So last spring there was a whole bunch of talk in the local Mom groups because we had a bear in the area. I’m not going to tell you I wasn’t slightly concerned or that we didn’t take any precautions at all, but I like to think I kept my cool about it. We reminded the boys to make noise (not that they needed the reminder) and to be aware of their surroundings. There is absolutely a need for education and caution when it comes to wildlife. It’s an animal, after all, but by all accounts the bear liked people less than we liked him. But the irritation in those Mom groups that the ministry didn’t relocate him was unnecessary in my opinion.
Having grown up on a farm, surrounded by other farms, our area was the recipient of many “relocated” animals. Because sure, the city is no place for wildlife, but they have to go somewhere. As a result of this process, my approach to wildlife is often “they were here first” and something about treating them with respect rather than fear. Since I’ve reached the ripe old age of 38 without being attacked by wildlife, I’m going to say the approach is relatively successful.
We’re in the middle of winter right now. This means all the smart animals (read: not humans) have mostly gone into hibernating/migrating mode and I miss them. So I figured why not wander through my early encounters with the wildlife?
The first memory I have involves my dad hiring someone to hunt groundhogs at the farm when I was a kid. As cute as these things might be they are vicious and create holes in the ground that will break the leg of a farmer or more costly, a cow or horse. This hunt is a losing venture as the rodents are legion and will never actually go away, but maybe it slowed things down. Who am I to say? I was under the age of 9 and didn’t pay attention to the outcomes.
The next memory I have related to the wildlife subject was when the ministry announced they would be releasing wild turkeys in our area. The intent was to increase the population. Why that was necessary, I’m not entirely sure, but this was the plan. It would not have blipped on my radar except the tactic worked exceptionally well and now the things are everywhere.
Turkeys travel in groups. And it didn’t take long for the ones around the farm to figure out that the dog had worked out a food delivery system with the human. Twice daily, in fact. My dad would feed the pup and then head for work. For weeks, my dad couldn’t understand why the dog was always so hungry at night. One day, Dad had to turn around and go back to the house for something. And that’s when he solved the Mystery of the Hungry Puppy. Turns out, the turkeys would corner the dog in his dog house and then consume his entire breakfast. Poor pup.
As a side note, if you hit a wild turkey with your car, the feathers will explode off the damn thing. This would be comical if it wasn’t downright terrifying. It also has the potential to do some damage to your vehicle, so I don’t recommend trying it if you can avoid it.
Now, in our area, there aren’t a ton of moose. For whatever reason, they do not seem to enjoy our climate. Or maybe it’s the hospitality. Or maybe it’s stuff like this next memory: HockeyDad and I were moving me back to the farm after university. Being young and foolish, we embarked on our trek around 8pm. We had that Toyota Tercel loaded down with my worldly possessions and were clipping along at a fast pace when we came around the corner and were suddenly facing down a moose.
In the middle of the road. HockeyDad laid on the brakes and the horn in equal measure and attempted to avoid the beast of a creature who seemed hell bent on staying in front of our vehicle. By the time the car got stopped, that moose and I were up close and personal. The only thing separating us was the passenger side window of that Toyota Tercel. All I had to do was roll down the window. But I didn’t and do you know why?
More people are attacked by moose every year than by bears? Granted, you are more likely to survive a moose attack, but still, these are not even tempered creatures. That’s why. I will happily encounter a bear, thankyouverymuch.
And #BearWatch2019 was not the first time I was in close proximity to bears. Around the same time as the Great Turkey Repopulation efforts began, we started to see more bears in the area. I’m sure there are people that can explain why but it really doesn’t matter. And I didn’t actually ever see a bear. I just saw the evidence of a bear. About 7 feet up on a hydro pole that he decided to use to sharpen his claws. The hydro pole didn’t see it coming.
Now that was something to be concerned about. Only because my home was surrounded by a significant amount of bush property and as kids we often played in the forest to pass the time. This wasn’t in the forest, this was a hydro pole that sat along the road to our maple syrup operation. Bears spend more time in forests, it’s just a fact. Granted, the sugar camp road was not heavily travelled, but it was in closer proximity to humans than I had previously thought bears would prefer.
So what’s the difference between that bear and the one that wandered around our area last spring?
Nothing much. A bear is a bear, when it comes down to it. Sure the spring one was smaller. But at the end of it all, it was still a bear. It just did it’s thing. Hopefully it’s now curled up in a cave of some sorts waiting out the winter in peace.
Frankly, I wish I could do the same.
See you at the rink,