The Indiana Department of Natural Resources “busts” seven common myths about wildlife in a recent feature posted to its website at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/7552.htm.
The article by Michelle Cain, a wildlife information specialist, refutes these myths:
•Myth 1: The Indiana DNR has released rattlesnakes to control the turkey population.
Answer: Rattlesnakes rarely eat eggs and wouldn't be effective in controlling the turkey population. Also, the DNR has never released rattlesnakes into the wild.
•Myth 2: I should help an orphaned or injured animal that I find.
Answer: Most young animals we see in the wild are not orphaned. Many adult animals have to leave their young briefly to gather food. A young animal should be kept in the wild unless removal is completely necessary.
•Myth 3: Indiana DNR has released cougars/mountain lions into the wild to control the deer herd.
Answer: Indiana DNR has never released any big cats and would never do so without public input. One cougar has been confirmed in Indiana, but it is believed to have escaped from a licensed owner.
•Myth 4: Catfish whiskers will sting you.
Answer: Catfish “whiskers,” or barbells, do not sting a person. The whiskers are very soft and are used for detecting food in the low light conditions where the fish live. What can harm you, however, are their spines, which are very sharp and are located in fins on their sides and back.
•Myth 5: Bread is good food for ducks and geese.
Answer: Do not feed these birds. Bread is not nutritious for them, and they then become dependent on people feeding them. If they were really hungry, they would go find food elsewhere.
•Myth 6: All bats are rabid and will fly and get tangled in your hair.
Answer: Bats can carry rabies, but it's not likely you will encounter one. Also, bats' echolocation abilities allow them to avoid flying into a solid object like your head. Bats actually are good to have around because they eat bugs.
•Myth 7: All water snakes are water moccasins.
Answer: Water moccasins are very rare in Indiana and currently are found only in one small area in southern Indiana. Water snakes can be aggressive, but they are not poisonous and typically will retreat if you leave them alone. Do not kill snakes, because they are a vital part of the ecosystem.