From the point of view of those who attended the First Annual Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office's Great Lakes Experience (GLE) Festival that was held Saturday, in Memorial Park, the event was a big success.
The weather held up all day with a steady breeze coming off the lake and as David McQuay and Jeff Dietz, representing Erie and Chautauqua County Parks, reported, there was a steady stream of people all day long. This initial event is a sister to the event which has been held in Buffalo since 2001. That event now draws a crowd estimated to be over 3,000.
The purpose of the events is to engage the community and work with local stakeholders to protect and enhance the natural resources of the Lower Great Lakes ecosystem. The GLE is a not-for-profit group in western New York that works to support the mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office.
Fredonia resident Tyler Purol, whose his hunt last fall resulted in harvesting an 11-point buck that will be featured on Sportsman Channel next week.
The festival organizers looked for exhibits that displayed the following: Live animals, wildlife demonstrations, environmental exhibits, educational games and opportunities to learn about everything from local wildlife to protecting the environment and even safe boating. In my opinion, the mission was accomplished, as I strolled Memorial Park to meet and greet the volunteers.
First stop was Sky Hunters, a touring troupe with nine live raptors on display. Pete Lutz, the leader, informed me that they had a European eagle, a Barn Owl, Two Peregrine falcons (male and female) a small falcon called a Merlin, Two Screech owls, a Barred Owl , Harris Hawks, a Red-tailed Hawk and a Northern Goshawk. The birds are fed live prey like mice and quails and are allowed free flight. All the birds return to their mentors through training.
Next stop was Judith Hafner, head of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary's Chautauqua Satellite Team. Her group will be hosting free boating checks at the City of Dunkirk Pier next Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.
Representatives from the Buffalo Zoo were on hand with some unusual foreign creatures, including Irwin the Blue-Tongued Skink from Australia, a red-footed tortoise named Jabuti, a ball python named Fred, and a vibrantly colored bird known as a Sun Conure and named Bijou. Greystone Nature Preserve, represented by Jessica Wuerstle, and Arbor Masters also had displays.
A life-size dinosaur replica of a raptor was a big draw - literally - for Mr. Glen LaPlaca's booth, which was set up next to the GLE booth manned by Tom Bello, president of the GLE and his partner Dave Mika.
Also on hand were the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, the Chautauqua Rural Ministry, and Carmen Quinones. New York State Parks for Erie and Chautauqua Counties were represented by McQuay and Dietz while marine products were on display in the Chautauqua Marina booth.
Helen Domske was in the Sea Grant booth as the Monday Night (Con Club) Fly Tyers and the Gary Dudek family represented the Sportsman's Education Classes.
The Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Allegheny National Fish Hatchery, and members of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were all on hand with wonderful displays and hands-on exhibits. It was a great time and hopefully they will be back again next year.
P.S.: There were numerous vendors on hand, all of which I had to avoid, but I could not escape the aroma of the delicious food that was available.
Tyler Purol, of Fredonia, was bowhunting and tagged a magnificent 11-point buck during archery season last Nov. 2. He had trail cameras that alerted him to the buck haunting his area and he was able to seal the deal from a tree stand at 20 yards. The entire hunt was filmed by his father, Steve Purol. The buck scored 145 inches, and Tyler, who is a pro staffer for Point Blank Outdoors in Cassadaga, will have his filmed hunt aired on Sportsman Channel on Tuesday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 21 at 8:30 a.m., and Sunday. June 23 at 3:30 a.m.
Happy Father's Day to all Dads.
If you are hoping the crossbow bill will surface or survive, it is important to contact our Senators and request they support Senate Bill S1699B. Call or write and let your legislators know if you are a current or former bowhunter, or if you have any current or former archery/crossbow affiliation.
Be sure to let them know that you support crossbow regulatory authority being given to the DEC! Rick McDermott is the rep for the New York Crossbow Coalition at www.nycrossbowcoalition.com.
There will be a pistol course at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club on July 6 from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. There is a $55 fee for the course. For information, call Dudek at 366-3397.
The Cassadaga Lakes Association will host their 20th Annual Lew Mead Youth Fishing Tournament on June 29, at the DEC boat launch on Dale Drive in Cassadaga from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. This event is free for all youths ages 16 and younger. If you would like to donate a door prize, volunteer, or are looking for more information, call 595-3950.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.