It is rare to spy an albino creature, be it a deer or a robin, but Vaughn Miller thought he was seeing double last Saturday.
Miller, a Swanton outdoorsman, and a buddy, Ray Notman, were driving between McClure and Hamler in Henry County when they saw about half a dozen "critters" scamper across the road ahead. Slowing for a closer look, they saw a group of juvenile raccoons, which by then were jumping a ditch and moving offroad. Two of the six were all white.
"I did not see any brown on them at all,'' said Miller, who added that he could not determine whether the white raccoons had pink eyes and snouts. Pure albino animals lack all pigments and will have white fur or feathers and pink eyes and noses or beaks.
Partial albino animals may have varying percentages of white in their coats, or perhaps color in eyes, beaks or snouts, and feet. Sometimes they are called piebald animals.
Albinism is uncommon to rare, said Bill Roshak, a state wildlife biologist. Of the two white raccoons, he added, "they must have had the genes."
Up to $5 million a year will be available - with congressional authorization - to conserve migratory bird habitat in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean under a recently signed law, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
The act designates that 75 per cent of the funds be spent south of the U.S. border in key wintering and migration habitats. Neotropical birds breed in the U.S. and Canada in the summer and winter to the south.
Many species of ducks, shorebirds such as the sandpiper family, hummingbirds, orioles, plovers, vireos, warblers and more all are neotropical species.
Many of them have declined over the years for an array of reasons, especially habitat losses, both on wintering and breeding grounds and along the migratory corridors in between. The new law will help address the conservation needs at least in the wintering grounds.
A record 20,276 wild turkeys were killed in the three-week spring gobbler-hunting season, according to final figures released by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The report reflects an adjustment upward from a preliminary count at season's end of 19,895 birds bagged. The 2000 spring season was the first to be open statewide. The 1999 season was open in only 57 counties, with 14,419 birds taken.
Juvenile birds, or jakes, comprised 54 per cent of the bag, compared to 34 per cent in 1999. That reflects strong reproductive success in 1999, the division said.
The state's first modern turkey-hunting season was held in a handful of southeast counties in 1966 after a decade-long effort to restore the species, which had all but disappeared early in the 20th century because of unregulated hunting and habitat losses. This year's turkey population statewide is estimated at more than 200,000 birds.
A Women in the Outdoors day, featuring hands-on experience in an array of outdoors skills, is planned for Aug. 26, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Adams Conservation Club, 240 South King Rd., Holland.
Participants will be able to select four of eight activities for the day, including target shooting with shotgun, rifle or handgun, archery, canoeing, fly fishing, camping and cooking, or outdoor photography.
The event is sponsored by the Maumee Valley Chapter, National Wild Turkey Federation. Women ages 14 and up are eligible to participate, with a signup deadline of Aug. 12. Attendance is limited and registration can be made by calling Cindy Walker, 841-4883, or 885-5788.
A meat trapshoot is set for Sunday at the Continental Conservation Club, a half-mile north and a half-mile east of Continental on Putnam County Road E. Practice and still-target shooting begins at 11:30 a.m. and the main event at 12:30 p.m.
Fishing report - Walleye fishing on western Lake Erie continues at a very good pace, with good numbers of fish being taken fairly close to shore, according to reports coming into area baitshops.
Depths of 17 to 22 feet as near to shore as the Toledo Water Intake and off Little Cedar Point are producing fish. Many anglers have been having good results fishing on the bottom. Farther east, the areas north of Niagara Reef and west of the Bass Islands also are producing walleye at steady rates, as is Kelleys Island Shoal northeast of Kelleys Island.
Yellow perch angling remains steady in many of the usual summer haunts, and smallmouth bass still are being taken in 16 to 22-foot depths around the islands.
Steve Pollick is the Blade's outdoor writer.