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My Masked Neighbors

Bayou-Diversity (25 August 2019) One night not long ago I was surprised to hear scratching noises on my bathroom window, especially since that window is on the second story of my house. A flashlight revealed the culprit to be a raccoon, one that is known to us as she frequently raids the bird feeders and compost pile. This occasion revealed several things about the natural history of raccoons. First, they are mostly nocturnal although they occasionally can be seen out and about in daylight hours. Second, they are excellent climbers. She had climbed twenty feet straight up the side of my wooden house. Third, they are omnivorous, which means they eat a wide variety of plant and animal f

Ben Lilly

Bayou-Diversity (11 August 2019) At the turn of the 20th century, Louisiana's vast natural resources in the form of virgin forests and teeming wildlife were besieged by commercial interests and others lacking environmental mores. In this state of diminishing wilderness Ben Lilly emerged from the swamps of northeastern Louisiana to become a folk hero. His reputation as the best hunter of his day evolved as a result of his obsessive compulsion to kill bears and cougars. President Theodore Roosevelt hired him as his chief guide during his noted Louisiana bear hunt. Ironically, Lilly's successful efforts in Louisiana and later out West contributed to the loss of a life style that he cherish

Freshwater Mussels

Bayou-Diversity (4 August 2019) Freshwater mussels are a little known but critical component of the biodiversity of Louisiana bayous, streams, and rivers. Related to the much sought after oysters of the coastal area, freshwater mussels in Louisiana are not usually consumed by people today. Such was not always the case, however, as Native Americans routinely harvested large amounts of this high protein food. Piles of discarded shells or middens still mark the campsites of pre-historic peoples across the state. Early in the 20th century, hundreds of factories were scattered up and down the Mississippi River utilizing freshwater mussel shells to make pearl buttons. Thousands of tons of she


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