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A Compelling Need to Return

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The magic of the Clark Fork River Valley makes kids want to come home - except maybe when geese are in the yard, in the Warden's Words

I know I have made this observation before, but it is certainly something worth repeating and remembering. My son coming for a visit was the thing that got me thinking. Over the years most of us have seen our sons and daughters grow and leave. The usual reason is work or family; the overriding need to provide for one’s self or family. Sometimes we can become so wrapped up in our work, we forget the little things like our own health. Sometimes the place one has moved to is infinitely more exciting than the place one grew up.

In spite of any reason, many of our children have a compelling need to return to the Clark Fork Valley. It is almost like they need some nutrient from the soil found in this valley and nowhere else. Maybe this replenishment cleanses the mind or relaxes the soul. This sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel. This is really kind of weird. Maybe I need to go outside and stick my nose in the dirt. Anyway, the kids had a very nice visit, cleared out a few cobwebs, played in the water and my son burned his lily-white hide.

We still are experiencing a fair number of bear complaints in the Sandpoint and Priest River areas. But this is the time of year for Yogi to start heading up the hill because the huckleberries are coming on. Two weeks ago I did find my first, somewhat ripe, huckleberry. That first taste screwed up my face like the old guy in the bitter beer commercial. Yesterday evening I had to stop because I had never before seen such heavily laden bushes. The bushes were bending toward the ground from the weight of the berries. Of course, when I left, the bushes were sitting up a might straighter. These berries were big and juicy and still a little tart. Great for milkshakes or pancakes. From what I have seen, so far this year, the mid-drainage berries are plentiful and about ready to pick. Hopefully this will hold true just about everywhere so we won't have a giant influx of professional pickers, leaving the bears only a few berries to eat. It is time to plan for a family outing to your favorite spot and color your fingers and tongue.

I need to talk about another wildlife problem we have in this area. It only seems to affect those folks with grass lawns on the lakefront. Technically, this problem is called a depredation. In this case it is a goose depredation. Geese are grazers just like a herd of goats. Whenever they find a nice, green lawn they put out the word and invite all the relatives to the banquet. They will be glad to return, repeatedly. This is kind of nice because it will keep your lawn mowed, provide endless wildlife watching and be a source of endless amusement for your dog. However, it does seem to have one annoying little problem. For those folks who like to walk on their lawns, it is like walking on wet clay. For those who like to go barefoot, well??? What causes this problem can probably be attributed to several things. First, the F&G Department's mandate to grow geese for the hunters. It would seem we have done a pretty good job. Second is the fact we have people who feel the need to feed the geese, for whatever insane reason. These folks who feed the geese are doing so in a concentrated residential area, which tends to artificially hold the geese and, in turn, causes problems for the local residents. All of this then causes me problems. 

Are there solutions? People with dogs seem to have the best solution, as long as the dog is able to recognize its yard. Sometimes neighbors object. One family along Ellisport Bay has rigged up a sprinkler system to a motion detector. This works pretty well as long as you remember it’s there. Cracker shells and M-80’s will also work as long as you are there when the geese are feeding. Something that has had some luck is to put up some of the windsock-type eagles on long poles in strategic areas. Of course, they need wind to work. Another solution is to get the County Commissioners to draft an ordinance to stop the creation of nuisance animal problems. Another alternative would be to trap the geese when in molt, tag and move them someplace else. Folks, I am open to suggestions. If you have a solution that works for you, please share it with friends, neighbors and me. In the meantime, I will do some research and see if there is a sure-fire way to alleviate the problem.

I am running out of things to say so I should end this and get it to one of my bosses- the one with the tranquil sea in her name. The wife, another boss, informed me I need to attend a BBQ this weekend so I can meet my future in-laws. And I, being the ever-sensitive male, have given her a blank look and asked, why? Some of us just never learn.

If you should learn anything I hope it is to enjoy what we have, enjoy it with the family and to leave it better than when you found it. “JJ”

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Author info

JJ Scott JJ Scott was a Fish & Game warden for the state of Idaho, now retired

Tagged as:

bears, huckleberries, children, geese, The Wardens Words

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