into a power line near where it was found and its wing was electrocuted. 

Luckily, the wound appeared cauterized and healed without infection. But clearly the majestic bird would never fly.

“The silver lining of that situation is that due to her being a first year, placement is definitely possible,” Hice said. “I reached out to a couple of facilities in Oregon, one being Cascade Raptor Center. They referred me to Michael in Yakama Nation to transfer the eagle to.”

 

Central Oregon Daily News had the good fortune to be invited to observe the transfer of the juvenile bald eagle from Think Wild in Bend to the Yakama Nation’s Aviary program in Toppenish, Washington.

Suffice it to say it is not easy capturing a 12-pound bird of prey, even one that can’t fly.

“We do a lot of things to make the animal calm such as putting on the hood. When you black out the eyes, it lowers their fear response. The crate is all blacked out,” said Michael Beckler, Yakama Nation Aviary Biologist. “It’s always an adventure. You never know where you are going to go to get an animal and you never know what the animal is going to do when you get it back. We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” 

Similar to putting blinders on a horse, what the eagle could not see calmed it down.

Anklets were placed on the eagle’s legs to help with training, to begin the process of getting it accustomed to being handled.

“Typically, we’ll train them to sit on a glove in front of an audience, be calm and receive reinforcement from us,” Beckler said. “Basically, you are training them to sit on a glove in front of a group of people that are obviously scary to it. It requires a lot of training to reverse that.” 

Bumper guards and cushions were placed on the bird’s wings and tail feathers to protect them if it thrashed around inside the transport crate.

And finally, a mild sedative was administered to help the eagle remain calm during transport and to ensure it wasn’t overly stressed when it arrived at its new home. 

“I learned a lot about a first-year bird as opposed to an adult bald eagle,” Hice said. “An adult bald eagle would be bouncing off the walls trying to attack us if I entered an enclosure. By comparison, she is really calm. Very food motivated. Completely different behavior compared to what I’ve experienced with adult bald eagles.” 

Bald eagles are protected in the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act.

Only licensed and certified experts are allowed to handle eagles, and only a select few are allowed to keep eagles in captivity.

“Eagles naturally molt a full set of feathers each year. That means a multiple set. The full tail, they’ll molt and regrow. Same with their secondary and primary feathers,” said Alyssa Woodward, Yakama Nation Aviary Technician. “Part of the aviary’s job is to collect those feathers, store them safely and eventually distribute them to our tribal members. That’s what tribal eagle aviaries are supposed to do.” 

Eagles are culturally significant to indigenous people of North America.

Tribal members wait for up to 10 years to obtain an eagle feather. The Yakama Nation tries to give eagle feathers to its members as they graduate from high school and college.

“It’s an evolving situation. We can’t guarantee we’ll have the feathers everyone wants at a certain time. We end up having a wait time. We can’t help it. We’re hoping this will benefit the tribe in years to come,” Woodward said.

The Yakama Nation plans to implement a youth eagle internship program for young people to learn about raptor care and training, as well as career opportunities at the aviary or in wildlife-related fields.

For now, the tribes are thrilled to receive their first bald eagle ambassador.

“Currently, we just have one redtail hawk. This will be our first bald eagle. We’ve had some golden eagles in the past,” Beckler said. “The idea is in the future to hit the magic number of 30 birds; 15 bald eagles and 15 gold eagles that people can come and freely see whenever they want.” 

The eagle, safely cushioned in its crate, left Bend about 9 o’clock in the morning and arrived at its new home in Toppenish about 7 hours later.

According to Beckler, it is adjusting well to its new home.

Hice said she would keep in touch to learn how the eagle is adapting to its new life in the Yakama Nation Aviary. 

“I’m not going to bother them but, every once in a while, I might ask them how is she doing? I know the volunteer who rescued her is very excited that she’s getting to go to a facility and continue her life.” 

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Bird Count pairs experienced watchers with newbies

Thousands of bird watchers participated in the Audubon Society’s nationwide Christmas Bird Count the past few weeks. The count isn’t officially tallied yet, but so far, they’ve counted nearly 6 million birds.

The annual Christmas Bird Count is a citizen science activity in which beginners are paired with experienced bird watchers to count as many birds as can be found in designated areas. 

“It’s done every year, same time period. The idea is you get a very consistent count across the entire United States and in other extended areas,” said Ron Young, Christmas Bird Count team leader. “The idea is you can see what weather changes are happening, how populations are changing, how environments are changing and how it impacts the birds.”

Is there a trick to spotting birds in cold weather? 

“You’ve just got to be patient because in the cold weather the small species, the sparrows, chickadees, they’ll stay down without sunshine and warmth. We just have to move slow, look in the bushes and try to get a good count,” Young said.

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“All you need to do is grab a pair of binoculars and just go outside. There are birds everywhere,” said Kelli Neumann, programs director at the Sunriver Nature Center. “That’s what’s really neat about this hobby is you can go anywhere. You can do it anytime. The whole family can get involved. We have a feeder here at the Nature Center and that’s a good place to check out birds. We also have bird walks available guided by professional birders.”

 

The Christmas Bird Count is a prime example of how everyday observations by first-time volunteers and experts alike can make a big difference in understanding how the climate is changing.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 16, almost 44 years. I’ve done a lot of these over the years,” Young said. “They are a lot of fun. Everybody gets into it.”

We caught up with Nancy Albert of Sunriver who was participating in her first bird count.

“It was exciting and interesting,” she said. “Being new to the area, I was not familiar with a lot of the bird varieties. Traveling around this lake this morning, I was able to learn more about the birds that live here. Now I’ll know a little more when I start looking out my kitchen window and what I’m seeing.”

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The Audubon Society has been staging Christmas Bird Counts for more than 120 years.

Long-term trends in the data show dramatic changes.

More and more bird watchers are seeing half as many birds as were counted just 35 years ago.

Ron Young started participating in bird counts when he lived in Eastern Oregon. 

“Where I grew up, I saw a lot of changes in bird populations over the years. You go back 20-30 years ago the chukar count was incredibly high. It’s gone down and now it’s coming back up a little bit. The pheasant population is way down. But we are seeing more bald eagles than we’ve seen in the last 10 years. That’s fun seeing them come back the way they have.” 

 

On this day, the bird watchers spotted the Nature Center’s resident trumpeter swans, mallard ducks and Canada geese.

In the meadows and thickets around Lake Aspen, chickadees, sparrows, ravens, ducks, hawks and bald eagles were seen.

“It’s really fun to do a walk with the birders because the more you get into birding, the more you start seeing,” Neumann said. “You might first notice the robins and stuff. But when you are out with a birder, they’ll point out there’s a robin. There’s a titmouse. There’s a sparrow. You start seeing more that’s around you. It’s a really fun way to see and enjoy nature.” 

Christmas Bird Count data has prompted changes in how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies manage natural resources to protect places birds need to thrive now, and in a climate-disrupted future.

After participating in an organized bird count, Nancy Albert said she planned to buy some bird books so she can identify birds she sees on her own. 

“I have binoculars. I forgot to bring them but next year I will be wiser and bring them with me.” 

The next time you go for a nature walk or explore your neighborhood, record the wildlife you see. Your observations can help protect the environment.

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Off-roading with the Deschutes Co. 4 Wheelers Club

High clearance, off-road vehicles can go places others simply can’t, like the top of Pine Mountain in the middle of winter.

On this edition of The Great Outdoors, we go off-roading with the Deschutes County 4 Wheelers Club.

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▶️ The Great Outdoors: Avalanche dangers in Central Oregon

Fresh powder on the slopes might look like some amazing skiing – but dangers always lurk under the surface.

In this edition of The Great Outdoors, sponsored by Parr Lumber, Central Oregon Daily’s Brooke Snavely looks into the dangers of avalanches in Central Oregon.

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RELATED: The Great Outdoors: COCC’s Physiology Lab can test your conditioning

 

 

▶️ The Great Outdoors: COCC’s Physiology Lab can test your conditioning

Are you physically ready for ski season, be it downhill, nordic or skate skiing? Have you trained for the rigors of the sport?

If you’re not sure, the Physiology Lab at Central Oregon Community College is a place where anyone can test their conditioning before heading out on the slopes.

Two elite athletes were training for upcoming endurance events when we visited COCC’s Physiology Lab

“Tucker (Thole) and I are getting ready for a mixed relay in ski mountaineering in Switzerland in March,” said Molly Zurn. “It will be one of six events that we do. We will each do an individual event and a team event. He will, he’s much stronger than me, put a rope on me and tow me which is something you can do in the team event. The team event takes about six hours. The relay will take 10 minutes each, so it’s quite a range of events that you have to train for.”

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While running on a treadmill that tilts to replicate an uphill climb, test participants wear a mask with two one-way valves. One valve lets air in. The other valve is expired gases which is directed to a metabolic cart that has oxygen and CO2 sensors in it. 

“We are measuring somebody’s maximal aerobic capacity, essentially the most amount of oxygen they are able to intake and utilize during activity. We don’t utilize all the oxygen that we breathe in. We push a lot of it back out. We are seeing essentially how big someone’s aerobic engine is,” said J.T. Strang, COCC Physiology Lab Coordinator.

Zurn and Thole are preparing to compete in the International Ski Mountaineering Federation’s Masters World Championships in Europe.

Ski mountaineering is backcountry skiing on steroids. Competitors race uphill on skis with skins for traction. They remove the skins and race downhill. Then they race up and down more hills going as fast as they can for as long as humanly possible.

Thole is training to beat certain competitors he raced against last year in Italy.

“I’m going to use the heart rate to get closer to them. So if there’s particular times in the race I can look at the heart rate, see how I’m feeling, see where they are ahead or hopefully behind. If I get ahead of them and I realize my heart rate is higher than it should be, I can slow down, let them catch up and be right there with them and then push later on so I don’t spend too much energy early and have them pass me at the end.” 

Lactate threshold is the point at which blood lactate increases faster than the body’s ability to clean it up and muscle cells become acidic. 

“When the acidity builds up, that’s when people start to fatigue,” Strang said. “Your legs get heavy and you have to slow down or stop.”

As a test gets progressively harder, the individual’s blood lactate level rises. 

“When we see a non-linear break of typically more than one millimal between stages, that’s when we know they are at their threshold. And that is what many of the athletes who come in for testing want to identify and learn how to influence while they are training with a heart rate monitor,” Strang said. “That’s how they develop their future training program. They can tease that moment in time. They can do their interval training to try to nudge that lactate threshold further and further. The main goal of most athletes is increasing their lactate threshold over their main heart rate.” 

The tests also give COCC Health Science students hands on learning opportunities.

The COVID pandemic shut down COCC’s Physiology Lab for more than a year, but it is open again to anyone who would like to test their physical fitness. There are fees associated with the different types of tests the lab offers. Call ahead to schedule an appointment.

“I’m 51 and I knew my heart rate zones had changed so I thought I’m going to come back, see where I am and what I can do,” Zurn said. “It was great confirmation to know that with the right amount of training, the right type of training and the right focus I could still get fitter at age 51. It’s pretty cool.” 

Information gathered from these tests provide direction, purpose and goals for people trying to lose weight, prepare for ski season or extreme athletes trying to win endurance events.

“The only thing I care about is beating these two Austrian men, this one German, the Italians, the Swiss, the guys I raced last year. Those are the only guys I care about. If I can beat those 10 guys, then I’ll be super happy,” Tucker Thole said. 

For more information, call 541-383-7768 or visit this link.

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Snowshoe with a Ranger tours

There are many winter sports worth trying when there is snow on the ground. Snowshoeing is one of the easiest.

Snowshoe with a Ranger tours are offered each winter at Mount Bachelor. When the Ochoco National Forest hosted a tour at Walton Lake in the mountains northeast of Prineville, we had to check it out.

“We wanted to do it out of the Walton Sno-Park. You could see the hut and the trails but that would have been a little over two miles,” said Kassidy Kern, public affairs officer for the Ochoco National Forest. “We wanted to make this family-friendly. I know my kids would not be able to hang for over two miles, so we wanted something a little shorter. Something a 6-, 8-, or 10-year-old wouldn’t whine too much at their parents, so we tightened it down to 1.5 miles. It wasn’t really taxing for folks. There were a lot of stops along the way to learn about the beautiful Ochoco and its rich history.” 

Walton Lake was originally a meadow with springs flowing through it that was dammed by miners who needed water. Later, the Isaak Walton League built a larger dam to create a reservoir for recreation purposes. 

Today, Walton Lake is a much-loved place, but there’s nobody there in winter except those willing to break trails through deep snow.

“It can be pretty tiring. Be mindful of that if you are going through deep snow,” Kern said. 

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“We call it post holing where you are just putting your feet into the ground. Oh fiddle, it will get up to your middle before you realize. Make sure you know where you are going and you have that plan. If the snow gets to the point that you are really starting to sweat, turn back. You don’t want to be sweating in all those layers and making yourself tired and potentially hypothermic,” she said.

 

The beauty of going on a guided snowshoe tour is that the guides are prepared with the 10 Essentials:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Extra clothing
  3. Extra food
  4. Emergency shelter
  5. Knife
  6. Gear tape
  7. Headlamp
  8. Extra batteries
  9. Compass
  10. Lighter or some other way to start a fire

They will teach newcomers how to prepare for adventures on their own.

I asked Dan and Lucy Seed from Redmond what they thought of their first snowshoeing expedition.

“I’d say perfect for beginners,” said Dan.

Was it fun? 

“Yeah. It was very tiring,” said Lucy.

“One of the reasons we chose snowshoe is you don’t have to be rich to do it,” Kern said

“We were able to use Discover Your Forest snowshoes and we were able to provide equipment to those who didn’t have them. I don’t know that we’ll be able to do that in the future, but this is something that you can rent for not much money. You don’t need a helmet and gear. You just need good warm clothes. You need water.  You need to know where you are going,” Kern said.

You can go virtually anywhere on snowshoes. 

The tricks are to pick up your feet a little higher and walk with a slightly wider stance. Never try to walk backwards. Some people use ski poles for additional balance.

“I love it. The views. We haven’t seen the lake frozen over. It’s beautiful,” Dan Seed said. 

“It will be fun going with my class,” Lucy said.

“Our field ranger work force is well staffed in the summer and we recently extended it to year-round,” Kern said. “That really is to provide a better customer experience for people who are out on the forest. You don’t stop having questions in the fall and winter and then the spring. We wanted to make sure we had a consistent workforce that could be there year-round,” Kern said. “If folks aren’t sure where they are and they are out there on their snowmobiles, their snowshoes, we want to be there for them. This is just an extension of the customer service we provide in the summer and we are doing year-round now.” 

▶️ The Great Outdoors: Ice fishing in Klamath County

When winter weather turns cold for extended periods, optimistic anglers bundle up and go ice fishing.

On this edition of the Great Outdoors, we head to an ice fishing seminar on Lake of The Woods in Klamath County.

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▶️ The Great Outdoors: Grooming Virginia Meissner Sno-Park

Cross country and skate skiing are enormously popular in Central Oregon partly due to miles of expertly groomed trails just a few minutes from town. In this week’s Great Outdoors, we take you on a pre-dawn ride in a grooming machine at the Virginia Meissner Sno Park.

A special thanks to our Great Outdoors sponsor, Parr Lumber, for giving us the time and resources to explore the lakes, rivers and mountains across our beautiful state every Wednesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

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▶️ The Great Outdoors: Winter range closures help wildlife thrive

Beginning December 1st, four winter wildlife closures take effect across the Deschutes National Forest to protect deer and elk “winter range.”

On this edition of The Great Outdoors, sponsored by Parr Lumber, Brooke Snavely explains how the public can help deer and elk survive the cold winter months.

It primarily involves keeping your distance.

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