While working on a video production in gorgeous Hilton Head, South Carolina, a few years ago, I happened upon this sign. It was posted between the gardens of two very nice homes in a greener-than-green suburb laced with creeks, lagoons and velvety golf fairways. What made me think of this photo was anticipating spring’s return of wildlife in our Southern Ontario gardens.
North of the 49th parallel, we suburbanites needn’t worry too much about coming nose to nose with a gator. I count this as a good thing. But as the weather warms, we’ll once again try to live in harmony with skunks, racoons, foxes, and coyotes, along with their cute offspring. I say ‘try’ because sometimes miscommunications can happen between us and them. When that occurs, it’s good to remember the golden rules of four-legged wildlife etiquette:
1. Don’t feed them.
2. Don’t touch them.
3. Delay blocking a suspected inhabited burrow or shelter until the fall to avoid trapping animals and their offspring. But do an inspection of your house and garden every spring to identify potential shelters and block them.
My greater concern, however, is Canada Geese. Just watching a flock of them lumbering down a street (are they still a flock at that point or are they a herd?) reminds you that birds and alligators are actually related. Between the traffic jams and the amount of you-know-what they leave behind all over lawns and sidewalks, it’s a wonder there hasn’t yet been a headline about a gardener/goose face-off.
On the other hand, the American alligator of Hilton Head can grow over 13 feet in length. Just think of the mess they’d leave behind on your front lawn. But if you ever see one in Southern Ontario, don’t feed or harass it. Just take a video, post it to YouTube, and RUN!