You won’t believe what I saw! How often do we hear people say that these days? I think we hear it a lot now — especially when we see wildlife we were not aware existed here, or wildlife that is extremely secretive in its behavior. Even as a kid I remember making that statement myself a few times. The first time I remember saying something like that was when, in the early 60s, a bald eagle flew over our house — nobody believed me. Of course, an eagle sighting in those days was extremely rare — not so anymore — hardly a week goes by that I, or somebody I know, spots a bald eagle or two. I’ve often seen them cruising along Muncy Creek as I sit in my “branch office” (DD) sipping a cup of coffee.
This past week my granddaughter, Sierra, sent me a text message telling me she saw a bobcat. Now that in itself is not terribly unusual since bobcat sightings like eagle sightings are becoming much more common. What’s a little different about Sierra’s sighting was that the bobcat was in her backyard along the fence. Her backyard, however, is in a residential section of a fair-sized local community and only a few blocks from the main light in the downtown district. My wife and I have had several bobcat sightings in or near our yard as well, but we live well out in the country surrounded by some large tracts of woods, so such a circumstance is not that unusual.
Obviously, some critters are becoming more bold or maybe more careless about where they show up. I suspect one reason they “mix” with people is food related; where there are people, there’s food. I’m sure we could fill this entire paper with stories of bears getting into garbage cans even in and around towns; it’s an all too common occurrence. I even remember of one case, some years ago, where a lady placed her freshly baked pies on the kitchen table while she went upstairs. Apparently, she heard a commotion, and when she came down the stairs, you’ll never guess what she saw. The mama bear and her cubs exited through the back screen door, the same way they came in and no they didn’t open it first.
When I was a kid in western Pennsylvania, we heard “rumors” of a coyote being spotted in the nearby woods. Back in the 60s that would have been a fairly rare announcement often met with skepticism. That’s hardly the case anymore. While coyotes are relatively common these days, they are still quite secretive and not often spotted. As coyote numbers increase, however, they too are becoming the frequent answer to the “You won’t believe what I saw” statement. It may be too that they are becoming less secretive and more tolerant of humans.
I recently read of some research conducted in and around the Chicago and Cleveland area that shows that coyotes are apparently adapting well to urban living. Some coyotes have taken a liking to household garbage as well as rabbits and squirrels. The biologist who conducted the research even has a video of coyotes trotting along a sidewalk in downtown Chicago while cyclists and pedestrians pass by in complete oblivion; they probably thought the coyotes were dogs! Even I, by the way, would not want to be walking down a sidewalk in Chicago — those were really brave or maybe very desperate coyotes.
As the population of fishers continues to grow at a fairly rapid rate across the state, more and more sightings are being reported. It’s not unusual to have someone say they saw what looked like a “giant mink” near their home — most likely they saw a fisher. What’s interesting is that it was once believed fishers would only hang out in the big woods country but now it appears that they are adapting well to Pennsylvania farm country as well. I wonder how long it will be until we hear somebody say they saw one strolling down the sidewalk in a nearby town?