Outdoors Glance: Oct. 25, 2018

October 25, 2018 GMT

Midewin bat week

It’s Bat Week at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, continuing through Wednesday.

Staff members at Midewin’s Welcome Center, on Illinois Route 53, north of Wilmington, will be conducting “spin-and-win” bat questions, providing bat house instructions and more about these underappreciated night fliers.

Learn about the bats of Midewin and why bats are important in conservation and ecology. There are bat coloring pages, bat crossword puzzles and more. You will even be able to get up close to look at a bat skull.

What do bats eat? Where do they live?

Learn about the Eastern Red Bat, the Big Brown Bat, the Silver-haired bat and more bat species that live at Midewin.

Creepy Critters

Kankakee River State Park conservation educator Kelly Holem will present a pre-Halloween “creepy critters” program at 2 p.m. Saturday at the park visitor center, at the park’s main entrance.

“We will learn about and dispel some common myths about these ‘scary’ creatures,” Holem wrote.

Deer hunt up

Archery deer hunting success in Illinois sharply last week, jumping to 13,068 kills through Oct. 21, compared to 7,352 for the first three weeks of the season last year.

This year’s total is about 20 percent higher than the 10,912 for the first three weeks of the 2017 season.

Hunter success also was up substantially in local counties — with Will County hunters leading the way with 200 so far, compared to 159 last year; Kankakee County at 80, up from 564; Iroquois at 91, up from 79; Grundy 87, up from 58; Livingston 76, up from 56 and Ford 14, down one.

Windy weather reduced success on Saturday, but Sunday brought the best daily results for the season with 1,717 deer taken.

The totals were 66 percent does, 34 bucks.

Owl pellet dissection

Children 6 and older can learn about the importance of owls and what they eat during an owl pellet dissection lab at Willowhaven Park and Nature Center at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Nature center staff will dissect a regurgitated owl pellet and talk about what the contents reveal about what owls eat and their importance in nature.

Parents are encouraged to stay for the program. The program fee is $7, with an additional $1 at the door. For more information, phone 815-933-9905.

Willowhaven is on Kankakee County Road 4000E Road, (Skyline Road) north of Grinnell Road.

Brandon lock funding

U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have won 99-1 approval in the Senate for federal cost-sharing of reconstruction of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam at Joliet — a major project in the efforts to prevent the spread of Asian carp from the Illinois- DesPlaines River waterway into Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes.

That came in the recent approval of the American Waters Infrastructure Act, which also includes funding to help schools test for lead in drinking water, improving of urban flood prevention and response and expansion of water infrastructure in Illinois and across the country.

Camping gear rental

A No Gear, No Problem program is coming to the Forest Preserve District of Will County in spring 2019.

The program is designed to make it easier for campers to put down stakes at a forest preserve campground.

For more information, visit bit.ly/willcocamping.

‘Hunter Nation’ support

The National Wild Turkey Federation has announced support of the Hunter Nation organization, president Vince Rosdahl announced Wednesday,

“The NWTF was founded to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage. The members of the NWTF work tirelessly to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.” said Rosdahl.

“Hunter Nation, a new organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of hunting and hunter’s rights, works to ensure politicians on both sides of the isle know about, and take action to support of abundant wildlife and wildlife conservation programs funded by hunters,” Rosdahl added. “As a member of the advisory board of Hunter’s Nation and president of NWTF, I am pleased to now have NWTF supporting Hunter Nation.”

Keith Mark, co-founder of Hunter Nation, said, “The NWTF has always been a leader for conservation and hunters. NWTF and Hunter Nation working together on common issues and threats is a natural fit, for both organizations.”

‘Bison Crawl’ Nov. 3

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is chipping in some fun to help celebrate National Bison Day on Saturday, Nov. 3, with prairie hikes and a bison chip throwing contest.

The district is co-hosting a Bison Crawl with Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Five stops with educational and entertaining activities will be includedto celebrate America’s national mammal. Two Hounds Antiques, the Manhattan-Elwood Public Library and the Wilmington Public Library also are participating.

Thirty-minute prairie ecology hikes will take place at the district’s Sugar Creek Administration Center paths at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. After each hike, “Little House on the Prairie” style bison chip throwing contests will take place. The person who throws the chip the farthest will win a prized bison skull donated by Ruhter Bison Farm in Newman.

Visitors also will be able to view a bison pelt, horns, jaw and shoulder bone. Staff will be on site to talk all things bison and to lead the hikes, which will highlight the bison’s role in the prairie ecosystem.

Stop at Midewin’s Iron Bridge Trailhead, on the east side of Illinois Route 53 south of Elwood, to look for the bison herd that roams over 1,000 acres.

Two Hounds Antiques, 315 N. Water St., Wilmington, vendors will offer hot and cold food, bison goods and handmade leather goods.

Manhattan-Elwood and Wilmington Public Libraries will host bison learning stations for the two weeks before Bison Day and on the actual day.

Smashing pumpkins

Don’t trash your Halloween pumpkin – smash it!

Bring them the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township and smash them to smithereens instead of sending them to the local landfill this year.

The “Pumpkin Smash” program will be held from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 3, at the nature center. Get all the details at bit.ly/willcopumpkin.

Sauk Trail tales

In the minds and road experiences of regional motorists, Salk Trail may be just a road through urban Will County.

Historically it is much more — a native American trail through Michigan, Indiana and Illinois that became a major pioneer wagon, foot and horseback road to what was then the Northwest Territory, then a fugitive slave route to freedom to the modern urban highway.

The history of Sauk Trail will be presented from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in a free program featuring local historian Larry McClellan at Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Blvd., Park Forest.

A retired retired sociology professor, McClellan is completing a book manuscript “To the River, the Remarkable Journey of Caroline Quarlls” and “Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois.”

The free event is sponsored by Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve for ages 12 and older. For more information, phone 708-747-6320.

New Salem Festival

The annual fall festival at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, where President Abraham Lincoln spent his early adult years, will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27-28.

Site interpreters in period clothing will demonstrate daily tasks throughout the historic village such as candle dipping, soap making, basket making, spinning wool, gardening, natural dyeing, and broom making.

Admission is free; donations are always welcomed. Lincoln’s New Salem is two miles south of Petersburg and 20 miles northwest of Springfield on Illinois Route 97.

School habitat grants

Applications will be accepted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Education through Nov. 30 for the Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program.

Applicants can select to develop a pollinator garden or a wildlife habitat of their choice. More details are available at dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/GrantsSHAG.aspx

The program is funded by contributions to the Illinois Conservation Foundation from the Jadel Youth Fund and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation.