Yesterday evening, in deep dusk after a day of storms, I was reading in bed when my husband came dashing in to show me a photo he'd just taken of a black bear in our yard. Except for one that passed through the corner of the yard last summer, we haven't seen a bear in our yard for years, and have never got a good picture of the event. My husband was sitting in the dining room when he noticed a couple of young women standing in the street, snapping photos with their phones. A good-sized bear was heading into our yard. Seeing it was going to go pass between our house and the next, a narrow strip, he ran to get the camera. He snapped his photo from the side porch, just in time. "It was moving fast, all wet from the rain, and hustled into the trees at the back. I didn't get to take a second shot."
Here's the photo he took of the bear passing between our strip of river rock and the neighbour's wood pile (covered with plastic camouflage material):
For a side view of a black bear, here's a photo my husband took in July 2005, while taking a walk through the neighbourhood. In broad daylight, a bear passed the front door of a house a few blocks away:
Duluth, although it is not a tiny city (about 80,000 people), is situated on the shore of a huge lake surrounded by mostly unpopulated land. There are small towns scattered about, but mostly there is forested or boggy land. I think that's why so much wildlife can be seen right in town. Rabbits, for instance -- though rabbits live anywhere. Rabbits are so plentiful I haven't bothered to take photos of them. Some years they are like lawn ornaments. But we've been seeing foxes lately, too, which may explain the recent drop in rabbit sightings. And deer. Have I mentioned we have have lots of deer? There is a bow hunt in the city limits every year to try to control the number. They are very pretty but very bold and great eaters of landscaping.
Here is a doe with a brand new fawn, taken in June. Yesterday while making dinner, I saw a doe with two spotted fawns, bigger than this one, of course, walking down the middle of the street. They seemed unconcerned by the occasional cars passing, merely moving onto adjacent lawns as they went by:
Here's a nice shot my husband took of a young deer just standing and looking at him, quite close, while he took the picture. This was taken February 2009:
Here's a great shot my husband got in August 2008 of a beautiful buck, his antlers still in velvet. My husband crept through the greenery between the houses on the next block to take the picture:
Here's another handsome buck, photographed in the alley behind the houses across the street. This was taken in the fall (November 2004), its antlers without velvet:
In the old days, four-legged predators killed deer -- lynx, bob cats and mountain lions, now seldom sighted -- and wolves. Hunting in packs, wolves could even bring down a moose, if it was young or old or weak (moose have been seen in town, but very rarely; their recent decline is being studied). Nearly brought to extinction in Minnesota, wolves have made a come-back, but they are seldom seen.
My husband took this photo of a wolf from his father's truck, spotted in the woods as they drove down a two-lane country highway, returning from a fishing trip in September 2005. How lucky they were to see a wolf -- alive, not in captivity -- and to snap of picture of it.
Not all the wildlife is big. Here's an Eastern chipmunk ("chippy-buddies", the kids call them). This one is living in the retaining wall around the patio. I took his photo when he came out to have a scratch. They are very cute, very amusing, but their burrows can undermine structures, naughty things:
And here's one of the most exotic predators we've seen in our neighbourhood. I saw him on our wall, September 2005, and dashed out with a camera to take his picture:
Ha ha! I think this cat must have had a seriously burred or matted coat to be thus sheered. "Look," we cried, "a lion-cat!" I've seen it in years since, its coat grown out, a very handsome beast.