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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
November 14, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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November 14, 2018

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AGE A12 ~dnesdav. November ].4, 2018 i, " NEWS and I) MER'S ADVOCATE DOUG PIFER My wife and I recently saw a road-killed tter on W.Va. 45 near where it crosses the Opequon Creek We decided this was worth a second look and returned later. The animal was just over 4 feet long from nose to tail tip. Its was short, dense and glossy. It was a tark, nch brown on the back shading into ilvery tan along the sides to nearly white nderneath. The foot-long tail was thick at he base, tapering toward the tip. All four feet were webbed. The head was broad and flat with a broad nose pad and wide muzzle. Short and pointed, its ears were just visible through the fur. It was an adult .male fiver otter. Once common throughout the United tates, fiver otters were heavily trapped during the 19th century when tall hats were i:n style for classy European and Ameri- can gentlemen. Beaver and otter felt was the standard material for such hats. Otter became the ultimate standard for durabili- ty against which all other furs were com- pared. After tall hats fell out of fashion in the 1900s, a new threat came to otters. Acid e drainage from coal and other mineral mines polluted the waterways, killing aquatic life and destroying the fiver otter's food source. By the 1950s, scarcely an otter was to be found except in the most remote mountain streams. In the mid-1980s, we had begun to clean up our waterways. The native fish returned. State wildlife agencies began an otter re- introduction program. Captured with soft leg-hold traps in areas where otters were plentiful, wild fiver otters were transport- ed and released into suitable watersheds with good fish populations. Otters started to increase. Today, fiver otters hunt for fish and cray- fish in the streams of almost every county of Virginia and West Virginia. But they're secretive and elusive. Unless you find one killed on a highway as we did or lucky enough to encounter one swimming in a river, it's hard to tell they're around. River otters typically mark their territo- ries with their feces, which are distinctive- ly large and usually contain fish scales or crayfish shells. Such a sign is temporary and usually disappears fast, except for un- news a RIGHT: River otters are back after the species survived heavy trapping during the 19th century, followed by acid drainage from coal and other mineral mines polluting waterways and killing aquatic life - their food source. der bridges. This led to the river otter bridge survey technique used by biologists in the United States, Canada and Europe to deter- mine the presence of fiver otters. Otter bridge site surveys typically are conducted in January or February. Teams of biologists explore the banks beneath the bridge and along both sides of the water- course looking for feces, tracks in the mud or snow, and for sites where otters repeat- edly slide through mud or snow on steep banks. Such surveys can't determine how many otters there are, only their presence or absence. Saving the fiver otter from near extinc- tion is another wildlife management suc- cess story. Now it's possible to see a grace- ful otter gleefully sliding down a riverbank into the water. - Doug Pifer writes from Shepherdstown !i~ ~' ~ ' ~ . ~-i DOUG PIFER / Pennsylvania Game Commission Remembering our veterans Commander William Bailey Sr. (left) and Daniel Jackson Jr. take part in a Veterans Day service Saturdayat Martinsburg's Rosedale Cemetery. The veterans representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War II. Veterans were joined by family members of Charles Newman, who served as commander of American Legion Unit 102 of Charles Town for 20 years. Jackson's address included remarks paying tribute to Newman. Northern Ireland expert to talk about Brexit at Shepherdstown's Byrd Center SHEPHERDSTOWN - Eastern Panhandle residents can hear about the challeng- es ahead following the Unit- ed Kingdom's 2016 referen- dum vote known as Brexit as a Northern Ireland expert de- livers a talk here Friday. Norman Houston, direc- tor of the Northern Ireland Executive North America, will deliver a lecture enti- tled, "Twenty Years After the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland and Brex- it," at 7 p.m. on the Shepherd University campus. Houston's talk, free to at- tend, will focus on the Irish border issue and ongo- ing reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland. Born and raised in North- ern Ireland and now based in Houston has nearly four decades of service as a senior official in the North- ern Ireland Civil Service. Northern Ireland Execu- tive North America's mis- sion is "to help cultivate and strengthen links between various political, economic, educational, and cultural in- terests in Northern Ireland and North America." Houston is responsible for spearheading Northern Ire- land Executive North Amer- ica's strategy in the Unit- ed States and Canada since 2007. A reception will follow the event. For more information and to reserve a seat in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, con- tact Byrd Center office man- ager Jody Brumage (jbrum- Norman Houston or 304- 876-5648). The talk is sponsored by the university's Depart- ment of History in partner- ship with the Byrd Center and Shepherd's Appalachian Studies Program. and our nny }oweIs II make everyone PH: 304.535.1313 196 HIGH ST OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK HARPERS FERRY We'll beat any Chades Town or Ranson storage facility by $5/mol 165 Philip Avenue Charles Town, WV Boat/RV/CIImate Control 304-724-7867