Mooses, Wolves & Bears: Oh My!

mooseDo I see wildlife in urban Alaska? Why, yes, I do!

This wretched ungulate is moseying away from my front yard after having eaten my roses. I’m not a wildlife biologist, but I’m getting the idea that when a developer drops a subdivision in the middle of a moose trail, the moose don’t care.

I’ve lived in this house for twelve years and every winter, a cow and a calf wonder down the hill every night in the exact same pattern. First they eat what used to be my maple tree and is now a maple shrub, then they come across the my driveway and forage the front yard. Used to be they ate my lilac, so I moved it to the backyard thinking they would be discouraged. But nope: they eat roses too.

I’ve seen one wolf up close in the wild and that was on my back deck when I had a condo that overlooked a lake. The property wasn’t fenced in the back. He just leapt up on to the deck, looked in the window, looked around and left. I was so stunned, I didn’t think to grab a camera. People will tell you wolves are shy. But here in Alaska, they kill dogs, stalk humans and have killed a few, so I’m glad the glass was between us.

bear

I’ve seen more bear up close than I care to, mostly back in my hiking days. In my first bear confrontation, we met a mother black bear with three cubs climbing a tree. She charged us but we held our ground waving our walking sticks, yelling and making ourselves look big. I was yelling, “Please don’t eat me, Mrs. Bear.” It worked.

The second time, a bear chased a rabbit in the brush. There was quite a bit of trashing — I think the rabbit lost. We went the long way around to avoid the scene.

The third time, we were coming downhill and the bear was going uphill on another trail just a couple of feet parallel to ours. The woman in front, not me, was too busy talking to see the bear so it was four feet away before we all noticed each other. It didn’t care and kept going. We quit hiking at that location.

In my last bear encounter, a woman known as The Old Hag and I were hiking in springtime when we were stalked. We knew it was a bear because it was making lots of noise in the brush but it wasn’t tall enough to see. And that was the last time I went hiking in bear country.

We have nice wildlife too or at least wildlife that doesn’t want to eat people. There are eagles nesting somewhere near my house. I see them teaching their babies how to fly every summer. The geese pass through Anchorage and some hatch their young here. In Alaska, traffic stops for a goose and goslings and it’s a perfectly acceptable reason to be late to work. Just the other day, I had to brake when a red fox ran across the road in front of my car.

What about you, Mysteristas? Do you have any wildlife, urban or otherwise, where you live?

14 thoughts on “Mooses, Wolves & Bears: Oh My!”

  1. Quite a bit – although no moose. Plenty of deer, which ravage my tulips (or what’s left of them) every spring. Rabbits, of course. But also turkeys, Fox, groundhogs, and my girl swears she saw a mountain lion/cougar in our tree line one night.

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  2. Even in urban Texas (the Fort Worth end of the Metroplex) fox and coyote come out of the creek beds in our neighborhood, and a bobcat gets an occasional cat. We know to watch small animals closely. Rabbits abound–until a predator gets them. We’re covering the natural habitat of these creatures with concrete at such a rate they are forced to come into neighborhoods to forage. Makes me sad that we have so little respect for their needs.

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  3. I remember moose up next to the car or porch in Alaska and being late for them all the time. I remember once when the newspaper boy ran under the porch to wait out a nosy moose. Luckily, I never encountered a bear on a trail there, but did see their scat occasionally. Right now, I’m in lizard and rattlesnake country. I’ve seen plenty of the former but none of the latter, so far – knock on wood.

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  4. Oh, yes, indeed. All of the above, plus mountain lions and coyotes and more. The bears are smart. They know what day is trash day. The city has made us install bear-proof trash cans, and now the bears cross busy highways, moving into the neighborhoods that still don’t have bear proofing.

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  5. My home in Maine has moose, bear, fox, coyote, otters, fischers (ugh), bunnies, groundhogs, chipmunks, red squirrel, ferrets, mink, deer, ruffed grouse (called partridge), eagles, great blue herons, loons, and the list goes on, and that’s just in the yard. Note the absence of wolf – they were extinct, but are making a comeback in southern Maine. Here in Florida, we have coyotes, deer, fox squirrel (squirrel with mink tails); fox, bobcats, panthers, gopher tortoise, alligator, crocodile, manatee – so cute – don’t ask about the snakes, and those are all in the yard. Can you tell I’m a country girl?

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  6. One would think that here in sunny southern California that the only wildlife we would see are on surfboards and roller blades, but NO NO NO. The whole So Cal area is crisscrossed with hills that are home to mountain lions, bobcats, deer, and coyotes to name a few. The downside to that is that these residents with whom we share our neighborhoods, like to wander among with us, and I see coyotes strolling down streets in my neighborhood. They are looking for some of the ABUNDANT rabbits who seem to be everywhere and cats who wander out and about. Anytime I see a “pet missing” sign on a pole, I know exactly what happened to it — lunch! The other problem is that since there seems to be an ample supply of rogue cats, rats, and rabbits, sometimes the “snacks” are not completely consumed and the “remnants” are found abandoned on front lawns. EUOGH!
    On the positive side, the nearby Santa Ana River is a fly-way attracts all manner of migrating birds. There is also a golden eagle nest up in the hills above us, so we get to see them occasionally. They are HUGE, and the first time I had one swoop down. wings fully extended, in front of my car to swoop up some rodent, it seemed that it covered more than two lanes of the road.

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  7. While we have terrific wildlife in Colorado as well (we live near a state park) your post reminded me a road trip where we ended up in Yellowstone. I really, really, really wanted to see a moose and a bear. Or maybe not.

    Sort of like when I go on ridealongs with the local police department. I really, really, really want to see crime and blood. Or maybe not.

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  8. I love the wildlife in my life – even when they eat things I’d rather they didn’t. We have beavers in the creek behind our house sometimes, turkeys all the time (Meili-dog and I scare them in the morning sometimes, as they scavenge under the bird feeders), deer, foxes, possum, coyotes, fischer cats (icky things), owls (and lots of other great birds of prey) – it’s fantastic. There’s a bear in the neighborhood, but I’ve never seen it and it seems to stay out of trouble, fortunately.

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  9. Great story and how in the world does a moose eat a rose – I hope it strips the thorns away and doesn’t just gulp blindly – ouch! I had a swan chase me out of the water at the Park a month or so ago. I was just taking him and his mate’s picture and was not endangering them, in fact I was admiring them, and he came stomping up with those big feet and followed me. I was thinking I might have to climb up on a park bench to escape the big feet and long orange beak, but decided to toss some of the peanuts I always have on hand for the squirrels. Whew – it worked. The swan liked peanuts – who knew?

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  10. We have the ubiquitous wildlife in Europe, but nothing like Anchorage, you are very lucky. Traffic, noise pollution and smog pollution is far more dangerous for someone than the peaceful wildlife presence you described! Keep in touch, following your blog!

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