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Official Publication of the ACEOA



Gayle Morrow

in this issue...


2014 2016 State Officers and Directors  3


Brent-Wyatt West
8436 Crossland Loop, Suite 207
Montgomery, Alabama 36117

Chris Banks / Jim Downing
8436 Crossland Loop, Suite 207
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
(334) 213-6229


ACEOA Executive Director Rusty Morrow

with ACEOAs Life Hunter, Carrie Mason
and The Buckmaster, Jackie Bushman
at the BADF Life Hunt 2015.

From the President  5

From the Trenches  7
BADF Life Hunt 2015  9
My Life Hunt Story  15
Kids Korner  21
Bring A Friend To An Alabama State Park  23
Becoming an Outdoors Woman Events  25
Beware of the Tick  27
ACEOA Makes Donation to Combat Wounded Warriors  31
The Buckmasters Expo 2014  33
A Hunting Tradition  39
Oaks Youth Hunt Again Big Success  45
Ashville Middle School Archers Win 9th Alabama Title  51
Is that an Eagle I See?  55
The Henry County Youth Dove Hunt  59
Diligence, Persistence Needed to Deal with Nuisance Wildlife  63
The Misunderstood FootRestraining Device  67

ACEMagazine is the official publication of the

Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer
Association. Purchase of advertising space
does not entitle the advertisers to any privileges
or favors from members. ACEMagazine does
not assume responsibility for statements of
fact or opinion made by any contributor.
This magazine is created and produced by
BrentWyatt West. Copyright 2015. 
All rights reserved.

A Turkey Hunting Nightmare  71

Hunters Should Report Bands from Harvested Birds  75
Feral Hogs  77
Feral Cats Negatively Affect Wildlife  83
Advertisers Index  151
Business Directory  157
ACEOA Magazine1

2014 2016 ACEOA State Officers

Executive Director

Rusty Morrow (Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Enforcement Retired)

2014 2016 ACEOA State Officers

Heath Walls President Vance Wood Vice President Chris Lewis Secretary/Treasurer
Chris Jaworowski Past President


Ernie Stephens Director Wendell Fulks Associate Director

Blount, Colbert, Cullman, Fayette, Franklin, L amar, L auderdale, L awrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Walker, Winston


Scott Kellenberger Director Jerry Fincher Associate Director Joel Glover Associate Director
Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, DeK alb, Etowah, Jackson, Marshall, R andolph, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa


Grady Myers Director Cliff Robinson Associate Director

Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lowndes, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa


Tim Ward Director Patrick Norris Associate Director Rick Smith Associate Director
Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, Russell


Don Reaves Director Joe Little Associate Director Bo Willis Associate Director
Baldwin, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Washington, Wilcox

ACE Magazine
Gayle Morrow Editor

For questions about your District Director, ACEOA, or membership contact:

Rusty Morrow, P.O. Box 74, Lowndesboro, AL, 36752, (334) 3919113, rusty_morrow@yahoo.com

ACEOA Magazine3

From the President

By Heath Walls

pring is here. The turkeys are gobbling, fish are biting, and everything is blooming and turning green.
I was working a poaching complaint a few days ago,
and it was one of those days that reminded me what an
amazing job we have. I was standing in the woods about
one hundred yards from a field. Between me and the field
was a small pond. About an hour after the sun came up,
two gobblers came strutting
and gobbling along the edge
of the field. As I was watching
this, a wood duck landed in the
pond between me and the turkeys. Not long after that a red
tailed hawk landed on a pine
limb watching the woody, trying to decide if he wanted duck
for breakfast. Along with all
the normal morning chatter of
song birds and squirrels, it was
absolutely picturesque.
With that picture in mind,
Id like to point out that there
is some currently proposed
legislation that if enacted will
cause some officers to be laid
off. This will affect the most
recently hired officers. These
officers gave up other good
paying careers to be Conservation Officers because
they love the outdoors because they want scenes like
the one mentioned above to be part of their daily job.
These officers have families to support and are upstanding members of their communities. These officers risk
their lives every day to protect your property rights, to
ensure public safety, and to protect our natural resources.
They deserve better than to be laid off because of political disagreements.
I have heard repeatedly over the last few weeks the
phrases, Do more with less. and Tighten their belts.
in regards to state agencies making cuts to avoid tax

increases. In the last decade all state agencies have been

asked to do more with less repeatedly. In DCNR specifically, we have made budget cuts, consolidated internally
by creating five districts statewide instead of six, closed
offices, cut supervisors positions through attrition, and
made due with one officer in counties that traditionally
had two or more. Also, until last year, state employees

went almost a decade without a merit raise increase.

At some point, doing more with less is not feasible and
services and programs will be cut. For example, under the
current projected cuts, we may have to close a large number of State Parks. The projected cuts will have a domino
effect due to the loss of matching federal funds and possibly having to repay federal funds due to restrictions on
where that money can be spent. These cuts will affect all
DCNR Divisions: State Parks, Marine Resources, Wildlife
and Freshwater Fisheries, and State Lands.
As a state employee and a citizen of Alabama,
continued on 6
ACEOA Magazine5


I dont want to pay higher taxes any more than anyone
else. But, I also realize that sometimes it is necessary for
our agencies to function. Also, as an employee, I know
our department strives to manage the funds we receive
fairly, ethically, and efficiently. I would also like to point
out but for a few exceptions DCNR does not use General
Fund money. We are mostly self-funded through license
sales, user fees, and matching federal funds.
Thank you all for your consideration on this, for your
support of our Conservation Enforcement Officers, and for
your support of the Alabama Conservation Enforcement
Officer Association. Thank you to those who have bought
magazine ads or made donations to our Association. We
use the money that you give to sponsor youth hunting

6ACEOA Magazine

and fishing events, to take people with disabilities hunting, to educate about our natural resources and to assist
our officers.
I would like to encourage everyone to purchase a hunting, freshwater fishing license, saltwater fishing license,
or wildlife heritage license. Even if you do not hunt or
fish, the money from these license sales pay for everything our Conservation Officers do. It also assists in our
wildlife and fisheries management, public boat ramps,
access areas, and public land purchases and up keep. The
purchase of these licenses is an inexpensive way to protect Alabamas natural resources, and insure that future
generations have access to all of our natural resources.


From the Trenches

By Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

hope this Spring issue of ACE Magazine finds all of our

readers doing well. At the time of this article, turkey
season is nearing its end. What a crazy season it
has been! The complaints Ive heard in south Alabama
is they just wont gobble and when they do in the tree,
they shut up on the ground. This has been the way turkey
season has been for me. I never heard a turkey in the
month of March. I can count only two that I heard on my
neighboring land. The
weather surely has not
helped. I cant remember
a season that I missed
so many days due to
rain. Well, there is just
not much you can do
about Mother Nature
and the always puzzling wild turkey. I am
often asked, during my
open air frustrations,
why do I keep hunting
turkeys if it is that painful. Only a turkey hunter
can answer this question
and most of the reasons
I list are pretty dumb and
really make me look like somewhat of an idiot. Oh well,
thats probably true. Fortunately, Im not alone.
This legislative season has been about as strange as
turkey season. New bait bills have surfaced again (getting
to be pretty common) and they had some new wrinkles.
They even brought in the celebrities in the country music
industry to plead their cases in committee. Hoping to gain
approval, the proponents devised a plan to raise revenue
for the DCNR by adding a fee for each feeder. Seems to me
that it would be easier if the people that sold deer feeders
give the DCNR a royalty on each feeder sold in Alabama.
I never heard this idea come up. Just the theory behind
making deer hunting an arm chair sport (even more than
it is) is disturbing. It should remain about hunting and

not killing. It should be about the resource and not the

hunter. I fear that we are losing track of the true purpose
of the hunter and his role as a conservation tool.
The Governor is battling with the Legislators on the
budget. Everyone is looking for ways to cut. It seems our
state parks are always on the chopping block. I would
only hope that they find other ways and leave our parks
alone. They are already stretched as far as they can go
and still operate. I wish
that more consideration
could be given to closing
corporate loop holes to
generate valuable revenues for the state.
The Lottery has surfaced again but the
Governor has said it
would not create enough
revenue this year to help.
With increased taxes on
our already struggling
population, it seems all
options, rather than tax
increases, should at least
be considered. When will
we take politics out of
good sound economics and solve the problems this state
is faced with. It can be done if they want to do it.
Please enjoy this issue of Ace Magazine. It is one our
favorites because we get to feature the Life Hunt Classic.
This is our largest project and one that gives us the most
joy. I have told our corporate sponsors many times that
you make these events possible. We are deeply appreciative of your continued support. You are our Life line.
When finished pass it on to a friend; so they can enjoy
it. I will leave you with this Quote:
We must overcome the notion that we must be
regularit robs you of the chance to be extraordinary
and leads you to the mediocre. ~ Uta Hagen
ACEOA Magazine7

BADF Life Hunt 2015

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
Photos by David Rainer

little more than three years ago, Carrie Mason

was your normal 16-year-old, looking forward
to having a drivers license and enjoying the outdoors with her parents, Art and Dianne Mason.
Everything changed when Carrie unknowingly
encountered a small, insect-like creature common to the
outdoors the deer tick. She became ill, and doctors
couldnt make a firm diagnosis. She kept getting worse
and worse.
About two months after my 16th birthday, I started
getting sick, said Carrie, who was among the 15 hunters at the Buckmasters Life Hunt recently at Sedgefield
Plantation near Safford. It took over a year to finally get
diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Carrie said she has no idea when she was bitten by
the tick. She doesnt remember any bite with the telltale
rash in the shape of a bulls-eye.
Ive grown up outside, she said. My dad works at
YMCA Camp Chandler (near Wetumpka), so Ive had ticks
on me all the time. So we dont know when I actually
got the disease or which tick gave it to me. At first it was
like the flu. Then I stopped eating, totally. I was in the
hospital for a little while. They told me it was all in my
head. Then they said I had MS (multiple sclerosis), mono
(mononucleosis), Crohns disease, all sorts of stuff. Ive
been tested for everything, and then we finally found out
it was Lyme disease.
Despite her illness, Carrie tried to keep up with her
schoolwork until the disease made it impossible.
My muscles started getting weak, so I can barely
walk now, she said. I had to start using a walker to get
around the house. I have severe stomach pain. I have
neurological problems. I have problems with cognitive
thinking. When I was in school, my grades started dropping because I couldnt remember what I had studied.
Because Alabama doesnt have a facility with the specific treatments needed for an advanced case of Lyme
disease, the Masons have had to travel to Washington,
D.C., for treatment, much of which is not covered by

Carrie Mason shows off the buck she bagged during the
Buckmasters Life Hunt recently at Sedgefield Plantation
near Safford. Guides Craig Nelson, left, and Randall Higgins
helped track and recover Masons deer after the hunt.

insurance. She is currently off antibiotics to try to rebuild

her immune system.
On January 28, Im going in to have a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line put in, she said. Then
well do IV antibiotics for about nine months.
Carrie later got her high school diploma, but shes delaying college for a while.
continued on 11
ACEOA Magazine9

BADF LIFE HUNT 2015 continued

Im going to wait until we
get started with the treatment
and see what happens from
there, she said.
Carries mom, Dianne, said
it has been a struggle, both
emotionally and financially,
since her once-vibrant daughter
became ill. Dianne said Carrie
was sick for a year-and-a-half
before they found out it could
be Lyme disease. She and Art
then researched the disease
and found a doctor who would
treat Carrie.
Dianne is not surprised that
Carrie encountered any number
of insects and creatures that
live in the Alabama outdoors.
Art is a hunter, and hes carried Carrie with him since she
Noah Walters of Mississippi is all smiles after he took the first buck of the
was little, Dianne said. She
Buckmasters hunt with the help of guide Jake Goodin, right, and Matt
Light, the former All-Pro lineman with the New England Patriots.
loves the outdoors. Weve
camped since she was little.
Weve been outdoors all our lives.
Carrie said she never felt the recoil of her .243
Carrie was the guest of the Alabama Conservation
Winchester rifle.
Enforcement Officers Association at the Life Hunt, which
Ive been shooting my whole life, so Im used to it,
is tailored to those with special needs because of sickshe said.
ness or disabilities. The Hinton family makes Sedgefield
Jackie Bushman, CEO and founder of Buckmasters,
available for the hunt, and a group of volunteers builds
said those who love the outdoors have to be aware of
shooting houses and other facilities to make them handthe threat of Lyme disease.
Ive got friends whove had Lyme disease, Bushman
It didnt take long for Carrie to take her first deer. It
said. I thought I had Lyme disease one time. I had a lot
happened on the first morning hunt.
of the symptoms, but fortunately, I didnt. I think when
We werent even in the stand when four does crossed
youre hunting, especially turkey hunting, that youve
the field in front of us. Shortly after that, the buck came
got to be extra careful. When I get in, I hang my hunting
out to the left of us and slowly walked across the field.
clothes outside just to see if I see anything crawling.
I shot him just before he went into the woods on the right.
Bushman said when he found out Carrie was a big
Right when I shot him, he went nose down. But he got
Alabama Crimson Tide fan, he made a point to autograph
up and walked a little ways. It took an hour to find him.
an Auburn hat and present it to her.
Ive been teasing her, but to see her with her first buck
Carrie admitted she got a little dose of buck fever.
I got really nervous and excited at the same time,
is something you dont forget, Bushman said. A lot of
she said. My dad helped me set up the gun. Then I got
hunters take that for granted, but I remember that feeling
him in the scope and followed him until I got a good shot.
back when I was 15-years-old in Myrtlewood, Ala., and
I go hunting, but this is my first deer.
continued on 13
ACEOA Magazine11


Davids Heating &

BADF LIFE HUNT 2015 continued

1566 National Forest Rd. Suite 12

AL same
I shot a 6-inch spike.
I see the
smile on her face
that was on mine. Thats
what this Life Hunt is all about.
But Carrie wasnt finished with her deer harvest. She
went out that afternoon and bagged a doe.
Two hundred yards. Perfect shot, said her
proud father.
This has been so exciting, Carrie said. Im so thankful for Mr. Bushman, the Hinton family and the Alabama
Conservation Enforcement Officers Association. Its been
a great experience.
Several celebrities showed up to hang out with the
hunters, including former New England Patriots offensive
lineman Matt Light and Atlanta Braves All-Star pitcher
Craig Kimbrel.
Light has his own foundation to work with disadvantaged kids. He has a 600-acre camp in his native Ohio
where the kids go to hike, hunt and work out.
got COAL
a turf field&
there, probably the only
turf field in the middle of the woods, said Light, who

said much of the foundations work is to help the kids be

REAL. Thats the life and soul of what the Life Foundation
represents. It stands for responsible, ethical, accountable,
and at the end of the day, leaders.
Light came to the Buckmasters event at the invitation
of Wildgame Innovations Bill Busbice, who made an
appearance on the final day of the Life Hunt along with
Swamp People buddies Troy, Jacob and Chase Landry.
Any time you7886
time with
a kid in the outdoors
is obviously awesome,
even more special,
Mobile, AL 36619
said Light. This is my first year. I went out with a little
guy named Noah (Walters). Hes got the heart of a lion,
and he got the first buck of the event. It was an awesome experience.
This just represents such a unique opportunity for kids
to participate in hunting. And what Jackie does, and Jimmy
Hinton does there arent many places like this in the
country. For volunteers to come in and work their tails off
to get it ready for the hunt, its a special deal.



P.O. Box 1608 Jasper, AL 35502


ACEOA Magazine13

My Life Hunt Story

By Carrie Mason

his past month, I had the amazing opportunity to

participate in the Buckmasters Life Hunt. For three
days I got to go hunting and meet new people. This
was one of the best experiences Ive had.
About four years ago, right after my 16th birthday,
I began to have flu-like symptoms. I continued to get
worse while seeing many doctors and having numerous
tests done. None of them could give me a diagnosis. My
symptoms got worse and I could no longer walk. I had
to drop out of school for a year. After a year and a half
of being sick, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Lyme
Disease. We have to travel out of state for treatment since
there were not doctors locally that treat Lyme disease.
I was able to finish High School finally, a year behind.
I am currently waiting to begin college until some of my
neurological symptoms improve. In February, I will begin
a 9 month treatment of IV antibiotics. I am hoping this
will resolve a lot of my symptoms.
This hunt has meant so much to me personally. Before
I became ill, I was always outdoors. So being able to go
back out into the woods, made me feel almost normal, like
I was not sick. Not only was the hunting great, but I also
got to meet some of the most amazing people. Everybody
with Buckmasters, the sponsors, and all the volunteers
were so nice to us and made the experience better.

One of the highlights of the whole hunt was being able

to shoot my first buck ever! The first morning we went
out, me and my dad were accompanied by our guide,
Nathan, and cameraman Brandon. We were getting into
the blind around 6 a.m., just before sunrise. Just as we
were getting settled in, four deer crossed right in front
of us! About 20 minutes after getting settled in, a nine
pointer came out into the field in front of us. The buck
was about 100 yards away. After I made my shot, the
buck went down and everyone in the blind cheered! It
continued on 16

ACEOA Magazine15


was exciting!!! I took about an hour to track him down.

When then loaded him up and headed back to the camp.
When we got back, everyone was so happy for me and
they shared in my excitement. I got my first buck and he
was a nine point!!!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Rusty
Morrow and the Alabama Conservation Enforcement
Officers Association for sponsoring me for the Life Hunt.
If it wasnt for you, I would not have had this great experience. I will always be grateful for them giving me this
amazing opportunity to attend the Life Hunt.
On a personal note, I would like to share what hap-

16ACEOA Magazine

pened after the Life Hunt. When I got home, I had so many
pictures on my phone and my Moms phone. I compiled
all the photos together and couldnt wait to show my
PaPa and tell him all about the Life Hunt. He was actually admitted to the hospital while I was at the Life Hunt.
I showed him all my pictures and told him all about me
shooting my first buck. He loved the picture of me with
my 9-point. He kept saying I had the biggest smile on my
face and he was so glad that I was able to go hunting. My
PaPa passed away the next week. Im so glad I was able
to share my experience with him. It made him so happy
to see me happy!


ACEOA Magazine17



Davids Heating &

1566 National Forest Rd. Suite 12
Houston, AL 35572

7886 Bullitt Drive
Mobile, AL 36619


18ACEOA Magazine



ACEOA Magazine19


20ACEOA Magazine

Kids Korner
By Gayle Morrow
Tell us about your special time in the outdoors. We prefer a short article telling about the hunt along
with a few digital high resolution photos. Send the information to gayle_morrow@yahoo.com.

Congratulations to Chase Little, son of Kelli and Jason Little of Lowndesboro. Chase is 13-yearsold and loves to hunt and fish. He gets a few opportunities each season to try to bag a trophy buck.
This hunt took place late in the season. Chase was happy to walk away with this nice 8-point.

ACEOA Magazine21

ACEOA Magazine23

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Events

By Vance Wood, ACEOA Vice President

he ACEOA is a proud sponsor of the Becoming an

Outdoors Woman Workshop or BOW. This event is
held twice a year (Spring and Fall) at the beautiful
Alabama 4-H Lodge and Convention Center, located on
Lay Lake near Columbiana, Alabama.
While enrolled in the workshop, women ages 18 and up
are able to learn and hone new skills such as pistol, rifle,
shotgun, mountain biking, boating, canoeing, fishing,
ATV handling, self defense, camping, back packing, geo
caching, outdoor photography, birding, turkey hunting,
duck hunting, deer hunting, etc. The list of opportunities to learn by a seasoned staff of veteran Conservation
Enforcement Officers, DCNR Fisheries and Wildlife Staff
and numerous Volunteers is almost endless. The cost of
tuition is $225 per person and includes meals, room and
board for the entire workshop, which begins on a Friday
at noon and concludes at noon on the following Sunday.
There are also other BOW activities throughout the
year such as the Beyond BOW Program, where ladies
who have met at the regular BOW may get together for
fellowship and go hunting for whitetail deer. The ACEOA

provides a scholarship for one lucky recipient at each

semi-annual BOW Workshop, which is drawn at random.
Come on out ladies and join in the fun, who knows you
may be the next recipient of an ACEOA BOW Scholarship.
You may need it, because youll want to come back! There
is absolutely no way you can do everything you want to
do at just one Workshop!
Mrs. Tara Whitmore was the winner at the October
2014 BOW and her scholarship allowed her to attend the
following BOW in March 2015. According to Tara, without
winning the scholarship she may not would have been
able to attend BOW again for a while. She did want to
come back again, but it would have been unaffordable
for her at the time.
Mrs. Angela Powers was the winner at the March
2015 BOW and she was ecstatic! Quoting Angela, I am
so happy! I have never won anything before in my life!
This is literally the first time! Thank you and the ACEOA!
I cant wait to come back in the Fall! Now folks, that just
makes you feel good and proud of what we all do in order
to share the wonders of Alabamas great outdoors. l

Tara Whitmore and ACEOA Vice President, Vance Wood.

Angela Powers and ACEOA Vice President, Vance Wood.

ACEOA Magazine25

Beware of the Tick

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

nlike most victims, Chuck Sykes knows exactly

saw a black panther, Sykes said. He told me, No, you
when a deer tick bit him that led to a six-month
dont. We dont have Lyme disease down here.
Sykes then learned that, because he was bitten on the
journey through pain, suffering and frustration.
I was bitten on July 30, said Sykes, Director of the
job, he needed to follow a specified protocol for workAlabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
related illness or injury in having his illness assessed.
I knew Id been bitten. I was looking at some potential
The resulting reports from those initial numerous medirabbit research projects
cal exams and extensive
with the dean of Wildlife
blood tests produced no
and Forestry at Auburn
answers on the cause of
Sykes increasingly debiliUniversity. On the way
home, I felt a tick bite me
tating symptoms.
behind my knee. I pulled
At that point, Sykes
over to the side of the road
decided to turn to speand got him off.
c ialist s re commende d
As a lifelong outdoorsby friends. After another
round of multiple doctors,
ma n, S y ke s s a i d t h e
with numerous exams and
tick bite didnt raise any
unusual concerns because
blood tests, various explaof previous encounters with
nations for Sykes illness
the blacklegged tick (aka
were offered and explored,
deer tick).
but none confirmed. Like
I didnt think anything
the initial doctor, none of
about it; Ive been bitten
the medical professiona thousand times, he said.
(Courtesy of CDC) The blacklegged tick is found in most of
als thought the cause was
But between two and
the eastern United States. The tick can transfer the bacteria
Lyme disease.
that causes Lyme disease, although diagnosis is difficult.
By this time, it was
three weeks later, Sykes
started having symptoms of
October and Sykes could
the disease named for the area around Lyme, Connecticut,
barely walk. His ankles were swollen and his feet hurt
where numerous cases were observed in the 1970s.
so badly that his gait was substantially impaired. I was
I would walk the dogs at night, and when I would
basically shuffling around like I was 90, Sykes said.
come back in, my hands would be hurting from holdAlthough a very early Lyme disease test had returned
ing their leash, he said. Id get up in the mornings to
as negative, Sykes had learned that the disease can take
get on the treadmill, and my feet were hurting so bad
an extended time after exposure to show up in testing.
I couldnt get on the treadmill. I had fatigue and joint
Given what he knew of his symptoms and those of Lyme
paint. Sounds like Lyme disease to me.
disease, Sykes felt compelled to make certain that was
Thats where the frustration started. When Sykes
not his problem.
posed that possibility to the first doctor he went to, Sykes
Finally, a coworker told him about a local doctor
said the doctor gave an incredulous look.
with a keen interest in Lyme disease. Sykes made an
When I told him I thought I had Lyme disease, he had
appointment as quickly as possible. The doctor had found
the same reaction that I have when someone tells me they
continued on 29
ACEOA Magazine27


a laboratory in California that was at the forefront of the
detection of Lyme disease. Sykes pulled $1,500 out of
his bank account to pay for the testing that insurance
wouldnt cover.
Lo and behold, it comes back to the CDC (Centers
for Disease Control) as positive for Lyme disease, Sykes
said. The doctor put me on a cocktail of antibiotics, and
within three weeks I was 90 percent back to normal. I will
be on antibiotics for another six months, but Im at least
headed in the right direction.
Sykes said others in Wildlife and Freshwater
Fisheries have suffered from Lyme disease, and some
havent responded as well as he has to the antibiotics.
Recently, I wrote a column on Carrie Mason, a teenager from Wetumpka who was a participant in the
Buckmasters Life Hunt who has suffered the debilitating
effects of Lyme disease. Masons family ran into the same
kind of obstacles that Sykes encountered and ended up
in Washington, D.C., for treatment.
Sykes case does not follow the CDC theory that the tick
must be attached for 36 to 48 hours for it to transmit the
bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease.
I know when I was bitten, and I know when the symptoms started, he said. Whether I had been exposed
10 years ago, I dont know. I know that I didnt have the
symptoms. With this tick bite, I know exactly when the
symptoms started.
The CDC gives guidelines about how to extract a tick
to ensure that the head is not left attached to the victims skin.
That one bit me and within 5 minutes I pulled it off,
Sykes said. I got the whole tick; he was still crawling
before I killed him and threw him out the window.
During his ordeal, Sykes heard about a tick-borne illness seminar at Auburn University that was organized
by graduate student Emily Merritt under the guidance of
Graeme Lockaby, Dean of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
at Auburn. Funding is being sought for Merritt to conduct
a doctorate-level research study in Alabama this year.
Lockaby, who was with Sykes when he was bitten,

said Merritt had shown particular interest in tick-borne

illnesses because she hails from an area where Lyme
disease has the attention of medical professionals.
Our intention is to do a state-wide assessment of
the status of ticks and tick-borne illnesses in the South,
Merritt said. Well be looking at all different tick species
and hopefully sample several different pathogens that
they might be carrying. First and foremost, well look
at Lyme disease, but well also look at Rocky Mountain
spotted fever and Southern tick-associated rash illness.
Well take tick samples off wildlife and dogs. Well
also drag for ticks in likely places. Hopefully, well eventually be able to identify hot spots across the state, areas
where people have to be concerned about contact with
ticks. We dont know how bad it is. Thats what we want
to figure out.
Merritt says she doesnt know why the CDC doesnt list
Lyme disease as a threat in the Southeast because, like
Sykes, she knows of numerous people who have been
affected by Lyme disease.
Being from New York, Im hyper-aware of ticks and
tick-borne illnesses, she said. Part of the reason that
I decided that Auburn should be studying this is I know
several foresters, hunters and people who work outdoors
who talk about all the people they know whove had Lyme
disease. Its scary to hear about it as much down here as
I do when I talk to people up north.
Thats why I think its a bigger issue than what we
know about it. But it is hard to prove in the lab. So our
biggest battle will be to find a sample and confirm it in
the lab so we can say, hey, heres the evidence. Even if
the proportion of ticks with the bacteria is not as huge
as it is up north, the chances of you getting Lyme can
still be great, depending on where you are. The chance
is still there even if its not as prevalent as it is up north.
Thoroughly convinced that Lyme disease is a concern
for people who enjoy the outdoors in Alabama, Sykes
said, Unlike the black panther stories, Ive got scientific
documentation and proof of Lyme disease that occurred
in Alabama.

ACEOA Magazine29

ACEOA Makes Donation to

Combat Wounded Warriors
By CEO Tim Ward, Director D-4

resident of Combat Wounded Warriors, Michael

Demmer, accepts a donation from the ACEOA. This
outstanding organization organizes deer, turkey,
and duck hunts throughout the year. They also host fishing
events. They are exclusive to only combat wounded veterans. The Combat Wounded Outdoors board members;
Michael Demmer (President), Robby Brackin, Walt Logan

(Vice President), Chris Sellers (Treasurer), and Bubba

Thompson are all actively involved with each event.
Mr. John B. Logan donated his land and time to the
veterans. Mr. Logan passed away recently and will always
be remembered for his unselfish and kind acts towards
all veterans.

Tim Ward (Director District 4), Michael Demmer

(President), Robby Brackin, Walt Logan (Vice President),
Chris Sellers (Treasurer), and Bubba Thompson at the
John B. Logan Hunting Lodge in Samson, Alabama.

ACEOA Magazine31

The Buckmasters
Expo 2014
By Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

he Buckmasters Expo is always a great opportunity

for ACEOA to show the public all the great things
we do. The 2014 Expo was a great show for us.
We always have an opportunity to renew old friendships in the outdoor industry and make a lot of new
friends. As you can see by the photos, we had a lot of
celebrities to stop by.
Professional shooter Jessie Duff is a 27 time world
champion pistol shooter. Jessie Duff from Burlington, WA
is recognized as one of the most accomplished competitive shooters in the world. She is known to be the first
female shooter to achieve the rank of Grand Master in the
United States Practical Shooting Association.
Matthew Duff is a former Major League Baseball
pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals. He is now the Owner/
Executive Producer/Host-Major League Bowhunter TV
on Sportsman Channel.

David Blanton has been an integral part of

Realtrees video efforts since he started in 1991 as video
production manager. He has served as executive producer of Realtree Outdoors since the show premiered on
TNN in 1993. The popular show moved to ESPN2 in July
2004 after more than a decade on TNN. Blanton is also
continued on 35

Jeff Danker, former host of Buckventures Outdoors is

now an owner and co-host of Major League Bowhunter
TV on the Sportsman Channel.
Terry Rohm is the Director of Marketing at Tinks
Hunting Products. It is always a pleasure to spend time
visiting with Terry.
ACEOA Magazine33


executive producer of Realtrees popular Monster Bucks
video series.
We also visited with Jeff Cook. Jeff Cook is an American
musician who is best known as one of the founding members of the country music group Alabama.
Last, but not leastThe Buckmaster himself, Jackie
Bushman, also stopped by our booth.
We raffled off two guns, with all the proceeds going to
BADF and Hope for Warriors. We raised nearly a thousand dollars for these two great programs. On hand to sell
tickets were a very pretty group of cheerleaders (Laura
Jean McCurdy, Sarah Anna McIntosh, Eva Marie Stinson,
Taylor King, and Abby Pitts) from Lowndes Academy. Not
many young guys walked by this group without buying
a ticket. We also had the Lowndes Academy Quarterback,
Cody Harrell, to help us out on Sunday.
continued on 37

ACEOA Magazine35


The lovely Crystal Reaves also helped and as usual
she did a great job. Thanks to all our help for making
this Expo a success.
Ken Jackson always makes the Expo and helps in
the booth every year. Our directors and state officers
(President Heath Walls, Secretary/Treasurer Chris Lewis,
Jerry Fincher, Joel Glover and Grady Myers) were on hand

each day to answer questions and greet the public. With

their help we were able to recruit a lot of new associate members.
In August of 2015, be sure to visit us at the Expo.
We will be there. It will be held August 14-16 at the
Montgomery Convention Center.

ACEOA Magazine37

A Hunting Tradition
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
Photos by Chuck Sykes

ank Williams Jr. is not

ten food plots surrounding their
the only one with a famfarm within a quarter-mile of the
property lines.
ily tradition in Alabama.
Count Chuck Sykes and his
It just shows you how deer
numbers have changed, mandad, Willie, among those with
a lengthy family history in certain
agement practices have changed
activities, but this one involves
and just the way deer hunters
the great outdoors.
hunt, Chuck said. Everybody
Chuck was only 6-yearshas a food plot now. We were
old when he started heading
planting food plots when it
to a certain deer stand on a
wasnt fashionable to plant
4-acre food plot with his father.
food plots.
He observed for a few years as
Sykes said food plot manageWillie harvested the deer. When
ment has also changed dramatically since their food plot was
Chuck was 8, he was allowed to
do the shooting for the first time.
planted in the 70s.
Every year since I started
It started out as a grass
sitting with him when I was 6,
patch, he said. It wasnt called
we have hunted together in that
a food plot because it was mostly
field, Chuck said. One or the
ryegrass that was planted. Then
it went to being called oat patchother or both have harvested
a deer together in that one field.
es, and you progressed to plantThis year made the 38th year
Chuck Sykes was able to help Jennifer
ing oats. Now, weve progressed
weve done that.
Weber harvest her first deer, a doe taken
to everything under the sun. The
Chuck, Dire c t or of t he
on the last day of the 2014-2015 season.
food plot we planted this year
Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater
has a mixture of Durana clover,
Fisheries (WFF) Division, said the success of the harvest
wheat, oats, rye, triticale, chicory, winter peas and even
was not measured by antler size.
some brassicas, a smorgasbord.
Even planting techniques have changed over the years.
Its just a deer, he said. We were just enjoying the
In the early days, there was plenty of tractor time disking,
company and enjoying the hard work and killing a deer.
One year, I think it was 07, I killed a 130-inch 8-point,
leveling, scattering seeds and then covering the seeds.
which is the biggest deer that ever came off the place.
Now, we simply mow it down low, take a Firminator
Most years were shooting does. Its the just the tradition
in there, plant in one pass and go about our business,
of keeping things going.
Sykes said. The time it takes to plant that field now
Sykes said deer hunting has changed a great deal in
is about ten times less than what it took 20 years ago.
38 years. Among those changes is the use of wildlife
That includes labor time, tractor fuel, fertilizer and seed
openings for food plots. When the father-son team started
because everything is metered out so precisely. So Ive
hunting their food plot there wasnt another wildlife
seen a lot of changes down there.
opening within 3 to 4 miles. Chuck said there are now
continued on 41
ACEOA Magazine39


the field and if one little spike came in,
you shot the spike so you could say
you killed a buck. Now people are more
educated on what it takes for a quality
deer herd, and yeah, its OK for a kid
or first-timer to shoot a little buck. But
then you mature as a hunter and try
to do better each year. Now we have
better age structure, so the quality of
the herd is better.
For the first time, the Sykes farm in
Choctaw County was included in the
deer season with 10 days of hunting in
February. Chuck said the WFF biologists had verified through a reproductive study what he had suspected for
years that rutting activity in that
The Sykes men show off the largest buck ever taken
area peaked early in February.
in the food plot, a 130-inch eight-point.
Dad and I had our traditional hunt
on February 6, Chuck said, although
Sykes, whose previous jobs include hunting guide,
the method of harvest was far from traditional. The
plantation manager and wildlife management consultant,
doe I harvested this year was taken with a .357 caliber
said the changes to the deer herd in Alabama have been
Benjamin air rifle. Who would have thought 20 years ago
we could harvest a deer with a pellet gun.
similarly dramatic.
Back when we started if we saw a deer in a week
From all indications, the February season was a huge
or two-week span, that was good, he said. There just
success. I know it was on my part. Many of my friends
werent that many deer down there. Then in the late
in Choctaw County were killing 4- and 5-year-old bucks
80s, if I didnt see 30 to 40 a day, I was upset. But that
chasing does even though the weather wasnt that good.
The bucks were still running because it was the peak of
wasnt the way it needed to be. Now you go see 5 to 10,
or maybe 15 on a really good day, and thats more in line
the rut. I saw big deer being killed from February 1 to
with the carrying capacity of the property and what it
February 10. I watched a 5-year-old buck chasing a doe,
needed to be. So Ive seen it go from none to too many
just burning her up in Lowndes County on February 10.
and now a happy medium of where it needs to be.
I think it was an overwhelming success.
Sykes said the management practices on their farm
Sykes may have started a new tradition on February
couldnt have made that big of a difference. It had to be
10th with fellow Alabama Department of Conservation
and Natural Resources employee, Jennifer Weber, who
more widespread.
It was the mentality of hunters in general, he said.
had never hunted before this season.
There werent many deer in the early 70s so you did not
There were plenty of deer in the food plot for Weber
shoot a doe. So by the late 80s, it had gone completely
to watch, and Sykes gave her tips on spotting deer moving through the timber and identifying deer by body
too far, and we had to start shooting antlerless deer. We
may have gone a little too far the other way, and now
characteristics. That aforementioned 5-year-old buck
its leveling back out.
came zipping across the field, but Weber wasnt able to
get a shot. As the light started to fade, Weber put the
The age structure of the deer is much better because
crosshairs on a mature doe.
of the three-buck limit. And it is also because of hunters
maturing. When I was a kid, there might be 20 does in
continued on 43
ACEOA Magazine41


Throughout my career, Ive
put a lot of people on their first
animal, either a deer or turkey,
Sykes said. Those people had
either grown up hunting or were
passionate about it. This was
much different. Jennifer had never
been exposed to hunting.
Before this year, she had never
seen a deer outside of a zoo. While
we were in the stand, we talked
quite a bit about how to identify
button bucks from antlerless deer.
It was a neat process. Because of
her legal background, everything
was analytical. It was getting late
and there were a number of antlerless deer within 120 yards. We
talked about where and how to
shoot. She picked a mature doe
and made a tremendous shot. It
was as awesome of an experience
for me as it was for her.

Chuck Sykes used an unconventional

.357 caliber air rifle to extend the family
tradition of harvesting a deer in the same
field for 38 years with his father, Willie.

All of this was new coming

into the department, said Weber,
because nobody in her family or
any of her friends hunted. I felt
like I needed to experience the
hunting lifestyle to better understand the ADCNRs mission.
This was a new experience for
me and very interesting. I really
enjoyed it.
With a young son, Weber plans
to continue to add to her outdoors
experience so she can share with
him when he gets older.
Id like to introduce my son
to hunting someday, she said.
I hope I can build on it and have
something to share with him.
It really does feel like a bonding experience.
Sykes added: Hopefully, we
just started a tradition for Jennifer
and her family.


ACEOA Magazine43

Oaks Youth Hunt

Again Big Success
By Wayne Harrell

his special day of outdoor

activities and a deer hunt for
kids from The Big Oak Ranch
has become an annual event in
Greene County.
The Oaks Hunting Club in Boligee
enjoyed its 9th Annual Youth Hunt on
November 16th. Seventeen young
hunters from The Big Oak Ranch were
guests for a day of shooting sports,
trapping seminar, great food and the
chance to hunt deer on some prime
Green County land.
The Big Oak Ranch, formerly John
Croyles Big Oak Ranch, is a home for
young boys and girls who otherwise
would not have guidance we all need as youngsters. We
can all be proud to have The Ranch in Alabama, and we at
The Oaks are certainly proud to be associated with them.

Local enforcement officers Steve Naish and Frank

McMillan worked with the kids, training them in safe
shooting with .22 riles. Tommy Atkins, an enforcement
officer from Elmore County, was in charge of
the skeet range. Watching Tommy work with
kids on how to handle a 20-gauge shotgun
while lining up on the clay targets was a treat.
He has infinite patience and the skills needed
to get them to the point of connecting on most
of their shots. Mike Sievering, a supervising
biologist for the Wildlife and Freshwater
Fisheries District III, taught a trapping workshop. Mike had traps, pelts and knowledge
that all the kids could take away. Most of them
had never been exposed to trapping or the
tools needed, and maybe one or two of em
will take it up.
The youngsters were much younger this
year than The Ranch has brought in the past.
The average prior age was 13, and this year
continued on 47
ACEOA Magazine45


it is 10, so we had challenges the hunting guides had to

work with. However, The Ranch does an outstanding
job of training and showing the kids what to expect on
a trip to the woods.
After a very tasty lunch of BBQ , cooked by Jack McGee,
all the kids received their gifts of orange hats, t-shirts,
scent killer and other items they could use hunting and
around school. Every one of them thanked us profusely
and exhibited smiles that went on for miles. I sincerely
hope all of you get an opportunity like this some day.

As the afternoon went on, calls

began to come in from the hunting
guides, telling about their young
hunters shooting a deer. We awarded prizes for first deer, first buck
and biggest deer! Winner of the
first two categories was Michael,
who killed a buck right off the bat!
A really nice buck killed by Isaiah
was the biggest buck. We had seven
deer killed overall and a few misses.
One kid who only saw a deer told
his guide he had the best time
hes ever had and is convinced hell
be a hunter for life.
Each year we attempt to do
a little something different to make
the day even more memorable, and
this time was no exception. Two Storm Troopers from the
Star Wars Movies and Santa Claus made appearances for
all the kids to enjoy.
Putting on an event such as this requires a lot of work.
And money, as usual, is the necessary tool. The folks
who made this possible include Alabama Conservation
Enforcement Officers Association, Greene County
Farmers Federation, Ann Payne, Edgars, Piggly Wiggly,
Trumans BBQ , Eutaw, Greene County Independent,
continued on 49

ACEOA Magazine47



BIG SUCCESS continued
Slocomb, AL 36375


Simmons Sporting Goods, Academy Sports and Outdoors,

New Beginnings Church in Adamsville and Walter
Resources, Coke Division.
In addition to those listed above, we had huge support
from several local residents. They either took one of the
youngsters to their property to hunt, cooked barbecue
for us or donated money. If those folks are reading this,
please know that you are appreciated more than I could
ever say!
P.O. Box 881
Were already
next year, and we
AL for
would love to see even more or our Eutaw and Greene
County friends come
down and participate. Believe me,
the adults get more of a blessing out of this day than the
youngsters do.

Hubb City Florist


Swimming Pool

Written by guide Chris Greer: For the seventh year in

Driveto spend time
a row, Ive been
by the
AL boy
in Gods woodsWetumpka,
guiding a young
from The Big Oak
Ranch. There is absolutely
the feeling
of joy when one of these kids says thank you for a great
day! Are you kidding? I say, thank you to them and
their house parents for allowing me to spend time with
them. Again this year, I took Isaiah hunting at The Oaks
Youth Hunt. The folks at The Oaks are a dedicated group
of men and women who sincerely feel there is more to
a hunting club than climbing a tree and waiting on a deer
to walk by. They constantly
to put back some of the
P.O. Box
blessings they receive from God and nature.
Albertville, Alabama 35950
After making a lot of noise setting up, opening the

A&A Heating & Cooling


Double Creek Farms

windows on the shooting house and getting everything

ready to hunt, we both remembered the adversity we had
last year. We had coughed, sneezed and just generally
felt bad at that time.
a prayer to ask God to
help us feelOwens
better, the
Isaiah shot the
AL 35763
first buck he had ever seen on last years hunt.
Less than 20 minutes after finally getting ready, a really
nice 7-point buck stepped into the field, and Isaiah waited
for a good shot. We found his buck dead less than 20
yards from the edge of the field, and Isaiah had another
deer to his credit. One of the prizes awarded to the
hunters at the Youth Hunt is for the biggest deer, and of
course Isaiah won it, a $50 gift card to Academy Sports
and Outdoors. He gave me a huge hug and thanked me
109 Kirkland Road
constantly, even waving and smiling as they drove away
, ALRanch!
to return to The Big Oak



ACEOA Magazine49

Ashville Middle School Archers

Win 9th Alabama Title
By Gary Hanner, Times Associate Editor
Permission to re-print given by Gary Hanner with St. Clair Times
Editors note: ACEOA helped to sponsor the
State Archery in the Schools State Tournament
with roughly 1,250 kids competing and will be
helping to send Ashville Middle School Archery
Team to National Competition in Kentucky.

he Ashville Middle School archery team

is headed back to Louisville, Kentucky,
for the National Archery Tournament.
Ashville won yet another state championship
Friday in Montgomery. It was the ninth state
title for the middle school archers.
Ashville had five archers shoot a 280 or better
during state. As a team, AMS shot 3,353. They
defeated runner-up Buckhorn Middle School.
The Top 12 archers from AMS were Gracie
Cunningham, 288; Ty Armstrong, 284; Reid
Eastis, 284; Jabe Burgess, 280; Bailey Wall,
280; Kyndal Kennedy, 279; Gabe Hitchcock,
278; J.D. Thompson, 278; Erika Williams, 277;
Skyler Whisenhunt, 277; Brian Payne, 275; and
Sara Payne, 273.
Sara Payne finished in the Top 12 despite coming

Kentucky ... Here we come!

2015 Alabama State Champs.

into the state tournament with an injured left hand. The

eighth-grader was shooting with a fractured wrist.
As I was shooting, Im pretty
sure I broke it, she said. It popped
really loud as I was shooting in
the first round from 15 meters.
It hurts so badly right now. My
wrist bothered me the whole time
I was shooting.
Coach Kirbey Sherbet said she
was so very proud of these kids.
They have worked very hard,
Sherbet said. I look forward to taking them to Nationals in Kentucky
and bringing home a victory.
continued on 53
ACEOA Magazine51


Coach Doran Smith said
he thought the kids really
wanted it this year.
E ven t h o ug h t hey
were nervous, they knew
exactly what they had to
do to win, Smith said.
They work very diligently,
even forgoing
1390 Providence
Slocomb, AL 36375 to get to this
point where we knew we
could win. When we have
Bailey Wall, Top 12, Gold
five archers shooting in the
Alabama State 2015.
280s, its hard to lose.


Smith said as they drove

in just after lunch and saw
all the teams who were
either about to shoot or
had just shot, one student
said, We have to beat all
those teams?
I answered, No, all
those teams have to beat
us, Smith said.
The National Archery
Tournament will be May
7-9 in Louisville.


Bailey Walls State

Gold Medal, Top 12

Hubb City Florist

P.O. Box 881
Robertsdale, AL 36567


ACEOA Magazine53

Is that an Eagle I See?

By Carrie Threadgill, Nongame Wildlife Biologist,
Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

wenty years ago, if people told me they saw an

as lakes and rivers, but it is not uncommon to see them
eagle in Alabama, I would have guessed that it was
soaring over open land away from water or nesting away
probably just a vulture. Now, when people tell me
from water as well.
they saw an eagle in the winter, I ask them, Which speWhile we have bald eagles in the state year-round,
cies? While we have an increasing number of bald eagles
people may not realize that we also have golden eagles
year-round across the state, we are actually discovering
in Alabama during the winter months. Golden eagles tend
a small wintering population
of golden eagles in Alabama
as well.
The story of the bald eagle
recovery is one of the greatest wildlife success stories
to date. In the 1950s and
1960s, the well-known pesticide DDT, which caused
eggshell thinning, devastated
bald eagle numbers. Shells
became so thin that they
would not hatch, or would
break when adult birds would
sit to incubate them. After
DDT was banned in 1972,
eagles began to rebound
slowly, but still could not be
found breeding in Alabama.
By 1984, the Alabama
Division of Wildlife and
Freshwater Fisheries (WFF)
began a hacking program,
Adult and juvenile Bald Eagles. Photo by Kim McFry.
releasing juvenile eagles
from six different locations in the state with the hope that
to be more secretive than bald eagles, which are most
they would establish nesting territories. Hacking involves
often seen out in the open, usually near open water.
releasing juvenile eagles at towers in certain locations to
Golden eagles are more of a forest species, and tend to
imprint them so they will return to those areas to breed
stay close to forested areas, making it harder to locate
as adults. During a 7-year period, 91 juvenile eagles were
those birds. They are found most often near ridge tops in
released, which resulted in increased nesting activity in
forested areas. In the western United States, a substantial
golden eagle population is already in existence. New eviAlabama. Thanks to the success of this program, eagles
can now be seen nesting across the state. Most often,
dence suggests that a separate eastern population breeds
bald eagles are seen along large bodies of water, such
continued on 57
ACEOA Magazine55


the undersides of wings, while juveniles have two distinct,
small white patches visible when seen soaring overhead.
While it may be easy to confuse the two birds, after
seeing both birds in flight and learning the differences in
coloration, it is easy to distinguish which kind of eagle
you are seeing. During the winter, it is possible to see
both golden and bald eagles, and while it is more likely
a bald eagle, either way, seeing an eagle in Alabama is
always a treat!
WFF does not conduct an annual statewide survey of
eagle nests anymore since eagle populations are doing
so well, but if you have information or questions about
nesting eagles or sightings of golden eagles, please
contact Nongame Wildlife Biologist Carrie Threadgill at
carrie.threadgill@dcnr.alabama.gov; 334-242-3469.

Golden Eagle. Photo by Billy Pope.

in eastern Canada and winters along the Appalachian

Mountains and down into Alabama.
WFF has been conducting winter camera surveys
through a collaborative effort with other agencies in
15 eastern states to gain better knowledge about this
separate eastern population of golden eagles. Over the
last few years, we have gained valuable knowledge and
photographed numerous golden eagles in north Alabama.
Along with camera surveys, five adult birds have been
trapped and radio transmitters attached to them to find
out where those birds breed and migrate. Through the
camera surveys and radio tracking, we hope to gain more
knowledge of golden eagles so that we can manage public
lands to provide wintering habitat for eagles, as well as
all species found in the state.
WFF often receives calls about possible golden eagle
sightings. They usually turn out to be sightings of immature bald eagles. It takes five years for bald eagles to
obtain the distinct white head and tail. Immature bald
eagles are mostly dark brown overall with white mottling
under their wings and have thick black bills. They are
often confused with golden eagles, but lack the distinct
gold nape. Golden eagle adults do not have any white on

Golden Eagle; back of head. Photo by Billy Pope.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural

Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and
enjoyment of Alabamas natural resources through four
divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about
ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.
ACEOA Magazine57

The Henry County Youth Dove Hunt

By CEO Larry Doster

he Henry County Youth Dove Hunt was a very successful event again this year. It was held on opening day of the southern dove zone, September 20,
2014. The hunt was held at Mrs. Charlotte Dosters farm
near the Haleburg community in southeast Henry County.
continued on 61

John Dean, with daughter Georgia, son Hudson,

and their Brittany Spaniel, Skooter.

Mrs. Doster, the landowner, and Harnidge Elliott,

who planted and prepared the dove field.

Justin Reynolds and his son Bradley with shotgun

shells that Bradley won as a door prize.

Will and Ty Barnes getting ready for the doves to come in.
ACEOA Magazine59


Paul Dyson with his daughter Kayla,

sitting in dried sunflowers.

The weather was good for hunting and we had approximately 55 youth hunters along with their adult sponsors
on the field. Prior to the hunt, Mrs. Doster, the land owner,
addressed the group about her love of the outdoors and
hunting. The hunters were treated to a hamburger/hotdog

Tom and Christopher Farrar enjoying the hunt.

lunch, boiled peanuts, snacks and drinks. A safety briefing

was given to all hunters by CEO Larry Doster. Each young
hunter received a door prize consisting of shotgun shells,
dove buckets, dove decoys and dove stools.
Thanks goes to Mrs. Doster, Harnidge Elliott, and the
Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer Association.l


American Swimming Pool

ACEOA Magazine61

Double Creek Farms

Diligence, Persistence
Needed to Deal with
Nuisance Wildlife
By Steve Bryant, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

elephone calls to Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

district offices concerning nuisance wildlife are
routine. Two reasons primarily contribute to calls
for assistance. First, more people reside in semi-rural
surroundings where wildlife lives. Second is the lack of
understanding about wildlife. The average person is so
accustomed to modern life that when an unexpected issue
arises, they lack the experience to respond, prompting
a call for help.
The best way to minimize unwanted wildlife problems
is prevention. To alleviate problems with wildlife, learn the
basics about animals to understand why they do things
you dislike. Animals require four things to survive: food,
water, cover and space. People tend to provide these
necessities unknowingly. Animals want to meet their
needs of food, water and cover as easily as possible. If you
provide food for your pets outdoors, or include food scraps
in your garbage can, you can expect to see a fox, raccoon,
possum, free-ranging domestic pets, etc. looking for an
easy meal. To reduce this probability, avoid the smell of
food in trash containers by washing food wrappings before
disposal and secure the lids on outside containers.
Animals learn from experience. For example, many
years ago I set up a tent in a crowded campground
and left the tent flap open. Upon returning sometime
later, I discovered a skunk in my tent. A campground
employee shooed it out like a house cat while I worried

about a camping trip being ruined. He stated that skunks

routinely forage in the campground for an easily available
snack. Even though I had my food secured, the skunks
had learned from past success to check in tents for food.
Water is normally quite abundant in Alabama, so it
does not attract animals as food does. But in drought
situations I have observed wildlife, especially snakes and
salamanders, utilizing the condensation puddles from air
conditioning units. Some mammals were likely getting
a drink after dark also.
Cover is another commodity that attracts wild animals around human dwellings. Scrap piles, outbuildings,
vehicles and even your house provide much better cover
than ground burrows, hollow trees or leaf nests that wildlife normally use. Squirrels getting in attics or engine
compartments of vehicles are common problems. This can
occur downtown, in the suburbs or in the country due to
the adaptability of squirrels. This is further complicated
by municipal ordinances that prohibit the discharge of
firearms in city limits. These ordinances allow the squirrel
population to expand unimpeded except by road kills,
birds of prey, and domestic cats or dogs if a leash law
is not in effect. Cohabitating foxes, bobcats and coyotes
are of little help in controlling squirrel numbers in urban
environments as they hunt at night and squirrels are
active in daylight.
continued on 65

ACEOA Magazine63


Squirrel intrusion can be a serious problem for humans.
Squirrels are rodents like mice and beavers and have large
front teeth that continually grow, making it mandatory
that the rodent gnaw to wear them down. In the wild,
squirrels must gnaw wood to enlarge tree cavities and cut
through the hulls of hickory nuts or pine cones to obtain
the fruit for food. Squirrels taking the easy pickings from
a bird feeder are not wearing their teeth down naturally;
however, they still must gnaw. They substitute on other
items such as patio furniture, hose reels and soft car
engine parts like belts, hoses, wiring and the trim around
a house. I have been told of instances when squirrels
found or created entrances into attics and chewed into
wiring causing a fire.
Recently, a friend called in tears due to squirrels invading her car, causing over $3,000 in wiring and belt damage in three different episodes. I visited her to assess the
problem. As I drove through the nice subdivision with
mature hardwoods in every yard and occasional undeveloped lots of hardwoods, I noted how it resembled many
residential areas in Alabama. At the home, there were
gnawing marks on practically everything outside. I recommended live traps and removal. She diligently worked
three yards, comprising less than 2 acres, in a subdivision
for three months and relocated 125 gray squirrels. As
the final touch, trees in the vicinity of the house were
removed. Habitat changes are sometimes necessary to
discourage unwanted wildlife occupation. My friend had
exemplified the characteristics required to compete with
wildlife intrusion: diligence and persistence. Wildlife
problems are not normally solved in a day or week but
require management and maintenance as needed.

Another incident for which I provided technical guidance involved predation on poultry. Here again, live traps
were recommended and the landowner eventually caught
a wild cat, which bit him. It cannot be over emphasized
that a wild animals best defense is to bite. When you
trap something, it is going to be agitated and will bite
anything it can. Therefore, keep your body parts away
from the trap and use tools to open the door for release.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources does not remove nuisance animals, but we
will advise you on steps you may try to accomplish your
goal. Contact your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
office listed inside the front cover of the telephone book
for technical guidance on solutions to the problem.
If you are not comfortable attempting to solve nuisance
animal issues, there are contractors listed in the yellow
pages under Animal Removal Services. There is also a list of
nuisance wildlife operators at www.outdooralabama.com.
Steve Bryant is a Certified Wildlife Biologist serving
the Alabama Department of Conservation at the Swan
Creek Wildlife Management Area. He can be contacted
by email at Steve.Bryant@dcnr.alabama.gov; by phone at
(256) 353-2634; or by mailing to Wildlife and Freshwater
Fisheries, Swan Creek WMA, 21453 Harris Station Road,
Tanner, AL 35671.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship,
management and enjoyment of Alabamas natural
resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine
Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and
Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit

ACEOA Magazine65

The Misunderstood
FootRestraining Device

By W. Keith Gauldin, Wildlife Biologist,

Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

he foot-restraining device, formally known as the

produced a more humane and much more acceptable
foot-hold trap, will go down in history as an iconic
trap for use in wildlife conservation. In many instances,
tool heavily used by adventurers and trappers to
the foot-restraining device provides the optimal method
harvest animals for the fur industry. It played a major
of capture for many species, particularly canines, which
role in the exploration of the uncharted western United
would be difficult to capture using other methods.
States. In contemporary times, the foot-restraining device
Multiple swivels on the trap anchor chain allow the
retains those historic qualities as a valuable and effecsubdued animal to rotate around the anchor point without
tive tool in catching fur-bearing animals, but its features
kinking the anchor chain, which reduces unnecessary
have changed dramatically. The
modern-day foot-restraining
device has evolved into a highly
efficient, humane tool utilized in
capturing and restraining a wide
variety of wildlife species. Its
effectiveness is well demonstrated in capturing furbearers
for the fur trade, controlling nuisance wildlife, reducing predator
populations and capturing wildlife for research projects.
Propaganda by those against
the use of the foot-restraining
devices often depicts many
inaccuracies. An example is the
illustration of an animal caught
in a foot-restraining device with
jaws equipped with spikes or
teeth. This type of foot-restrainThe modern foot-restraining device has no sharp teeth. Swivels and springs
ing device is no longer used and
on the anchor chain reduce potential injury to a restrained animal.
has been illegal for many years.
injuries. Shock-absorbing springs are often inserted as
These images are still used to depict modern-day trapping by those against the use of foot-restraining devices.
a link into the trap anchor chain to provide a medium
In actuality, the modern-day foot-restraining device is
to dissipate the energy of the initial lunging immediately
often equipped with multiple swivels, shock-absorbing
following capture. This absorption of energy lessens the
springs, offset or padded jaws and swiveled centralized
force exerted on the captured paw, reducing the sudden
continued on 69
anchor points. These modern design modifications have
ACEOA Magazine67




18339 N. US Highway
30615 B Eagle Lane
DEVICE continued
Banks, AL 36005
jolt to a light steady
pull, further reducing the possibili334-243-5756

ties of injury to the restrained animal. Offset and padded

trap jaws provide reduced pressure while maintaining
a secure hold on the animals foot. Many modern traps
are equipped with a swiveled anchor chain attachment
point on the bottom of the trap frame directly beneath
the center of the jaws, which results in a restrained animal pulling directly from the center of the trap. This will
prevent the animal from pulling at an angle against the
the possibilities
damage or
187 New
Market, ALof35761
injuries to the paw or leg, especially on larger canines
such as coyotes.
These modifications of the modern day foot-hold trap
produce a more humane, faster and effective trap, while
also reducing or even eliminating the possibilities of inju-

Childress A-C &


Howard Hall
Pestop Exterminator
P.O. Box 235
Orange Beach, AL 36561


Robertsdale, AL 36567

ries to the restrained animal. The evolution of trapping

equipment provides the means for effective and important
furbearer management and maintains an important tool
for wildlife management.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources offers trapping workshops for youth and
adults every year. Visit www.outdooralabama.com for
more details.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and
303 College
AL through
36274 five
of Alabamas
divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands,
State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To
learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.



Halls ProPane Gas

Co., InC.

Duncan Electric, LLC


ACEOA Magazine69

A Turkey Hunting
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

ank Mosley is convinced divine intervention is

the only reason he survived a turkey hunting trip
recently in Wilcox County.
The 27-year-old, known as Big Hank, said he normally
has a hunting partner, most often his brother, Sam. But
this day Sam had to go to Demopolis, and Hank was all
by himself, hunting land near Pebble Hill that a friend,
Johnny Webb, had given him permission to hunt.
It started out like a regular turkey hunting day, Hank
said. I didnt hear anything at daylight. The turkeys
gobbled late. I heard two turkeys.
One gobbled several times, and the
other one didnt gobble but once.
I walked toward the one that was
gobbling good, but then he ended up
stopping. I turned around and started
walking toward the turkey that had
only gobbled once.
It started raining, but Mosley was
so far from his truck that he decided
he might as well sit down and yelp
a little because he was going to get
wet no matter what.
I got up on a ridge and thought
about picking a spot and sitting
down, he said. When I do that,
I look for a pretty tree, a big one
where I can sit and be real comfortable. There was an old rotten pine
log in front of it about six to eight inches in diameter.
I kicked it and a piece of it broke. I moved that piece out
of the way.
Mosley was getting settled in against the tree when
gobbling turkeys became the farthest things from his mind.
I had my leg out after I got situated, he said. Then
it felt like somebody flicked me with a popsicle stick with
a needle on the end of it. I thought it was a bee sting or

something, but when I looked down, I saw some leaves

rustling. I pretty much, at that point, knew what happened. That pretty much told me I just got bit.
I moved around to the other side of the tree, and
thats when the snake started rattling. Ive heard them
rattle before, but this wasnt a very loud rattle. It was
a real soft rattle. I moved about 10 or 15 yards away and
sat down on a stump to call my brother.
That was the first indication that a higher power was
looking out for him that day.
He was not hunting that morning, Hank said of his brother. Had
he been hunting, he wouldnt have
answered his phone. I got him on the
way to come get me.
The second indication happened
before daylight when Hank was parking his truck as he prepared to head
into the woods.
When I parked that morning,
I looked behind me and decided
I wasnt far enough from the road,
Hank said. I was trying to get my
truck far enough in so nobody would
see it, so I moved it another 10 yards.
Where my truck was parked was
about the only spot on the road that
my brother could drive around and
get to me. And I normally dont take
my cell phone with me, but I was kind of unfamiliar with
the property. I took it with me to have something I could
use to look up an aerial image of the property.
There were too many coincidences for there not to
have been a higher power looking out for me.
Mosley said the whole experience was pretty much
surreal, like it couldnt have happened to him.
continued on 73
ACEOA Magazine71


I was wearing my regular
leather boots because of the
hilly terrain, he said. I had
snake boots at the house, but
I guess I got to a point where
I thought I was invincible. You
never think something like this
will happen to you.
I remember as I was sitting
on the stump, I kept looking
down at it. At first, it was just
flowing a little. Then there was
a little lump and it started to
spread. Then my whole calf
started swelling.
In his confusion, Mosley
reverted to a treatment that
he found out later is no longer recommended. He took his
belt off and tied it above the
snake bite.
They told me at the hospital that a tourniquet is not
good anymore, he said.
Mosley said he really didnt get a good look at the
snake either, probably because of its natural camouflage.
My first thoughts were diamondback, but it could
have been a timber rattler, he said. It had a brownish
color and I could see black lines. I heard it rattle again.
I saw the underside of its belly, and it was probably 4- to
5-inches wide.
When my brother got there, I tried to get him to get
the snake and put it in the back of the truck for identification. But the anti-venin they have now covers a lot more
than a certain, particular snake.
Mosley even had a snakebite kit in his turkey vest, but
he forgot he had it until he was on the way to the hospital
in Selma. His parents had called the hospital to let them
know about the snakebite, and Sam transported Hank to
a rendezvous with the ambulance.
I didnt have much pain until I was in the ambulance
on the way to the hospital, Hank said. They took a little
blood and started an IV. When I got to the hospital, they
monitored me for a while because the anti-venin can
cause a really bad allergic reaction in some people,

so they dont give it to you

right away.
It soon became evident
that the anti-venin would be
necessary. At 11:30 that morning, 4 hours after the bite,
Hank started the first dose of
six bottles of anti-venin, which
was administered by IV over
an hour-long span.
The next day the swelling
was still severe and a maintenance dose of two bottles
of anti-venin was given, followed by another maintenance
dose later.
When a vascular surgeon
looked at the swelling in
Hanks leg, he recommended
a transfer to the University of
Alabama-Birmingham (UAB)
If it got too bad, the swelling would cut off the circulation in my leg, Hank said. Then they would have to
make incisions to let it continue to swell.
After a couple of days at UAB with plenty of antibiotics,
the swelling started to recede and Hank was allowed to
head home.
Mosley said it really didnt get to the point where he
thought he might be a goner in the middle of the turkey woods.
Had I not had my cell phone and had to walk out, it
probably would have crossed my mind that I wasnt going
to get out, he said. But once my brother got to me, I was
pretty content I was going to make it.
I dont want to sound cocky, but God was looking out
for me. There were several things the good Lord put in
order to get me out, to be honest.
With two weeks remaining in the Alabama turkey season, Mosley said there is a chance he might get another
chance to chase a gobbling turkey.
If I get walking again, I dont think Ill be sidelined,
he said. If I can, Ill definitely be backwith my snake
boots on.
ACEOA Magazine73

Hunters Should Report Bands

from Harvested Birds
By Adam Pritchett, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

or many duck hunters, the ultimate reward is to

harvest a banded duck. Banded does not mean
the duck has colored stripes on it. It means the duck
was captured in the past and had a distinctive leg band
placed on it, usually by a federal or state agency. In many
instances, the bird has traveled across the country from
where it was captured and banded.
Duck hunters cherish and showcase
these bands and they are a standard
by which bragging rights are set.
Though most hunters are not aware
of it, duck hunters are not the only
ones with the opportunity to harvest banded birds. Approximately
1,000 mourning doves are banded
in Alabama each year.
Bird banding is done either by or
in cooperation with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The
purpose is to determine migration
routes and distances, survival rates
and recruitment rates of migratory birds. Trapping and banding
efforts take place during the summer months. When trapped, a small
aluminum leg band is placed on the
bird and, at a minimum, the age and
sex of the bird is recorded. The bird
is then released and GPS coordinates of the trapping
location are recorded. When the banding period is over,
all information is sent to the USFWS and entered into
a database. This data is referenced when a hunter harvests a bird, calls the telephone number on the band, and
reports the band number and when and where the bird
was killed. Then the USFWS reports that information
to the banding agency. This provides the agency with
information on survival and movement patterns.

Dove banding sites are distributed throughout

Alabama. Wildlife biologists and other wildlife resource
professionals trap and band the doves. As with waterfowl, data collected from the birds is reported to the
USFWS. It has been noted at multiple banding locations
that some dove return to that same site year after year.
Due to Alabamas mild winter climate, most birds banded in Alabama
dont migrate very far. Doves from
northern states move southward as
harsh winter temperatures invade
the northern U.S.
Mourning doves have a relatively
short lifespan. Although most mortality is from hunting, very few
bands are reported each year.
Hunters should be aware that the
dove they harvest during hunting
season may have a leg band and
be careful to check each bird they
harvest. Hunters should be vigilant
in reporting bands so that the information can be recorded and used in
future management decisions. How
many hunters do you know who can
say they have harvested a banded
mourning dove?
To report bird bands call 1-800327-BAND or go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
website at www.fws.gov.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and
enjoyment of Alabamas natural resources through five
divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands,
State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To
learn more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com.

ACEOA Magazine75

Feral Hogs
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

or the past two years, the Alabama Wildlife and

Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division has adjusted
its regulations to try to empower landowners
and lease holders in their battle against the scourge of
feral hogs.
One of the reasons the feral hog population is widespread across Alabama is the illegal transportation and
release of live feral swine. The law for many years reduced
feral hogs to personal possession once the animals were
caught, but that regulation was changed last year to take
out the personal possession clause and require that all
feral hogs must be killed before being transported.
Its always been illegal to transport feral hogs, said
WFF Director Chuck Sykes. However, it was impossible
to prove it. The way the regulation read, once they were
trapped they were reduced to personal possession. So
unless one of our people saw them do it, if they were
stopped going down the road, they could say, No, these are
my hogs. It was extremely difficult for our officers to make
a case unless they witnessed somebody catching the hogs.
Taking the personal possession language out of it would
take that question out of it. Now if our officers find live
feral hogs in the back of the truck, they know its illegal.
Farmers are particularly susceptible to feral hog impact
from the damage done to row crops, pastures and farm
roads. A 2009 study conducted by Auburn University
concluded that more than $74 million in damage was
caused by feral hogs in Alabama.
While the damage to farm production can be somewhat
assessed, feral hogs do untold damage to the habitat
for much of Alabamas wildlife. Like WFF Biologist Chris
Jaworowski says, You may have 30 pigs going through
your hardwood bottom like a Hoover vacuum cleaner,
sucking up all the acorns that deer, turkey and squirrels depend on. That doesnt get mentioned enough.
And youve got these threatened and endangered plant
communities, like the pitcher plant bogs that have been
destroyed by hogs. Some of those habitats will never
come back.

Although hunters in Alabama have ample opportunity

to take feral swine during much of the year, the only
effective way to manage wild pig populations is through
intensive trapping efforts. Feral hogs cause significant
damage to farm property and wildlife habitat in Alabama.

continued on 79
ACEOA Magazine77

FERAL HOGS continued

Because of emerging technology and efforts to reduce
feral hogs by whatever methods available, new questions
have been raised about what to do with the animals after
they are dispatched.
Some people would trap for landowners and to pay
for their expenses, they would sell the hogs, Sykes said.
If they had been running trail cameras and knew they
had 10 hogs coming to the trap, they would set the trap
on a Friday night. They would tell people, Give me $20
and Ill have you a hog on Saturday morning. However,
if a hog is just a game animal, you cant do that.
To solve that problem, WFF proposed and the Alabama
Conservation Advisory Board approved a change in the
feral hog regulations that would also extend fur bearer
status to the feral hogs. That provides the legal method
for trappers to legally sell the hog carcasses.
That gives people the leeway to trap as many as they
want to, Sykes said. We want people to catch as many
as they can. And this allows them to sell the carcasses.
However, that does not allow people to set up a backyard market to sell bacon, pork chops and ham. If you
kill a hog, you can legally sell it to somebody. But you
cannot sell processed pork. That has to be inspected
before it can be sold.
Alabama State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier said that
he and Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John
McMillan have had discussions on the state law that
requires all processed pork to be officially inspected and
how it applies to feral hogs.
With feral hogs that are trapped and killed right there,
we dont have any issues with selling that hog from one
person to another or giving it away, Frazier said. Once
you start selling meat, once its processed meat, that can
only be done under inspection. And thats not me saying
that. Thats the federal meat inspection act that we have
adopted in Alabama.
You cant kill a wild hog, take it to a processor and
have sausage made out of it and then turn around and
sell that. Once you render a wild pig captive and kill it,
then you can do whatever you want to with the carcass.
But you cant part it out or process it without it going
through the inspection process.
Kevin Dodd, WFFs Enforcement Chief, said that people
who trap hogs will be required to have a fur catchers
(trapping) license to sell feral hog carcasses.

You dont have to have a trapping license for feral

hogs unless youre doing it commercially for someone
else, Dodd said. If youre on your own land or leased
land, you dont have to have a trapping license to trap
wild pigs. If you are hired by the landowner to do it, you
are supposed to have a fur catchers license. To sell the
hog carcasses, you have to have a fur catchers license.
Concerning the sale of feral hog carcasses, Dodd said
the change in the feral hogs status to fur bearer will fall
under the regulation that allows the sale of some fur
bearer carcasses raccoons for example.
Director Sykes and Commissioner McMillan cautioned
that those who come in contact with feral hogs should
handle the animals carefully to minimize the exposure
to the bacteria that causes swine brucellosis, which can
cause flu-like symptoms in humans.
Although infections are relatively rare, swine brucellosis can be transmitted to humans if blood, fluid or tissue from an infected animal comes into contact with
the eyes, nose, mouth or a skin cut. The edibility of the
meat is not affected by swine brucellosis, but it should
be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 160
degrees Fahrenheit.
When field-dressing feral hogs, hunters should follow
the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention:
1. Use clean, sharp knives for field
dressing and butchering.
2. Wear eye protection and rubber or latex gloves
when handling carcasses; avoid direct contact of
bare skin with fluid or organs from the animal.
3. After butchering, burn or bury disposable gloves
and parts of the carcass that will not be eaten.
4. Avoid feeding raw meat or other
parts of the carcass to dogs.
5. Wash hands as soon as possible with soap
and warm water for 20 seconds or more.
6. Dry hands with a clean cloth.
7. Clean all tools and reusable gloves with
a disinfectant, such as diluted bleach.
8. Be aware that freezing, smoking,
drying and pickling do not kill the
bacteria that cause brucellosis.
continued on 81
ACEOA Magazine79

FERAL HOGS continued

We want people to kill as many feral hogs as they
can, Sykes. We just want to remind hunters that preventive measures should be standard when handling hogs.
Sykes said the feral hog problem has not impacted the
whole state, yet.

Its bad in certain areas, he said. Luckily theyre

not found everywhere, but there are pockets where hog
problems can be devastating. We want to give people
all the tools we can to manage the problem on their


Grayson Bailey

ACEOA Magazine81

Feral Cats
Negatively Affect Wildlife
By Justin Monk, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

eral cats are non-domesticated cats living on the

streets and in the wild. They have never been in captivity and are truly wild animals. Feral cats are seen
in and around dumpsters, parking lots of restaurants and
alongside roadways. These cats negatively affect a number of wildlife species as well as public health because
of the diseases they carry and spread. Throughout the
United States, the feral and abandoned cat population is
estimated at between 60 and 100 million.
Feeding stray cats is strongly discouraged. Because
cats congregate when fed, this increases the chance of
diseases, both fatal and non-fatal, being transmitted
to humans and other animals. Some believe that feeding will keep the cats from harming and killing other
wildlife species, but this is not true. Cats are hunters by
nature and will hunt and kill whether they are fed or not.
Studies have shown that 62 to 80 percent of feral cats
carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, which is
a condition of special concern to pregnant women. Other
diseases spread by stray cats are rabies, ringworm, cat
scratch fever, allergies, feline leukemia, feline distemper
and secondary bacterial infections.
Feral cats can have a widespread, devastating and
sustained effect on wildlife populations. Feral cats kill
hundreds of millions of native North American birds,
mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish each year. In
areas where feral cat populations are high, birds are
less likely to nest, and ground-foraging birds such as
quail and thrasher may be entirely absent. Wild animals
that arent killed by feral cats are sometimes maimed,
mauled or dismembered. The carnage inflicted by feral

cats exceeds the combination of all other known direct

sources of bird and small mammal mortality combined.
Habitat fragmentation makes it extremely easy for
feral cats to prey on different animal species. Fragmented
areas of trees or bushes give preyed upon animals just
enough comfort to get them killed. Hanging a bird feeder
may seem to help by providing extra food for wildlife,
but it can be a magnet for attracting feral cats and create a death zone for birds as well as small mammals.
Although most would think that a fully adult rabbit would
be safe from the jaws of a feral cat, they are on the menu
as well.
The feral cat issue is extremely controversial. When
people see a cat, they automatically think of their childhood pet. On the contrary, feral cats are nuisance animals. To benefit native wildlife, feral cat populations
should be controlled and/or eliminated. Whether youre
feeding a stray cat, dropping a cat off on the side of the
road when you get tired of taking care of it, or failing to
have your cats spayed or neutered, you can very quickly
become part of the problem. Do the responsible thing.
For more information, contact Justin Monk, Wildlife
Biologist, 30571 Five Rivers Blvd., Spanish Fort, AL 36527.
You may call the District V Wildlife Section Office at
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and
enjoyment of Alabamas natural resources through five
divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands,
State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn
more about ADCNR visit www.outdooralabama.com. l

ACEOA Magazine83