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photo by Richard Fields Grain fields for a 15-mile radius around the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area play host to foraging birds at midday.  Sandhill cranes are omnivorous and will eat insects, waste grains, crayfish, frogs, small animals, root tubers and plant shoots.Collecting eastern box turtles from "the wild" in Indiana will soon be ILLEGAL

An Indiana law, effective October 23, 2004, prohibits the collection of eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) or their parts from the wild in Indiana. Individuals who currently possess an eastern box turtle, a subspecies, or their parts will need to apply for the new box turtle possession permit. There is no cost for the permit.

The eastern box turtle is tottering between maintaining stable populations and becoming endangered. "Prohibiting the taking of the eastern box turtle in Indiana is one of the best ways that we can help protect this species," said State Herpetologist, Zack Walker.

Current studies reveal that male eastern box turtles must hear or see a female before the mating process will even begin. Low animal numbers in populations prevent adequate contact between males and females. Additionally, we now know that box turtles have a homing instinct. Turtles displaced by humans will instinctively attempt to return to their home habitat, often times forcing them to travel through unsafe conditions.

Past collection has already harmed many box turtle populations. The loss of habitat and an increasing number of roads through their habitat also contribute to their decline. Walker reports, "We now are aware of how detrimental incidental collection and displacement is to the population and it is essential that it does not continue as it has in the past."

The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a small to medium-sized turtle with a domed shell. The top of the turtle's shell is variable in color and pattern but is typically marked with yellow to orange streaks and blotches on a dark background. The eastern box turtle is very similar in appearance to the state-endangered Ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornate).

The Natural Resources Commission approved the recommended administrative rule changes on July 20, 2004. The Governor's Office, Attorney General's Office and the Indiana Secretary of State gave final approval of the rule changes on September 23, 2004. This change in the administrative rules puts Indiana in the top ten of states in the country trying to conserve the eastern box turtle.

Specific information about eastern box turtles and new possession permits in Indiana is available on the Wildlife Diversity Section's website at: www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/endangered.

Permit information may also be obtained by contacting the Division of Fish & Wildlife at 317-232-4080.


Indiana sandhill crane flock peaks in November

Indiana's sandhill crane flock is due to reach its noisy zenith in mid-November, and there's no better way to experience this natural aerial circus than by spending an autumn sunrise or sunset at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, 2-hours east of Waynedale.

DNR hopes to whet wild bird buff's appetites with a sneak peak at a sandhill crane Web video created for a proposed new DNR Online Wildlife Viewing Guide. The downloadable video is a quick trip-planning guide that gives viewers a glimpse of the crane spectacle.

Every fall, Jasper-Pulaski FWA in northwest Indiana becomes the largest resting place in the nation for these huge, clattering birds during their fall migration to Georgia and Florida.

Large flocks of greater sandhills can be seen at Jasper-Pulaski FWA beginning in October. The J-P crane population peaks in mid-November and the sandhills normally resume their journey south in December.

The best crane view in the state is at Jasper-Pulaski FWA from the handicapped-accessible observation tower near an area known as Goose Pasture.

At sunrise, the cranes leave resting marshes in gigantic, noisy flocks and gather in Goose Pasture to mingle and gab loudly for awhile before ascending on 7-foot wingspans for short flights to feeding areas.

During the day, cranes can be seen in nearby harvested farm fields and marshes. The cranes return to Goose Pasture about one-half hour before sunset to socialize before flying to roosting marshes.

In March, sandhills visit Indiana again on their way to nesting sites in the upper Midwest and southern Canada. Jasper-Pulaski FWA: 219-843-4841.

The Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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