Q. I’ve heard that you sometimes see wildlife, even in the city. up there. Is this true? Thanks, Maureen.
A. Oh, yes, we certainly do. That’s because each of our cities sit basically on the edge of the wilderness. We have less population than other states, and so our cities are farther apart, and not strung together with a bunch of suburbs. Drive outside town a couple miles here, and you are in wild country. So, in the winter, for instance, you can’t blame a moose for coming in out of the back country, and walking where the going is easier.
You will sometimes see a big moose walking a downtown street; looking a bit bewildered of course. Usually, wild animals find their own way back to where they belong, but sometimes they have to be helped. Many an Anchorage-ite has found a curious black bear rattling around their garbage cans, or their dog food bowl, on the edge of the city. Sometimes one even makes it to the commercial district! Usually with a bear, the Department of Fish and Wildlife sedates them, and moves them back to the wild.
We have had our share of wildlife right in our yard…moose eating our new crab apple trees; a moose and her ‘teenager’ peering in our dining room window; moose licking the salt off the sides of our car back when they used a salty mixture to sand the roads. Believe me, nothing makes a car look sillier than moose slobbers all along its sides!
We live in a neighborhood, in the town of Wasilla, but right on the banks of a nice creek. There are fresh water otters living somewhere in the creek banks because one evening in the fall we saw one pull a spawning salmon from the water and stand on the bank enjoying his supper! Another time, in the winter, I happened to glance out the window and saw movement up by the culvert that passes under our road and here came 4 otters, having fun on the ice of the creek. I watched them traverse the whole length of the creek, sliding on the ice like happy children. They would run a few feet, then flop onto their bellies, legs spread out and would sliide as far as they could. Then they would scramble to their feet and run a few feet and flop down and slide again. It was hilarious and I loved watching them disappear out of sight downstream.
More recent, in fact yesterday, there was a big bald eagle roosting in a cottonwood tree above the creek, intently looking down. I thought to myself, I bet he is fishing! So I watched. Suddenly he dived to the creek and came up with a wiggling trout. He sat on the tree limb and energetically tore the poor trout apart, and hungrily ate it down. You couldn’t wish for a more up close and personal example of the old food chain. Then, almost daintily, he turned and cleaned his beak off on the tree trunk, swiping first one side of the beak and then the other against the rough wood.
So, yes, we do indeed live alongside the wild up here! (and then of course there is Uncle Joe, but that’s a story for another day!)-BJ