My Top 5 Animal Encounters

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by MLW20, Apr 26, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    I was asked by travel clothing company SCOTTEVEST/ SeV to write an article for their weekly Pocket Guide newsletter. I am happy to announce that this post will be featured there!

    My wife and I are both animal lovers, so when traveling we always look for opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitat. I've had many amazing experiences and thought creating a Top 5 list would be a lot of fun! Here are some of my favorite animal experiences from around the world.

    Check out the list HERE
     
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  2. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Very nice, but I must say that I encountered a black bear yesterday down the street from my house. I like encounters that don't entail traveling around the world. :)
     
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  3. MLW20
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    That is so awesome as long as the bear stays a safe distance!!!
    Where do you live?
     
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  4. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    I live just outside Asheville. I was in my car for this encounter. I have had them in my yard in this and my previous two houses. Closest I have been is about 12 feet -- I was in my doorway, bear was on the edge of my porch going after my bird feeder.
     
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  5. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Nice article.
    My encounters have not been as "Classic", but I have had a couple of interesting encounters.

    On Interstate 75, between Sarasota and Naples, I was driving along and one of the ugliest dogs I have ever seen crossed in front of my car. Upon closer inspection it turned out not to be a dog but a Florida Panther. (Nowadays there are fewer than 50, some say 20 left on the planet)

    In Lake Louise, Canada, we were leaving the resort and heading out to the Icefields Parkway. We came upon a "bear jam". The Mountie said to keep moving that the bear was a mama Grizzly and she could be nasty. So we stayed in the car and kept moving with the sloooooow traffic. All of the sudden mama Grizzly pops up out of the roadside ditch and looks in the car window at Mapwife. That is the closest to a Grizzly I want to be.

    In Hyder, Alaska, the National Forest Service has set up a Bear Watching area about 5 miles north of town. There, Grizzly and Black Bear can forage in the stream for Salmon and tourists (like me) can take pictures. Get to the site and there is NO fence separating us. The Ranger points out that it is an "all you can eat buffett" for the bears and they will not bother you as long as you don't go down to the stream or get between Mama and Cubs. The most astonishing thing is that when bears eat salmon, the salmon crunches!

    Those are my top three stories.
     
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  6. MLW20
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    Those are some pretty awesome stories! So the panther was that ugly??
    I need to see a bear in the wild eventually.
     
  7. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Panther looked like a greyhound with a cat's head. Considering that it was 80 or so miles from the "preserve" it possibly was sick or lost.


    And to see a bear in the wild, take the trip to Hyder. That was most impressive. Late July and August are the best times. We have also seen them in Juneau at Mendenhall Glacier.

    Hyder can be difficult to get to. But it was worth it.
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I saw a Florida Panther a few weeks ago at a this place:

    http://www.billieswamp.com/

    Not in the wild, but it pretty much looked like a California Mountain Lion (not that I have ever seen one of those in the wild, though they do roam around the hills of the SF Bay Area where I live).

    I have seen black bears a few times in and near Yosemite National Park. The last time we came upon a huge cluster of cars "parked" (more... abandoned) alongside and on the road and groups of people looking out over a nice green meadow with a black (*) bear grazing in the middle. Very much regretted that I didn't have my DSLR with me. A ranger arrived and got rather angry with some of the people trying to get close enough for an iPhone phone.

    (*) the bear had a brownish color that made it look more like a grizzly from the distance, but there aren't any left in CA.

    I had never even heard of Hyder. Seems to be accessible mostly by road from BC? I have bear watching on Kodiak Island on my to-do list.
     
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  9. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    I have a couple of brown bear stories from my years living in Alaska.

    1. Four of us went on a fly-in camping trip to Upper Russian Lake on the Kenai Peninsula; two two-person pup tents, pitched on a sandbar with the lake in front and a lagoon with a bazillion spawning red salmon behind us. (Fish were not in a biting mood this close to sex/death, so a bit of a bust on the fish front.) In the middle of the night I woke to hear the fish making a giant kerfuffle, then I heard heavy breathing and something gave my arm a mighty bump through the tent wall. (Of course, the 9mm and the shotgun with slugs were in the other tent. Duh.)

    More heavy breathing and then more fish noise, then silence, except for my heart pounding like a performance of Stomp. On emerging from the tent a couple hours later, we found paw prints the size of dinner plates all around the camp. I presume that with all the fish in the lagoon, Mr./Ms. Bruin wasn't especially hungry, only curious.

    2. I worked mainly on the Aleutian chain (lived in ANC and commuted) thus spent many a day/night/lifetime at Cold Bay, where mainline flights on Reeve Aleutian connected with charter and general aviation hops to other villages (including the two/three where I spent most of my time.) CDB is on the Alaska Peninsula, where the biggest brownies of them all live. During CDB layovers (which could sometimes last days) I would eat/stay at a bunkhouse/cafe run by Flying Tigers, who at the time would periodically land their heavies on Asia > Europe flights for fuel.

    So anyway I'm sitting drinking coffee and schmoozing with people at the cafe one morning, and we hear a terrible noise from the kitchen. The two Filipino cooks come blasting through the swinging door to the kitchen, eyes like saucers, and bolt out the front door, top speed. A second later this... head... comes through the door, and looks around. The rest of Mr./Ms. U. Arctos can't fit through the door, to his/her obvious frustration, what with the yummy humans staring at him/her just feet away. So he/she retreats back into the kitchen, where more banging and clanging ensues while the menu is inspected, then it goes quiet following the sound of the screen door to the outside giving its last squeak ever.

    We switched from coffee to something stronger, as I recall.
     
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  10. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    I'd have to say my top animal experiences were: 1) getting in the cage with a pet cheetah at a private farm in Namibia (and getting to give it its zebra leg for supper) and 2) seeing the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba.
     
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  11. KathInJax

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    These are great stories!

    I have a few:

    My mother and sister were driving in the mountains of NC on their way to VA. It was nighttime and they started to go through a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a flickering light. My sister was able to swerve the car as a black bull grazed the side of the car. The flickering light was the trailer carrying the bull and had caught on fire. The driver had tried to get the bull out of the trailer and the bull escaped. This was the days before cell phones, so my mother and sister stopped at the next exit to call the police to help the driver catch the bull.

    Jasper National Park - we ran into an herd of bighorn sheep on the road. My dad had the window rolled down. One sheep decided to investigate and came up to the car. My dad got the window rolled up in the nick of time and the sheep licked the window instead of the my dad.

    Maine - we did a driving tour from Boston to Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and back. All along, we expected to see moose, bears, and other wildlife. We did not have any luck as the weather was overcast, rainy and foggy. We searched for days. We decided to take one of the back ways from New Brunswick to Maine and my niece shouted "Moose". My sister slammed on the brakes of that minivan and we all tried not to startle it as we furiously took pictures.

    Alaska - whale watching - big whales, little boats - we never got too close, but it was still scary and exhilarating to see the size of the whales.

    St. Augustine - there was an fairly large (6' - 7') alligator in the pond nearby. They called animal control to catch the alligator and we got to watch them capture it. Once he got the alligator on the banks of the pond and something wrapped around the snout, he had to wrestle the alligator to secure the snout, tie up the legs and then put him on a flat bed truck.
     
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  12. MLW20
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    We got in a cage with cheetahs on a winery in Stellenbosch and at an animal sanctuary in De Wildt- both in S. Africa but were not given any animal legs to feed them! lol

    How was the polar bear viewing in Manitoba? I've been wanting to do this for a while now!
     
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  13. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Mapwife reminded me of yet another wildlife encounter we had on another Driving Trip to Southern Alberta and Southern BC. We had just crossed the border at the Sweetgrass Crossing (I think that is the name) and were traveling west toward Cardston, Alberta. We were the only car on the road since it was early morning. However the road was littered with the carcasses of many moles and other unidentified furry objects. The Avian carrion Collectors were hard at work getting the free lunch. Most would wait for us to pass. Suddenly a larger bird than the Turkey Vultures spied a deceased hare on the road. Started its swoop to pick it up. Instead here comes Mapcouple in a shiny car with a shiny chrome bumper. Hit the front headlight and goes rolling down the highway. I told Mapwife, "that was no Turkey Vulture". Stopped the car to see what damage the car had sustained. Nope, no damage. looked about 15 feet behind the car expecting to see a deceased bird. Nope, again. There was a rather pissed off Golden Eagle staring at me because I had interrupted his breakfast. He glared again and flew off. So I did not kill either the car or the Eagle, but my list of Animal Encounters had grown again.

    This strafing your car at 7AM will get you awake better than Espresso!

    Beautiful-Golden-Eagle-In-Flight-golden-eagles-29183845-1024-768.jpg
     
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  14. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    It was extremely impressive. I did it through the Churchill Northern Studies Center, which offered a program that included lectures on bear behavior, as well as excursions on the tundra vehicles, a helicopter flight, and a day in town. It was good value and I highly recommend it for anybody who likes bears.

    I have a travelogue at http://www.xenophilia.net/churchill/churchill.html
     
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  15. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Once again my neighbors in the clan Ursus Americanus clan have dueled with my bird feeder, and once again they have won:
    SDC10772 - Copy.JPG

    This time I got off fairly well as my bird feeder was not damaged at all and my pole was easily brought back to standing position. I have lost many feeders and poles to them in the past.
    Oh well, the birds will have to go elsewhere for their meals for a while................
     
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  16. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    This photo of a bear at my bird bear feeder was taken by my neighbor a couple years ago. I did not see this mornings culprit:
    bear-Memorial Day_at Bob'scropped.jpg
     
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