Today I tackle the question "Where is a good place to see wild animals?"
It was yesterday's question on Plinky.com, a website whose sole purpose is to provide something for us bloggers to blog about -- never heard of it until I saw Solipsist's post, where he mentions me (blush!) when apparently dumbfounded with an answer to the wild animal question...
Everybody assumes that when you're in Alaska, you see wildlife all the time. In fact, many tourists are either too terrified to walk more than a few steps from their cars, fearing being ripped apart by a huge grizzly, or else they arrive, such as at my place of employment, with camera around neck, expecting or even demanding to see a big wildlife (moose or bear), figuring a sighting is guaranteed.
I received an email this summer from a German tourist who claimed that a bull moose crosses our parking lot every evening at 18:00 -- he wanted to know if that moose is still around during his upcoming visit. Earlier this summer, an RV-touring Swiss showed me a postcard (see picture on left) and said "I vant to fotograf a bear katchink lachs today." I had to tell her that these bears were photographed at the McNeill River Preserve, which is an expensive trip off the road system -- not in her (or our family's) budget.
I sometimes meet disappointed visitors such as one loud New Yorker who walked the whopping 1/2 mile to the Nature Center's viewing deck (it was the middle of a hot summer day) and demanded "I've been here 2 weeks and haven't seen any wildlife yet! -- where the hell can I see moose and bear?" When I suggested the zoo, he scoffed "I can go to the zoo back home!". I held my tongue, but was tempted to tell him "sorry, but our mechanical moose is currently out of order." Instead I patiently explained how dawn and dusk are better times for wildlife viewing...
The truth is that wildlife is shy, and that is a good thing! Even us locals don't see wildlife all that often, although I'm lucky to be able to say that I come across them at work occasionally. But it's not like I see them every day!
I can count on one hand the number of times that I've seen moose out of my kitchen windows, and I've lived here 10 years. I've seen black bears in my yard too, but again that's rare, and it usually means that somebody in the neighborhood left out garbage or grilled some awfully good-smelling salmon!
What is amazing is that we have moose and bear here in the first place! I leave you with a picture of a bull moose that I took this summer at our mailbox -- sure wish he'd show up with that German punctuality every day!
If you'd like to see a post with pictures I took of a moose re-arranging our lawn furniture, click here for a post I wrote last fall.