There's Always Been A Rich Abundance Of Wildlife In St. Elmo

Monday, December 9, 2019

It's really not unusual to see coyotes in St. Elmo. They've been venturing down from the mountains and elsewhere for decades and as far back as I can remember. Right along with raccoons and other critters, large and small. In fact this summer, being a very light sleeper, I was awaken by a sudden noise outside only to look outside and see five very large and healthy raccoons in  my front yard. One was limping as they headed north across the street, entering the storm ditch and on their way to who knows where.  

As for the smaller critters, snakes even, rodents-large and small, lizards, salamanders found swimming in the ditch (once one a fiery orange, even inside its mouth), turtles, frogs, wild turkeys, rabbits. They all have a special place in St. Elmo and can be seen at various times throughout the seasons.

The feral cats that once freely roamed in the community before the complainers had them chased off I guess, along with the people they had run off, helped to keep the smaller critter population under control, and possibly a few large ones too. One such cat who took up with some of the neighborhood children once positioned itself between a dog about to attack my two young sons at the time while walking. That cat was prepared to protect them from that dog. The dog actually took off after the cat hunched up its back and gave that warning sound cats give. No kidding. 

The wildlife pretty much try as much as possible to avoid all human contact. Who can blame them? Humans can be dangerous and unpredictable. 

It hasn't been at all unusual to go on a drive just below the Georgia state line heading into Flintstone and see a deer standing on the side of the road waiting for traffic to clear so it can cross. 

Heading south on Beulah a few years ago, right near the abandoned railroad tracks before you get to 56th and Beulah, I saw a very large and healthy groundhog rise up out of the small ditch near those tracks, look around while sniffing the air, then head on back into the slightly wooded area nearby. There use to be some pretty large catfish in the old creek heading around Burnt Mill Road where children sometimes fished at the bridge crossing into Georgia. Before it became polluted children would even go for a cool dip in the creek on scorching  summer hot days. 

I once went into the backyard to hang the bird feeder only to encounter a snake--I estimate he might have been a foot/ foot 1/2 long. He took off running one way and I went the other. Neither of us wanted anything to do with the other.  In his youth, my oldest son found a baby snake once, he thought he'd make a pet. Keeping it inside a seashell on the front porch and hiding it from, only for a neighbor to tell him the snake was a copperhead that was too young to strike. That snake would actually come from the shell when my son was around and wrap itself around his finger I was told. Glad the neighbor warned him in time before the snake became old enough to realize my son was not his mom or dad, but either the enemy, food or both. 

All in all, we're the trespassers onto their territory. I respect and honor the wildlife in the area, and most of the old timers have lived in sync with that wildlife for decades. Giving them their space. If you have pets, then keep them inside or safely secured if you must keep them outside  when you know wildlife is roaming. We've had cats, dogs and even a few pet chickens and rabbits over years with no problems.  If you have to go outside at night, carrying a high beamed flashlight with you. I guarantee you, unless the critter is sick, diseased or has had former contact with humans, they're going to try and get away from we humans asap. 

Brenda Washington
A 'devout' critter lover


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