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Where We Live: Don’t mess with wild animals

Growing up on a farm in South Dakota we learned to respect all animals.

I recently saw a post on Facebook where a girl quickly runs up to a mounted police officer and slaps his horse on the rear. The horse kicked her faster than lighting right in the face. Her girlfriends all came running as she lay on the pavement in pain. The surprise was on her.

Run up to a 2,000 pound horse and shock it with a slap on the rear. You will quickly find out their hind leg will kick out and you will be seeing stars and I don’t mean Dwayne Johnson or Taylor Swift.

It always amazes me when people will venture up to wild animals and try to take a picture with them.

A headline in Newsweek a few months ago read “72-year-old woman is gored by a bison while trying to snap a picture.” The story said a Californian was camping near Yellowstone lake when she repeatedly approached a large bull buffalo to get a selfie. She was within 10 feet of the animal when she got gored by his huge horns.

All animals big or small, male or female, will give you a warning if they feel threatened and you are infringing on their territory. Large animals will paw the ground, snort, shake their heads up and down, bellow loudly and raise their tail.

Heed the warnings. You should not think you are a “buffalo whisperer” with these huge wild animals. You will probably make the headlines in tomorrow’s paper but not in a good way.

In 2019, near Old Faithful geyser in Wyoming, a group of 50 visitors gathered closely around a buffalo bull for about 20 minutes. They were taking pictures and making noise. The bull then charged the group and threw a 9-year-old girl a few feet into the air. The young girl only had bruises and bumps to tell in the end. Also hopefully a greater respect for wild animals.

All national parks have signs everywhere warning people not to feed or get within 25 feet of any wild animal for their own safety. You are the aggressor to them in their own habitat.

The animal that is recorded to kill more people than any other through a direct attack is a tiger. Lucky for us here in the North America they are not a large threat. I can’t help but think that if they did run wild people would still want to get up close for those beloved selfies? “Here kitty, kitty.”

Accidents will happen and animals will get mean.

Who can forget back in 2016 Cincinnati Zoo where a 3-year-old fell into a gorilla moat? We watched the news to see a 17-year-old male 450 pound gorilla drag the baby around in the water and slammed him against a wall. This went on for 10 minutes before zoo officials were able to shoot and kill the gorilla to save the little boy.

We have heard about unsuspecting people walking their dogs in the South near lakes and crocodiles and alligators will attack.

When you are in an animal’s territory you need to respect their grounds and be on the look out as best you can. No one wants to think they or their pet is going to be an alligator’s next meal.

Also, I saw a post where a boa constrictor snake attacked its owner when she opened its cage to give it food. For no apparent reason the snake bit the woman’s wrist and starts to tangle itself about her body and squeeze. Two men had to help her get the snake off her, all the while her wrist is dripping blood.

I was traumatized all day with just the thought of that.

When I was small the animal that petrified me the most was a skunk. They are good for farmers as they feed on large numbers of agriculture and garden pests. They are docile and liked to be left alone.

I can still see that one day in summer when I was helping in my mom’s garden and one came wondering out from under a cabbage plant. I could run pretty fast back in those days.

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals,” philosopher Immanuel Kant said.