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Sunday, July 31, 2016

It' hard to be an urban critter

Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 11:47 AM

Nevada is a great town, as towns go, and part of the reason I like it here is its proximity to the country. Ten minutes in any direction puts me out in the rural areas where I lived for most of my adult life and where I can see a variety of wildlife. I shoot a lot of wildlife photos and I am an avid outdoorsman. I shot my first deer on my tenth birthday in 1967. Wildlife means a lot to me and not just as a food source or form of recreation. I have spent most of my life studying all kinds of wildlife.

I firmly believe that when it gets to the point that the countryside does not support wildlife it will not support us either. The city does support some forms of wildlife. Actually, most of the critters found out in the county can be found in the city limits.

I don't know if I have ever seen a turkey in town, but I am sure that they are here. I have seen deer, and, of course, there are plenty of squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs and possums and such in town. There is a lot of other wildlife in town.

Many folks cuss the pigeons found on the square but I enjoy watching them fly in unison and I use some of the feathers I find along the streets of the downtown area as visual attractors during trapping season. Life is hard for those birds. I have watched them during all parts of the year. I see them out in the county feeding in the grainfields and once in a while I will find a dead one on the sidewalk or in the street. The cause of their death is always a mystery to me. Some animal deaths are easier to explain; like a squashed squirrel on Washington Street. That's a no brainer!

Earlier this month there was a rabbit living in the alley between the Daily Mail offices and the buildings lining Cherry Street. It wasn't a wild rabbit, but some sort of domestic rabbit and he managed to eke out a living in the alley for at least a week. I know it was a domestic rabbit because the critter was almost black and his ears were to big for a wild cottontail. I enjoyed seeing him out there in the mornings.

One day last week I was out there in the alley and there were a couple of dogs running loose. "Oh no" I thought, they're going to get the rabbit. Pretty soon he came running by and hid behind the wheel of Ring's delivery truck. He liked that spot. He could be found under that truck most of the time during the day. Anyway along came the dogs and they got on his trail and he put up a good chase for a few minutes. But being a domestic rabbit, he didn't have the stamina to keep dodging the dogs. I heard him squealing and knew they had caught him. I know that piteous squeal, I use it to call predators.

I walked back to my desk a little disappointed. But that is the nature of the wild world. Everything eats and gets eaten. That was reinforced yesterday when I was out in the alley and saw a box turtle slowly making his way across the gravel. He was dragging what appeared to be a leaf and when I approached him to free him of his burden, I discovered that it was actually one of his hind feet that something had chewed to shreds. The primitive reptile stoically kept to his course. I put him in some weeds where he would be safe for at least a bit and went back to work thinking that life is just as hard for an urban critter as it is for one that lives in a remote wilderness. I guess that what I'm getting at here is that we should probably be thankful for the animals that do share the city with us. For me, it would seem like a pretty sterile place without them.

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Rusty Murry
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