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More wildlife popping up in urban settings

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POSTED July 28, 2013 10:09 p.m.

Last Wednesday, I happened to find myself driving along I-5 near Sacramento, as I glanced out to the east, I spotted a coyote. A couple miles further up the freeway, I spotted half dozen wild turkeys and then another half dozen or so to the west of the freeway. It really brightened my day. An extra bonus was spotting a second coyote on the trip home.  Heck, spotting wild critters in urban-like settings always brightens my day.

These days it isn’t at all uncommon to find a host of small game critters in urban environs. Both state DFG and local animal control employees constantly have to deal with human encounters with not only coyotes & turkeys, but foxes, possums, coons, & beavers. More exotic & less welcome wildlife include rattlesnakes, & even bears. I probably remove 4 or 5 dozen rattlers a year from rancher’s porches, yards, barns, corrals & pastures. Several times a year you can see a piece on the local news about bears raiding garbage cans or vacation homes in the mountain communities. Just bear in mind (pun intended) that it is we humans who have moved into the habitat of the wild animals.

In recent years, mountain lions have regularly been spotted in Calaveras County, Tuolumne County and even in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties in the foothill canyons to the west and along the rivers to the east. Mountain Lion populations have grown astonishingly in the last 20 years. One estimate from a veteran game warden placed the existing statewide lion population at approximately eight times as many lions as we had in 1970.  There is also pretty solid evidence that the black bear population has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Quite truthfully, it wouldn’t surprise me if lions and bears were spotted in urban areas more often.

Another neat example of wild critters that have chosen to live in the city recently is the immigration of Bushytailed Gray Squirrels. I reside in Ripon along the Stanislaus River. 10 or 12 years ago I would never see a Gray Squirrel in Ripon. It’s my theory that they have been migrating down river at the rate of a couple miles a year. I first saw Bushytails up near the Orange Blossom Bridge near Knights Ferry in the early 1980s and then at McHenry Park near Escalon in the early 90s. I began to spot them at Stouffer Park in Ripon by the mid 90s. Lately, I have them in my front yard olive tree. I love to see the squirrels in town, it just makes my day to see a little reminder of God’s wild creations right here in town. Go Squirrels, Go!



If you keep your eyes open you can see other examples of wild critters right in the city limits. Since wild animals usually tend to shy away from people, if you’re going to see them, you should keep a special eye out at night and during stormy weather when human activity if at a minimum. I have seen numerous foxes at night both at Stouffer Park and in the residential neighborhood nearby. One rainy afternoon I happened to spot a coyote trudging across the sand volleyball pits near the Rotary Gazebo.  If you’ll look closely at the sidewalk on the west side of Laurelwood Drive, just South of Yaple Court, you’ll see possum tracks in the concrete of the sidewalk.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy seeing our urban wildlife. Keep your eyes open and let me know if you see them too.

     Until Next Week,

      Tight Lines,

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