Friday, November 24 , 2017, 7:33 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: May Rain Increases Juvenile Critter Survival Rates in Wild

May can a tough month for juvenile critters in the wild, but add a little rain and life gets much more secure.

During a dry and windy spring, small water sources dry up quickly and plants get the moisture sucked out of them by harsh winds. Under those conditions, young critters are forced to venture farther over dangerous terrain inhabited by predators to find enough water and food to grow on.

A gentle May rain like we’ve had is a life-saving blessing for little critters and in the case of some species, for the parents that take care of them.

Water remains plentiful because small nearby sources like puddles and pockets in rocks are preserved and most creeks have some water even if not flowing.

Food is plentiful because the rain keeps the growing period going and the entire food chain benefits. Bugs and small critters eat the fresh plant growth and small varmint eat smaller critters.

Overall, the survival rate in a wet spring is exceptionally high because most critters enjoy a softer than usual childhood and grow bigger, stronger and faster before they must venture out onto open territory where there is a higher risk of predation.

As a hunter for my family’s dinner table, I grin happily when I see unusual sights such as the Cuyama Badlands covered in a vast sea of fresh green wild grasses. Between the feed and the dew, there is plenty of nourishment for game birds like quail and game animals like cottontail and deer.

I know it is going to be a great hunting season ahead and some of that bounty can wind up on my own family’s dinner table where we thank the critter for feeding us.

That is the beauty of hunting; it puts us in touch with the reality that when we eat meat, a critter had to die. It is clear and obvious when we hunt and it is known to the family because we tell the hunting stories over the table.

But when was the last time a person at a fast food joint stopped to silently thank a cow for dying so we can eat a hamburger? I like living in the real world and appreciating life and death.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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