Monday, March 24, 2014

Pigs will fly before I get close to an NC wild boar

Pigs will fly before I get close to an NC wild boar
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager

Rarely does our area appear in Yahoo, MSN, New York Times, CNN, and other national media, but last month it happened when hunter Jett Webb of Conetoe stalked and killed a wild boar weighing over 500 pounds.

Although he and fellow hunters at the White Oak Ranch Hunting Club in Bertie County had been tracking the giant pig for months, even he was shocked at the immenseness of the animal. He took down his prey with one shot, which was a good thing because wild boars can be extremely aggressive.

Last year the Rosedale neighborhood in Elizabeth City was plagued with wild pigs that destroyed yards looking for pecans and other food. Residents said it looked like their lawns had been plowed with a tractor every morning.

Much speculation arose about where the pests came from and when they would leave.

North Carolina has a feral pig population problem, and it is getting worse statewide. In 2011, all North Carolina wild pigs were declared feral, and in 2012, laws changed to allow any means possible to control the invasive animal population. Now, there is no limit, no closed season, and they can be hunted with lights and silencers at night, in all 100 counties. Only a valid hunting license is required.

During the early twentieth century, wild boars were brought from Europe to the counties of Wake, Johnston, Wayne, Graham, and others in order to populate games reserves for hunting. The scavengers were natives of northern and southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Asia, and Russia. Boar hair was used in toothbrushes and hairbrushes until the 1930s.

Tigers and wolves are the main natural enemies of the wild hogs who are known to be courageous and fierce in battle. The males of the species live a solitary life except during mating season from November through January when they join the groups, or sounds, of females and piglets. Pregnancy lasts for about 115 days when four to six babies are born, and they have three litters per year.

The long, frightening tusks which protrude from the bottom lip are a scary sight, and males have an extra set on top with which they sharpen the others. Wild boars average 110-200 pounds, but can reach up to 800 pounds.

Many people claim that the meat of the wild hog is better than that of its domestic cousin, and it can also be purchased on line with other wild delicacies. The challenging hunting experience has attracted many to North Carolina, but the negatives outweigh the positive for most people.

Because they are omnivores and will eat just about anything, farmers and landowners are concerned about the damage they do. Along with their destructive nature, they bring diseases and parasites, which can potentially harm animals and people. Some scientists warn that these problems could eventually get into the domestic pig population.

I can assure you that before I would go looking for a wild boar, pigs would have to fly.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Raise your spirits, get healthy and be green: Ride a bike

Raise your spirits, get healthy and be green: Ride a bike

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
“I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance, “said suffragette Susan B. Anthony when she was speaking about the rising popularity of bicycles.
 Early in the 19th century, riders in Germany and France began to enjoy using the bicycle for recreation and practicality. A hundred years saw the evolution of the draisin, velocipede, quadracycle, boneshaker and the pedal bicycle. Biking around the world increased, and later the recumbent bike, the BMX, and the mountain bike were developed.
As the increased use of automobiles caused more accidents, some countries made a conscious choice to promote and enable the use of the bicycle for everyday needs. Today, citizens of Denmark and The Netherlands use bicycles more than any other country followed by Hungary, Germany, and Slovakia. 
A bicycle is a compound machine made-up of several simple machines:  lever, pulley, screw, inclined plane/wedge, wheel and axle.  Two famous scientists, Orville and Wilbur Wright got their start in aviation by studying bicycles and imagining the possibilities.  In 1903, their flying machine designed in a bicycle shop made the first airborne flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.  
The ecological benefits of using bicycles for daily trips are many including the reduction of noise and harmful emissions.  Energy used to make one car could make one hundred bicycles.
Health benefits of cycling out-number many other activities.  A one hundred, thirty-five pound woman going twelve miles in one hour can burn 488 calories.  One-half of American workers live within five miles of their jobs.  Pedaling twenty minutes each way twice a week would burn 3,000 extra calories or approximately one pound of fat each month.  While putting less stress on knees, ankles, and spine than running or walking does, bicycling tones the upper and lower body.
Regular bike exercise improves energy levels by twenty percent and decreases fatigue by sixty-five percent. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Even the immune system is strengthened by the activity. 
Mental health and general outlook are also improved by getting outside in the fresh air and speaking to people along the way. Bicycling can also be a social activity to enjoy with friends.
Port Discover received a grant, “Get on Your Bike and Ride,” through Vidant Health and Albemarle Hospital Community Benefits Program. Eight bikes and helmets have been given away to children in the community at various events.
 Our educators have developed a Bicycle Basics and Safety Kit which can be checked out by teachers in grades K-5 to teach rules of the road, proper helmet use, and safety. A summer camp (June 23-27) will feature bicycle fun and safety. Port Discover’s annual Earth Day Festival (April 26) will include a bike rodeo, bike spin art, a group ride through town, and a bike power demonstration. 
 Raise your spirits and come take our new quadcycle for a spin around town!

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