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Outdoors

  • Inside the Outdoors: The intersection of cars and wildlife: What happens if you hit an animal?

    The sun is just breaking over the mountain as you drive to work, and a deer springs heedlessly and unavoidably into your path.

    Later in the evening, the shadows are long across the road as dusk settles. As you crest the last hill before home, you are greeted with the sight of two elk standing innocently, but at their peril, in the road.

  • What’s in an idiom? Animals sprinkled through everyday language

    The images and sounds of animals are invisibly woven throughout human culture from cave paintings to social media. Animals are portrayed as the epitome of beauty, the embodiment of wilderness, the objects of our affections, and sources of food and entertainment.

    Making the rounds of social media might be an unlikely friendship between a hippo and a tortoise or a video about a New Zealand octopus taking photos of schoolchildren. A jaunty puppy out for a walk elicits so many smiles that it appears the sun just burst out from the clouds.

  • Seize the Prey: Looking for the raptor in nature’s hiding places

    Quietly biding their time behind nature’s curtain of leaves, needles and darkness perch the fierce birds of prey. These raptors were named for the Latin word, “rapere,” meaning “to seize.”

    Raptors incorporate exceptional weapons of hooked beaks, strong talons and extraordinary hearing to catch prey. There are almost 450 species of raptors, including falcons, osprey, hawks, eagles, vultures and owls.

  • Mountain lions: the cats with 40 names

    “In the dim glow, the queen cat passed like a yellow spectre between the scarred trunks.”
    “Yellow Eyes” by Rutherford Montgomery

    Who knew that the large tawny cat with the distinctive tail would win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records? Unbeknownst to the mountain lion, she has been anointed with more than 40 names, like puma, panther, catamount and cougar.

  • Bobcat, lynx or blynx?

    Occasionally, local social media light up with animal-related posts, like elk entwined in netting, lost-and-found pets, and an injured owlet, generating dozens of comments (hopefully all with happy endings).

    Recently, a thread appeared concerning the identification of a “bobcat or lynx.” As it turns out, discerning the difference between the two cats is a bit tricky. First, bobcats and lynx are both of genus “Lynx.”

  • On the Move: Be ready for winter sports

    As I write this it’s chilly and we had our first snow. The snow is almost gone, but thoughts of winter activity is going strong. I personally love to ski, trail run, hike and snowshoe high up in the mountains in winter. I’ve learned from years of being a trainer that my training program makes a big difference in making outdoor activities more enjoyable.

  • Don’t swat

    Sitting around a picnic table many years ago, I was fascinated by a single yellow jacket tenaciously chewing off bits of lunch meat, smaller than a grain of rice, taking flight and soon returning to leave another divot on the edge of the meat slice. What was she doing with all that bologna?

  • Do I stay or do I go now?

    Even seasoned mountain folks can lose their heads when coming face to face with wildlife. With such an assortment of animals at our doorsteps, close encounters require quick thinking. Do we “look big” or run away? Play dead or fight? How about making eye contact? Here is a rundown of what some experts have to say.

    Bats

  • Should Jeffco reconsider bear-protection ordinances?

    Many years ago, I took my dog into Chow Down, a pet store in Evergreen, for some shopping.  A strapping chocolate Lab puppy, Rontu was traumatized when his leash got tangled with a free-standing rack of pet supplies and pulled it down. No harm done, but the dog refused to enter Chow Down again.
    Imagine that Rontu’s first visit to Chow Down welcomed him, instead, with a delightful food court of strange and wonderful odors, filled to the brim with drool-worthy cuisine. The dog would think of that store as his favorite fast-food restaurant for the rest of his life.

  • Running between the raindrops: perspectives on the skunk

    Few animals are as reviled as the unassuming night dweller, the beautifully coiffed, yet largely invisible skunk. Mostly identified by the telltale odor, the small mammals are hard to spot alive because of their nocturnal habits and shadowy excursions. And yet, there exist glimmers of appreciation of the animal.