Category Archive 'West Virginia'

07 Jul 2017

First Elk Calf Born in West Virginia Since the 1870s

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Retri
everman
:

The recent birth of an elk calf is the first in West Virginia since elk were reintroduced in December 2016, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

The agency confirmed the birth Thursday, saying it has captured footage of the calf passing by a camera set up to monitor a pregnant cow separated from the herd.

Out of the 24 elk brought to West Virginia in 2016, six were pregnant, though two died soon after arriving. Officials believe at least one other cow is currently pregnant.

“For our elk population to be sustainable, there has to be reproduction, and this calf is the first of many to be born here in West Virginia,” Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel said in a statement. …

Legislation in 2015 authorized the elk restoration plan. The Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and McDowell counties set aside 9,000 acres for elk restoration.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

Elk were reintroduced in Pennsylvania, via a small herd imported from Wyoming, in 1913.

16 Mar 2016

Giant Trees of Appalachia

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GiantTrees

Some Dark Hollow reminds us that there used to be giant trees, big enough for people to live in their hollow bases, right here in the Eastern United States, not only in California.

According to the Encyclopedia of West Virginia, the largest trees ever documented in the eastern states were three sycamores documented by George Washington in 1771 on the Three Brothers Islands in the Ohio River. Washington was amazed at the size of these trees and estimated in his diary that one of them was 61 feet in circumference at its base! …

• In 1750, explorers Jacob Marlin and Stephen Sewell headed westward across the Allegheny range and found there way to where the mouth of Knapps Creek empties into the Greenbrier River in what is now Pocahontas County, WV. The two men decided to settle in the area. They built a cabin in for themselves, but ended up having a falling-out. Their quarrel eventually reached a point where they were not speaking to each other. So Sewell moved to a large hollow sycamore tree which stood a short distance from the cabin and lived there for a period of time.

• The following year, when surveyors for the Greenbrier Land Company entered the area, they found Marlin and Sewell living quite happily in their separate dwelling places. It was also reported that each morning the two men greeted each other with pleasant salutations. After Sewell moved on farther west where he was later killed by Indians, his former sycamore tree house served as a temporary dwelling place for many others who passed that way in subsequent years and remained as a landmark until 1930.

• Another hollow sycamore tree story from West Virginia took place near Buckhannon in Upshur County. In 1761, during the French and Indian War, John and Samuel Pringle, with two other British soldiers, deserted the army at Fort Pitt and hid out in the wilderness of the Youghiogheny River Valley. The next year when the other two soldiers were arrested, the Pringle brothers moved southwestward into the Monongahela Valley where they worked with a trapper by the name of John Simpson until 1764. After having a quarrel with Simpson, the Pringles moved into the Buckhannon River Valley and at the mouth of Turkey Run they made their home in a large hollow sycamore tree.

They lived there for about three years, until their supplies ran low and John set out to replenish them. He returned seven weeks later with the news that the war had come to an end. No longer concerned about being arrested for desertion, the brothers decided to return to the eastern settlements where they hoped to recruit others to come settle the Buckhannon Valley with them. The next year, Samuel Pringle, with his new bride and several other people, came and established the first permanent homes in this valley and, for a time, Samuel and his wife made their home in the hollow sycamore tree.

The giant chestnuts are gone in Pennsylvania, killed by the blight, but I know several places where you can see original first growth trees still standing.

17 Jan 2016

Reasons for Admission

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08 Sep 2013

Alligator Killed in Southwest West Virginia River

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From Retreiverman:

From WSAZ.com:

    An alligator is such a bizarre, unusual sight in the waters of the Upper Mud River that even seeing isn’t necessarily believing.

    “I didn’t even tell my wife,” says Jack Stonestreet, who was fishing on the river last Thursday. “I didn’t tell her because, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”

    Fishermen over the past several days contacted the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to tell them of the gator sighting. On Saturday, Nick Huffman, a field superintendent with the DNR, saw the scaled reptile with his own eyes.

    “I would say he’s a half grown alligator, a total measurement of 67 inches,” Huffman says. “That’s big enough I knew not to get on him in hand-to-hand combat.”

    The DNR shot the alligator and pulled it out of the water.

    The alligator will now be dissected. Opening the alligator’s stomach may give the DNR some insight as to where it may have come from and how long it was in the river.

West Virginia has almost no regulations on alligator ownership– probably because most people have sense enough not to own one!

But I have seen alligators and caimans available at pet stores, and every once in a while, someone releases a pet alligator into a river or lake in hopes that it will survive in the wild (I guess).

The problem is that alligators live only as far north as northeastern North Carolina. There is some debate about about them having an historical range into southeastern Virginia. I’ve always heard that the Great Dismal Swamp was the northern boundary, but I’ve also heard that alligators once ranged into the James River. In North Carolina, they are found only in the coastal plain, where the winters are comparatively mild. My guess is if they were found in Virginia at one time, they were never found out of the extreme southeastern part of the state, and if they did occur in the James River, my guess is they were found only near the coast.

If they aren’t found outside of North Carolina’s coast plain, how on earth could they survive in West Virginia?

Google map

When moose began showing up, for the first time since Colonial times, in the 1980s in Connecticut, the authorities immediately responding by shooting every one. Government just naturally abhors any novelty.

Personally, I don’t think a single gator represents that much of a hazard, and I think his presence made that river a lot more interesting. If I were in charge, I’d have simply encouraged alligator watching and proposed changing the mascot of the local high school team to an alligator.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

14 Dec 2012

West Virginia Xmas Display

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27 Oct 2007

African Lion Sighted in West Virginia

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Charleston Daily Mail:

Greenbrier County officials are scouring the woods near Cold Knob after receiving multiple reports that a lion — an African lion, not the mountain variety — is on the loose.

“We’re treating this pretty seriously,” said Robert McClung, the county’s senior animal-control officer. “Right now, we’re trying to confirm the initial report. Once we do that, we’ll figure out what we’re going to do about it.”

A local hunter, 72-year-old Jim Shortridge of Frankfort, was bowhunting for deer Oct. 17 when the lion reportedly approached him.

“I watched it for more than 40 minutes,” said Shortridge, who owns the parcel of land he was hunting on. “I watched it from my vehicle and from my hunting blind.”

Shortridge first saw the creature as he carried a cooler and his lunch from a vehicle to the 6-by-8 foot wooden blind.

“When I first saw [the lion], I thought it was a deer,” Shortridge said. “Then it growled at me.”

The cat ran away after Shortridge yelled at it. Convinced that the potential threat had disappeared, the slightly shaken hunter returned to his vehicle and retrieved his bow. Shortly after he began hunting, the creature came back.

“It paced back and forth, in front of the blind, about 10 yards away,” Shortridge recalled. “I sat and watched him. I kept shining my light into his eyes. The more I put the light on him, the louder he growled.”

Shortridge remains convinced that the animal was a male African lion. He estimated its weight at 250 to 350 pounds.

“It had a mane, so I could tell it was a male. And I’m sure it wasn’t a bear. Bears are all over Cold Knob. I see six to eight of them every time I go hunting, and I can tell the difference. Bears don’t shake me up at all. This lion made me pretty nervous,” he said.

08 Apr 2007

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

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Rightwing Prof guest-authoring at Maggie’s Farm has a tribute to West Virginia including discussion of the structure of Appalachian clans, ancestors (he had a really sound great grandmother),

I remember my grandfather saying that the one time she had to be hospitalized, he had to arrange the insurance behind her back because she believed insurance was government aid and she didn’t believe in it. She threw away every Social Security check she got in the mail, which even my very conservative, very Republican grandfather though was crazy.

his youth, and snake-handling preachers.

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I grew up in the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and for more than a decade my wife and I have had a second home in Central Pennsylvania, another hot bed of Scots Irish culture. The locals hurry out to restaurants on September 29th to eat goose. The Michaelmas goose tradition survives there. Just about any statement is commonly appended with a secondary affirmative phrase, “so it is.”

These days, we’re living atop the Blue Ridge, which is so narrow that the combined county and state line meanders in a serpentine line along the ridge top, defined simply by the vagaries of the watershed line. Our house is in Loudoun County, Virginia, but our back yard (and pool) is in Jefferson County, West Virginia.

So exploring West Virginia, which I’ve otherwise only seen briefly in the vicinity of Wheeling on Interstate 70, is definitely on our personal agenda. There must be brook trout in those mountains somewhere. Rightwing Prof’s native soil seems to be just about as far west in West Virginia as you can get.


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