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Our Viewpoint: Living in the wild

One day last week, I got home to let my dog outside in the afternoon and in the field behind our house, a massive golden eagle was demolishing a turkey. I was taken aback because I didn’t understand what was happening at first and couldn’t tell what was out there. The predator was massive against the small “town turkey” and I was shocked at what I was seeing.

It caused quite a ruckus among the flock of 50 or so turkeys that was congregating in groups in the field. When the large eagle took off, it looked like a creature from a fantasy movie and it caused the turkeys to noisily run for cover.

That same day as I was telling a friend about the wild encounter, she told me she had watched a mountain lion cross Highway 200 just a few miles west of Thompson Falls. It didn’t do anything but run across the road, but it was still a shocking sight.

Though we are surrounded by mountains, it’s easy to forget how close we are to the wilderness. When the Clark Fork River was frozen over last month, there were a few eagles hanging out on the river behind the Ledger trying to peck at something that had fallen under the ice. It was amazing to watch the eagles interact. I remember being little and being fascinated when I would see wildlife. (I was also scared of deer until I could hunt because my brother and his best friend told me they were aliens and that’s why their eyes glowed, but we’ll save that for another time.) I haven’t changed much since I was a kid and still am in awe when I see an eagle or an elk or any sort of exciting wildlife. There are plenty of deer and elk in the town of Thompson Falls, but we live among a lot more species that some people in other parts of the country only get to see in zoos or wildlife preserves.

As we see more people move into Sanders County and larger tracts of land subdivided to make more homes, we also see a change in patterns of the wildlife. Growth happens, but we also have a responsibility to these species to help them stay wild. We should consider ourselves lucky that we see this wildlife and get to share this planet. We get too close sometimes and our paths will inevitably cross, but we should hold a respectful fear of what is wild and not overstep our boundaries.

— Annie Wooden


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