This list includes only those found in the "wild" here at Isanti Pinestead. It does not include any domesticated animals we may bring in for the Christmas season.
|We have seen only one black bear (in the spring of 2010). We think it was a male as it was in May and there were no cubs with it. It had been at the neighbors bird feeder and she called us when it headed into our trees. It came up a front row and stopped at the edge of the Blue Spruce field in front of the buildings. This photo was taken across the parking area at a distance of about 100 feet. It then ran across the parking lot, ran around behind the animal barn, crossed the creek and disappeared into a corn field on our south property line.|
Our main experience with the Coyotes has been auditory, not visual. We can't recall ever seeing them, but on numerous occasions we have heard them at night. There must be a good sized pack in the neighborhood as they make quite a racket as they pass through.
We have seen deer many times, but never stopped to take a picture of them. Now that a photo is high on our list--where are they? We are fortunate in that we don't have a major problem with deer. Some of the tree farms further north have had to put up eight foot fences to keep them out. Deer are natural grazers and don't feast on just one tree, but will walk around and take sample bites out of numerous trees. Then you'll come at Christmas and say "this would be the perfect tree except for that hole." The deer tend to leave the Spruce alone, but view Fraser Fir as dinner and White Pine as dessert.
Several times we have caught a Red Fox in our headlights as we return to the farm late at night. It is usually as we are driving in on the main lane. On returning one evening we saw one near the barn, the next morning a chicken was gone. Feathers remained. Circumstantial evidence? Hardly. Red Fox will enlarge a woodchuck hole to roughly eight inches in diameter to make itself a den. What happens to the Woodchuck? We don't know. After this fox moved in we noticed that most of the Striped Gophers and Cottontail Rabbits soon disappeared. We believe that the fox eventually moved on, but return a couple of years later after the small animals that are the bulk of their food supply have reestablished themselves.
This spring (2011) the fox must have decided that the easy prey was gone and turned their attention to the pocket gophers - with disastrous results. They must listen for gopher movement underground and then start digging. Of course the gopher moves and then they start another dig, and then another, and another. We have hundreds of holes about 6 inches wide and 12-18 inches deep. We are raking the dirt back in and packing it down, but we can't keep up. All this occurs at night and we have yet to see the fox. Just wish they would let us take care of the gophers ourselves.
The Pocket Gopher is not worthy of being the state animal. This lowly creature has probably killed more of our trees than all other pests combined. They love to eat the roots of young trees. We have seen numerous instances where one will follow the trench of the tree planter and chew off the roots of several new seedlings at a time. The photo on the left shows seven seedlings all with their roots chewed off. We fight back with traps and poison, but it is hard to stay ahead of them.
Another problem we have with the Pocket Gopher are the gopher mounds that seem to appear out of nowhere. Some we rake smooth, some we mow level (there go another set of mower blades), and some just get away from us, but then leave the ground bumpy. The worse one's are those that materialize underneath tree branches. We know what it's doing down there, but it is hard to get at it.
These little guys are quite numerous, we see their golf ball sized holes everywhere. Years ago when we had the pumpkin patch, we planted a couple of acres of pumpkins. The next morning many of the seeds were laying on top of the ground. On closer examination, each had been nibbled open along one edge and the kernel extracted. One guess who the culprit was. The photo of an animal watching us on the prior page was a Chipmunk.
We can always tell where the moles are as their tunnels are close enough to the surface to leave a "bump" on the ground that may zig zag for quite a few yards. We never see them on the surface, but some years back Scout did some fast digging and caught one. They are not what you would call cute.
We have always referred to them as Field Mice. They can be a problem for us over the winter. They move around under the snow and feed on the bark of the younger trees. If they girdle the tree, they can kill it. Just as with rabbits our best defense is to encourage their natural predators by keeping the fields as clean as possible.
We have these guys as well, although sometimes we don't want to admit it when some of the aunts and granddaughters are visiting. Just as in the city, they are a nuisance in the fall when they want inside (they cannot survive a winter outside). It's really hard to keep them out of the equipment shed, but our cat does help out occasionally (if he feels like it).
We have seen Otter only once. One spring three were seen swimming in our pond and creek. Our little creek, which is usually dry from mid-June until the following April, does eventually drain into the Rum River so they probably followed the creek up from the river.
You know what they can do in your garden. think of the fun they can have in a tree farm. During the winter they can feed on the bark and lower branches of trees, particularly the younger, more tender trees, and they can kill them if they completely girdle the stem. Our best defense is to help their natural predators (chicken killing fox, you're forgiven) by a through mowing of the tree fields each fall to eliminate some of the cover they depend on.
We don't have a picture of a Skunk and we're not sure we want to get close enough to try (hmm... justification to buy a larger telephoto lens?). They are around. We get a whiff of one every so often and we see their scant on top of gopher mounds as they mark their territory. One night we heard a noise by the door, turned on the porch light, and watched one eating out of the cat's dish. Another time Greg's dog, Scout, learned about them the hard way. We also had them start to make a den under the building slab; after a couple of flushes with a garden hose they got the message and moved on to a friendlier neighborhood. This picture shows clear evidence of a skunk rooting around in a grassy area looking for grubs. We caught it in the headlights late one evening, but never see it during the day.
We hardly ever see Gray Squirrels, except in our oak woods. However, they apparently roam all over our fields in the fall because every spring hundreds of small oak trees sprout. The squirrels like to bury the acorn just under the outer edge of the bottom branches of our trees. They do that purposefully to make it harder for us to mow off the resulting oak seedlings.
As we were cleaning out the barn in preparation for getting goats for the Christmas season we came across this dead Weasel. Don't know how it died. Maybe just just from natural causes as there was no sign of fighting. There was straw in the barn, but no food of any kind. However, it should have been able to find food on its own. This would have been an even better find in the winter when it would have been pure white except for the black on it's tail. Note the sharp pointed teeth. Weasels are small, but vicious animals.
We don't have many Woodchucks, maybe one or two a year, but they can make a mess. Their hole is about eight inches wide. We refill the hole and that must discourage them as they are gone just as mysteriously as they came. Refilling the holes is a priority in the fall as someone could easily break an ankle in one. We don't have a picture of this occupant -- yet.