This is certainly not a reflection of the thinking of most Alaskans as they would be the first to tell you that their nature is particularly well versed at running wild, and stopping it is not really an option.
We have been to Alaska many times, a region of indescribable beauty, and animals with really sharp claws and really big teeth.
During our visits, there is never a question of whether someone is going to be mauled by a large beast, but when, and how many body parts will go unaccounted for afterward.
On one of our first visits, a woman decided she needed a close-up photo of Binky, the polar bear at the Anchorage Zoo, so she hopped a couple fences, unaware that the eye of the sleeping bear was trained directly on her.
The photo on the cover of the Anchorage Daily News the next day was of Binky proudly parading around his enclosure with her pink sneaker in his mouth. The woman? Last I heard she had given up photography for basket weaving.
And that was a caged animal.
But what about the un-caged ones: the moose that forage on bike paths and quiet residential streets? The ones that make you declare, “Oh, it’s so cuuuute. It looks just like Bullwinkle.” Well, it’s not. It ‘s cranky, and it will hurt you. Bad .
The wild animals in my community may not have claws that could fell you with one swipe, but they manage to be a menace anyway. Many of us have taken up the Hickel cry, may he rest in peace.
Just ask my dad. Right now he is at war with the squirrels. His body count is over twenty. No. He doesn’t kill them. He traps them and hauls them to the back lake.
He’s a kind trapper, though. He told us that when they are first caught, the squirrels put up a noisy fuss, but he finds that once he gets them in his car, if he plays soothing music, they settle right down.
Our theory is that the squirrels use GPS to find their way back to his house, so he’s actually trapping the same three over and over and over again.
My dad doesn’t go quite so easy on the woodpeckers. Maybe it’s the constant tapping or the thousand holes in his siding, but they have driven him to take a stronger tact. On one visit to his house I noticed a dead woodpecker lying on the path to his front door. When I questioned him about why he hadn’t removed it, he said, “It’s a warning to the other woodpeckers.”
Ooooh. I bet that did it.
I have learned a lot about the wild animals in my neighborhood as I have watched their numbers explode over the past thirty years. I’m an expert on scat, for instance, in the event that you ever need help identifying a pile of poop. I had to become one. (Not a pile of poop, an expert.) I had no choice. Something was leaving a mess in our waterfall every night.
After hours of intensive Internet research, I identified it as the caca of a raccoon, the badest dudes in our hood. So, I borrowed a trap, and caught, ta da, the only cute possum on the planet. I know they normally look like large rats, but Disney created this one, I swear.
As it was being hauled away to a fate of which I had no desire to know, it looked at me as if to say, “It wadn’t me, really. I’m innocent, I tell ya, innoceeeent!” (Why it talked like Jimmy Cagney, I couldn’t say.)
Turns out he was telling the truth. The poop kept coming.
You see, raccoons have their own outhouse system. Once they have staked out their latrine, and stocked it with the latest edition of National Wildlife Magazine – The Swimsuit Edition, they set up permanent residence.
But I showed him. Never mind that our waterfall no longer has water that actually falls, and that it is completely covered by ugly stone slabs. I beat the little sucker.
Ha! Ha! Ha! I showed him that he couldn’t just run wild.