Mon 22 Aug 2011
Monday morning I was watching several Juncos and Bushtits in the grass outside my kitchen window when I noticed some other little creatures scurrying around among them. At least three or four gophers were having a field day.
While it’s fun to watch gophers pop out of the ground, dart around like field mice, and then dive back down their holes, they can be a nuisance. For a couple of years I tried to cultivate a vegetable garden, and while I could keep the deer out, the gophers were unstoppable. More than once I noticed a carrot top shaking inexplicably only to then be pulled underground root first.
For me, gophers are merely an annoyance, but for West Marin ranchers, gopher tunnels are a major problem. Tomales rancher John Jensen this week told me that according to agricultural authorities, there are 50 to 250 gophers per acre around here.
The problem is that in heavy rains, hillsides riddled with gopher tunnels act like sponges, which can result in mudslides. In January 1995, gopher tunnels triggered a huge slide on Gary Thornton’s ranch in Tomales.
So I wasn’t at all upset by this bobcat’s hunting gophers outside my window three years ago.
In other wildlife news, the raccoon family which showed up on my deck in late July have now become nightly visitors. When the mother raccoon first brought the kits onto my deck (above), the youngsters had very little fear of me but kept looking around in puzzlement as to why they were there.
Mrs. Raccoon, of course, knew that my deck provides good hunting for bread and peanuts. Momma likes both, and the kits immediately took to honey-roasted peanuts. For awhile, however, the young showed no interest in bread, which was unfortunate because white bread is much cheaper than honey-roasted peanuts.
Eventually my girlfriend Lynn figured out the problem. The kits didn’t know how to eat a full slice of bread. Without picking up the bread on the deck, they would try to gnaw at it but would get nowhere. Lynn eventually started tearing the slices into small pieces, and the problem was solved. Their biggest problem now is getting our attention. Here Mrs. Raccoon and her three kits stand on a woodbox outside my dining-room window, hoping we will see them and put out food.
And what if Lynn and I are not to be seen when the raccoons look in the downstairs windows? Some of them have learned to climb onto the roof and peer in an upstairs window, much to the amusement of Lynn.
Several of my cat-owning friends have found gophers in their homes brought in as feline presents. Unpleasant but not worrisome. Other people I know have come home to discover a raccoon has found a way inside — typically through a cat door — and left their kitchens in shambles. More of a problem.
But I don’t know anyone who has ever found a bobcat in their house. In their hen house, yes, but not their own house. If you or anyone you know has had experience with Lynx rufus in your domicile, please send in a comment and tell us about it. It should make for a good story.
Afterward: As it turned out, two readers did have fascinating stories to tell about about bobcats — one in a house and one in a truck. The stories can be found by clicking on the comments section above.