Tuesday, December 22, 2015



We are besieged by wild life. It's an ironic mix of the good with the bad. One man's pet is another man's pest. A few examples!
 I was at a hospital Christmas party the other day - fortunately this time as a guest- when the hospital CEO showed me a picture of a large buck complete with a grand rack that was snoozing in her backyard. Nice!
Earlier I was reminding a friend that there had been a warning of a coyote in her mid-Etobicoke neighbourhood which was "harvesting" the population of cats, squirrels and other critters. Not so nice!
I live near the Mimico Creek which is the haunt of many skunks, fox and raccoons, not that they need a valley for a home when they can live around our houses.  I put out the little can of kitchen waste an hour or two before pickup because if I left it out by the road over night, the remnants would be spread far and wide.  The skunks dig up my gardens and lawns more than I do. Not so nice!
I noticed as I was closing my cottage on the Trent River, most of the time being spent wrapping trees in protective wire, that the beaver had already beaten me to an evergreen that I had planted several years ago near the little oak that it cut down last fall. Not so nice!
I was pleased as I cleaned the home gutters to note that the squirrel that keeps trying to chew its way into my eaves has given up the battle for now, thanks to the metal mesh that I've had to nail in great strips under the eavestroughs. Nice!
I have been busy trapping mice near my tiny wine cellar in the basement. The toll is now 11. No sign of rats, thankfully. I wonder if the Toronto Humane Society still stupidly returns critters to where they were live trapped. including Norway rats, which can gnaw through sewer pipe and just the sight of one can close a restaurant. Not so nice.
A big doe routinely walks calmly to the point at my cottage and then jumps in to swim across the river. Nice! I wonder if it is the deer that nibbles the tops of my shrubs in mid-winter. Not so nice!
But let's go back to the top.
I  won't tell you exactly where because you never know what ideas hunters get but that big deer in the CEO's yard has made its peaceful home in the Humber Valley south of Bloor St.  Now I've done a lot of walking and even canoeing in that area and I'm surprised that a big buck, complete with a harem of four or five does that occasionally gather around in admiration or obeisance, would find enough hidey holes there to escape man.
There are those who argue that there are more deer in southern Ontario now than there were before 1793 brought John Graves Simcoe. I do know that my late brother-in-law, Gord, got so annoyed at deer cutting up his crops with their sharp hooves that he bought a crossbow (the game warden might hear any shots) and dined on venison. Nice!
As for the marauding coyotes. I read in the International New York Times that the experts figure that at least 4,000 coyotes are living in Chicago but calls of complaints and sightings have eased because residents have got used to them. Besides, they're not aggressive, just going after dogs generally when they're not on a leash.
Of course coyotes are rather tame compared to what the Times writer had discovered in other countries. Like the 35 wild leopards living inside Mumbai that leave the people alone but dine on cats and dogs in the dark. Or the wolves living beside Rome's airport. The mountain lion in the Hollywood Hills that has its own Facebook page. The great white sharks frequently cruising Cape Cod beaches. A Florida photographer recently snapped a bobcat grabbing a shark out of the surf at Vero Beach.
We're lectured by the humane movement, which often make a good living from it, that it's because of urban sprawl that more wild animals now live around us. We've moved in on them, and they were here first. So leave them alone, the dizzy minded say.
That's a lot of nonsense. There are exceptions, of course. For example, in Mumbai, one of the world's most crowded cities has engulfed the national park where the leopards roam. But I doubt, for example, that the big buck would have lasted long in the 1800s as muddy York grew into Toronto.
I wonder if that lodge of beaver that have cost me and my cottage neighbours so many mature trees would have lasted long a century or so ago in a  country that was built on the back of beaver.
A woman and two dogs were injured  by a sow bear within a few kilometres of my cottage. I think that when nearby Havelock was still a bustling railway and mining centre just a few decades ago that the bear would not have lasted long that close to farms and a town.
I love to watch wild life, like the muskrat that lives under my dock, the martins that live in the point, the pileated woodpeckers that chisel chunks out of my tree, that deer that comes for a swim. I leave them alone and they almost ignore me. But then they didn't eat the old outhouse like the porcupine which I introduced to a prickly hell.
I listen to the politically correct division of the humane activists - but never to the crazies of PETA - and wonder why they put animals ahead of people, so much so that this city is not quite as pleasant as it could be because craven  politicians refuse to allow tougher measures against animals  in the wrong place munching our woodwork.
I remember one rabies epidemic where I produced a story a day on the latest human and animal patient/victims. The treatment then was a lot more painful. One day on the way to the TTC about 6 a.m., a squirrel kept running at me and snapping at my ankles. I kept jumping in the air assuming it was rabid. After several passes, I ran half a block to the streetcar, pausing only to bring up in the gutter. On my arrival, the Tely editor said that it appeared the rabies epidemic was easing. Oh no, it isn't, I said, but didn't include my attack in the day's collection.
We now have another rabies epidemic and other great blights -  the flying manure spreaders known as Canada geese, the raccoons which overturn our garbage cans as fast as they can rip apart the bird feeders,  the fox that take up light housekeeping in the traps at the better golf courses. the coyote that are now the size of wolves that walk down the street like a young hooker.
Not so nice! If they are really more important than me, let them start paying taxes!

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