Wildlife Management

Monarch butterfly on  Milkweed at Lake Erie Bluffs - photo by greennite

Enjoying wildlife in our parks

When visiting natural areas, many people search for wild animals. It’s exciting to see an unusual bird or animal in its natural environment. There are several ways to safely observe and learn about wild animals in Lake Metroparks without harming them.

Please do not feed or handle animals

Applications for 2015-16 controlled, archery-only hunt are closed.

Click here for online lottery results for the 2015-16 controlled, archery-only hunt program.

The Amazing Monarch

By Tom Koritansky, Natural Resource Manager

Monarchs are part of a group of butterflies known as milkweed butterflies that lay their eggs exclusively on various species of milkweed upon which young caterpillars feed, grow and develop. Monarchs serve a vital function in our planet’s ecology by pollinating many plants in their search for nectar.

Milkweeds are perennial plants. During the summer and into fall, these plants produce showy flowers in various shades of pink and are an excellent source of nectar for many pollinating insects. Milkweed can be found growing in dry upland meadows and old fields, open floodplains and along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams. Besides being the only food source for caterpillars, milkweed also gives developing monarchs protection from predators.

Milkweed contains chemicals known as cardenolides that when ingested give caterpillars a bitter taste. The protective chemistry provided by feeding on milkweed and their bright coloration serves as a warning to predators to stay away. Monarchs migrate south from Northeast Ohio to Mexico in late August. Each year, the voyage becomes more difficult as natural areas that once served as breeding grounds and stopover sites rich in milkweed are removed from the landscape because of land use changes. This loss has contributed to a noticeable decline in monarch populations. Without its milkweed host plant, monarchs cannot successfully reproduce, and without a plentiful food supply rich in flowering plants, all migrants are not able to complete their journey.

Natural areas within Lake Metroparks that contain a variety of wildflowers are incredibly important for the monarch’s survival. Large open meadows with great varieties of flowering plants like those at Hidden Lake in Leroy Township, Skok Meadow at Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township and Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland are ideal locations for monarchs to stop and feed along their journey. Earlier this year, Lake Metroparks’ natural resources staff planted milkweed in several plots at Lake Erie Bluffs, Lakeshore Reservation and Penitentiary Glen Reservation as a way to encourage breeding habitat for monarchs in those parks.

By planting milkweed and conserving butterfly-friendly habitat, we can all do our part to help save monarchs.

Enjoying wildlife in Lake Metroparks

When visiting natural areas, many people search for wild animals. It’s exciting to see an unusual bird or animal in its natural environment. There are several ways to safely observe and learn about wild animals in Lake Metroparks without harming them.

Check out the current issue of Parks Plus! and check the calendar of events for nature programs. Go on an owl prowl or look for bats, frogs or other wildlife. Join a naturalist on a guided walk and learn more about the wildlife in Lake County.

Volunteering on the wild side

Get close to wildlife through volunteering! Lake Metroparks volunteers help wildlife by surveying animals and birds through Citizen Science projects, restoring and maintaining habitats and caring for animals at the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center. Click here for more information or call the volunteer program manager at 440-585-3041 x6418.

Wildlife tips

Feeding, handling and transporting wildlife is harmful.

Photo by Dave MillsMany people find it enjoyable to go to a park to feed the waterfowl and other animals. Some catch frogs to take home. Others leave unwanted pets in the parks. These activities may seem harmless, but in fact, they can be very harmful to wildlife. The greatest threats to wildlife in Lake Metroparks are caused by humans.

Feeding wildlife creates unhealthy conditions.

Animals congregate in areas where they are fed, causing several problems. They exceed the carrying capacity of their habitats and become overcrowded. High levels of fecal material are concentrated in one area, which causes unsanitary conditions for animals and people.

Diseases can be passed from one animal to another when .areas are overcrowded. Processed foods such as bread, popcorn and cereal are “junk food” to wild animals. They lack many of the nutrients the animals need in order to stay healthy. Please help animals stay wild and healthy.
Do not feed them!

Feeding wildlife causes loss of wild instincts.

Wild animals that are hand-fed can lose their natural instincts to migrate and search for food. They become dependent on humans for food and lose their healthy fear of them. Hand-fed animals lose their ability to care for themselves.

Releasing pets in Lake Metroparks is illegal.
Domesticated animals harm park habitats, property and even visitors. They can spread serious diseases and harm wildlife. If you find a stray or have a pet that you can no longer care for, contact the Lake County Humane Society at

The Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center

The mission of the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center is to reduce human impact on native Ohio wildlife through education and rehabilitation. Each year, nearly 2,000 injured or orphaned animals receive first aid and rehabilitation at the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center. Patients include backyard wildlife like rabbits and songbirds and endangered species like peregrine falcons and bald eagles. Many eventually recover from their injuries and resume their lives in the wild.

The Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center is home to permanently injured Animal Ambassadors such as reptiles, mammals and birds of prey. These animals assist staff in teaching about wildlife issues and conservation. Visit the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center Wildlife Yard to get an up-close look at all of the amazing animals! The yard is open 9 am to 5 pm daily.