Country Mouse City Mouse 11-15-10 |

Country Mouse City Mouse 11-15-10

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals … They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

~ Henry Beston

Driving past an undeveloped area of which now is Stapleton, I was struck by the sight of a prairie dog, standing on his hind legs with his paws against the chain link that surrounded the construction area. Having just passed the Denver County prison, the prairie dog looked like he was in prison or at least a little lost as to where he should go, now that his home had disappeared. I know the hatred that is in the country for these rodents and understand the damage they can do to land and livestock. I’m not going to apologize for feeling sorry for the little guy. He was there first.

Those that I don’t feel sorry for are people who buy a house by an airport and complain about the noise or build on the side of a mountain and wonder why their house is sliding down. The same goes for those that move to rural areas and complain about silage or “that smell.” And then there are the true whiners who build in areas where coyotes roam, mountain lions still wander and bears want your garbage, and want the animal control out there immediately because the coyote ate their cat named Fluffy.

A dear friend of mine lost their two dogs to a coyote attack in one of the new developments outside of Parker a year ago. It was a traumatic and terrible thing for her to see and have to deal with. They were great dogs and were in an enclosed backyard. As heartless as this may sound, that coyote was just doing what it knows to do. As long as we continue to spread out and use land that was theirs to begin with, we’re going to lose our pets and livestock. Although our house has been here for 87 years, we lost our rabbit two weeks ago to a raccoon. I was really sad to lose her and felt bad that I failed to protect her.

Walking down our very urban neighborhood a couple years back we froze in our tracks as a young coyote crossed the front yard of a house on the block. Often taking walks when the light is starting to dim we’ll see fox strutting down the sidewalks with their thick tails and pointy noses. The best time to see these guys is when it’s dark and the snow is falling and all is quiet. One night, a rattling of our gate alerted me to someone coming into the yard. Peeking out the back door were three huge raccoons hanging on the fence staring right back at me. I don’t know which one of us was more startled! More recently, going out back to give the chickens a treat, there perched a hawk contemplating which one of our chickens he could actually carry. Despite these chickens being pretty pampered, their instincts told them something wasn’t right and all had crammed into a cage to wait out the threat. I’m glad I came along. And squirrels. (sigh) What to do about marauding squirrels? There’s a whole industry for people to prevent squirrels from wreaking havoc on their gardens and birdfeeders. Well, at least they don’t attack the chickens.

City or country we have the same issues to deal with for protecting what we value from predators. But, that value is arbitrary. At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., for example, there is a prairie dog enclosure for visitors to learn about these critters. They think they’re valuable enough to create a permanent exhibit! But then on the other hand why would anyone feed squirrels in the city parks?

City or country we have our travails and more similar than we realize. The quote above is a favorite of mine. It reminds me that as we humans struggle to control our city and country worlds, there are other species just doing the same thing.

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