Wild Life

By , August 18, 2018

Things are getting . . . wild around here.

We have kept wildlife journals ever since moving to the homestead (see “Who Sights It, Writes It”). For 12 years we’ve logged the day, time, location, and activity of notable wildlife.

The word “notable” is key. We generally restrict notes to less-often seen animals, or unusual activity from those we see almost every day. We no longer bother logging sea lions, otters, ravens or eagles, all of which we see fairly constantly.

This month, things got notable. We may not actually see some of the local wildlife, but we see their activity.

broken cherry branches

Evidence of bear activity. Of course, the cherries were almost ripe! (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Last week, Aly came home one evening and startled a pair of deer—a doe and a fawn—on the trail just above the trail. They stood above the trail, looking down on her; that forced perspective apparently emboldened them, as they stood and stared, then actually began to approach her. She feared they might follow her to the compound and raid the garden.

We’d seen a little browsing in the garden recently. It hasn’t been too bad . . . yet.

When we came home from our recent trip to Canada, Aly hiked in with us. She’d been staying in town, and we found the last stretch of our trail, coming into the compound, pockmarked with deer tracks.

Officially, no deer live on our peninsula. The boundary for deer hunting ends well to our south. The presence of an actual fawn seems pretty significant!

Less hopeful, we have a lot of recent bear activity in the neighborhood.

One morning, our nearest neighbor emailed the community that a black bear had just run across their back deck.

We had already gone outside briefly, and saw things disrupted in the yard, but blamed that on high winds overnight. Soon, we discovered that something pulled small branches off our cherry tree. Oddly, it left no tracks in the freshly-turned dirt from our water work near the tree (see Gray Water Muck Out). Something also dug into one of our curing compost bins briefly. Either someone startled the digger away, or it didn’t find anything of interest—which indicates the curing proceeds as planned.

When Michelle performed a perimeter check, she found one of Aly’s totes in the cottage porch overturned and caved in. We assume the black bear spent some time on our property.

bear damage: caved-in tote

The bear caved in this tote for some reason (Photo: Sarah A. Zeiger).

Meanwhile, a large brown bear has caused trouble on the bay, raiding gardens and digging up a neighbor’s gray water outlet. One of these bears damaged the disk golf course as well.

I love a recent radio quote from a local telephone technician about bear damage to lines: “Bears are squirrels—if there’s something there, they’ll mess with it.” That explains so much, not only about bears, but also squirrels.

As an interesting sidelight, a neighbor’s comment of concern for the toad that lives in their gray water outlet, and relief over its safety, led to an ad-hoc survey of toad activity in the neighborhood. Like us, just about every home in the neighborhood hosts at least one toad! (see A New Toad Sighting.)

Most summers, brown bears patrol the upper bay. The black bear seems a bit rarer, as they commonly get chased out of brown bear territory, as brown bears commonly kill and eat black bears. We’ve had brown bears here before (see Bear on the Homestead) and probably black bears (see Bear Busted). Hopefully, we won’t see anymore visits like this! The toads can stay, though.

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