Monday, February 15, 2016

Why I Don't Miss Seeing Wildlife Out My Window

Roger and I have both spent many years living in the woods. There have been times we have been quite far away from "civilization"--

Fifty miles and a few years apart in the wild mountain forests
--when he was living in Seiad Valley in the late '70s and early 80s, and when I was living in the Illinois Valley in southern Oregon, on a piece of land near a very big wilderness area.

We've spent years together where we could not see a single light from a neighbor's house, no street lights, and only small country roads.
Bobcat on our driveway in 2012
I think back to those days a bit wistfully. I remember the bobcats and coyotes, the jack rabbits and skunks, the foxes, deer, bears, and raccoons that we saw out our windows or the markings they left behind. Broken fences, bird feeders down, scat on the driveway, feathers scattered near and far. It is a thrill to cross paths with such wildness. I knew when we moved to Arcata and chose to live in town, walking distance to the food co-op and the downtown plaza, the wildlife we would see would be very limited. It was a good choice, and I'll tell you why.

Lately I've been seeing video after video posted on Facebook of wild animals looking in through sliding glass doors and windows into the living rooms and kitchens of humans.

There's a video where a cat scares away a bear;
the one where a cat screeches at a bobcat;
the one where a mountain lion peers in.

There are so many of them.Yes, they are gorgeous. Yes, I love them. But the way I feel about it is that those beautiful wild animals belong there and those sliding glass doors and humans with their video-recording phones and domesticated pets DO NOT. We are encroaching on their habitat, what little of it that they have left. It is not always safe for them to cross paths with us. And, we are sadly leaving them so little choice.

In fact, we have left them so little room, the news has been full of photos of coyotes that have taken up residence in cities and towns. This is not good news.

There was even a photo just the other day of a starving sea lion that made its way into a restaurant in San Diego.

We have so encroached and poisoned their habitats that they have very little choice but to seek out new spaces that will ultimately be so dangerous for them. We need to give them space, lots and lots of wild clean spaces.

So while I have loved every time I crossed paths with a wild creature, I'm only joyous now when it's on their turf and not mine.


  1. I 100% agree with your sentiments Robin.

    Haven't been following your posts recently but it sounds as if you are happy with your move?

    Regards from South Africa

  2. I was staying in Tucson once and almost immediately ended up face to face with a mountain lion (with a rabbit in its mouth!).

    When that happened, I felt like maybe the hotel should not be there. This was their space.

  3. You are right and the stories keep piling up about animals and human contacts with the animals being the losers.I think the sea lion hurt me the most. How desperate. We just keep taking.

  4. I feel as though when I don't make my infrequent visits to my Ozark forest that the wild things are able to live without disturbance. And since the 80 acres are private property, I also like to think that no one else is disturbing them either.

  5. Hello Coral Wild-- Nice to see you here. It has been a while. I am so glad that you agree. And yes, we are happy here on the north coast of California.

    Nasreen-- Wow, that's quite a scary close encounter. The link in this post goes to an article that talks about the stomach contents of 83 mountain lions. More than 50% of their food is domesticated animals. Wow! That's not good at all. We are too close to their habitats everywhere.

    Arkansas Patti-- It's very sad to me how these close encounters are not good for the wildlife. As much as we love seeing them, it's better for them if we don't.

    Pablo-- You travel far to cross paths with the wildness. They have a lot of room to roam. But it's a bigger problem than each of our own private wild spaces. We have encroached so far into where the wild things roam, they have no choice but to cross paths with us. And it's not always a good thing for them.

  6. One thing I like about Oregon is how it has limited zoning in farm and timber zones to not allow houses or developments away from towns. It has led to a lot more orderly development. So out where I live, in the 37 years, we've been here, only a few new homes have gone in and mostly the land has stayed as it was when we moved here. Zoning is the answer and supporting it.

    As for the oceans, well, that's likely a product of the climate change. Not sure we can do a lot about that as it has been a cycle of life on this planet. We are as a people used to getting in planes or our vehicles and taking off. We buy produce that is shipped long distances. We watch one area of not overdoing it and ignore another.

    If we can protect the open spaces, maybe some will be left for future generations... but often that costs money and you know how that goes.

  7. The west coast has a different problem than we do on the east coast. Out here, the land was clearcut, species decimated, and the land largely put to agricultural purposes by the 19th century. When farming died away as Big Ag took over, the forests began to grow back and species returned, either on their own or by reintroduction. They have returned to a landscape where people already reside.
    As for mountain lions feeding on pets, they have found an easy food source and they will utilize it. If people keep their animals inside, the food mountain lions will probably eventually move off. Black bears are ubiquitous in suburban yards because people put up bird feeders. If my neighbor kept a flock of sheep out back, I can guarantee that the coyotes that hang around the reservoir on the other side of the road would make their way over to this side and become regular visitors.

  8. It must have been wonderful in the isolated places that you lived. In my life I also have also seen how we have taken over the land from the animals. It makes me sad. I think by blogging about nature it helps a bit.

  9. Rain-- I think Oregon is doing growth the right way (of course!). It takes a lot of smart planning to maintain good healthy environments for humans and animals.

    CCorax-- I just wish all people cared about the environment and understood our impact on it in every way and in everything we do. I remember saying to Roger when we left Grass Valley, "I may never see another bobcat from the window, and as much as I'll miss that, I am glad for them."

    Nora-- I was very young when I bought ten acres in southern Oregon (22 years old!) and built a cabin. It was wild back there. I agree that blogging about nature, sparking interest in the environment, and photographing species in their habitats is a very good thing.

  10. I agree with you very much. There is so very little habitat remaining for our animal friends, it's sad and frustrating. A chance encounter with wildlife always makes my day and even better if we can leave little trace. Have you seen the live Bald Eagle cam broadcast from Hanover, PA? Hopefully, this type of attention is educating people and making a positive impact on wildlife ecology. An actual good use of social media!

  11. Bob R-- I have not seen that Bald Eagle cam from Hanover. I have seen some of our local ones here in Humboldt County. Yes, this kind of effort might improve our human relationships with wildlife, and I think it is great use of social media too!

  12. Our community has very strict rules about interfering or interacting or even feeding any wildlife in the area. Most folks are very respectful of the fact that we have entered their space and for the most part we all get along.

    Every now and then some dummy will have a party and leave leftover food on a screened porch. They learn the hard way the bears can smell food from afar and have no hesitation about breaking into a screen porch.

  13. In Seattle, for as long as I've lived here, there's always been this false bargain that, if we accept increasingly uncomfortable density in the city, rural and wild areas will be protected. And then the counties just let people build all kinds of crappy housing and commercial junk in these rural areas. In this circumstance, I certainly don't begrudge the wild animals gorging on pets, and perhaps a child or two.

  14. NCmountainwoman-- I like that your community has strict rules. It's so important to keep wildlife wild.

    Phil-- Ha! Thank you for making us laugh out loud.

  15. Gorging on a child or two.... Haa Haa, that's funny Mr. Cody Pomeray! :) The increased human density in the Philadelphia suburbs has not only made it nearly impossible for wildlife to exist - it's also made most people downright nasty and full of rage. Here is the link to the Bald Eagle cam, The pair had already laid a pair of eggs by this time last year. Hopefully, we'll see some eggs any day now.

  16. Bob R-- Ah, haven't thought of Cody Pomeray in a long time. Thank you for reminding us. Thank you for the link to the eagle cam. I'll go take a look.

  17. To know someone who lived in the woods in Oregon and fed animals --wild animals daily . They thought it was so cute. They had no sense at all about what they were doing. I suspect there are many out there just like them. Sigh.

  18. Tara-- The best intentions gone awry. It's a shame, and unfortunately wildlife often pays for the mistakes of humans.

  19. Some of those photos break my heart. Especially so, the poor coyote and seal.

    I know a lot of people hate coyotes, but I am not one of them. We destroy their habitat, so they have to move in closer to us. People's pets get eaten, and the owners blame the poor coyote and demand that their local government eradicate them. This whole subject helps to justify the fact, that I really don't like most people. Sad to say, but true!

  20. Pat-- Those pics break my heart as well. It's how the world is these days. I am a fan of all wildlife. I wish their habitats could habitats could be protected from our voracious appetites. I'm not a big fan of people either. I think over-population is a huge problem.