Critters With Rude Manners

| 7/7/2015 10:12:00 AM

Country MoonOne of the perks of living in the country is to co-exist with wildlife. Each evening this past winter, I was blessed to watch deer grazing on the remnants of last fall’s harvest; in the spring, rabbits scampered across the lawn, and each morning I wake up to the chirping of various birds.

I also have other guests who were not invited and have very rude manners. As of this writing there is a family of four groundhogs living in my drainage tile under the road. Big Daddy of the lot stays in the barn and often presents himself when I am working in the yard. He is the biggest one I have ever seen, and we usually end up having a face-off because, despite my shouts and threats, he stands his ground and acts like I am intruding on him!

I have no idea how many raccoons call the maples their home but, judging by the amount of doo-doo I have stepped in on the way to the trash barrel, whole families have moved in. Chipmunks feel the need to dig my flowers out of the pots each day. The only critter that I have a truce with is the resident skunk who comes to check out the table scraps I throw in the field, but only after I am a safe distance away. Thank you very much.

rude raccoons 

My problems with wildlife are minor compared to what many homeowners are facing, including city dwellers. As there are fewer places that wildlife can call home, they are encroaching upon ours. The big problem is that the eco system has been dramatically changed by human activities such as agriculture taking over more land, oil and gas exploration, and commercial development. As wildlife loses its habitats, the animals search out new places to find food and shelter and raise their young. More and more often that place is right at our back door, literally.

Stan Geht, a wildlife ecologist at Ohio State University, has spent the last 12 years tracking animal migration to urban areas with the help of radio and GPS collars. He estimates that more than 2,000 coyotes make a comfortable living in the Chicago metropolitan area. Some have even been spotted crossing inner city streets just like people, pausing to look both ways for traffic. Coyotes are found in every state except Hawaii and that’s only because they haven’t found a way to hitch a ride on a ship or plane … yet.