It might be my imagination, but I think there is more wildlife in and around La Crosse this summer than in other recent years. I’ve been seeing more groundhogs and beavers. My yard has chipmunks and red squirrels, two species that show up only every third or fourth year. Last week I sat in a friend’s backyard and watched a pair of fox kits crawl out from under a storage shed and chase each other around the lawn. I don’t remember ever seeing young foxes before. 

The roadways on my bike route have more “lost” turtles than in past summers. Females looking for a place to lay their eggs might know exactly where they are, but they often look disoriented to me. Many of them definitely get themselves run over by cars. When I see a turtle walking parallel the roadway or just sitting in the street, I usually pick her up and move her off the pavement. Yesterday I found one so deep into a residential neighborhood that I decided to take her nearer to water, even though I was on my bicycle. When I pick turtles up, they sometimes pull into their shells and sit quietly. Just as often they flail with their legs in an attempt to push off from whatever is holding them. This one was flailing. I rode my bike for a half mile, then pulled into the parking lot of the Green Island boat ramp with the turtle in my left hand. As I exited the blacktop onto what I mistakenly thought was hard ground, my front tire sunk into soft sand, and I went over sideways. Not wanting to hurt the creature I was trying to help, I held her aloft while I fell and landed hard on my right shoulder. Today my shoulder aches, and I have concluded I am too old to be sacrificing my body for turtles.  

Last weekend Clare, Manyu, and I walked Jack through the La Crosse River Marsh. We followed the same route as the one I take on my daily bike ride, so I knew floodwaters had forced most waterfowl off their nests – and at least a half dozen Canada goose families had taken up residence on the elevated hiking/biking trail. When I biked past these families only a day earlier, the adult geese didn’t like it, and they confronted me as I approached. This made me worry about walking Jack on the same trail. Even before we started our walk, I told Clare and Manyu about the geese and said I might hand Jack’s leash off to one of them if I needed to step forward and back the geese up. My concern was unfounded. When I was on my bicycle ride, the geese held their ground and hissed at me from less than two feet away. When I came through with my pint-sized dog, the adults immediately directed their goslings off the trail and onto the water. Apparently geese know people can be intimidated, but consider it bad practice to use the same strategy on even the smallest of dogs. Summers in La Crosse are fantastic. 

Steven Simpson