15

The Biennial Bears’ Bonfire – Part 4

Romanian specialists teach orphaned bear cubs how to survive in ...

Background: Every two years Zeke, Anthony, Joe, and Benjamin got together for a week-long camping trip at the lake. One of the highlights of the trip was story-time around the bonfire. This year’s topic is “Chance Encounter With Another Species”. You can read Zeke’s story here. Anthony’s story is here. Joe’s story is here.

This is Benjamin’s story.

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My son Beau and I were out gathering some last minute supplies for the winter when we saw a fox race past chasing a couple of young rabbits. It really didn’t look good for the rabbits. We didn’t have time to see who it was.

The next thing we knew, one of the rabbits was tugging on Beau’s paw. The fox had cornered her brother in some bushes, and she wanted Beau to help him get free. She must have been pretty desperate to come to a bear for help. We didn’t know her, but the forest was full of rabbits.

American Black Bear | MDC Discover Nature

Beau and I looked at each other. I was going to explain that it was probably too late, but she looked so sad that I didn’t have the heart. He was her only family. We told her to wait there, hidden from view, while we went to see what was going on.

We followed the tracks and found the fox. It was Jasper, one of our neighbors. He was still hunting, so the rabbit was alive. I guess we startled Jasper, though. He looked irritated when we approached him. He told us that he had been hunting a rabbit for dinner when we tromped up. Now he probably had lost it.

Red Fox Diet - Hunting Strategies & Behaviour | Wildlife Online

Jasper started to walk around, sniffing. He found the scent of the rabbit again. He ran into the forest. We followed him, and I asked him to stop. He had cornered the bunny, but we startled him before he could attack. Jasper turned his head to look at us.

Before Jasper had a chance to start yelling, I told him that we wanted him to give us the bunny. Jasper thought I had lost my mind. It was his dinner. Besides, bears don’t eat rabbits. Why would we want it?

Wild Baby Bunnies and What To do When You Find Them - Effective ...

I explained that the rabbit’s sister had asked us to rescue him. She didn’t want to lose her only family. Jasper looked at us and started to laugh. He’d never heard of a rabbit being that brave before.

We waited to see whether Jasper would release the rabbit. I wasn’t sure that the poor thing hadn’t died from fright. It had its body pressed against the ground. Jasper looked at the rabbit and decided to let him go. He couldn’t kill something after a story like that. He’d have leftovers for dinner.

Scared little wild rabbit | timeuser | Flickr

The little rabbit was frozen in terror. Beau went over and petted him. There wasn’t any response, so Beau picked him up and we took him back to his sister.

She was exhilarated when she saw us. She had been sure that we had just gone home. The little male rabbit finally relaxed when he saw her.

cuddling rabbits | Two wild rabbits on Haigh Hall golf cours ...

We asked if they needed help getting home. The girl rabbit said that their home had been destroyed; that’s why they were in the area. We decided to take them home with us to relax after all the excitement. They fell asleep almost immediately.

They decided to build their new burrow near our den, since we were the first friends they made in the area.

Waking From Hibernation, the Hard Work of Spring Begins - The New ...

 

13

The Biennial Bears` Bonfire – Part 3

The Black Bears of the Smokies - Mountain Realty Group

Background: Every two years Zeke, Anthony, Joe, and Benjamin got together for a week-long camping trip at the lake. One of the highlights of the trip was story-time around the bonfire. This year’s topic is “Chance Encounter With Another Species”. It is Anthony’s turn to speak. You can read Zeke’s story here. Anthony’s story is here.

Now it was Joe’s turn to tell his story.

My story is a little different because it’s about a human.

How About No Bear Meme - Imgflip

As you know, they have what they call “hunting season.” They think that as long as it’s the season, they can do whatever they want in our woods. Mainly they seem to tromp around and make a lot of noise. So I hear a couple of them walking around, trying to find whatever it was they were looking for.

Curious Bear by Joe Motohashi | Bear, Bear pictures, Bear photos

They ended up separating to see if they had better luck. I heard a shot, so I assumed they had been successful.

Then I heard one of the humans start yelling. I don’t really understand human very well, so I went closer to see what had happened. One of the humans was bleeding and the other one was leaning over him. My best guess is that the first human got shot somehow.

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I thought I should help, so I went closer to offer. I guess it wasn’t a very good idea. The uninjured human tried to shoot me. Luckily, he was a terrible shot. So he started to run.

I couldn’t believe it. He left his friend behind so he could get away. I  guess he doesn’t know black bears are friendly around here.

I looked down at his buddy. He didn’t look so good. I mean humans are kinda funny looking without any fur, but this one looked particularly bad.

10 Philosophical Bears Thinking Deep Bear Thoughts

I didn’t know what to do. On the one paw, he had been out in my woods trying to kill someone. On the other paw, it seemed cruel to leave him there bleeding.

I  decided to drag him over to Dr. Fox. It wasn’t very far, but when the human saw me coming toward him, he fainted. It was a little insulting. After all, he was the one with the gun.

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Dr. Fox looked at the human and asked where I found him. I told him the whole story and asked whether he could help the human.

The doctor said that he would clean up the human and pack some herbs into the wound. It had worked on some others patients, but he hadn’t tried it on something so big. It was going to take a lot of herbs. I  said that I would go out and find them while he cleaned up the patient.

Bears Munching on Ants Indirectly Help Plants | Smart News ...

When I got back, it looked like the human was dead. Dr. Fox said not to worry; he had given his patient something to make him sleepy. I had to admit that he did look a lot better cleaned up and sleeping.

I gave Dr. Fox the herbs. He packed the wound with most of them, then made a paste to hold the herbs in place. The doctor asked how I was going to get him home.

Winter Dens - North American Bear CenterNorth American Bear Center

I hadn’t thought about that. I thought he’d be able to go home after Dr. Fox had fixed him. I certainly didn’t want him in my den; he would scare the children. And I had no idea where he lived. Besides, someone would probably try to shoot me again.

I told Dr. Fox that I needed to go home and talk to Ginny (my wife). She said that he could stay overnight, but that was it. We carried him home and made him a nice bed.The kids looked in on him, but weren’t impressed, so they went back to playing.

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We found a phone in his pocket and found a number for “Home.” I couldn’t call them. Most humans don’t understand bear talk. Ginny said we should text them. She sent, “Git me.”

We waited for a response. “Where are you?” Hmm. That was a good question. How would the humans find him? “Lake Vista beach”

Brown bears in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska image - Free stock ...

“I’ll pick you up in the morning.”

We took him over to the lake in the morning and waited with him. A car finally got there, so we waited in the woods. A woman got out of the car and looked at our human. She started crying and called someone. An ambulance arrived a little later. They said they had no idea who would have packed the wound with herbs, but it saved the man’s life.

29 Animals Waving Goodbye For The Winter (With images) | Cute ...

Nexr week: Benjamin’s story

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

18

Animal Playground Forced to Close

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“It seemed like such a good idea at the time, said Marcus Fox. “After all, animal playgrounds have worked in other cities. Why wouldn’t it work here?” Mr. Fox is part owner of the Templeton Animal Park and Fun Fair. He and his partners are shuttering the park at the end of the month due to skyrocketing maintenance and insurance costs.

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We decided to walk around the park ourselves to see if things were really as bad as they sounded. They were. And the cause was easy to understand. Most animal parks are built in developed areas for domesticated animals; usually smaller species. Templeton, to put it politely, is in the middle of nowhere.

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Because of it’s location, the park attracted all types of wildlife. Once the bears took over the swimming pool, the only animals who weren’t afraid to use it were the otters. Apparently pool filters aren’t equipped for bear fur, because they clogged every few days and needed to be replaced. And bears do not like chlorine, so keeping the pool clean required a full-time attendant.

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The moose wanted to try out the skating pond. The problem was that moose are heavy and are known for either breaking through the ice or slipping and not being able to get off by themselves. Either way, they have to be rescued, and that is really expensive.

Image result for animals on snow

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Cats are usually a good source of income for the parks. It allows them to go outside and play in a safe environment. But they left once they saw the bears. Apparently bears don’t use parks as much as cats, so it was a significant drop in revenue.

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The beavers were absolutely adorable and loved the park. Until someone realized they were chewing down all the young trees. They were using the wood to create a dam which ended up flooding the meadow. The rabbits and deer didn’t want to visit a park that didn’t have a meadow.

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The small dogs went wild over the merry-go-round running track. But then some of the bigger dogs wanted to try it. One of them got stuck and had to be rescued. The owners wanted to put a size restriction up. But the insurance increase was too much, and they had to close down the ride. The dogs started boycotting the park.

The loss of the dogs was the end of the park. Without the large number of cat and dog memberships found at other parks, there wasn’t enough money to keep things running. Word is that the closure is good news for the wild animals. They thought there were too many restrictions at the park.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

12

 The Kittens’ Woodland Experience

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Brothers Timmy and Tommy were very excited. Their Kitten Scout troop was taking a trip to the woods nearby. They had never been there and were hoping to see bears and wolves and all kinds of wild animals. Their mother tried to explain that they might see raccoons or squirrels, but that their leader would keep them away from anything dangerous.

They were up at dawn on the day of the trip. Oh no! It was raining. A lot. They were afraid the trip was canceled. Sure enough, their mother got a call from the scout master. But the trip wasn’t canceled; it was postponed until the afternoon when the weather was going to be better.

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There were ten kittens on the trip as well as the leader and two mothers. Each mother was responsible for five kittens. Timmy and Tommy were really glad that their mother hadn’t called in time to be one of the chaperones. She would have spent the whole time watching them. It would have been too embarrassing.

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The leader’s name was Mr. Moggie. He was a nice cat, but very easily confused. The kittens liked him because he usually let them do whatever they wanted while he was trying to get organized. Luckily, he was required to bring extra adults along on a trip like this.

When they got to the woods, Mr. Moggie told them to practice their “quiet walking” so the other animals wouldn’t be afraid of them. Being cats, walking quietly should have been natural; as kittens, it was impossible. He didn’t have much luck stopping their chatter either.

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Finally Mr. Moggie decided that he would teach the kittens about the different kinds of scents they could find in the forest. That sounded like fun to the kittens. They gathered around a tree and sniffed. The kittens guessed that it was a dog. Mr. Moggie told them that the scent belonged to a fox.

Next he took them to a pile of droppings. The kittens thought it was disgusting to have to go near it and sniff. They decided that it was some kind of big cat. It was a raccoon. As they went on, the kittens got better at identifying squirrels, rabbits, and woodchucks.

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But after a while they were bored. Mr. Moggie wasn’t sure what to do next. He had planned to show them how to fish in the creek and how to find shelter, but couldn’t decide. He wanted to talk to the mothers about it.

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He told the kittens to play close by while they discussed what would happen next. The kittens ran and chased each other around. Timmy was chasing Tommy when they realized that they had run away from the rest of the group. They headed back when it started to rain again.

As soon as it started to rain, Mr. Moggie told everyone to run out of the woods so they could go home. They raced through the trees. When they got out, Mr. Moggie did a tail count. There were only eight kittens! Timmy and Tommy were still in the forest.

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He panicked. What was he going to tell their mother? Should he go back in and try to find them? Should he take the other kittens home first? Could the lost kittens hear his voice if he yowled?

Meanwhile, Timmy and Tommy found a dry spot to wait out the storm. They weren’t going anywhere until it dried out. Soon they were fast asleep.

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The next thing he knew, Timmy felt a wet nose on his fur. He looked up and saw a huge dog! He started crying and woke his brother. They waited to be eaten.

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The “dog” looked at them in amazement. He had never seen kittens before. He wanted to play. The kittens weren’t sure, but he insisted. They romped around until the kittens were exhausted.

Finally, the “dog’s” mother came looking for him. When the kittens saw her, they were terrified. They hadn’t been playing with a dog. He was a wolf pup.

 

To be continued

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

6

Is WordPress Specie-ist?

As I was wandering through some blogs a few days ago, I made a discovery. There are a lot of blogs about/by cats. Which makes sense, since everyone knows cats are the original Internet stars. There are probably an equal number about dogs, although I really didn’t do a full recon on that. In fairness, for me size matters when it comes to dogs. Generally speaking, I prefer those of 40 pounds or more.

Of course, I found some posts about hedgehogs. Lord Nelson (my hedgehog) seemed to be the predominant recurring character. I guess grumpy and spiny is not for everyone. In fairness to Horatio, though, he has stopped huffing at me.

The only thing I found for bears were some very nice photos, but nothing with any personality. Likewise for most creatures who live in the wild. Raccoons and bats made the cut for the cuteness or nuisance factor. Not exactly material for an ongoing storyline. I disqualified blogs like Cute Overload who have a variety of animals, but only pictures/videos intended to make you say “awwwww”.

Then I tried to figure out how one would put backyard critters in a blog. When I looked out the window this morning, I would have sworn it was November: cool, gray and rainy. Eureka! A story about how the little guys decide where to winter. Hint: most of them can’t afford the fare to Florida or Padre Island. If we’re quiet, we can listen in:

The fall meeting of the semi-rural/suburban animals was about to get started. Squirrel, the most energetic of the group, was getting ready to moderate. He looked around to make sure everyone was represented.

Then he frowned and pointed. “You predators, you know you’re not allowed at these meetings.” The coyote slunk off, but the rest stayed.

Fox: You never let us stay. What are going to say that’s so top-secret?

Squirrel: You know very well that the main topics of these meetings are food and safety. The last time we let you guys stay, you and raccoon spent the meeting whispering about which of us looked tastiest and which was the easiest to catch. We’re talking about winter survival today. Now scram!

Raccoon: We have to survive too, you know.

Squirrel: Maybe, but not by eating us.

Fox and Raccoon walked away. The deer made a circle around the little group to keep them out.

Squirrel: OK, does everyone have a den ready?

Woodchuck: We found a great place under an old tree trunk. My cousin Woody already claimed the primo spot under the deck.

Rabbit: Just remember, Woodchuck, we live in that complex too. Keep the noise down.

Woodchuck: What are you talking about? We hibernate all winter. You guys are the ones practicing to repopulate the world in the spring.

Mouse: We’re taking our usual spot in the walls of those two old houses over there (points to a couple of Victorian holdovers).

Mole: Well, be careful. There’s a couple of domestics over there that roam around a lot outside.

Mouse: Not to worry. The pointy-eared one spends the winter in front of the fire and the floppy-eared one only comes out to mess up the landscape. The human won’t stay out and play with him.

Squirrel: Are all of you going to fit in those two houses?

Mouse: Not a chance! But the older kids want to try toughing it out in the woodpile. I tried to tell them that the humans use those woodpiles in the winter. They think they won’t get caught. You know what it’s like trying to talk to kids.

The animals all laugh and nod.

Frog: It’s almost time for us to burrow into the mud for the season, so we’re set.

Snake: Same here. What about you, squirrel?

Squirrel: We’re splitting up this year. Some of us are going the usual route and sleeping in trees. But my brother Earl heard that attics are nice and toasty in the winter.

Mole: There’s bats up there!

Squirrel: Earl says they were all driven out over the summer.

Mole: But the humans will hear you.

Squirrel: That’s part of the plan. The mice will be in the walls and the squirrels will be in the attic. It’ll drive the humans nuts, but it will be too cold for them to do anything about it. We just have to get out quick in the spring.

Mole: I think the rest of us will just hang out at the club underground. It’s pretty cozy if we cuddle up. We mostly sleep anyway.

Squirrel: Well, it looks like everyone’s set. The community center has extra nesting material if you still need any. Otherwise, on to the potluck! Remember, you can take as much as you want, but eat everything you take. It’s the season for bulking up, we don’t want any food to get wasted. Anything you brought that’s not eaten, you can either take home or donate to the emergency pantry.

The animals disperse to eat and talk.

The humans have been inside commenting on how cute they all are. They don’t realize they are about to be invaded.