Wildfire season is an annual event here in the Siskiyous. And through it, I have become adept in observing changes in wildlife behavior as a consequence.
Initially, one thinks of the destruction of trees, structures, and threat to civilized life. It is much more than that. Annually, hundreds of thousands of acres burn. Which means that habitat is equally destroyed. Which leaves all manner of things homeless, parched, and starving.
From year to year, it is a different story.
The dying raccoon who hung on for dear life on our front yard fence post.
The pair of bucks, who, for the last two years, abnormally show up and rest in the shade of our wood shed. (I put water out for them)
A quality they all share is a kind of disenfranchised bewilderment, and that is most difficult to witness.
One year, a mama black bear and her twin cubs showed up.
She and her babies climbed the tall sugar pine at the end of our property closest to the city limit. There, they stayed for over 24 hours. Sleeping, hanging from the highest branches. Marsupial and languid. A grunt or two. We didn't come close, and left them to be. We had family visiting at the time who preferred to stay indoors. My pregnant daughter-in-law, our Goldilocks, preferred doors and windows locked at all times. The family dog had to be kenneled.
These sightings are required to be reported to Fish and Game.
Reluctantly, we did so. Knowing that the bear was disoriented, and a new mom at that, concern that an intervention would only further the situation. As long as they were peaceful, so were we.
However, they were quite the spectacle! Word gets around in a small town, and before we knew it, people (in the safety of their cars and trucks) were circling around to get a peek of this most unusual sight. The circus had come to town. Relieved we were, after they spent the night, to find them quietly gone the next day.