Slow down to see some wildlife
About this time last year, I was talking to my neighbor Maureen Hyland about how I had never seen a bear in our subdivision. She politely listened until I finished and then explained she had had a bear on her front deck that morning. Life is just timing. Being in the right place at the right time. A bear and I have never met near my house.
I see two beautiful redtail hawks almost every night on the telephone poles by the mailboxes on the corner. They seem to like the late afternoon light. Or, maybe it is the higher amount of traffic on Highway 9 between Breckenridge and Frisco that time of the day. More cars. More roadkill. Less work. Hawks are not stupid.
From 1986 until 1994, I ran approximately four miles a day. One of my favorite runs was to go from my house, at the time in Dillon Valley, to the Roberts Tunnel intake on the Dillon Peninsula.
On that run, the timing was almost always right. I saw bears at least once a week and lots of fox and coyotes. I always thought the bear population in that part of the county was higher because of the proximity of the county landfills. As with the hawks, it is a food thing.
When Alex Chappel was the wildlife manager for this area, we had many reports of mountain lions near Silverthorne Elementary. Alex would always try to convince them they had seen a large house cat or a yellow dog.
I was running down Little Beaver Trail early in the morning when I saw one of Alex’s “large yellow dogs” lying on the road. The closer I got, the more the dog started to look like a cat. A very big cat. I slowed down and the mountain lion stood up and looked at me. I stopped and the cat ran across I-70 north toward Ptarmigan Mountain. I told Alex about it and he said I had seen a large yellow dog. Yeah, right, Alex.
I was running up Swan Mountain road one Sunday afternoon and saw the most beautiful nearly-white coyote coming down a ravine. Again I slowed down, we stared at each other for a few seconds, and he ran back into the woods. Neat experience.
Running in the woods in the winter you can almost always see the most beautiful pure white rabbits. If you are lucky, you might see a fox with a beautiful white coat. You have to look carefully. The white camouflage works perfectly.
Near Idaho Springs in the late 1980s, a young man was killed by a mountain lion. His name was Scott Carpenter and they named a bike path bridge for him on the west end of the twin tunnels on eastbound I-70.
The experts felt the mountain lion had mistaken the running young man for a deer. I run so slowly the mountain lions might mistake me for a very old man slowly moving down the trail. Another advantage of age.
Moving slowly and taking our time is the way to see and enjoy our wildlife. Screaming up and down Highway 9 at or above the speed limit will never give you time to see anything.
It is a matter of timing. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. It is about taking time to stop and smell the roses or to run like an old man in order to see our wildlife.
Gary Lindstrom is a Summit County commissioner and regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.
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