My last post borrowed a written account from the 1970’s, which included references to historical gold mining and the establishment of churches in the area. Religion and commerce–signs of civilization.
That Dysartsville Community Club report did not mention the wildlife that now fascinates those of us who moved here with citified roots. Perhaps it was just taken for granted that we would respect the animals who have roots here as we were moving in with them. For example, the black panther. A neighbor who is a professional painter has seen in his pasture the remains of a brutal kill of a deer whose back was broken. With the artist’s experience of studying and faithfully replicating wildlife scenes worldwide, he is certain that the killer was a cat, perhaps the infamous panther who mysteriously glides through our forest. I have had conversations with locals who have a family member who has seen the “painter,” but these are all third-hand sightings. And much disputed.
Yes, the forests are shrinking, and recently a private preserve was established adjacent to our neighborhood for the protection of thousands of acres, in addition to nearby South Mountain and the Pisgah Wilderness area. Hunting is forbidden on these properties, according to signs posted. However in March, my dog got her foot caught in a trap on an old logging road. Fortunately she was walking with my husband who had the strength to pry open the trap to release her. If I had been by myself, I would have had to leave her to find help. I will never walk there again. Especially since 100 yards later the experience was more traumatic. Her white hair, both short and long coats, stood straight out from her body, giving her a fierce appearance, and she lunged toward the bobcat in their path.
Usually timid in man’s presence, this bobcat was hissing and snarling. Mainly because his foot was caught in a spring loaded trap he was trying to escape. Our husky hit him square on, and they both tumbled over, his claws and sharp teeth barely missing her. No doubt re-evaluating her folly, the dog decided to respond to her owner’s command to retreat, and pranced to his side without a backward glance. Since it was impossible to release the poor bobcat without severe injury to himself, this former salesman had to rely on spreading the word when he emerged from the woods. He was assured the bobcat was being monitored. Whatever that means in hunter-speak.
This incident should have prepared me for the bear eating carrots and grapes in my garden last Monday. He was far enough away that I could safely stand on the deck and zoom in to get his photo. He left on the run when my grandson gave a shrill two-finger whistle. But still I was shocked the next morning when I opened my door at 7:00 am. A bear was walking across my yard, 20′ away. I can’t recall actually having a jaw dropping experience before this. Maybe it
was the time of day. Luckily I excel at walking backwards–right through the still open door into my house.
And this morning, there was one bedded down among the blueberry bushes which he had mutilated. He had to shimmy up a 10′ deer fence to get in, except where the fence came apart from the post on his last visit because he was so heavy. Most wildlife is timid, but the bears are getting too close. Not tame like deer, but confident like Godzilla.
A neighbor over the hill was aghast to see a black bear on his third story deck cleaning out the bird feeder. They’re not cute any more because they are no longer wary and feel comfortable in sharing our streets. I am reminded of a conversation I had with Brice Sprouse in 2013. He was a local farmer who said you had to plant more than you need so you could share crops with the wildlife. They were going to take it anyway. See Part 23: Sprouse Farm Changes under my Brackett Town series for Brice’s bear story. Actually I don’t mind sharing the crops except when the fences and bushes have to be repaired and replaced. Then it makes more sense to give up the garden and shop at the grocery store.
At least bears are visible, unlike the copperheads on our walking trails through the woods. And I am thankful the five foot rattlesnakes have left town.
Do I really want to see the legendary panther? Only on football helmets.
Copyright July 2016 Georgia Wilson