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Side of Ranch

Wildlife, flag-raising events should pique interest in Bradenton

Two unique events top the calendar and offer educational opportunities.

Sandy Ulrickson, a volunteer for the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida, holds a rescued baby rabbit.
Sandy Ulrickson, a volunteer for the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida, holds a rescued baby rabbit.
Photo by Jay Heater
  • East County
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A pair of interesting events are on tap in the next week in East County, and both deserve your attention.

One is a Living with Florida Wildlife, and let's face it, we all could use a little extra information the next time we come face-to-face with a bobcat or an alligator. The other is a reenactment of a flag-raising ceremony that was repeated time after time in France as soldiers liberated towns that had been overtaken by the Germans in World War II.

Let's start with Living with Florida Wildlife, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

Did you know that armadillos don't like loud music?

That could be some key information if you are trying to get rid of the pest when it digs a hole under your house. According to Sandy Ulrickson, who has been a volunteer for the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida (Venice) since 2015, putting a radio near the hole dug by an armadillo will cause the pest to move to a quieter neighborhood.

Just don't blow away the neighbors.

Ulrickson said armadillos also don't like bright lights, so putting a lamp near the hole will convince the animal to move.

Have you thought of using mothballs? That often is suggested as a way to get rid of armadillos. But Ulrickson said "no!" because using mothballs for that purpose is against the law.

Ulrickson, who is promoting the Living with Florida Wildlife event, said Jessica Moore, a wildlife biologist of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will team with Sgt. Rob Hendrickson of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office to discuss common wildlife found in local communities. 

They will be discussing unexpected consequences, such as owls and hawks dying because they have eaten rats that were poisoned. Ulrickson said the rats eat many of the poisons we use to rid our homes or businesses of them, then they get lethargic and become easy prey for owls and hawks.

But, wait, there's more. Those same rats can be eaten by household pets, such as dogs and cats. Other wild animals, such as bobcats, also are affected.

If you see an animal that seems to be suffering or lethargic, you can call one of the many agencies that deals with such situations.

"They can be flushed out," Ulrickson said if an animal has eaten poison. "We picked up a hawk one time whose legs were pointed straight up into the air. We flushed him out and released him a few days later.

"It keeps you going."

While Ulrickson answers some calls where the distressed animal can't be helped, she said the higher percentage of calls involve animals that can be helped.

Ulrickson, who lives in Panther Ridge, began caring for animals in the late 1990s when she joined an effort to help whooping cranes learn the migration route from Wisconsin to Crystal River by following a plane. While that effort eventually was unsuccessful, a lot was learned about whooping cranes in the process.

She moved to Florida in 2005 and continued helping animals by becoming a volunteer at Myakka State Park and for Audubon at the Celery Fields. She is one of three area volunteers for the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida with two others living in the Lake Club.

Ulrickson joined the nonprofit after a volunteer came to her home to rescue a Sandhill crane in her yard that had landscaping material caught in its beak.

"We got it off and released it," she said.

She joined the organization and since has had to rescue many Sandhill cranes.

"Sandhill cranes are beautiful," she said. "But they are dumb."

She said Moore and Hendrickson will discuss some of the interactions with animals that are sure to occur for those living in the area.

"If you see a bobcat, don't freak out," she said. "Snakes? Just leave them alone. But if they are in your house, and they are venomous, call someone like Damen Hurd, who will come and relocated them."

With so many new residents, Ulrickson said such clinics are necessary to inform new residents about dealing with the wildlife.

So what do you do if a raccoon is in your attic? You might learn at the seminar that soaking some tennis balls in apple cider and throwing into the attic will do the trick.

The seminar will deal with identifying gopher tortoises and making sure people know not to put them into the water.

"People are learning," Urlickson said.

Raise the flag

The public is invited to a reenactment of a flag-raising ceremony that took place in Forbach, France in 1945.

The reenactment takes place 8:45 a.m. in the parking lot in front of Lowe's, 7395 52nd Place E., Bradenton.

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. John Skeen, who is now 104, has told the story of the ceremony as his fellow soldiers of the 70th Infantry Division — nicknamed "The Trailblazers" — pushed the Germans out of Forbach and then celebrated with the village residents.

The residents all gathered with the Americans in the town square, but nobody could find a flag. Eventually, a tiny American flag, made out of a cotton garment and the size of a piece of notebook paper, was located. The soldiers lowered the Nazi flag and ran up the tiny American flag.

The ceremony is being held by a group of veterans who meet each week at the Bob Evans restaurant across from Lowe's. For more information about the ceremony, call Richard Koch at 739-2641.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.