Sunday, May 18, 2008

local moose and other urban wildlife

The tulips are ready. Any day now a moose will come by, walking neatly on the sidewalk, and carefully bite the bloom off each tulip. A sad thing but it can't be helped. They are not nearly as fond of daffodils, fortunately.

The cows are moving into town to give birth. Bears and wolves love to eat moose calves. Unlike moose, bears and wolves tend to avoid humans. So throughout the city the cows will give birth in back yards, parks, schoolyards, and hiking trails. Anywhere people tend to be. In Denali National Park, they often choose the tennis court or the hotel parking lot (right next to the espresso bar).

We all love calves, bright red and the size of goats. But their urban presence is something of a worry. Mother cows are very protective. They give birth near us, but are likely to charge to defend their babies.

We took the dogs to the park today. A muddy section of trail forced us to a section we usually avoid because of the presence of a beaver dam. Usually we walk at midday when the beavers are asleep. Today we were a little early - that happens when the sun rises at 4 am. Having screwed up twice, we met the beaver. First he slapped his tail. That meant something to the humans, but the (rather slow) dogs were intrigued. Rocky and Cosmo stood at the edge of the water on full alert.

The beaver, who weighed at least 50 pounds and was smarter and faster than than the dogs came rearing up out of the water, standing tall, and chirping at the dogs. We hastily called them back and leashed them and dragged them away.

Never mess with a beaver. Or an otter,

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