March 15, 2019
Shaping the McGraw of
the Future
McGraw photo by Charles S. Potter Jr.
If you’ve parked near the Hunters’ Lodge recently, you might be wondering what’s going on.

Dead trees and underbrush have disappeared. In their place are open views and cleared forest floor – part of an ongoing plan to revitalize McGraw’s forests and fields, creating healthier ecosystems and building better habitat in the process.

Max McGraw himself oversaw the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees on his property more than 80 years ago. Today, many of those trees are coming to the end of their natural lifespan.

“We’ve also been battling invasives like buckthorn and honeysuckle for years,” said McGraw Vice President Clark Ganshirt, who long has overseen our land management program. “Those plants can choke off more desirable trees and they spread like crazy.”

In recent years, McGraw has cleaned up areas on the northeast side of the property – and the results have been gratifying. 

Sometimes Culls Work. Sometimes They Don’t.
By JoAnna Klein/The New York Times
Photo by Carine06/flickr
The badger is chubby but strong, with short legs, a long body and endearingly goofy gait. It has become a cultural icon to children who grew up reading “ The Wind in the Willows ,” or more recently, “Harry Potter,” in which the badger is the symbol of the Hufflepuffs. Once tortured by dogs in a blood sport called badger baiting, it is now a  protected species in Britain.

But the beloved creatures also carry bovine tuberculosis, a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of cows across Britain since at least the 1970s. For that reason, they have been culled to control the disease’s spread.

In some instances the effort worked; in others, it didn’t. All along, Britons who love badgers have questioned the effectiveness and necessity of the culls.

In a new study, researchers simulated different badger-culling scenarios, and discovered that culling can help reduce the spread of wildlife disease. But to work, the efforts must fall within a “Goldilocks zone,” wherein the number of animals killed, the ground covered and the duration of the cull all must be just right.

Shortage of Hunters, Shortage of Mentors
By Tony Jones/Star Tribune
CLfT photo
Ben Peña is an unlikely hunter. Raised by a single mom, he shuttled between south Minneapolis and Mexico, but his mother nevertheless took up deer hunting and taught it to her son.

Peña’s mother died in 2007, the same year he returned from serving in Iraq as an Army medic in the Minnesota National Guard. “I just wanted to do something,” Peña said, to pass on to others the love of the outdoors that his mother passed on to him.

Now Peña, a captain in the Minneapolis Fire Department, spends much of his autumn mentoring others rather than seeking game on his own.

But Minnesota doesn’t have enough Ben Peñas, said James Burnham, the official whose job it is to recruit and retain hunters and anglers. Burnham said there are more people interested in trying hunting and fishing than there are veteran sportsmen and women willing to teach them. 

Tales of a Reluctant Birdwatcher
By Diane Stopyra/The Washington Post
Photo by miss*cee/flickr
This morning, a duck attacked me. Or — let’s go with this instead — it tried a little too hard to befriend me.

I’d just finished a five-mile run in my hometown, Cape May, N.J., when I spotted the duck waddling across my driveway. I bent down until he came close enough for me to pet. But as soon as I stood to leave, the duck bit hold of my shoelaces and wouldn’t let go. I bounced around trying to free myself and called for my husband, who ran outside with a half-eaten egg sandwich in his hand. He sized up the situation, then said: “I thought something was  really  wrong!” After a ridiculous dance, I shook off the duck, who waddled after me in a most determined fashion as I headed for the front door.

Bird interactions are unavoidable in Cape May. A tiny island at the southern tip of New Jersey, this place is, according to National Geographic, the  second-best birding destination on the planet . (South Georgia Island off the Chilean coast, full of glaciers and penguins, is first.) In the spring and fall, Cape May is a vital migratory stopover. But even in the dead of winter, birds are everywhere.

Ghost Forests a Reminder of Lost Wetlands
By Chris Macaluso/TRCP
Photo by Ryan Somma/flickr
The bald cypress tree is an icon in Louisiana, like a Mardi Gras mask or the fleur de lis on the side of a New Orleans Saints helmet. Millions of acres of winding bayous, overflow swamps, lakeshores, and seasonal crevasses are lined with our majestic state tree, along with tupelo gums, swamp maples, and the occasional stately oak.

Wading birds, wood ducks, bald eagles and many others take rest and often make their nests in the cypresses. Fishermen pitch plastic worms, spinnerbaits, and tube jigs at a maze of cypress roots to catch bass, bluegills, and sac a lait—those are crappies to you east coasters.

But cypress forests do more than define our landscape and support our wildlife—they also store flood waters during the spring, help hold the loose soils of South Louisiana together, and provide natural protection to coastal communities by curbing ravaging hurricane winds and storm surge.

Unfortunately, large swaths of coastal cypress forests have been wiped out across South Louisiana.

“To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing.”

-Barbara Hurd
To read past McGraw Reports click here.