Campus babies are coming

April 16, 2014

Now that the snow has melted, wildlife babies will start springing up.

Nobody is happier about the end of the long winter than our campus wildlife. Our 750 acres and nearby Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve are getting ready to welcome some brand new babies – white tail deer, coyotes, painted and snapping turtles, Canada geese and dozens of other species are all getting ready to give birth or hatch.

What are you most likely to see on campus? Chorus frogs are common in wetlands on campus this time of year. These small frogs are hard to see, but easy to hear. When temperatures reach the 40s, and you are leaving campus in the evening, listen for the sounds of someone running their fingers down a comb. What you hear is the male frogs trying to attract females.

New fawns arrive sometime around late April. The GSU Preserve and adjacent Thorn Creek Preserve are home to as many as 400 deer and they are often seen in the open areas along the driveways into campus. However, the fawns and their mothers will keep to the underbrush.

“Canada Geese will hatch about four weeks after the last egg is laid. I’ve seen them constructing nests, and noticed the first egg this morning. So we’re looking at least one month before the goslings appear,” says biology professor John Yunger. He added that it’s not clear whether coyotes are breeding on campus, if you see one, it’s a good idea to keep your distance, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. “People don’t need to worry about coyotes being dangerous,” he said. “They’re more likely to go after much smaller prey.”

What should you do when you see wildlife – especially the young families?

The best advice is to admire them from afar. Animal parents are like human parents – they’re very protective.

There is one exception: if you see a turtle that seems stuck on the road, it probably is. “They crawl over the curb, then can’t get back up, “ says Yunger. If you see one – particularly a snapping turtle – call GSU Facilities at Ext: 4515 or 708.534.4515. They’ll send help.


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