They’re Everywhere

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When I left home for college in 1978 I had never seen a deer in this community. I suppose there may have been a few around, but they were extremely rare.

Nowadays I see them everyday. They’re a major nuisance to gardeners, to say the least.

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The amount of wildlife here now compared to when I was growing up here is remarkable. Wild turkey were very rare then. Now they’re common. There were no coyotes, bears, herons, geese, or eagles. Now they’re fairly common too.

In my first 18 years here I only saw one hawk. Now I see them daily.

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This big one watched while I bush hogged field, so he could swoop down and grab any unfortunate critter who made a run for it.

Even the wildlife that we did have then is more common now. In the last week I’ve discovered a rabbit in our garage, and one in our hoop house. We used to have to flush them with rabbit dogs.

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A bunny watching me do chores

Squirrels used to run and hide when a human approached. Now they just watch us pass, entirely unconcerned.

We had possums and coons back then, but not nearly as many as we have now.

So why is wildlife so much more abundant now? I suspect it’s partly because there is far less hunting now. It’s also possible that they’re retreating here from areas being developed. A big reason, I believe, is that the environment is less toxic now than it was then.

Whatever the reason, these days, they’re everywhere.

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29 comments on “They’re Everywhere

  1. karenhumpage says:

    It’s a similar situation here Bill. Though vastly different landscapes (UK1950’s suburbia on the edge of arable land), I’ve noticed a change since the 1980S when I moved here. Then the fields grew wheat and potatoes, and the hedgerows were rigorously managed. The local park was scrupulously maintained, and had a large pitch and putt course. Gardens were kept with military precision.
    Now the farmers have all but gone, and as the land is designated ‘green belt’ the fields cannot be built on (unless they change the rules). What farmland is left has wider hedgerows, and crops are not sprayed, as far as I can tell. So now we have another golf course, and several fields left to weeds and saplings. Good for mice and kestrels, and everything in between.
    The park’s pitch and putt is now a meadowland and small forest. People love to walk their dogs there, and the insect and bird populations have increased dramatically. It’s a lovely space. And due to councils tightening their moneybelts they don’t mow so often and roadside verges are just strimmed twice a year instead of short-back-and-sides every month. They’ve saved their money to plant hedgerows alongside the main road, reducing traffic noise for nearby residents. A good decision all round!
    Peoples’ front gardens have sadly had to make way for parking spaces, but people are generally a bit more relaxed about gardening and are a little more knowledgeable about wildlife (I hope).
    I remain ever optimistic. And I have hedgehogs!

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    • Bill says:

      I think your hedgehogs are what we call groundhogs. And we sure have lots of those these days!

      Interesting that you’ve experienced something similar there. The increase in wildlife here over the last few decades has been amazing.

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      • karenhumpage says:

        Two different species entirely Bill! Hedgehogs are about 8″ long, spiny, and not native in the USA. Sadly this one’s on the endangered list but I’m being a good mother to our local precious few.

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  2. Definitely agree about the animals and hunting pressure; but I’d venture that’s it’s more YOUR environment that’s less toxic than the rest, Bill (and undoubtably more inviting; )

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    • Bill says:

      Our farm is definitely far less toxic now. When we started here we could hardly get anything to grow and there were few birds, bees, earthworms, etc. But without a doubt this entire part of the country has experienced a boom in wildlife since my childhood. It’s simply amazing. I think some of the reason is the decreased use of poisons and the fact that there are far fewer farms now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, probably a combination of all those and possibly less hunting pressure as well (except for you; )? I know there are far less hunters around here now than when I was a kid (more skills gone the way of the dodo… ): but, there are also more houses and despite having less hunt-able land available, the more the wildlife seems to be able to make do…

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  3. Victo Dolore says:

    They are not retreating from MY development… ;-/

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    • Bill says:

      Ha! Good point. I need to rethink that hypothesis. There are herds of deer in the city now, as well as bears, coyotes, etc. Someone recently posted a picture of a bobcat walking on a beach near where we used to live in Florida. I suspect the wildlife boom isn’t limited to rural areas.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. avwalters says:

    We got’em, too. This “out in the country” thing turns out to be pretty crowded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      Lol. You’re right about that. I realize from the reading the comments that I forgot to mention bobcats and (controversially) panthers. One of our neighbors went into her back yard a week or so ago and was surprised to see that a bear cub had climbed the light pole and was hanging there staring back at her! Last year I spotted a fisher cat here. According to Wikipedia they don’t live this far south. We have rattlesnakes here too now, and until recently they weren’t supposed to live here. I could go on and on.

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      • avwalters says:

        We have fishers, bobcats, and cougars–though the DNR won’t cop to the big cats. If a “new” species is found in a region, the DNR is supposed to create a management plan for it. The result is that they just deny, forever and a day, to acknowledge these critters. We have bobcats (which the DNR urges you to report), but we won’t. Once reported, they’ll list them and their location, and they become “available” for the annual bobcat hunt. We need the bobcats to address the damn bunnies.

        And we have new insect pests. In my childhood there were no ticks–and now ticks are standard issue–along with Lyme disease. We never had poisonous snakes, either–and I’m hoping it stays that way.

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      • Bill says:

        Same here re. big cats. Lots of sighting and even some photographs. But the powers that be say they’re “escaped exotic pets” until someone can prove otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We just spent $400 on an electric fence…. I can get within 5 feet of the rabbits before they run.

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  6. BeeHappee says:

    We have deer, javelinas, pack rats who will take off any nice blossom, gophers who will decimate gardens, rabits galore – they ate all our sunflower seedlings 5 times, all okra, much of bell pepper leaves, etc.. We have quail who eat fruit flowers off, and then ravens. But this was their wild territory just 50 yrs ago, now turning into paved developments.

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    • Bill says:

      I would guess you have coyotes there too now. It wasn’t that long ago that they lived only in a small part of the country. Now they’re in every state–country and city.

      I just added to my every growing to-do list to try to trap the groundhogs that are eating one of our gardens. As AV says, it can be pretty crowded out here in the country. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        Coyotes, oh definitely, they are native here, and they howl in the brush just behind the house every night. In fact, I miss them when I do not hear them. Hopefully they help us with some rabbit control. Mexican grey wolf has been reintroduced here although not very common yet. Grey fox is quite prevalent in some areas. Black bears come down from the mountain once in a while and dig through trash in Target parking lot… Pronghorn is shy, they stay away and get pushed out by people. Snakes are everywhere, almost stepped on one the other night taking a walk. The number of bigger sized birds can be a real headache here for many fruit growers. Gophers are hard to deal with on larger properties. Talked to a lady yesterday who said she had to abandon her vegetable garden because she would stand and watch her vegetables just sink into the ground in front of her eyes. Gopher control products are a good business here. πŸ™‚

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  7. shoreacres says:

    Just this week, as I was driving to work along one of our main roads through town, two deer crossed in front of me. It’s not so surprising, really. They run the utility easements from one lovely place to another, and sometimes they seem inclined to explore. There’s a lot of pressure on them because of development around here, but there are plenty of places for them to hang out, too — like NASA, which has a lot of land around its facilities, and devotes it to hay and prairies.

    I must say, the two I saw were fine looking specimens. There’s no telling whose gardens they might have been enjoying.

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    • Bill says:

      Doing my end of day chores last night I saw five. Two young bucks were eating apples off one of our trees. One trotted away when I came by, but the other stood and watched me. Insolently. Two more were munching on clover in one of our now-abandoned gardens.

      I read a book about the phenomenon recently. There are 100 times more deer in the US today than there were a century ago. Not twice as many. ONE HUNDRED times as many. Truly amazing. That accounts for the deer tick population explosion, and probably the coyote boom as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        We have mountain lion as a predator to deer. You probably do not many predators for them?

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      • Bill says:

        These days coyotes kill and eat the fawns. They didn’t stop killing our goat kids until the fawns started to drop. Now they’re content to leave our herd alone it seems. The principal predator for deer is humans, but these days the vast majority of them prefer to get meat (feedlot beef or CAFO chicken usually) from a grocery store.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        When you get your travel trailer and take it up to Colorado mountains, go to McDonalds (I know I know) in Estes Park and the elk will come up right next to you, maybe even nibble salad leaves off your burger…. πŸ™‚

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      • Bill says:

        I have seen an elk next to the McDonald’s in Estes Park. Many years ago. First time I ever saw an elk. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        Awesome! Me too. I can picture you trying to convince McDonalds to sell elk burgers instead. πŸ™‚

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  8. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, with the encroachment of civilization wild life has had to adapt to their environment. Yesterday two deer went crashing through the wooded area behind Terra Nova Gardens. I just saw a glimpse as they crashed through the brush behind me. Raccoons have found safe haven in the storm drains along with the rats. I’m not sure how they get along together. The mountain lions (two) that we have found in the city were shot. The wild predators are being taken out of the equation. Twice professional hunters have been brought in to reduce the deer population in our city parks. Deer in Nebraska have no predators other than human hunters and they are limited.. If a deer is hit with a car in Nebraska, we have to leave it lay. I have seen deer beside the road for a couple days before it’s picked up. Seems like a waste to me if some one could get it immediately after the accident.

    The electric fence is now active and hopefully the sweet corn is safe once again. There’s squash, potatoes, and cucumbers inside the electric fence as well.

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    • Bill says:

      There are some really stupid laws out there regarding road kill. I think the law in Virginia is that you can eat a road-killed deer, but only if you first get permission to take it from a law enforcement officer. I doubt many people bother with that. I remember back when deer were rare one jumped into the side of my fathers truck as he was driving home one night. The deer was knocked unconscious (and was likely dying). My father stopped and killed the deer with his pocket knife. Threw it in the back of the truck and brought it home to dress. We had a lot of venison that year.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Candace says:

    I wish the environment as a whole was less toxic. That’s great that yours is. I feel badly for the wildlife that we humans continue to displace.

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  10. Zambian Lady says:

    There is less wildlife where I grew up because we chopped down the forest :(. One thing I was surprised at when I moved back to Virginia is the number of hares running, or is hopping, around. You find them everywhere! I read in one post that they are really bad for those who have vegetable gardens.

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