Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food Chain

Intellectually I know that all the wild animals we catch glimpses of have to eat. We love to see that elusive flash of red fox fur at the edge of the clearing, or the lean, lumbering black figure of the bear passing through the yard. But I’ve now decided that I don’t really need the details of their diet. Sometimes, to use a cliché, it’s just too much information.
Last month I was driving home the back way, through Muskoka to Ilfracombe and up Stisted Road. Going fairly slowly I got a clear look at a healthy, large fox standing his ground at the side of the road, lunch hanging out of his mouth. Clenched firmly between his jaws was a bloody newborn fawn. It hung limply down each side of the fox; its fur was delicately spotted, its limbs short and bony, and its head still elongated, an unfamiliar sort of prehistoric profile, with the bones of its skull close together and its snout raised and lengthened. Like a human baby, its head was large in proportion to the rest of its frame. That fox didn’t move a muscle until I’d passed and then I saw it move back out onto the shoulder of the road, trotting purposefully south.
Yesterday I found out what the local bears have been eating. Walking on the highway as I do every morning I spotted a large bear dropping. It was sort of disgusting, very big and with a grey liquid sheen to it. Then as I was approaching I saw that Barney, as we have called our local black bear, had had to squat twice to finish his business. In the second, smaller mound there were two perfectly formed, unchewed and undigested, bunny ears. They were still attached to each other with a bit of skin and skull.
I’m happy to know the food chain exists and that all the animals are doing well this year. I just don’t feel the need to view the individual links. What can I say? Yuck.

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