- August 12, 2020
I often write how blessed we are to call the West Branch Valley our home. This is true for so many more reasons than I could ever cover in one column. If you love the outdoors, nature, and the beauty of God’s green Earth, there is no place like home. With all that’s going on
I often write how blessed we are to call the West Branch Valley our home. This is true for so many more reasons than I could ever cover in one column. If you love the outdoors, nature, and the beauty of God’s green Earth, there is no place like home.
With all that’s going on in the world this year, so many local folks have found solace in, around, riding through, even flying over Penn’s Woods. I can’t believe the number of people flying those ultra-light single man planes around.
The other thing that has been a true blessing is the abundance of wildlife that can be viewed regularly in the West Branch Valley. And you don’t even have to get out and about. All of God’s amazing creatures seem to be making regular visits, even in the heart of Williamsport.
I have seen so many great pictures, have heard countless stories, and have witnessed this firsthand on a daily basis. The evening before writing this column, Grampian Boulevard and Four Mile Drive was a wildlife crossing as I traveled home. The normal cast of characters rabbits, deer — including a nice buck — a family of raccoons, and Pennsylvania’s armadillo, the possum. Then when I got home, what has become normal greeted me — the scream of a fox. If you have never heard this, Google it. It’s a what-the-heck-was-that moment when you first hear it in the real world.
I live about two blocks from Schick/Four Mile Elementary school, and our neighborhood has seemed to be taken over by our furry, feathered and even reptilian friends. It’s been a regular wildlife menagerie. All of the above is what prompted this week’s feature cover and story by Ken Hunter. One thing I’ll throw in before I turn it over to our wildlife expert is, we all have to remember even if you’re in the most central part of Williamsport, Lewisburg, or Lock Haven; we’re still living in their neighborhood. The rolling mountains, farmers’ fields, and parks within have always been wildlife habitat.
In many cases, we just provide readymade meals or what’s left from them for their dining convenience. At least that’s what the big black bear told me that’s a regular visitor to my Hamm’s garbage toter. He even knows how to open the lid; however, he prefers just to roll it over and feast. There has also been a mother and cubs there several times. I’m sure Ken will have something about this on page 6.
Almost every day, we seem to discuss red fox sightings in the office. Their beauty and that previously mentioned screaming almost human-like way they communicate. I have some interesting fox facts I’d like to share with you.
A fox belongs to the same family (Canidae) that the dog, coyote, and wolf do. However, foxes also have much in common with cats. This includes their pupils running vertically, which gives them that keen cat night vision.
The red fox is the most prevalent in our area.
Gray foxes actually have retractable like claws, which resemble a cat and are actually said to be able to climb trees. Foxes have whiskers on their legs, which help them navigate in darkness and tight spaces. To go along with their amazing sense of smell like a dog, a fox can hear a mouse squeal from 150 feet away.
Foxes will hunt or scavenge. They will eat berries, greens, worms, spiders, pretty much anything. They will even rummage through your garbage if bagged on the ground but are unlikely to get in a can or a container.
Both the males and females share the duties of raising the young. Although foxes are a solitary creature, they remain together as a family unit until their kits, cubs or pups go off on their own. A male fox is known as a dog, a female a vixen.
Now back to that unique language they use. I’ve heard it referred to as a woman screaming, a baby crying, and a dog that is hoarse from barking eight days in a row. Foxes use 12 different cadences or sounds to communicate. It is known as barking or gekkering, when in an aggressive posturing. When hunting, they are stealth and quiet. When a fight ensues, or a kill has been made, they then become vocal.
Foxes are a very playful creature. Again, displaying both dog and cat characteristics. They will almost always avoid our 4-legged family members. They will, however, occasionally view a cat as a dog does and chase it. But like most dogs, as soon as the cat stands up for itself through hissing and batting the fox retreats.
They understand the danger of a feline’s claws. A cat is not viewed as a food source by a healthy fox.
In finishing up my fox facts, they are not by nature a gregarious creature with humans. They are wild and will avoid people. They are susceptible to rabies. If they are too close for comfort, there is probably a reason for it. Stay away.
I received this picture of Liam Breasette from his Aunt. If you missed last week’s column “A River Runs Through It,” Liam, with some help from his Father Bill, landed the pictured 49” musky. I wanted to share the photo and also send some well wishes to Bill, who unfortunately lost a leg to his longtime fight with diabetes.
Prayers and a tip of my Webb Weekly hat to you. I know you’ll be right out there fishing with your son if you’re not already.
Let’s all enjoy the outdoors, respect God’s creatures, and be safe out there.
God Bless America.1 comment