Managing forests for wildlife

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



At first I did not understand where the Ruffed Grouse Society was coming from in its ideas for “balanced” managing our forests for the benefit of the ruffed grouse, as well as for the woodcock and other species of wildlife.

The plan involves some clear cutting, leaving some branches and tree tops for cover and allowing sunshine to reach the understory and provide food plots and cover for wildlife.

On the other hand is the “Save Our Forests” groups who stand opposed to RGS’s plans for forest management. They would like to see virgin forests if possible, let nature manage the forests.

Whichever way I reported, I was caught in the middle.

“We can’t have a promising future without resilient (springing back), balanced forests,” wrote Todd Waldron, forest conservation director for RGS and the American Woodcock Society in a recent issue of “Covers” magazine, published by the society.


Kentucky offers one near virgin forest. Lilley Cornett Woods, in Letcher County, near Whitesburg, is a 554-acre preserve that includes 252 acres of old growth forest.

It is one of the best studied old growth forests in the eastern U.S. Public access to the forest is only allowed through seasonally-led tours.

The forest is a tourist attraction, with quite a number of motels in the area. Rooms rent for $75 to $80.

Goggle in Lilley Cornett Woods for more information.


Ohio hunters harvested 21,754 deer on the annual gun hunting Nov. 29 opening day. That nearly doubled last year’s opening day kill of 10,905.

Last year it was snowy and rainy, while this year featured some sunshine and cool temperatures.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, during the past three years, hunters took an average of 13,349 deer on opening day.


Today marks the 15th day since my little dog Belle disappeared from the face of the earth. I’m not ashamed to tell you that it’s tearing me apart. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

First of all comes not knowing how she died. Did she suffer pain?

And then there’s my guilt. I never should have set her out on the porch in the middle of the night to do her business. She hadn’t even gone to the door and asked to be let out.

I think I was a little perturbed with her for having peed on the hardwood floor in the kitchen for the second time that day. But I knew she could not help it. At age 16, her bladder sometimes failed her.

She drank from her water dish and, like the baby wet dolls we used to buy our little girls, it ran right through her. It was as clear as her drinking water. And there was absolutely no odor to it. A couple of dog training pads soaked it right up. Sometimes she would go a week without this accident happening.

But when I put her out that night, I did not scold her. I sat her down gently because of her arthritic hips and hind legs.

Then I got busy with Bonnie’s oxygen mask. A half hour might have passed before I returned to the door and saw no Belle waiting there. I went out immediately with a flashlight.

It’s been more than a year ago since my neighbor across the street, Jerry Scythes, saw a coyote cross his back yard in the night light. He warned everyone to watch their pets. No coyote seen since then.

If a coyote attacked her there’s no sign of a scuffle. At her last vet’s visit last month, Belle weighed 16 pounds. It would have been difficult for a coyote to have carried her to the woods, which are at least three-fourths of a mile away.

I thank the readers who have taken time to write and share with me their experiences of loss at the end of life for their dogs.

One thing that keeps me going, that fills me with hope, is that I will see Belle again. If you think there will be no animals in the afterlife, turn to Isaiah, Chapter 11, verse six:

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.”


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619