Last month we were visiting when we saw a “city squirrel” and Andy said; “What was that? I think I just saw a possom.”
We’re used to the little agile chattery guys that we fatten up at the bird feeder. Denali stalks this guy on tiptoe until her eyes are at feeder level. Then she tries to sneak her foot up on the railing, and he scampers to the tree and scolds her. She backs off and they start over.
Full grown, the average red squirrel is only 8 inches long, with an additional 5 inches of tail. As spring turns to summer, he will loose some of his bright orange color and his ear tufts.
We think he looks as if he may be evolving before our very eyes—developing opposable thumbs to hold his sunflower seeds.
At Tuscarora, we have deer and we have snow, and the other day the local wolf pack had a meal. Sometime between 6am and 12pm, this deer was killed and picked fairly clean.
One Sunday in January, the sheriff sent out an email warning the folks in town of a wolf pack on County Road 7—they attacked one dog, and just missed another.
Apparently the lack of snow along the North Shore gives the deer an advantage over the wolves, and as a result the wolves are hungry (and plentiful) enough to start looking for fresh meat elsewhere.
Last week Andy watched three wolves on the lake—one acting as a sentry while two of them rolled like puppies.
Perhaps you have read in the newspapers lately—the wolves have had more press recently, since they were taken off the endangered species list in Wisconsin and Michigan (they have been listed as threatened in Minnesota since 1978) According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (January 30th)
Minnesota has an estimated 3,020 wolves, Wisconsin 460, upper Michigan 430 and Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior 30 — all above federal population recovery levels…..the article goes on to say….In anticipation of eventually getting management authority over wolves, Minnesota finalized a wolf-management plan six years ago. Among other things, it will break the state into two zones — the wooded northeast, where wolves are abundant, and the rest of the state, where they are less common. In the northeast, property owners could kill wolves if they observed them stalking, attacking or killing livestock or pets. In the remainder of the state, property owners will have more discretion and could kill wolves if they considered them a threat to their animals.
Under the Minnesota plan, there will be no public hunting or trapping for five years. Then, the DNR commissioner could propose a season, but only after an opportunity for public debate. The state’s minimum population goal is 1,600 wolves. Limited trapping of wolves responsible for attacks on livestock and pets would continue. About 100 to 150 of those wolves are trapped each year, DonCarlos said. Unless lawsuits are filed, the management transfer will take place 30 days after the decision is published in the Federal Register. Next month, another iconic creature, the bald eagle, is expected to be removed from the list of endangered species. Even though gray wolf populations are increasing in Minnesota, there are no documented cases of wolves attacking or injuring anyone in the state, according to the DNR. “Any wild animal can never be considered completely safe,” said Walter Medwid, executive director of the International Wolf Center, based in Ely, Minn. “But Minnesota is perhaps the best example that people have lived with wolves in remarkable harmony overall for the last 30-odd years.”