Trail riders, golfers and residents are drawn to nature

16.7-mile Western Reserve Greenway is a good place to catch a glimpse of wild animals

CHAMPION — People who enjoy a bike ride on the Western Reserve Greenway may not think of themselves as naturalists as much as bicycling enthusiasts.

But encounters with deer and other wildlife suggest that it could equally be called the Western Reserve Nature Trail.

Robin Derue of West Farmington, who was biking Monday near the Sunside trailhead north of state Route 305, said one of her favorite things to do as she rides is “count the chipmunks.”

“I’ve seen deer and I’ve seen mink,” she said. “I’ve seen all kids of birds and turkey. Chipmunks and rabbits and all of that kind of stuff.”

One rider found it surprising that on three rides in about a week, the same deer seemed to be waiting at the same spot on the trail, looking at the rider as if waiting for him to get closer. Its tail was moving side to side. Only when the rider got closer did the graceful creature turn and disappear.

Dan Warnick of Champion has had his own experiences with the animal, saying there initially were two adult does and three young fawns. But one of the adults and one of the fawns were hit by cars and killed, leaving two fawns and one adult.

“It’s nice to sit out here with a cup of coffee and watch nature how God intended it to be before we took over,” his wife, Kellie, said.

One of the fawns was left without its mother, but the other mother watches over it now, she said.

“I’m an outdoors guy. I love to hunt and fish,” Dan said. “It’s very interesting to me to watch their habits. As you watch, you learn their habits.”

Dan has seen the deer come into his backyard to drink, and he watches them eat apples off of a tree and race along the wood line.

John Jones of Howland, who golfs at the nearby Northwood Golf Course, said he sees fawns on the golf course every spring. “They are all around the property,” he said.

Foxes also are a common sight in a certain part of the course, and turkeys are “all over,” he said.

“That’s why you come out here, to get away from traffic and noise,” he said.

John Prokop of Bristol Township was riding a bike near the Sunside trailhead Monday wearing a yellow “bike patrol” vest. He has been on the bike patrol since 2005 and now patrols three times per week, but there was a time when he traveled it five times per week.

“I’ve seek a lot of hawks that hunt chipmunks,” he said. “I’ve seen owls.” He has seen as many as five or six deer on the same day.

“I think they know when it is hunting season. They disappear around November,” he said. “The young ones are curious. They will stand and look at you, and they decide you are too close and they are gone.”

At the end of May, he sees snapping turtles, oftentimes near the edge of the asphalt trail. He said he thinks they are laying eggs close to the asphalt to capture some of the heat.



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