During 42 years in our present home, we’ve shared our property with a considerable variety of wild creatures.
One spring afternoon it was a handsome red fox male that trotted across the front yard, as businesslike as a letter carrier on his assigned rounds.
Another time, just before retiring, I looked down from the bedroom window and saw my bird dog, Rufus, on point between our patio and the neighbors’ fence.
From the back door I called him to come in for the night, but he didn’t respond. So I went out with a flashlight to see what had so riveted his attention.
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He and the opossum were both on point — quite stylish points, if I do say so — no more than six or eight inches between their noses. But an opossum has a mouth full of needle teeth. So to spare the dog a painful wounding, I called again, and this time he came in.
The brown bat that somehow found its way under the glass of our bathroom scale was plucked up in a washcloth and evicted without incident.
The current lodger is a tiny brown-furred beast, small enough to fit comfortably in a newborn infant’s first tiny shoe. My wife called me to see it burrowing in the grass.
I am all for protecting wildlife and have not been in the least troubled by any of these lesser intruders.
But according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, black bears are steadily expanding their range northward from Arkansas, with occasional sightings in parts of the Ozark hill country.
There also now is a confirmed, though thinly distributed, presence of cougars in the state.
Rodents and marsupials are one thing. But carnivores present problems of an altogether different order.
And any creature large enough to eat me that wanders onto our doorstep will soon discover that I’m fully armed.