Life in Raymond presents a cornucopia of opportunities to connect one-on-one with nature. Despite the proximity to a large city like Portland, the Lakes Region remains an oasis for wildlife and those who appreciate it.
|Living in a rural area leads to many |
encounters with wildlife such as this deer,
which was a backyard visitor recently
at a home in Raymond.
PHOTO BY KENDRA RAYMOND
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s bulletin, “Living with Wildlife” provides these reminders: watch wildlife from a distance, keep garbage receptacles sealed, repair entry points on buildings and practice responsible pet ownership.
IFW recommends “conflict resolution” during encounters with wildlife on your property. While it is certainly fine to observe wild animals, experts encourage them to move on to another area.
Many homeowners are nervous about bears visiting their yard and Amber Roth, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine, has spent time as a nuisance wildlife specialist.
“I have never had a bad bear encounter,” Roth said. “If you have a bear in your yard, just enjoy it.”
During the winter bears are in hibernation, but once the weather warms up, they can move toward populated areas, which can be a problem. She says they are “just doing their thing” and should not be feared. Roth recommends eliminating things that attract bears into your yard such as trash, bird feeders, pet food and compost.
If you do come across a bear, Roth says they are generally wary of people. If you knock on a window or yell, the bear should run away quickly. A mother bear with cubs may act a bit differently. In this case, it is important to remove yourself from the situation and stay away from the cubs.
“If you care, leave them there” is a campaign developed by wildlife professionals to educate the public about human interventions with wild animals.
Maine IFW has a pamphlet available that outlines various wildlife scenarios and how to proceed. It emphasizes the message; “In nearly all cases, young wild animals do not need to be saved. It may be difficult to do but resisting the urge to ‘help’ is the real act of kindness.”
Members of a Raymond community social media group report noticing foxes, deer, coyote, bobcat, fisher, moose, owl, turkeys, and porcupines on their property. Only a single report of a bear cub in a tree was mentioned. Most said the animals were just passing through and acted appropriately around humans.
One member observed an opossum near the road on Route 302 several times over the summer. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial in north America.
Roth says the opossums are moving northward, and their range depends on the severity of Maine winters. They are susceptible to frostbite due to their “naked” ears and tail.
Possums are omnivores and tend to take shelter under porches. They are harmless critters and are helpful in the yard eating ticks and other insects. If you encounter an opossum, it may hiss and play dead; this is alright.
According to Roth, “There is not much to worry about with an opossum.”
If you notice an animal acting abnormally, it is always best to contact your local game warden or animal control officer. These trained professionals have the skills to assess and deal with the problem.
Here’s a relevant poem:
The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Read more from Maine IFW at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/living-with-wildlife/index.html
Learn more about ‘If you care, leave them there’ at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/pdfs/IfUCare2013.pdf
A great opossum fact sheet can be found at https://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/discover_history_explore_nature/nature_exploration/docs/opossum.pdf <