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Rabid raccoon found in Bloomville

A raccoon that was killed in a recent fight with a dog in the Delaware County hamlet of Bloomville was found to be infected with rabies, county health officials announced

The raccoon was sent to the New York State rabies laboratory for testing. County officials received a positive rabies test result on Friday, April 25. 

The dog was up to date on its rabies vaccinations, and received a booster shot after the attack. No humans were exposed to rabies in the incident.

The Bloomville raccoon was the second case of rabies in Delaware County in 2014. In March, another rabid raccoon attacked a dog in the village of Stamford, and was captured and killed. The dog was unvaccinated. At the time, county health officials said they were working with the dog's owner to set up a quarantine  Read more

New York State bans wild boar hunting

Above: A trailcam in Delaware County catches a nocturnal glimpse of an elusive wild boar. Photo taken in August 2013; courtesy of USDA APHIS.

A statewide ban on the hunting and trapping of feral swine -- also known as wild boars or Eurasian boars -- went into effect on Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced in a press release

Until recently, boars were largely unknown to New York State, even as burgeoning populations of wild pigs wreaked over a billion dollars' worth of destruction a year across other parts of the country. But in recent years, feral swine have been found breeding in the wild in a few parts of New York State, the descendants of boars that escaped from private "canned" hunting preserves. 

Many other states have encouraged the hunting of wild boars in an effort to control their populations, but without much success. Banning the hunting of an animal that state officials want to rid the landscape of seems paradoxical. But scientists who study the animals say that allowing private hunting can interfere with state-sanctioned efforts to bait and trap boars, and has even encouraged hunters to release more of the animals into the wild for sport.

  Read more

Flood watch in effect across Catskills

Above: A graphic from the National Weather Service in Binghamton, showing the flood watch area across upstate New York and Pennsylvania that is in effect Wednesday through early Thursday morning. 

Heavy rains are in the forecast for eastern New York and Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon and evening, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue flood watches across the Catskills region.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to arrive this evening and overnight, with between 1.5 and 4 inches of rain forecast for the Catskills. Forecasters at NWS and Hudson Valley Weather say the eastern Catskills will get the most rain, with lower totals expected for the western end of the region.   Read more

Delaware County votes to move forward on bed tax

Above: Business owners discuss a proposed bed tax for Delaware County at a public meeting in Arkville on March 25, 2014. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors took the first step towards levying a two percent tax on room and hotel rentals in Delaware County at a meeting on Wednesday, April 23.

Seventeen of 19 town supervisors voted to approve a resolution requesting authorization from the New York State Legislature to impose the tax, known as a bed tax or an occupancy tax. The tax, according to the text of the resolution, would "provide a dedicated funding stream to promote and develop the tourism industry in Delaware County." (The resolution is embedded at the bottom of this story.)  Read more

Stamford rallies around family who lost everything to fire

Above: Where the Mattice home stood on River Street in Stamford, only the chimney is left standing. Photo by Nick Mattice.

As Nick Mattice jumped from the second story of the home he’d live in his whole life, the only thing running through his head was: Get down and put out the fire.

At around 7:50 p.m. on March 18, Mattice, 24, awoke from a nap to a smell like a burnt candle. The hallway outside his room was filled with smoke. When he ran downstairs and opened the kitchen door, flames burst out at him.

His sister Sarah ran inside and let their four dogs out. Their father Charles went in and pulled her out after. When the fire started, they were in their freestanding garage away from the house.

Once Nick was on the ground, he broke into a side door and got a fire extinguisher, which didn’t work. Desperate, he threw snow at the fire.

Within five minutes, the fire roared out of the house.  Read more

Happy Earth Day, Catskills

Nature's always close at hand in the Catskills, on Earth Day and every day. Photo by Kellsey Buerge; submitted to our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Earth Day turns 44 this year. In cities across America, environmentally-minded citizens are celebrating the holiday with big green-themed fests, parties and exhibit fairs. 

Not so in the Catskills, where Earth Day celebrations tend to be more low-key. Here, Mother Nature isn't an occasional guest to fête; she's a full-time resident. But this week, the local area holds a few special events in honor of the planet. 

Today, the Arkville-based Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the MARK Project are setting up shop outside a few local stores to give away reusable shopping bags: The Freshtown and the Dollar Store in Margaretville, and the Great American in Prattsville. Stop by to get a grocery bag that won't end up in a landfill -- or, better yet, bring your own. 

Sullivan County's digital library of maps for hiking trails and public lands, Trailkeeper.org, is celebrating today with a family scavenger hunt at Turtle Spring Nature Trail, at 64 Ferndale-Loomis Road in Liberty. Treasure hunters of all ages will get a chance to try geocaching, in which hikers hunt for hidden capsules with the help of GPS receivers. The scavenger hunt runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. To pre-register for the event, call the Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 845-292-6180, or email Nicole Slevin at [email protected] 

  Read more

Winter's last hurrah (we hope)

People across the Catskills awoke this morning to find April's first green shoots covered in snow. Above: A row of icicles that sprouted overnight from a Margaretville roof gleams under a dazzling blue sky. Photo by Lissa Harris.

According to snow reports from the National Weather Service in Albany and Binghamton, some areas in the Catskills -- like Claryville in Ulster County, Livingston Manor in Sullivan County, and the Greene County mountaintop region -- got over three inches of snow Tuesday night. 

Tuesday's bout of winter weather came just a little too late to extend the ski season, which lasted well into April this year. Over the past week or two, the four major ski centers of the Catskills -- Belleayre, Hunter, Plattekill and Windham -- all put an end to this year's blockbuster season.

Above: No BBQs on this Margaretville porch til the snow melts. Photo by Lissa Harris.  Read more

Cold front sweeps through area, bringing rain, sleet and snow

Above: Temperatures around upstate New York around 8 a.m. this morning, showing a cold front moving east across the region. The National Weather Service in Albany writes: "Current 8 a.m. temperature in Albany is 63 degrees while behind the cold front in Buffalo, NY, it is 33 degrees with a rain/snow mix."

Watch out for April showers -- and a few bouts of sleet and snow. After a few days of sunshine and temperatures in the 70s, the Catskills region is now bracing for the return of wintry weather as a cold front moves in from the west.   Read more

Delaware County bank set to expand into Sullivan County

It's a familiar story in small-town America: Little community bank strikes a deal with a giant national corporation, and suddenly there's a new logo on your local bank branch.

Only this time it's the other way around. NBDC Bank -- also known as the National Bank of Delaware County, a small chain of community banks based in Walton -- announced recently that the company is acquiring six Bank of America branches in Sullivan County. 

The deal, which has yet to receive regulatory approval, is expected to go through by fall, according to a press release issued by NBDC Bank. Under the terms of the deal, NBDC will operate former Bank of America branches in Callicoon, Liberty, Monticello, Narrowsburg, Roscoe and Wurtsboro. 

The acquisition of the six Sullivan County branches will double the number of offices run by NBDC Bank, which currently runs branches in Walton, Andes, Franklin, Hamden, Stamford and Roxbury.   Read more

Give us your best shot: The 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: “Two Boys and a Dog in East Meredith” by Cindy Dunne, the second-place winner of last year's Catskills Outdoor Guide photo contest.

Update: The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on May 27, when the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide hits the streets. Thanks for all the great shots. To see all the entries this year, click here. -- Julia Reischel

As part of our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, we're hosting a 2014 edition of our "Catskills Outdoor Experience" photo contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.  Read more