June 13, 2024

Picente Unveils Oneida County Mammal, Reptile & Fish

News Photo

County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced today that an official Oneida County mammal, reptile and fish have been selected by students across multiple school districts.

In the second round of county symbol selection, third, fourth and fifth graders chose the Red Fox as the county mammal, the Painted Turtle as the county reptile and Pumpkinseed Sunfish as the county fish.

“Symbols play an important part in the identity of a community,” Picente said. “This initiative to select official county symbols gives our residents a way to recognize the natural beauty of Oneida County and gives them an even greater sense of pride in the place they call home. Enlisting the young people who will carry on our traditions and lead this county into the future has made it even more special.” 

Third, fourth and fifth graders from every school district in Oneida County were invited to vote on each county symbol this spring, and over 1,100 students participated from 23 schools through an online survey distributed and tallied by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County (CCE) in conjunction with the Oneida County Youth Bureau. The participating school districts were:

  • Adirondack (Boonville & West Leyden Elementary Schools)
  • Camden (McConnelsville Elementary)
  • Holland Patent (Holland Patent Elementary)
  • New Hartford (Bradley, Hughes & Myles Elementary Schools)
  • Remsen (Remsen Elementary)
  • Rome (Bellamy & John Joy Elementary Schools)
  • Sauquoit (Sauquoit Elementary & Middle Schools)
  • Utica (Columbus, General Herkimer, Hugh R. Jones, Jefferson, Martin Luther King and Watson Williams Elementary Schools & John F. Kennedy Middle School)
  • Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (E.A. McAllister & W.A. Wettel Elementary Schools)
  • Westmoreland (Westmoreland Upper Elementary School)
  • Whitesboro (Deerfield, Hart’s Hill, Marcy and Westmoreland Road Elementary Schools)

The official Oneida County symbols were unveiled at H.R. Jones Elementary School in Utica.

“I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and our partners at Cornell Cooperative Extension, for their dedication to this wonderful initiative,” said Dr. Kathleen Davis, Utica City School District Superintendent. “These symbols remind us of the importance of our natural environment and encourage us to preserve and cherish it. They also serve as a tool for education and engagement, helping our students learn about the ecology of Oneida County and the significance of active participation in our community. This gives us the opportunity to reflect on the power of community and the impact our young people can have on our future.”

CCE presented students with three choices for each category based on mammals, reptiles and fish that are indigenous to and prevalent in Oneida County. Teachers of the participating classes also used the opportunity to incorporate the county symbols and civic engagement and pride into their lesson plans.

"Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County was once again honored to work with the Oneida County Youth Bureau on the County Executive’s initiative to engage students in naming the next round of county symbols: mammal, reptile and fish,” said CCE Executive Director Mary Beth McEwen. “Symbols provide residents a physical, spiritual and cultural connection to their hometown. They encourage people to recognize and look for the beauty of nature as it exists in Oneida County. This was an exciting way to help celebrate Oneida County, inspire pride among residents, and perhaps even encourage some of these students to become future mammologists, ichthyologists, and herpetologists.”  

The final results of the voting were: 

County Mammal

  • Red Fox – 56%
  • Eastern Cottontail – 23%
  • White Tail Deer – 21%

The Red Fox is found in both rural areas and residential suburbs of Oneida County. They are easily identified by their red coat and bushy tails that characteristically have a white tip.  Although red foxes are carnivores, mostly hunting small mammals such as mice, squirrels and woodchucks, they are also known to eat eggs of ground nesting birds. They have even been noted to have a sweet tooth, consuming ripe grapes and apples in the fall. 

County Fish

  • Pumpkinseed Sunfish – 53%
  • Small Mouth Bass – 31%
  • Creek Chub – 16%

The Pumpkinseed Sunfish is the most abundant and widespread species of sunfish in New York State. They are found in a wide range of habitats in Oneida County from small lakes and ponds to slow moving streams where they eat a wide variety of prey including insects, crustaceans and even small fish. The Pumpkinseed Sunfish are relatively easy to catch while bank fishing which makes them very popular with youth anglers.   

County Reptile

  • Painted Turtle – 54%
  • Common Garter Snake – 30%
  • Common Snapping Turtle – 17%

The Painted Turtle is found across Oneida County, most often seen basking on logs and stumps in marshes, ponds and lakes, but disappearing quickly into the water when disturbed. These turtles eat a variety of invertebrates, tadpoles and vegetation. The Painted Turtle’s shell is approximately 5-7 inches in length with females having longer shells, while the males have long claws on their front feet. 

The initiative to select official county symbols began last year as part of Oneida County’s 225th anniversary. In the first round last November, sixth graders chose the Tufted Titmouse as the county bird, the Red Maple as the county tree and Trillium as the county flower.

Watch today's announcement here

Oneida County Partners