Sunday, September 21, 2014
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The Idaho Department of Fish and Game publishes a newspaper for kids called Wildlife Express. Nine issues are produced each year, one per month from September through May…coinciding with the academic calendar of most schools. It is geared toward upper elementary through middle school students.
Each issue features Idaho wildlife species and articles related to science and ecological concepts. The articles are written in an educational and entertaining fashion that get students excited to read and learn about wildlife and their environments.
Classroom subscriptions are available for $45.00 per year and include a classroom set of 30 copies mailed to a school each month. Subscriptions of 10 copies or less are available for $25.00. In addition to the subscription option, the Wildlife Express is available every month as a .pdf file on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website, fishandgame.idaho.gov.
With the purchase of a subscription, the classroom teacher receives the Educator's Express- a three ring notebook full of activities and lessons to teach language arts, math, and science that coordinate with each issue.
Educator's Express is intended to give educators ideas to help their students interpret, describe, explain and convey information gained while reading issues of Wildlife express.
Wildlife express issues usually feature a specific animal found in the wilds of Idaho. This month's issue features porcupines. While the writing is geared toward kids, the factual information contained in each issue is also fascinating and informative for adults. As an adult who has worked with wildlife for over 30 years, I still learn something from every issue.
In this month's issue, I learned that a newborn purcupine is called a either a pup or a porcupette; and they are born with a full set of teeth, their eyes are open at birth, and they have soft quills that harden about an hour after birth. Porcupine quills are thick, stiff, sharp hairs that cover all but the stomach of a porcupine as a means of defense.
Their main predators are fisher (members of the weasel family). Other predators include mountain lions, wolverines and wolves. When threatened, a porcupine will sometimes walk backwards and swipe its quill covered tail at the threat. Contrary to common belief, quills cannot be thrown from their bodies. Something must touch a quill to be stuck.
What do you call a group of porcupines? Not a herd. Not a flock. A group of porcupines is called a "prickle"!
Prior to reading this issue of Wildlife Express, my knowledge of the porcupine was very limited. In fact, about all I knew was that when a certain black lab that lives at my house catches one, it costs about $250 at the vet to get the quills out! Vets say that after a dog gets into a porcupine, one of two things happens. The dog either remembers the pain and avoids them; or, it goes after them repeatedly to try to get revenge! Tell your dog it doesn't work that way.
Wildlife Express is a tool that can help teachers meet Idaho Core Standards. PTOs, parents, grandparents and outdoor groups are encouraged to consider sponsoring a subscription of Wildlife Express for your local school or the classroom of your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, favorite neighborhood kid, or other child in your life.
If you are interested in purchasing a subscription, forms are available on the IDFG website.