animals

Paws down … pet show was the place to be in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Godzilla the guinea pig managed to upstage the dogs performing tricks at the annual Bowling Green Pet Show Wednesday evening in City Park. The guinea pig, with an alias of the “fuzzmeister,” perched on the hand of his owner, Fran Flores, 15. Fran took aim with her finger, said “bang,” and Godzilla dramatically fell backwards and played dead. The judges seemed stunned by the performance, and one said “bang” to test the guinea pig – and once again Godzilla collapsed upon command. The guinea pig stole the show from the dog who waved with his paw, and the other who weaved in between her owner’s legs as she walked, spun in circles and then played dead. The dogs were no match for the furry rodent. More than 60 pets were walked, carried or dragged to City Park for the annual pet show sponsored by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. There were 22 categories for the pets to be judged in, like shaggiest pet, biggest rodent, best dressed pet, and best behaved. No entries competed in the categories of most interesting farm pet, slimiest reptile, or loudest bird. A couple kids did try to win for having pets that looked most like their owners. Sitting on the Needle Hall stage for the competition were judges Tom Sieving, the Bowling Green Police Division’s animal control officer; Joe Fawcett, the assistant municipal administrator; and Melissa Hill, from the Wood County Humane Society. “We don’t take it too seriously,” Sieving said before the competition began. But all the categories weren’t as cut and dry…

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Ag advocate urges farmers to open up to consumers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Emily Buck, an educator, communicator and farmer, was on friendlier ground recently when she addressed the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum than she was about a month before in Washington D.C. The proof was right there on the menu. The local group was munching on an egg and cheese dish and tiny sausages. When Buck was a member of the panel at a conference sponsored by Food Tank, lunch was hummus and mushroom burgers. Food Tank, a group that advocates for sustainable agriculture, is not a friend of conventional farming, Buck said.  She even called it “scary” at one point. But she felt she needed to be there. She didn’t hide who she was. She and her husband, John Buck, raise corn, soybeans, and some wheat on about 1,000 acres in Marion County. She also maintains a sheep herd. And the corn and soybeans are grown from genetically modified seed. “This is not a friendly group by any means,” she said. “But I put myself out there because we needed someone from our side be part of the conversation. “There are people making decisions who have never set foot on a farm. They don’t understand why GMOs are allowing me to use less herbicides, letting me have better water quality.” People who care about sustainability are worried about air, soil, water, and habitat. “We have to find a way to talk to people who are concerned about these things in the right way,” Buck said. The associate professor at Ohio State urged farmers to get out of their comfort zones to engage the consumers…


Local boy unleashes a lot of love for shelter dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Drake Stearns turned 8 last recently, he got some unusual birthday gifts – giant bags of dog food, old blankets, and pet toys. Drake, a second-grader at Elmwood, had decided that he had enough toys himself and wanted his birthday party guests to bring gifts for the four-legged lodgers at the Wood County Dog Shelter. “We looked at all his toys,” and discussed a different option this year, his mom Christina Stearns said. “I wanted to do it. I wanted to make these dogs happy,” Drake said as he sat at the dog shelter next to King, who was wagging his tail furiously at meeting a new friend. So his mom sent out birthday party invitations, asking that in lieu of presents for Drake, that guests bring dog food, treats, towels or toys. The party netted nearly 200 pounds of dog food, plus lots of collars, leashes and other items. “Parents said they had a tough time not getting him toys,” Drake’s mom said. But Drake had no reservations. As he dropped off more items at the dog shelter last week, he quickly bonded with King. “He’s chosen me,” Drake said to his mom as King licked him. “He wants me. Can I get him?” Drake – who has big plans to be either a dancer, magician, artist or pet store worker – has a big heart for animals. “He actually said he wants to do this every year,” his mom said. Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said in his 12 years at the dog shelter, he can remember less…


Large farms must meet strict regs, ODA official says

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners often hear about problems with CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations.  So last week, they met with the person in charge of keeping track of those large farms and the manure produced by them. Kevin Elder, chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting, gave the county commissioners an overview of CAFOs in Ohio, including the regulations and the numbers in the state. Wood County has three dairy cow CAFOs and one chicken CAFO. Dairy cattle statistics for Ohio show the greatest number of operations with dairy cows as 39,000 farms in 1950. Those farms had more than 1.1 million dairy cows. “That was back when my grandpa taught me how to milk cows,” Elder said. And that was back when it was common for most farms to have their own dairy cows, Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Everybody had cows.” By 2016, the number of farms with dairy cows had dropped to 2,671, and the number of dairy cows in Ohio had decreased to 266,000. Wayne County leads the state in dairy cows, followed by Mercer and Holmes counties. Ohio ranks 11th in milk production and first in Swiss cheese production. Ohio has the most robotic milkers, Elder said, with one dairy in Wood County being robotic. Cows are also producing so much more milk than in the past, with an average per cow output in the past of 4,000 pounds a year, increasing up to 40,000 pounds a year, he said. The only livestock group that has expanded in the last…


Valentine stories of birds, bugs, bunnies and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As you agonize to find the perfect gift for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, consider yourself lucky that you’re not some species in the animal kingdom. Some male spiders have to perform bizarre dances to win over females. And some male birds are at the mercy of how much red feathering they have to attract a mate. Humans at least can modify their apparel and take dancing lessons. Wood County Park District Naturalist Jim Witter will present a program on Valentine stories from nature on Monday, at 7 p.m., in the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg Township. Parents need not worry – the program will be G-rated and will not include any awkward animal copulating videos. But it will show some of the courtship behaviors of animals. Forget the box of chocolates. Some animals, such as male bluebirds have “feeding ceremonies,” where they prove to their love interest that they are good providers. “In order to get her to stick around, it’s like, ‘Look at all the dragonflies I can catch,’” Witter said. Eagles sometimes exhibit that same behavior. Some females in the animal kingdom are won over by an attractive male with a good singing voice. That’s the case with red-winged blackbirds. “They do a lot of calling and chasing around back and forth,” Witter said. Experts covered up portions of the red patches on the males, and found that the females no longer fancied those males. “Females tend to select males with larger red patches,” he said. Frogs profess their love through croaking. Usually it’s the male who pursues…