I read a book titled Fauna by Alissa York recently, and though it isn't among the greatest novels ever written, it's pretty damn good because of its focus on urban wildlife and people who care about them. Road kill are buried after being taken away from the road so no other animals get killed feeding on them. An injured red-tailed hawk and orphaned raccoons are rehabbed. Birds stunned by flying into skyscrapers are gathered up. A dog defends his homeless human. People (one named after a fictional otter) leading alternative lives bond into lovers and a family of sorts, sharing dinners and reading books such as Watership Down and The Jungle Book.
One of the characters cares about a mouse in her apartment and as I was writing a review of the book this morning, I was distracted by a rodent racing across my floor, too quickly to really be identified. I assumed it was a mouse but walking to lunch I saw my first ground squirrel of the season, and a friend in this building had one in her room two years ago. The dorm is surrounded by ground squirrel holes and we wouldn't be at all surprised if the entire building sinks someday.
I was planning to take a walk after dinner, but these guys cut me off.
As I headed back to the dorm, I was told there was a coyote down there. Coyotes play an unfortunate part in the book as a deranged fellow wants to kill them and writes about it on his blog Coyote Cop. I only had my little camera with me but managed to get a grainy shot of the barking dog leaving the area. A wild chorus of them just took place as I wrote this post.
The book's conflict between lovers and haters of wildlife plays out all the time in real life here, especially when it comes to wolves. The local states are doing their best to come as close to wiping the wolves out again as they can without having the federal government protect them again. Here's a story about a trapper with (WARNING) a disturbing, disgusting photo which provides an example of the conflict between two very different types of people.
I forgot to mention my experience with ravens a few days ago. I was hiking in an open area when one came flying low to the ground over the sage, making the powerful sounds their wings make when flying. As I watched that one fly away with admiration, a second one flew low behind me, sounding like a helicopter and causing me to instinctively crouch.
I'm off to Bozeman Wednesday for some REI shopping, a good meal, and my annual haircut. The forecast temperature is in the 70s.
The Hood, the Had, and the Fugly
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