The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 9, 2012

All about returned animals

BY SAM VAN CAMP
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — I have always heard that hindsight is always 20/20. My Dad told me that, my teachers; and many of my friends. It’s an old saying that reminds us of our stupid mistakes we make throughout life.

I have to wonder how it applies to some of the animal species we have reintroduced over the years. How do you feel about some of these?

I get readers complaining quite often about some of the animals we have around here in abundance today that were gone from this area at one time. White-tail deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, river otters are just some of these animals.

It sounded great to me as a kid when the state reintroduced white-tailed deer and I was thrilled when the river otters were released near my trap line; especially when I got my first look at one in the wild.

Today, I am thrilled at the sight of a big flock of wild turkeys and have been watching a big flock for the past month or so.

Seeing a big buck makes my day while on a drive through a wooded area or while fishing from my boat; and who in this area isn’t thrilled by the sight of a bald eagle perched in a tree or flying over the car.

Not everyone is thrilled by these reintroductions. The deer crash into cars and ruin crops, the coyote is a menace in many communities, the river otters are reducing fish populations in area ponds or lakes and now and then I even get a complaint about the wild turkeys.

My wife and I spent one entire day looking for moose this summer in Moose Junction, Wyo. We located and photographed five moose, four bulls and one cow.

Three of the bulls were magnificent with one being the largest moose I have ever seen. Moose Junction is approximately 70 miles from Yellowstone National Park to give you an idea of the vicinity.

To see a big moose as we did is an experience that is simply breath-taking; being thirty yards or less and seeing this massive animal surely got our blood pumping. We learned from a local that there were once over four thousand moose in this area; today less than a 150 according to him.

With the reintroduction of wolves in the Yellowstone area came about the demise of the moose population.

Deep winter snows prevent the moose from kicking and they become easy prey for the wolves. This is a natural cycle of one species reducing another which happens quite often in nature.

The moose that have survived are those that have learned to live around people; living close to communities and sometime giving birth to their young in someone’s backyard.

The wolves avoid people at all costs and the moose that live around them seem to have a little more security and really aren’t bothered that much by people. The closest wolf we got to see on our vacation was a pure black wolf well over one hundred and fifty yards away.

Everyone has an opinion on whether the bringing back of animals once absent in an area is good or bad; it just depends on who you talk to.

The question of bringing back the deer, the wild turkey, the coyote, the river otter, the wolf, etc. will never have a definitive answer. Their reintroduction does bring up a host of questions!

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: pamnsam@nwcable.net