• 72°

When weather turns cold, where do Rowan County wildlife go?

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — While most humans prefer to stay inside when the weather turns cold, the story is different in the outdoors, where non-domesticated animals endure dropping temperatures.

Piedmont winter months are not the coldest in the state, but the area does see a substantial drop in temperature. Local wildlife feels that, too.

Tree squirrels, like gray squirrels, are not true hibernators, but they will spend more time during the winter sleeping.

Rowan Wild Naturalist Megan Cline said black bears, while mostly found in the mountains and coastal areas of the state, are not true hibernators either.

“The bears typically bulk up during the fall, trying to pack on a lot of extra weight,” Cline said, adding bears will spend much of their time sleeping.

Bears in captivity, including at Rowan Wild at Dan Nicholas Park, tend to be active all year because they have a steady supply of food.

Groundhogs, on the other hand, are true hibernators, going into a dormant state where bodily functions decline significantly.

Cold-blooded animals have their own approach, slowing down but it is hard to generalize them too much.

“They’re just slowing down,” said North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Fish Biologist Casey Grieshaber.

Grieshaber said the goal for most fish is just to survive until spring when they will spawn and begin eating everything in sight.

There are some fish like crappie and striped bass that are still active in winter. For those willing to fish in cold weather, Grieshaber said, it can be one of the best times of the year because there are fewer people out and potential to catch larger fish.

Not everything is sleeping more or moving less, though.

North Carolina is home to a number of migratory species of birds. Some birds that were here for the warm weather will be heading south while others are coming in from the north.

Carolina Wrens are here year-round. N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission biologist Falyn Owens said the rotund little birds are one of her favorites and she enjoys getting to interact with them during tagging operations.

Other birds like cardinals are also here year-round, and some Canada Geese stick around, though they are technically migratory birds.

The geese have historically spent winter months in the area, but can be found at lakes year-round. Owens said the birds thrive on mowed turf grass to the point they have no reason to go anywhere else.

The populations of migrating and stationary geese are even treated differently, with separate hunting seasons for each.

There are some unique opportunities coming up for Rowan fishermen as well. The mountains are well known for fall trout fishing, but you will be able to catch one in a local lake this year. The Wildlife Resource Commission will stock excess hatchery trout in Salisbury Community Park and Salisbury City Lake on Dec. 10.

Grieshaber said the trout can be harvested and the commission wants fishers to take them home because, while the fish do well in the lake, they are not able to survive long-term.

Comments

Business

In lieu of annual festival, New Sarum turns Cheerwine beer release into celebration

Education

RSS says federal money won’t be long-term solution for staff pay

China Grove

Main Street Marketplace combines local ingredients, community with farm-to-table dinner

Business

Business roundup: New managing director takes helm at Piedmont Players Theatre

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases continue decline as week brings 12 new deaths

News

Letter: Privileged to work where artists are valued

Brincefield Cartoons

Mook’s Place: COVID-19

Lifestyle

Library notes: New podcast coming in October

Lifestyle

In ‘This is Salisbury,’ Manier paints people who make city a better place to live

Lifestyle

Stokes earns best in show at Carolina Artists Guild’s Expo

Education

Livingstone College passes goal for UNCF kickoff

News

Commissioners to consider tax incentives for developer planning 63,000-square-foot facility in southern Rowan

Local

OctoberTour will return to in-person tours, require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests

Business

Keepin it poppin’: The Old 97 Kettlecorn Company adapts during pandemic, earns honor

East Spencer

East Spencer mayor says board knew about new administrator’s sexual battery charge before hiring

College

College football: Catawba holds on for 3-0 start

Business

Salisbury-based Lutheran Services Carolinas expands refugee program

Nation/World

Trailblazing tourist trip to orbit ends with splashdown

Nation/World

One stunning afternoon: Setbacks imperil Biden’s reset

Crime

Defense witness gives tearful account of deadly shooting in Fishzilla murder trial

News Main

High school football: Hornets easily handle unbeaten Thomasville; North, Davie also romp

Elections

Judges strike down state’s voter ID law

Crime

Jury finds Robert Durst guilty of best friend’s murder

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald ends release appeal from infamous 1970 slayings