Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wildlife Comeback

My blogmate Gerry is the hunter of this blog and I am sure gets into the great outdoors more than me, especially around hunting season. I do my fair share of getting outside though during the warm months. I enjoy beach vacations and bike riding. The bike riding here is absolutely great. As a matter of fact, I spend as much time as I possibly can outside in the summer just because our winters are so harsh here (gorebal warming and all that). This winter we already have more snow than most average winters and super cold temps to boot. The low tonight will be MINUS 11 degrees. If you have never stepped outside during that type of cold, it is insane. Your lungs literally hurt when you take in air that cold. Also, the moisture in your nose freezes instantly, and you have little icicles in your snout. Fun stuff to be sure.

I am going to go out on a limb here and give you some anecdotal observations I have had over the past year. I would have to say that wildlife in general is making a comeback. I make this observation based on my time outside and a couple of articles I have read. Riding on bike paths and rural roads also gives me opportunities to see a lot of land.

I was scared sh*tless last year when I was riding on a bike path at the crack of dawn (I start early on my long rides) and a huge buck was standing right on the path, sizing me up. Thank god he didn't charge me or I would have been toast. As he would be tearing my a** up with his huge rack I would have been able to scream and strike him with my tire pump or kick him with my clip-in shoes. Maybe spray him with some water from my bottles. Anyway, the point I am making is that I see deer all the time, everywhere; I see them on bike paths, in fields, in the city, all over the place. Car deer accidents are up bigtime. When we had heavy rains, I saw a couple deer in my parking lot here at work - I assume the water displaced them from their home (which, obviously couldn't be far from where I work - which is an industrial park). Just the other day I saw a carcass on the busiest highway in Madison, the Beltline.

Over the past year I have also seen an astoundingly high number and great variety of birds. We put up a couple of bird feeders at my house last year and I was stunned to see almost immediately the amount and different types of birds they drew (and b*stard squirrels, but that problem was taken care of courtesy of Gamo). I think I like the goldfinch the best.

Just looking around my neighborhood last year saw many animals I haven't seen in person in years. I live in a mature wooded subdivision, that abuts farmland on one side. I have lived there for almost 8 years, but last year for some reason I saw some new types of animals on top of deer. I saw turkeys (in my back yard, no less) a red fox, opossum, raccoons, and the usual assortment of chipmunks, mice, rats, and squirrels. On top of this, I have seen snakes and the highlight of last year was when I actually saw a coyote sauntering across the road.

There isn't a ton of development going on where I live - these aren't displaced animals wandering around my house and the surrounding communities, they are new. Or at least new to me.

Today this story comes out. Looks like there have been some possible cougar sightings in Southern Wisconsin. That is awesome! According to the article the North American Cougar hasn't been seen in these parts since 1908. I bet up north where there is still logging going on there are some of them in the woods.

So, in total, from my perspective, it seems that the animals are staging some sort of comeback, and I think it is awesome. I really don't want to see any cougars on the bike paths though.

1 comment:

Gerry from Valpo said...

Your observations are not unusual at all. I could do an entire post on the revival of wildlife habitat and perhaps I will later on.

For now I suggest you carry a loaded weapon on your bike path trips. In Southern California, joggers have been mauled and killed near urban areas by the unusual resurgence of wild cougars.

While a stalking predator cat may not give you the time to fire, a wild turkey will taste mighty good after you need to...ahem...defend yourself from one =).