Living Amongst the Wildlife of Truckee-Tahoe   Leave a comment

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Bears at your house

Bears coming up the stairs from a home on Lake Tahoe during the fall. ~Photo by Michelle Portesi

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Residing here in the rural mountains of the Sierra Nevada, wildlife sightings are fairly common, and it is one of the cheap thrills of living here.  Learning to live with the nature that surrounds you does also come with some responsibility on our part, so that we can both coexist, with neither one of us becoming a nuisance or a detriment to the other.

Anyone who has lived here for any length of time finds out quickly that unsecured trash, unattended open windows or leaving food around will invite one form of opportunistic scavenger or another – usually insinuating themselves where they are not particularly wanted. Animals are like any other force of nature…path of least resistance.  Unlike ourselves, survival is not based on waltzing down to the local grocery store for a meal. For the animals, it requires a great deal of expenditure of precious energy hunting and gathering to make it in this life. Anytime someone offers a much appreciated (by them) short cut, they’re going to take it.

As we head into winter, bears especially become extremely active this time of year, their need to fatten up before hibernation intense.  Metal bear boxes have become the only real solution of choice, as even a metal can secured in a locked garage can prove to be none too effective in keeping out a truly hungry bear, resulting in property damage in the process. God forbid they should get into the house itself. And if it’s not the bears hitting the trash cans waiting for disposal pick up, it’s the raccoons, the coyotes or the neighborhood dogs…(and to be entirely honest, the dogs make a much bigger mess. Bears tend to plop down and eat  trash where they found it. Dogs strew it all over the neighborhood!)

Our early snowfall covered up many food sources that animals would normally be attracted to this time of year, berries, grasses and seeds that would make up much of their diet in the fall. In this case, the early snowfall and some poorly secured trash resulted in a rare serendipitous sighting that almost made the mess worthwhile. Below are photos of a Sierra Nevada red fox! That’s right, a species that is considered near extinct in the Sierra Nevada.

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Photo by Michelle Portesi

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Now, I’ve never even seen a fox of any sort in the Sierra’s in all the years I’ve lived here, let alone a rare red fox. But my friend Michelle, who helps me with the blog, caught site of one right on Donner Pass Road at Donner Lake the evening of Halloween, foraging through an ill gotten trash bag. Fortunately she had a cell phone and snapped these few pictures before he scuttled off looking for more edible booty.

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Photo by Michelle Portesi

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For more information on this rare but beautiful creature (as one joke goes: They’re just dogs with bad P.R.), you can go to the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Nevada_red_fox

http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/FC_SierraNevadaWildlifeRisk/SierraNevadaRedFox.php

These animals are so rare, that the California Fish and Wildlife department does research to get an idea of their numbers and range, and asks you to report it if you’re lucky enough to see one yourself. (Michelle had no luck with the form on either Firefox or Explorer, so she e-mailed the department directly)

California Red Fox Survey

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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