Jim Bennett

I’ve always enjoyed living on or near water. Wildlife is attracted to water, everything from mosquitoes, to loons to raccoons. I live in a prairie pothole region of Western Wisconsin close to a wetland connected to more wetlands and a preserve. I hear loons calling from the wetlands and as they fly over cornfields; don’t tell that to anyone heading to the Boundary Waters to hear loon’s tremolo calls of the wild.

Not all wetland visitors are welcomed like the raccoons that damaged my bird feeders this spring. Wisconsin laws allow landowners the right to take down raccoons that are damaging landowner properties. In a brief nonrational moment I considered going out after them in the dark like Rambo armed to the teeth, flashlight taped to the end of my semiautomatic shotgun. Normalcy quickly returned when my wife threatened me.

She made sense without her baseball bat. First it’s dark out there and I’d be outnumbered, three to one. They’re armed with teeth and claws, one being your typical angry protective mother. I shouldn’t go into a battle a few feet of my house for obvious reasons. We just got all new siding and I could have blasted some of the new shakes off or taken out new windows in self defense if the fight would have turned bad. My insurance agent told me that if something like that occurred there would be many questions asked, especially about taping a flashlight to the end of a semiautomatic. He felt that any shotgun damage in self defense would be covered though!

 Nanc’ee is on a health regimen walking 4 miles every morning. She encounters all kinds of wildlife including cute little bunnies, tweetie birds, pheasants, fawns, and a few non cuddly critters like skunks. She also spotted a couple of dead young raccoons in the middle of the road not far from home. My raccoons have not been back to visit us since that finding. I’m hoping mom was in the ditch sleeping in the same manner as the two in the road that are now eagle “carry out” food. I say carry out because one morning Nanc’ee spotted a large bald eagle soar in and take off with one “carry out” raccoon meal, not offered at Culver’s.

Eagles are opportunistic feeders. A couple of years ago I had a pair of swans with 4 signets, about the size of small Canada geese on the wetland near my house.  A couple of days later a large bald eagle appeared sitting atop a dead elm observing the pond and the swans. In the next month 3 of the 4 signets disappeared but the eagle didn’t. Recently three swans with 6 signets about the size of large mallard ducks appeared. I haven’t seen the eagle since the dead raccoons were eagle happy meals. I’m going to be watching the dead elm and counting signets if the eagle returns.

Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix Valley and can be reached at James bennett24@gmail.com 

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