Where the Wild Things and Their Paparazzi Are

Over the last couple weeks, the newspaper reported numerous bear sightings near our neighborhood. Bears aren’t common here, but they do pass through on their way to summer hunting grounds. I suppose bears make better headlines than our (much more destructive) vole infestation, even if all the bear does is…walk.

This week they ran a story on a rabid cat that attacked and bit two people. Cases of rabies are routine here, but usually in foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Rabies became a real problem last year after inconclusive tests on feral dog packs in the middle of town. Local government finally began an intensive trapping program. Dogs are nice, but not rabid pit bulls en masse.

A few weeks ago, the newspaper ran an article on how to spot and kill copperhead snakes in your yard: beware of English Ivy, use a long-handled implement, and wear shoes so the snakes aren’t attracted to warm feet. As a nod to impartiality they included one wistful plea from a ranger asking readers to leave venomous snakes alone, or sweep them into a trash can and release them somewhere in the woods. Their fair and balanced duty done, the paper returned to competing tallies from townspeople comparing who’d bagged more copperheads in their yard lately (the winner killed four). We wouldn’t mind a few snakes to keep our yard’s rabbit population in check, but they do require caution – the Man had two copperhead victims in his Intensive Care Unit last year.

In rural Illinois we had deer in the garden, coyotes stalking our Thanksgiving pies, and hawks eviscerating chipmunks out the window. In Chicago, there were  gangs, cafeteria rats, and late-night muggers to worry about. In Texas it was burglaries, horse-sized cockroaches, and flash floods. Now it’s life in a zoo for reporters and socially maladjusted wildlife. As long as the mountain lions stay away…

Image source here.

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