Having wildlife as your neighbor

Living in our area, whether in the rural or more residential sections, often means being visited by or hosting various species of wildlife, not all of them being welcome visitors. This is especially true in late spring and summer, when young-of-the-year are seeking their own territory, and again in wintertime, when food becomes a major issue for most species.

For example, a couple weeks ago I was out with our English pointer, having taken her for an evening romp in our "back-40." As we came by the tool shed, she suddenly stopped, trotted over, sniffed and then went on point behind the mock orange bush that grows next to the building. Now, this is the only building of the five at our place that doesn't sit on a raised concrete foundation. As such, we occasionally have rabbits, chipmunks and red squirrels temporarily hiding underneath it.

Assuming she'd caught the scent of a rabbit or squirrel, I simply commanded her "No" and then put her on her tie-out line on the lawn near the back door of the house. I then wandered back around to the tool shed and bent down to see what had interested her. A small black head with two beady eyes stared back at me from the under the rim of the shed foundation. I knew immediately what it was - a young skunk, about half grown.

I eased back, then walked around to the side of the shed and stood quietly. Soon, that little skunk and two of its litter mates appeared. They didn't venture far, just a few feet from the security offered by the shed's understory. About then, I heard my wife drive in. Once she'd parked in the garage, I said, "Want to see something cute?" She wandered over to see what I was pointing at. She was obviously not impressed with our newfound neighbors, cute or otherwise. I told her not to worry because they'd be gone in a few days, since exploring outside their "den" was an indication they were about ready to head out on their own. Sure enough, we haven't seen them since.

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