Young wildlife doesn’t need your help

During a walk through the woods the other day I was surprised to see all the leaves out on the trees, wild flowers carpeting the forest floor and young wildlife scurrying about or chirping from their hiding places.

After all, isn’t it early in the year for all this? Then it dawned on me that it isn’t early May, but rather mid-June and all of these things should have been noticed weeks ago.

I thought the delayed onset of spring would pass quickly, but apparently it has not – it’s just been difficult to shift gears this spring and really start thinking about summertime activities.

To test this idea, simply place a bare foot into a stream or, if you dare, Lake Superior and see what the mid-June water feels like.

The coolness of Lake Superior won’t fade this summer either, according to a team of researchers partially funded by the University of Michigan.

What these researchers predict is because of the extensive ice cover on Superior last winter, the surface water temperatures on portions of the lake will be 6 degrees below normal by August, which usually is the most pleasant month to swim in the big lake. This would be the coldest the lake has been at that time since 1979.

These colder temperatures would lead to decreased evaporation, raising the level of Lake Superior by up to 10 inches, according to a report from the research team. The higher lake level – which is also dependent on the amount of precipitation received this year – would be welcomed after several years of below normal water levels on the Great Lakes, although I’d kind of like to have more pleasant swimming conditions come August.

Weather conditions could change drastically, though, and we could be enjoying a normal summer in no time. And while some of us may have been thrown off by the weird spring weather, there is a segment of northwoods dwellers that stays on schedule no matter what. These are the creatures of the woods, the young mammals, birds and other wildlife that share our forested habitats.

This came to mind when the two sandhill cranes in the photo that accompanies this column were spotted. They appeared as though they were a little nervous when I stopped my vehicle to snap a few photos, but didn’t rush away at all. Then one started walking down an old two-track road into the woods, as if to lead something away, as the other just stood and kept an eye on us. They were surrounded by grass tall enough to conceal crane chicks, so perhaps there was a young one or two traveling with their parents.

Often that’s the way it is – you see the older birds or mammals and not the young that are hiding, but sometimes it goes the other way. Several times I’ve come upon whitetail fawns curled up under a bush with no doe in sight, but she’s probably not far off. The mothers will leave their young, which have little scent and are spotted to blend in with their surroundings, in an effort to draw any predators away from the fawn.

The doe is probably nearby and just waiting for you to leave, which is what should be done in this type of situation. Don’t think you are helping out the fawn, or any other young wildlife, by picking it up and saving it from being an orphan.

When encountering young wildlife, just quietly walk away and take joy in the wonderful encounter and let nature continue on its course.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is dschneider@miningjournal.net.