Outdoors: PGC webcams something to watch this winter
With appreciable snow covering Penn’s Woods, it limits what can be done outdoors.
If you’re a cross-country skier, the snow makes a good platform to traverse places like the Rose Garden land in Allentown, Allentown Municipal Golf Course, Trexler Park, Upper Macungie Park areas, Macungie Park, Camp Olympic land in Emmaus, and other flat, accessible terrain.
If you’d rather stay home, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) offers an alternative to being outdoors. They are hosting constant livestreaming of wildlife in the comforts of your home. For example, there’s the Eagle Cam located in a giant sycamore tree overlooking scenic farmland in Hanover, Pa. According to the PGC, the nest has one eaglet so far and is one of the agencies most popular viewing site.
Bald eagles typically lay eggs in mid-February and if viable, will hatch in mid-late March with the young fledging in June.
There’s also a Snow Goose Cam set up at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon County. Here, viewers can watch the thousands of snows that congregate there during their winter migration through Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the most dramatic though is the Black Bear Cam set up under a cabin deck in Monroe County. This location isn’t unusual says the PGC as it has happened before. Sometimes they even den in the open with only a few twigs overhead, the hollow of a tree, rock crevice, beneath the roots of a fallen tree, and if they can find one, a cavity of a large rock.
Several years ago, I accompanied then PGC bear biologist Gary Alt to such a den in Pike County. The bear was radio collared so Alt knew where the female bear was located deep in the woods.
After darting and putting the female to sleep, he and a game warden pulled the female out. Alt then allowed me to crawl inside the rock den (it was tight) to photograph two new bear cubs after which he pulled them out to weigh and measure them for his research. It was an unforgettable experience.
In this deck den, the camera uses night vision as light levels are low and the camera can pan, tilt and zoom. Residents in the cabin don’t seem to bother the bear and the bears are generally not a threat to them, says the PGC. This den appears to have two cubs as they’re normally born in January with their eyes opening in about six weeks.
Since there is limited room under this particularly deck, the bear sow must lay on her side to nurse the cubs. Their milk, that Alt had analyzed, has an extreme fat and protein content more so than any other animal. This allows the cubs to grow quickly.
The sow will also adjust with the cubs and when not nursing she may lapse into a deep sleep. Body temperatures drop 10-12 degrees during hibernation and she won’t eat or drink anything, or urinate or defecate during this dormancy.
Her cubs will begin walking in about eight weeks and will leave the den when they’re three months old.
The Pennsylvania Fish Commission is scheduled to start stocking trout on Thursday, Feb. 18, weather permitting. But deep snow along stream banks is going to make stocking especially difficult.