Don’t be scared – it’s just your native wild animal neighbor!
Many native neighbors, their nocturnal sounds cause irrational fear in many humans. By reading this article I will attempt to accomplish what Marie Curie said was true. Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood. Unfortunately, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said we are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribes. And superstition is the religion incongruous with intelligence as John Tyndall said.
So, let us start a journey of intelligence and understanding. Every animal in the web of life is vital. Without every species the habitat is not a fully function ecosystem. What are your views about skunks, bats, coyotes, and great horned owls? These species for some reason seem to be vilified the most. One fiction author even had her heroine make the statement “man gave the wolf all the dark bits of himself and then vilified the wolf”. Perhaps that statement will explain the polarization and why there is such resistance of many humans to accept all species, particularly predatory species as valuable.
Skunks are nomadic. I will say that once more – they are nomadic. They stay on the move. They do not see well, nor hear well. They have no powerful defenses like big claws or teeth. They do not have aggressive attitudes. In reality, they are quite docile. Their small size makes them perfect to be considered food by several predators. The only means to defend is a grape sized scent gland which, once depleted (roughly three sprays) they are helpless. Did you know they consume many harmful insects including underground wasp nests as well as rodents? They are not digging up your over watered lawn, they are consuming the plethora of insects residing in your lawn who are there to consume your lawn.
Bats are not blind nor are they a mouse with wings. Their wing actually more resembles the hand. These animals do not fly into your hair. It is more likely they were trying to consume the small flying insects hovering just above your head. They can navigate around a single strand of thread in total darkness using their echolocation abilities. They cannot take flight from the ground. They do not carry rabies. Once contracted from the stray cat who had it, they too will perish from it. Roughly 0.5% or 1 in 1,000 bats have the virus. More people are killed from dog attacks, bee stings, power mowers or lightning than from rabid bats. Did you know a colony of 1,000 bats will consume 22 pounds of insects each night? There are 12 species of bats most are threatened or endangered. Some migrate, some remain hibernate the winter. One winter disturbance can cause up to two weeks early awakening.
The first Americans respected the hardiness, adaptability and intelligence of the Coyote. Without their tenacity and opportunistic feeding tendencies the habitat would be overpopulated by assorted prey species consuming far too much vegetation which would lead to starvation and habitat depletion and erosion.
Did you know there are nine species of owl who reside in our region? They are not harbingers of death. Chosen prey depends upon the bird – from moths to rabbits. Not all fly silently but there is a cost for the silence. In order to hear the prey instead of themselves the feathers sacrifice their weather resistance. Contrary to popular belief the head cannot rotate all the way around, only 270 degrees. The low frequency vocalizations travel long distances.
When a person makes a connection with nature, a bond is formed. Being immersed in nature makes a person realize how interconnected we all are. Being just one of many in the hectic buzz of urban settings it is easy to be self-absorbed and ignorant of the how dependent each species is upon another. Out of sight and mind are the endless threats to this planet which effect the survival of us all.