Friday, 20 November 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears...oh my!!!

Okay - not quite but over the years my habit of traveling (relatively) slowly through the bush has allowed me some wonderful and cherished wildlife encounters! I have met up with deer, elk, moose, wolves, cougars (yup, treed 2 with a dog team many years ago), a fisher, beaver, porcupines, coyotes and more. But until today I had never seen a .... oh, let me tell the whole story!!

I added a brand new loop to a trail that I've used lots over the years. The dogs were enjoying the new scenery when I pulled them over next to a nice tamarack swamp for a water break.
Wifi was in lead and his head was darting around like a crazed man. Now that is actually not all that unusual for Wiff, but while I was watering the 3rd pair back he started screaming and lunging in his harness. I looked ahead but saw nothing. Wonder, Xena and a few others caught sight of whatever Wiff was seeing. I scanned the woods ahead with my feeble human eyes, but again saw nothing.

A big truck hauling an empty stock trailer rattled by. I waved. I figured whatever the dog's had seen would be sent packing by the noise. Another truck rumbled by.
Wifi continued to bark sporadically at the woods. I figured now it was just in his head and a few of the other dogs were just forgetting that Wifi has a very vivid imagination, thus buying into his delusions.

I packed up the water jug, took a few swigs of hot chocolate from my thermos, went back up front to take care of a tangle (not surprisingly, it was Wiff) and finally called the team back to action.

We hadn't moved 50 feet when something shot out of the woods and crossed the road about another 50 feet ahead of us - right where Wifi and the other dogs had been looking. I knew immediately that this was not a creature I had encountered before. My brain instantly spit out a name, but I was having trouble believing it.
When we passed the spot that it had casually loped into the woods, the dogs and I all scanned for it. I don't think they saw it again, I certainly didn't, but I felt sure it was still nearby watching. I glanced for tracks, but the frozen gravel road gave none up.

I spent most of the rest of my run questioning myself about what the critter was - trying to come up with other animals that might be similar enough to fool me, but could think of none that I couldn't dismiss. Whatever it was certainly was brave, as it had obviously sat on the edge of the woods watching us for quite awhile.

After getting home and getting the dogs all fed and tucked away I headed for the computer to do some searching. This video and a phone call later to our friend Roger, who knows just about everyone that wanders the woods around here, took away all doubt - I had seen a wolverine!!!

How cool is that?????? I have the BEST job in world!!! I'm fairly certain of that!!

And yes, our Wolverine (aka Wolvie) was with me and got to see his namesake! Never thought that would happen - but I think I'll hold off naming anyone Grizz!! While I have seen grizzlies in the wild before, I certainly don't care to run into one with a dog team!!!

A very thrilled,


Helen Hegener said...

Way cool telling of the tale, Karen! And what an exciting delight to run into one of those fellows! I've heard they are absolutely fearless, so I looked it up on the Wikipedia and sure enough: "The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times its size." Yikes!

Katerina said...

how cool is that?!
I totally agree with you, Karen - mushing dogs throughout the woods day by day, is the best job in the world!

Marilyn said...

WOW I hear those guys can be real nasty, what a sight.

The Thundering Herd said...

Totally cool. I guess Wifi just cried "Wolverine" too many times to be believed.

Husky Howllow said...

Not many ever get to see a Skunk Bear so I guess you are among an elite bunch. Just as well you and the dogs didn't get too well acquainted. Not only are they a rather ferocious animal, they also have the ability to skunk you same as the regular black & white kitty most of us know too well. I've been told that their spray makes a regular skunk smell like Chanel!

Husky Howllow

yukonmusher said...

we had one in a tree and passed under it. It just sat there and watch us go by, sure glad we went by after it was up the tree!
I have a fear of running into moose so sometimes I will put bear bells on the dogs or lines and this time I had them on, so he must have heard us coming :)

ElizabethMC said...

Wolverine sighting - how cool is that! You do have the best job in the world!

elli said...

Within the last couple of weeks, I caught a documentary showing that the wolverines are not quite as much of a 'loner' as previously believe. There were videos of a 3 generation group, and the g'ma was even allowing g'child to suckle ... how's that for a baby-sitter LOL