On August 16, 2023

Mountain Meditation: Wildlife sightings and signs, part 2: Canada lynx, bellowing moose and Mr. Coyote liven up our woods

 

A Spirit Animal may appear to bring a message to help guide you through difficulties and challenging times. Whatever animal calls or shows up has insights and gifts to share through its strengths.

The rarest sighting I have experienced during my 65 years in Vermont was the Canada lynx kitten who hid in our rock wall while her mom hunted nearby. We mistook their cries for birds that abound here ‘til we spotted the tiny creature. Its silver-grey mottled coat, pointed ears and stubby tail could not be mistaken. Through the process of elimination, from Maine Coon cat to Eastern bobcat, we identified the species, which I reported to Vermont Fish and Wildlife. 

Canada lynx is a rare sighting in Vermont.

The night before we headed to Florida, a few months after first spotting the lynx, it loped again across the road in our headlights—quite a bit taller and longer. We took it as “thank you” and “goodbye.” I wrote my first column for The Mountain Times about the experience we’ll always treasure.

The lynx is powerful and mysterious. lynx is the knower of secrets in Egyptain culture, where it’s now believed the Sphinx is alLynx. Lynx is said to have the ability to be invisible and silently observe human falsehoods and victories. Listen to your higher self to gain the insights of the lynx!

The most bizarre sound I’ve ever heard was at 3 a.m. in Killington. It woke up our Black lab Luke and me. We looked at each other, puzzled and shocked, by its reverberating bellowing. The next day I learned our neighbors had watched a large male moose graze in their yard. We’ve spotted moose up Rt. 100, off River Road, in Maine and Yellowstone.

Moose nearly disappeared from Vermont around the turn of the 20th Century. Europeans began settling here in the 1700s when 95% of the land was forested. But by the late 1800s only 37% remained forested. Year-round hunting and the loss of wild habitat due to extensive deforestation (for farming and sheep grazing) led to the near extinction of moose in Vermont by the late 1800s. In the 1900s as forests grew back (to 80% of the land in 1980), moose migrated from Maine and New Hampshire, increasing their population here. Controlled moose hunting was introduced in 1993, but their greatest threat now (especially to calves) is tick infestation and brain worm, which affect reproduction and mortality. Warming temperatures and climate change are to blame as the moose population continues to drop (under 2,000 in 2018).

Even so, Moose represent tenacity and strength. Moose reminds us to work towards our goals through stillness, introspection, focus and determination. Its appearance is a sign of abundance and good fortune.

For a couple of years, I’ve missed hearing coyotes’ howls early morning and at dusk. I assumed they’d moved on until our friend Kay found a scruffy coyote at her back door. The following day one crossed our grass. Its magnificent full tail with dark ring and light tip definitely distinguished it.

A recent Killington Locals post lamented the noise of the coyote pack in the middle of the night. But it was explained the “sound dog” cries create the “beau geste” effect. The male and female calls are distorted by the environment where a couple coyotes sounds more like a pack due to an auditory illusion. Pups and other pairs may join in once they hear the barks and howls.

Coyote, the “trickster,” teaches us about ourselves through foolishness and laughter. When we take ourselves too seriously, Coyote reminds us to “lighten up”—not bad advice in these worrying times.

In fact, shortly after I submitted this column, I walked outside to discover a pile of  coyote  scat on our driveway. The column simply had to be updated to report this news! 

The other day a man in a truck passed me by then backed up. “A bear just crossed the road ahead. I thought I should warn you,” he thoughtfully said. 

“How big was it?” I asked him. 

“Medium sized,” he replied.“Bears lift my spirits, like a bear hugs. I’ve seen them so often I now believe Bear may be my spirit animal.”

Our Killington woods are alive with wildlife! It’s a blessing to live in Vermont. 

Which critter appears most in your life? Could it be your Spirit Animal?

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between Florida and Vermont.

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