Thank you Andy for this story. The topic urban/forest interface of wildlife and human living space and humans interacting. I live in such a place in NW Washington. I have a beautiful before and after example. Long ago, I moved into a 55 yo second growth doug fir grove and built a house in it , next is managed commercial forest tract, 50,000 acres. Now these trees are 109. The canopy has closed in and we are in the forest.

Early days, evenings, we would count racoons, opossom hanging out around our house. We were not feeding but at times a grossly obese racoon would waddle through. Seriously, I think folks were trapping and moving these animals from more urban other side of Lake Whatcom to the DNR logging road nearby..

This has all changed because of changing regulations and our predators have recovered, hunting bear and cougar with dogs has been banned. We would often, many times each year, see/ hear hunting parties, see/help rescue lost dogs. Then, when hunting with dogs was stopped, also trapping, the predators returned to our valley and are providing their ecological services.

Our valley, Squallicum, a city watershed now has a family of Cougar. In spring a Black Bear and her cubs come through in perfect timing with ripening native berries. The Oppossum kits, in our game cam most of the winter suddenly dissapear early spring when cougar passes through. Up the road a log/wood stump pile house, there since 1983, now houses coyotes and other wildlife. Very handsome animals, looking groomed like show pets.

Iv'e come to think about our urban/forest interface as an ecological niche in itself. The wildlife is attracted, the predators, because of the opportunities are attracted and now a dog or a cat free ranging is short lived. Even now, neighbbors are still adapting to this change. Don't feed the wildlife they say but that is what they are doing.

The bears without the hunters and the dogs they have now multiplied and discovered nearby trailer court garbage cans. Last summer, a sow black bear and her cub were working the Cascade Oregon grape berries in the forest understory here everywhere.

Olsen Creek logging road is used by local people for hiking and biking. The bear and her cub that day were using the same road. A hiker confronted them and tried to shoo the cub off the trail. She attacked him with claws then retreated. The wounded hiker complained, it made the local news, and as Washinngton Fish and Game explained to me afterwards they were compelled by policy to kill aggressive bears. This is so sad, I have been face to face with these bears, these are not aggressive animals.

My neighbors do not approve of my kitchen leftovers feeding station in the forest because of their lost pets. Myself I feel it is a privilege to be here watching. We see Bobcat here, and Fox. I've a game cam image of a local Coyotte carrying half a cat.

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I loved the alligator saga which reminded me of alligator sightings and gettings-away fast in Louisiana. And that pitiful, pitiful gator purse! I have seen its cousins in many a dusty. roadside store.

Also, I congratulate you on the paintings included lately--such a pleasure to see.

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Excellent story. I’ve never had an encounter with an alligator, but I’ve had a couple with crocodiles. What I found interesting from your photos is the golf courses. As you know, golf has consumed a great deal of prime land, including a lot in wetlands, prime alligator habitat. I hope that the decline of golf continues and at least some of that land can be restored as natural habitat.

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