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Date: 01-21-2016

Floyd backs horse center proposal

The Floyd County Fiscal Court is backing a proposed solution for horses that have been abandoned in Eastern Kentucky.

During a Jan. 15 meeting, the fiscal court passed a resolution supporting the Appalachian Horse Center, an organization that plans to construct a facility in one of nine Eastern Kentucky counties.During a Jan. 15 meeting, the fiscal court passed a resolution supporting the Appalachian Horse Center, an organization that plans to construct a facility in one of nine Eastern Kentucky counties.

The group was incorporated through the Kentucky Secretary of State as a nonprofit organization called One Step Forward in 2008. In December 2015, it adopted the Appalachian Horse Center as its new assumed name.

Director Ginny Grulke, the former director of the Kentucky Horse Council, said the multi-faceted center will offer numerous opportunities that will improve the region’s economy through tourism and job creation, educate the public, help people who need therapeutic riding services and help horses that have been abandoned in Eastern Kentucky.

According to the resolution, the Appalachian Horse Center will offer therapeutic riding for physically-challenged adults and children and provide equine-based therapy for inmates, veterans and people undergoing drug abuse rehabilitation. The facility will also serve as a tourism attraction, a training center, and, among other things, a place that holds and offers assistance for the placement of abandoned horses.

Abandoned horses have been a problem in Eastern Kentucky for years, as horse owners took their horses to strip mine sites when they could no longer afford to care for them. Some groups have reported that thousands of abandoned horses roam former strip mine sites, and many of the horses face challenges in getting enough food during the winter months.

Grulke confirmed that some of Eastern Kentucky’s free-roaming horses are owned by people who have permission to allow their horse to graze on former strip mines. She talked about one Florida couple who came to a recent Knott County Trail Ride and stated they were excited about visiting their horse, which they left to roam without shelter when they moved away three years prior.

Grulke said the Appalachian Horse Center started with a discussion about how to help abandoned horses in need, and expanded when participants realized what a huge commodity free roaming horses are.

“Free ranging horses are really a unique thing in the United States,” she said. “The next closest thing to what we have in Eastern Kentucky are the mustangs out in the west, and people can’t get close to them.…We thought this could be a really great tourism attraction. People would love to drive around mountain roads and see horses.”

Noting tourists can’t drive up and interact with horses at large horse farms in other parts of the state, she said the Appalachian Horse Center would help Eastern Kentucky become the “hands-on part” of the state’s claim to fame as the Horse Capitol of the World.

Judge Executive Ben Hale and Magistrate John Goble talked about the problem created by abandoned horses, including dangers posed by horses that travel to public roadways in the winter to lick salt off the roads.

“It’s becoming a problem,” Hale said.

Goble said about 15 horses have been abandoned on property near his home and he was recently called to pick up a horse that was posing a danger on U.S. 23.

County Attorney Keith Bartley said dealing with the problem is more difficult because the county does not have facilities to house abandoned horses.

Appalachian Horse Center officials are considering two pieces of property where the facility could be located in Floyd County. Volunteer Debby Spencer, a Bowling Green resident who has volunteered with the group for years, said the organization is considering properties located near the Thunder Ridge Racing Complex and the airport on the Floyd-Johnson county line, as well as other properties in Breathitt, Harlan, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Perry and Pike counties.

Spencer said the Appalachian Horse Center needs approximately 100 acres, and the site near Thunder Ridge included only 25 acres. She said her group is speaking with property owners near the horse racing complex to see if they would be willing to participate. She was not sure how many acres was available at the location near the airport.

She said the entire project will cost approximately $390,000, and the group is seeking a $250,000 grant from Shaping Our Appalachian Region to build the facility and a $10,000 grant from the Brushy Fork Institute to purchase paddocks, or gated enclosures for horses. Grulke said the cost of the project may decrease if property is found with a barn on site or if volunteers work to build a barn at the center. The group will also seek additional grant funding, she said.

Spencer said county judges in all nine counties being considered have submitted letters of support and resolutions like the one approved in Floyd County have and/or are expected to be passed in all counties, which should help the organization in grant-seeking process.

Spencer and Grulke said the facility would be funded through individual donations, grants, corporate sponsorships and fees charged for tourism and therapy services. The facility will have a gift shop, a cultural display depicting the historical role of horses in Kentucky’s economy and other services. Grulke also mentioned the possibility of partnering with a college to use the center as part of the training required for an equine management degree and the possibility of asking donors to “adopt” a horse, a program through which video cameras would allow live-streaming video feed of horses that are adopted.

When questioned during the meeting, Hale said the program won’t cost the county anything. It appears, however, that the county could incur some expenses if the facility is erected in Floyd County.

In introducing the resolution, Hale said the Appalachian Horse Center would act as “taker-up” of abandoned horses, but Spencer said the organization would not serve in that role.

“We won’t take up any horses,” Spencer said. “If the county judge takes one up or the animal control officer or an individual takes one up, they can bring them to us and we will feed it and get veterinarian care for it,” she said. “They will bring them to us. We won’t be in the business of taking up horses.”

A law enacted last year reduced the amount of time a person needs to hold a stray horse in order to claim ownership from 90 to 15 days.

As part of that law, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture established on online database where counties document stray horses as part of that 15-day holding period.

The law states that the county judge is required to enter into a contract with a licensed veterinarian who will photograph and document distinguishing features of the animal. The county will be required to submit that information to the state veterinarian and file the notice with the sheriff’s department to begin the 15-day hold time. The county may be reimbursed for costs associated with the veterinarian contract if an owner is found within 15 days. The law notes that the “taker up” shall be paid by the owner of the stray and, if none is found, the taker-up is the absolute owner at the end of 15 days.

When asked whether the county would be responsible for costs associated with care of the horses, Spencer said, “We’re hoping that won’t happen. We’re hoping to get grants and sponsorships and donations. We’re hoping that the county will see the value of it. It’s going to save them in the long run…but we’re not asking for anything right now. We’re just getting started and there may be enough sponsorship from feed stores and individuals to keep us going.”

Grulke said funds generated from tourism to the facility are expected to offset the center’s operational costs, and she noted that other programs, like the gift shop and insurance payments for therapeutic riding services, could help fund it in the long run.

“The county now has the legal responsibility to pick up any horse that is causing trouble,” Grulke said. “We as a nonprofit, don’t have that responsibility. We are depending on them to pick up the horses…There will be some charge to the county, but it will be less than it would be if they were paying to board them at a stable. Officially, they are responsible for the horses. 

At the end of 15 days, if nobody claims them, they’re responsible for figuring out what happens that to that horse, but we’re going to try to help them figure that out.”

She explained the group is building a network of people and rescue groups that will help in that process.

She said the center plans to hold 10 to 15 resident horses for the therapy program and up to 50 other horses that will be held until they are adopted by individuals or rescue groups.

Representatives of the Appalachian Horse Center have talked to 177 horse owners during “listening sessions” held in several counties, including one this week in Floyd County that attracted residents from both Floyd and Pike counties. Spencer said Pike County attendees requested an enclosed arena for horses — a project that would increase the cost of what is currently being planned in the multi-phase project.

Gulke and Spencer expect a decision about the center’s location will be made next month.

 

By Mary Meadows

Floyd County Chronicle

Date: 09-10-2015

Bear family adopts Paducah family SUV

 video of several bear cubs trying to get into a Paducah family' s SUV during a Labor Day weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains has gone viral. It took the family about an hour to realize the cubs were trying to get to their mother, who was trapped inside the vehicle. Ultimately the mother escaped unscathed, but the same can' t be said for the SUV's interior. video of several bear cubs trying to get into a Paducah family' s SUV during a Labor Day weekend trip to the Smoky Mountains has gone viral. It took the family about an hour to realize the cubs were trying to get to their mother, who was trapped inside the vehicle. Ultimately the mother escaped unscathed, but the same can' t be said for the SUV's interior.

BY GENEVIEVE POSTLETHWAIT
The Paducah Sun

Bill Perrin of Paducah knew his family's Labor Day weekend would be one to remember the moment his nephew said the words, "Uncle Bill? You have a bear in your car."

When Perrin and his family returned from a picnic Monday to their rented cabin outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee, they found several bear cubs "playing" atop Perrin's parked SUV.

At a loss for what to do, they watched from their cars for almost an hour. Finally they took a chance to dart past the cubs and up to the cabin's deck. From there family members broke out their smartphones and started filming as Perrin tried to shoo away the cubs.

"I started to use the water hose just to get the cubs off the car, but they wouldn't go very far," Perrin said.

Once the cubs walked off a little ways, Perrin's nephew peeked through the SUV's tinted windows to see the mama bear looking back at him from the front seat.

"I thought he was kidding!" Perrin remembered. "My nephew opened the door, and as soon as the mother busted out of the car she looked around, saw her cubs, and they just walked away like nothing had happened."

He asked the kids not to post the videos on Facebook, but they did, and it didn't take long for the video to spread.

The local news station in Gatlinburg picked up the story, one of many recent tales of hungry bears breaking into cars and cabins in the Smoky Mountains for treats in preparation for hibernation. As a Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokesman told WVLT-TV, cherries (one of the bears' favorite food sources) didn't grow in the park this summer, and the park's also seeing fewer acorns and nuts.

The Perrin family had been warned the local bears were especially hungry this season and took special care not to leave food in their cars. Still, the mama bear found her way inside the SUV and couldn't quite find her way out. Her efforts to break free all but destroyed the vehicle's interior, but Perrin was still able to drive home.

The family is unsure how the bear got into the SUV, though they suspect she managed to open a door. 

Perrin, who works at Computer Services Inc., has heard a lot of bear puns and jokes at the office and from friends since returning home, but he said it's all in good fun. It certainly made for a vacation his family will never forget. They're already joking about it themselves.

"My nephew asked me if I was going to contact the insurance company, and I said probably, and then he said, 'Well won't that be em-bear-rassing?'" Perrin couldn't help but laugh too.

Perrin said he does have full coverage on his bear-ravaged SUV, and he intends to call his insurance provider soon. At this point he's thankful his family members got the whole thing on video. Without that precious footage, they might never believe his story.

Date: 08-10-2015

Officials still investigating mountain lion shot in Kentucky

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists Laura Patton and Steven Dobey began the necropsy with veterinarian Iga Stasiak in December.Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists Laura Patton and Steven Dobey began the necropsy with veterinarian Iga Stasiak in December.

A wildlife expert suspects that the mountain lion shot by a fish and game officer in Central Kentucky last year was a wild animal — not someone’s escaped pet, as Kentucky officials initially suggested.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officials must certainly know the truth by now, because it does not take eight months to complete genetic testing, said ecologist Michelle LaRue, executive director of the Cougar Network.

But the state agency has for the third time rejected a request from The Courier-Journal under the Kentucky Open Records Law for a copy of the big cat’s necropsy and genetic testing. Those documents, said agency General Counsel David B. Wicker, are part of an “ongoing investigation,” and because of that, their disclosure is not required.

The Cougar Network is a nonprofit research organization that studies cougar-habitat relationships and the role of cougars in ecosystems. It is especially fo­cused on how mountain lion populations are expanding into their former habitats. 

There were three more confirmations recently, two in Wisconsin and one in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, LaRue said. 

She said she would not be surprised if the Kentucky mountain lion, the first confirmed in the state in more than a century, was a wild animal that wandered into the state. Increasingly, mountain lions are making their way back home to other corners of the Midwest, she said. 

State officials early on speculated that the mountain lion shot and killed in Bourbon County in December by a fish and game officer might have escaped from a private home or facility, suggesting it might have been in too healthy for a wild animal. They said the DNA testing to confirm the animal's origin would take a few weeks. 

Keeping mountain lions as pets in Kentucky is illegal, and state officials list them as “inherently dangerous wildlife.” 

LaRue said she has been asking around for details, too, and has also come up with nothing. Her network, however, lists the mountain lion on a its map of confirmed sightings as number 612. 

An increasing number of big cat reports in the state coincides with the return of the bobcat to Kentucky's landscape, the Kentucky department writes on its website. “Bobcats, which were considered rare as late as 1974, have increased in range and abundance throughout Kentucky. They are now found in every county in the state.” 

By James Bruggers
The Courier-Journal

08-12-2015

BUTTERFLY WAYSTATION DISPLAYBUTTERFLY WAYSTATION DISPLAY 

FRANKFORT -- More than a dozen Kentucky State Parks are working on projects to help Monarch butterflies by preserving habitat and planting milkweed plants the butterflies need for survival.

The butterflies – easily identified because of their orange and black colors – are known for their annual journeys to Mexico each year for winter hibernation. Some scientists are concerned that loss of habitat is causing a decline in the Monarch population in some areas.

Five state parks – Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Waveland State Historic Site, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site and John James Audubon State Park – are certified Monarch “waystations” through Monarch Watch, a group working to protect the butterflies. The park system also uses a children’s menu that illustrated the life cycle of Monarch butterflies, designed by the Garden Club of Kentucky.

“We’re very proud at Kentucky State Parks to be part of this initiative to educate people about these special insects,” Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker said in a news release. “This shows that we all can make a difference and do something to preserve a part of our natural world.”

Ten other parks are in the process of getting certified or have planted milkweed plants. The waystations are places where milkweeds are planted to provide food and a place for Monarchs to lay their eggs.

Lincoln Homestead State Park near Springfield reduced mowing and the use of chemicals to allow a 10,000-square-foot section area to grow milkweed over the last two years. Monarchs have been seen on the area.

The park system began working on the Monarch project in 2013 with the Garden Club of Kentucky.

“We began working with state parks in 2013 and many of them expressed interest in the waystation project,” Joanna Kirby, who served as president of the Garden Club of Kentucky from 2013-2015, said. “The parks have been a great way to spread the word about this program and help us explain why it’s important.”

Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed September as “Monarch Butterfly Awareness Month” for Kentucky. Three parks have special events planned in September related to Monarch butterflies.

Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg is hosting a “Butterfly and Native Plant Weekend” Sept. 25-27 that will feature seminars, workshops, field trips and Monarch tagging. A two-night lodging package that includes meals and program registration is available for $250 a person. Registration for the program is $30 a person. Call 1-800-325-0142 for reservations and information.

John James Audubon State Park in Henderson will present its “Monarch Butterfly Migration Mysteries” program on Sept. 12 and 19. Guests will learn about Monarch migration and then go out and tag Monarchs to study where they travel. The cost is $5 a person or $15 for a family. Programs start at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Call 270-826-2247.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park is hosting its Caterpillar Weekend Sept. 11-12. There will be walks and presentations both days, plenty of photographic opportunities, and programs for kids. The fee is $10 for adults and $5 for youths 17 and under. Call the park at 1-606-663-2214 for more information.

AUGUST 10, 2015

 

The Beauty of Pollination - Moving Art™

CLICK PIC FOR VIDEO

The hummingbird doing rolls chasing a bee is not to be missed.

Be sure and watch closely (around 2 min 40 sec), and check out the baby bat under its mother. Unreal. 

- some of the finest photography you will ever see.