Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Wild in the City

I had a doctor's appointment Friday out at the Air Force Academy. It's not unusual to see deer on the Academy grounds. There are tens of thousands of acres of open space between the scattered occupied spaces. There are two or three different herds on the grounds, ranging in size from about sixty to well over two hundred. Occasionally, you'll see wild turkeys, too. Eagles and falcons are present from time to time, but you don't often see them. I wasn't surprised to see a small group of four or five deer when I turned on Pinon drive and headed toward the hospital. I was very careful when I came by that area again. The deer there are almost tame, but they can still run out in front of your car. You DON'T want to hit one of these big mule deer!

The deer weren't there when I came out, and I didn't think anything more about them. The traffic on Academy Boulevard was worse than normal, and took all my concentration. When I drove through the intersection at the top of the hill heading down toward Maizeland Drive, however, the traffic ahead of me came to a complete stop. It took me a couple of minutes to see why.

There on the sidewalk on the east side of Academy Boulevard was a large mule deer, wanting to cross the highway and go back into Palmer Park, a large natural area on the west of the highway. The deer was coming out of a group of apartment buildings. He trotted up the sidewalk for about thirty yards, until the cars stopped behind him. The traffic also stopped on the other side of the street. Once all the cars had stopped, the deer trotted across the highway and up into the pines on the other side of the road.

Academy Boulevard is probably THE busiest street in Colorado Springs. It's amazing that a deer would even attempt to cross it. It's even more amazing the animal had adapted well enough to know it should wait until the traffic stopped before it trotted across the highway. Yet that's exactly what appears to have happened.

When we build cities, we displace a lot of wildlife. Apparently, the wildlife is moving back in, and adapting to city life and city ways. This deer was not the first, nor the only wild animal I've spotted. There's a family of foxes that live in a juniper along the front of a house several streets away from here. My neighbor has a couple of squirrels that have taken over birdhouses in his back yard. I've seen rabbits in a dozen different places, and there's a sparrow hawk that nests every year in a large cottonwood just one street west of my house.

Not all wildlife is as easy to live with. There are reports every year of mountain lions coming into people's yards over on the western side of the city, and young black bears are quite common. There's a herd of Rocky Mountain Sheep that graze in a rock quarry, and have to be shooed away before the quarry owners can blast. My neighbor loses several goldfish every year to the blue herons that nest around the area. There's a moose that makes regular trips up and down Monument Creek, which flows through the center of town. Coyotes are frequently seen in the more open areas, and there are a couple of pronghorn herds that frequent the airport area and fields between housing areas to the north.

Living with wildlife isn't always easy, but it can be rewarding. Squirrels can be entertaining, and the sight of an eagle flying overhead is always inspiring. It's apparent that more and more wildlife is learning to live in proximity to man. It's going to be interesting to see if man can adapt as easily to the presence of so much wildlife.


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