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Into the Outdoors: Foods for Thought

May just keeps getting better. Beautiful birds are showing up at my feeders. My son caught the photo of a rose breasted grosbeak at the feeder last week. These are among the last to arrive in Spring and the first to leave in late Summer and Fall.

Let’s start things off this week with some foodie stuff. Often, when we clean fish, they contain eggs. Most folks just throw these away with the guts. This is a mistake. Fish eggs, when properly prepared, are nothing short of delicious. I should add here that the eggs of gar are highly poisonous. Other than that, roe makes for great eating. My son, aware of my adventurous palate, bought me some lumpfish caviar. Take a Ritz cracker, a piece of smoked or sharp cheese, a radish slice and a dollop of roe, and you will have an hor d’ouvre that is nothing short of fantastic. This is, of course, not real caviar, made from sturgeon eggs, which is incredibly expensive, but it is still good. As for other roe, there are countless recipes on Google and YouTube. Don’t toss away some delicious eating. Sucker roe is especially sought after. Personally, I hate to kill a fish just to get the eggs, so I haven’t had them. Freshly caught salmon roe, not the ones from the bait store, are especially succulent and tasty.

On another front, it’s that time of year again, and hungry bears are on the prowl. While they are neat animals, you don’t really want a close encounter. Here is an excerpt from a Game Commission news release on how to avoid bear problems.

Play it smart. Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels, may attract bears. Even bird feeders can become “bear magnets.” Bear conflicts with bird feeding generally don’t arise in the winter because bears are in their winter dens. But at other times of the year, birdfeeders will attract problem bears. If you do choose to feed songbirds during the summer, Audubon Pennsylvania offers some tips, including: avoid foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night; or suspend feeders from high crosswires so they are at least 10 feet above the ground and four feet from anything a bear can climb, including overhead limbs.

Keep it clean. Don’t put out garbage until pick-up day; don’t throw table scraps out back; don’t add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If you have pets and feed them outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. Shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Don’t approach it. If the bear won't leave, call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance.

Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut with a metal lid).

Check please! If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don't do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter.

It seems that a bit of common sense is all it takes to avoid problems with these critters.

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