- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By James DrakeMost any hunter in America will tell you that there is a world of difference between 99.999 percent of our wild, natural forests, farms, fields and marshes and the first 100 feet or so that border any road or highway.
Those places are so often totally disgusting, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
Besides being so unsightly, the litter we so thoughtlessly toss out car windows or allow to blow away from the back of our trucks is dangerous to wildlife and very expensive to us.
Millions of Maryland tax dollars are spent annually for litter cleanup efforts. Add to that the number of animals killed so needlessly on our roads because they were lured there by the smell of an uneaten last bite of a Big Mac, and the real cost is very high indeed.
Litter isn’t going away on its own anytime soon either. It takes paper two to four weeks to decompose naturally. An orange peel will be out there for about six months. One of those waxed milk cartons can still be identified in five years.
A cigarette butt can last anywhere between about 1 1/2 to 20 years, depending upon the exact environment, while an aluminum can will last about 80 years in most any setting. A plastic soda bottle will take 450 years to decompose, monofilament fishing line needs 600 years and all those Styrofoam cups you see tossed along so many of our roads will never naturally decompose.
According to the Keep America Beautiful Foundation, motorists and pedestrians are responsible for the majority of litter found along our roads and 81 percent of it was intentionally put there.
That’s just so awful.
This past April, the Alice Ferguson Foundation again led the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. This was the 24th year this event was held.
In the latest effort, 262 tons of trash and debris were cleaned up at 660 cleanup sites throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia by 14,616 volunteers.
That’s so great all those people participated in such a worthy cause and yet so distressing that they had to do it.
This year, a partnership between the Alice Ferguson Foundation and local police departments designated April as Litter Enforcement Month with stepped up enforcement for littering, illegal dumping and related crimes.
Agencies along the Potomac to participate included the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, Maryland Natural Resources Police, Montgomery County Police Department and Prince George’s County Police Department. In Virginia, agencies from Alexandria, Arlington County and Prince William County also played a part.
The last time I checked, the Potomac also touches the shore along Charles and St. Mary’s County.
Come on people, get a litterbag hung somewhere in your vehicle and use it. As for our Charles and St. Mary’s County police departments, how about getting with the program next year?
More bad litter news
A new study by U.S. and Canadian scientists has found that seabirds may be eating far more plastic trash than they have ever ingested in the past.
This report, authored by Stephanie Avery-Gomm of the University of British Columbia, found that in 2009-10, an analysis of scores of dead seabirds discovered an average of 0.385 grams of plastic in their bodies. Compare this to 0.12 grams found in a 1987 study and 0.04 in a 1969-77 investigation.
Over 95 percent of the plastic consisted of twine, rope, fishing line, Styrofoam, hard pieces of discarded plastic bottle caps, fiber sponge and sheet plastic.
We humans ought to be mortified by our own actions.
And, it sure seems the problem is getting worse, not better.
Late waterfowl dates
Maryland's Department of Natural Resources has announced its proposed 2012-13 late waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits.
They can be reviewed at www.dnr.maryland.gov. Type “Late waterfowl dates” into the search box found on the top right side of the homepage.
Public comments on these proposals will be accepted through Aug. 14.
Because of a very healthy mallard population, DNR is proposing a 60-day duck season with a six-bird daily bag limit. The season will be split into three parts: Oct. 13-20, Nov. 10-23 and Dec. 11-Jan. 26.
The AP Canada goose season is scheduled to run Nov. 13-23 and Dec. 11-Jan. 30 with a two-bird per day limit. Resident goose season will have a five-bird per day limit and will continue until March 6.
Besides the normal Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day set for Nov. 3, Maryland is also proposing a second special youth day on Feb. 9, about two weeks after the regular waterfowl season closes.
For diving duck hunters, the proposed scaup daily bag limit will go from two to four a day. For everyone, canvasback daily limits will remain the same at one canvasback per day.
Check it all out online, and if you’ve got a suggestion or just a comment, you may leave that online as well. You may also call 410-260-8540, fax to 410-260-8596 or mail to: Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.
$25,000 rockfishThe “Diamond Jim” element of the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge is in its final phase and more than 150 specially-tagged striped bass were recently released into the Chesapeake Bay.
One of those tags is worth $25,000 to the lucky angler who catches it before midnight Sept. 3. That one fish they call “Diamond Jim” and actually, it’s probably worth more than that.
Several tackle shops around the state have tossed in additional $1,000 gift certificates and Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis will give away a 5- to 6-carat blue topaz to the happy angler. All the other specially-tagged striped bass are worth $500 each.
This year, for the first time, Maryland has guaranteed to give away that $25,000 grand prize. If “Diamond Jim” is not caught by Labor Day, the money will be divided among those who caught one of the imposters. So far, that vast group numbers a total of only four.
That’s going to be a pretty nice paycheck for those folks.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and go fishing.