Let us learn a few things, shall we?

It's too dry up! Cormorants feathers are not waterproof! Question was in the last blog :)


Two of the most common diseases found in white-tail deer are Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD; also known as blue tongue disease) and Chronic Waste Disease (CWD).

EHD is a viral disease some deer can recover from. Common symptoms include: loss of appetite, loss of fear of people, curving and breaking of the hooves during growth, a blue tongue due to lack of oxygen in the blood, and a fever. To counter the increase in body temperature, deer enter bodies of water to cool down. Unfortunately, many deer lose consciousness and drown. Big Oaks has experienced some suspected cases of EHD this year. There have been some reports of deceased deer in creeks.

CWD is a prion disease (a pathogen agent) that attacks the nervous system causing brain deterioration. This disease is fatal. Deer experience weight loss, stumbling and repetitive walking patterns, loss of fear of people, loss of bodily functions and abnormal behavior. When a deer is sick with CWD, you can approach it and touch it and get no reaction from the deer.


So why am I telling you all of this? Well, it's interesting for starters, but it also has a connection to something new we learned this weekend.


Big Oaks does not test for either of these diseases. However, we do sample lymph nodes to send to a lab to test for CWD. The refuge wildlife biologist taught us how to find lymph nodes and cut them out. Lymph nodes remove waste from cells and defend the body from foreign agents. They can be big or small. Research has not found any correlation between sex and lymph node size. One of the bucks had a large and a small one. The doe had two small ones.

Neither of these diseases have been shown to affect humans. However, CDC does recommend wearing gloves when handling a deer suspected to have CWD prior to consumption.


Out of fourteen deer harvested the largest buck for the archery weekend #2 was an 11 point.


Sunday I (Ethan) spent my day at the gate house. If you have been to the refuge before I’m sure you've seen it. It’s a trailer home set up as a gate shack at the East perimeter entrance. The first hour I was trained on how to properly check out and check in hunters before being left on my own. In order to make sure no one gets left on the refuge we have a list of who’s on it and what region they are in during the hunts. When they officially check out for the day we cross their names out. This helps us keep track of where they are. If someone doesn’t make it to the gate by 8 p.m. during a hunt day then we have to call them and in the worst case go find them.The list helps us at least know what region they are in and we also always have their phone number on file. Overall everyone was really nice this hunt weekend and some people got to go home with some really nice deer.


Another event that happened this week was our yearly field day. On behalf of that BOCS would like to thank the Southeastern Indiana REMC Community Fund for funding the supplies for our field day last Monday. We welcomed 83 students from the Ripley county school system to teach them about recycling, trees, wildlife and pollinators.

At the recycling station, the students were asked to sort through a bin containing different items made from different materials and place them in the appropriate "trash can" (all labeled - see picture).

At the tree station, students were taught about the importance of trees and what materials of trees were used in everyday objects. For example, did you know that trees are used to make toothpaste and clothes? The wood itself is not, but the cellulose fibers and lignin (natural glue that hold the tree together) from the tree are processed to eventually go into toothpaste and clothing. This is the very very very short version of how this process works. I encourage you to do some more research!

The wildlife station spoke about the extinction of the passenger pigeon; a sad truth a lot wildlife worldwide is experiencing. Many species have gone extinct due to human activities. Every year at Big Oaks, staff members and interns maintain crawfish frog populations by keeping their breeding ponds safe from predators or any other biotic or abiotic factor that might deter crawfish from breeding here at Big Oaks. Although not endangered at a federal level, they are critically endangered in Indiana. Big Oaks has the largest population of crawfish in the state, and yet the numbers remain low.

The last station was about pollination. Students were asked to put imaginary toppings on a pizza and taco and choose an ice cream flavor. Each time an ingredient evolved due to pollination, they were asked to remove that ingredient from their pizza. Let me just say, they ended up with pretty bland food… and they were not happy about it! So let's save pollinators shall we!


We have successfully completed all fire training requirements to become wildlife firefighters. We completed the pack test with the help of two fire staff members. It's time to burn!


So many different containers... Where do I put this bottle?

I can't have what on my pizza?!


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