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The reader who sent me this shot included just two words in the email subject line: “Silent death.”
Bobcats truly are efficient hunters, and this one seems to have been eating particularly well.
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Alligators in Your Backyard?
I was interested in alligator sightings within Virginia, and I was showered with emails reporting gators seen and in some cases even killed. Even the official, fully documented cases have been marching steadily north. There is little question that a grown alligator was documented only 5 miles from the Virginia border in 2011. Odds are that the species is now here in my home state. The question is how many of them have arrived and whether the spring temperatures are high enough to allow them to breed.
Thanks to climate change, the cold-blooded giants are lurching north.
By Jackson Landers
Off the top of your head, where would you say is the closest wild alligator to you? Quickly now—Googling the answer is cheating. Most people think of gators as creatures of Florida and perhaps Louisiana, not realizing that they are common to the west well into Texas. To the north, we may imagine that they stop somewhere around Disney World. But, in fact, they already range a long way up from Florida. And depending on where you live, global warming could be moving alligators into your backyard.
A few days ago I looked a wild alligator right in the eye from only a few yards away, and it stared right back at me. I felt a sense of communicating with something that was not only from a different world but from a different time. What we were communicating was mostly a mutual sense of wanting to eat each other, but that is beside the point. The thing that really matters was that I could have been peering back into the Jurassic Era through this animal that would not have looked out of place alongside an early dinosaur.
Some of the 200-million-year-old ancestors of modern alligators were very similar to the gators of today. These early archosaurs evolved in a warm world that allowed the cold-blooded creatures to expand across the land and shallow seas of its time.
Alligators are hemmed in to a narrower band of habitat today. The northernmost point of their range in the wild is traditionally thought to be in North Carolina, about a dozen miles from the border with Virginia. But it wouldn’t take much of a temperature shift to allow them to move north. In fact, they have probably already slunk into the Commonwealth.
Amatuer, I fished with the Dean of Agriculture of U Cal Davis a couple of years ago. He is an entomologist (VT) who said that a slight warming trend (tenths of a degree on average) over time, can lead to a large change in range (hundreds of miles) for insects. I don’t know why that wouldn’t be true for ‘gators as well. Best keep that little dog close to home!!
that little terror Schnauzer of mine is looking for a fight with a squirrel or rabbit, but a Gator? No way! With my legs in the water float tube fishing sometimes when things brush against your legs unexpectedly…
That wide eye look of Oh S@#$ comes into play! LOL!
Mark, Where is this picture taken at of the bobcat? There is rumor going around on Facebook that this cam shot was taken in Pa. Its hard for me to believe. Please tell
My recollection is this was in Rockbridge County (Va.). I’d have to look back through my archived emails. It’s Virginia, for sure.
Thank you Mark!
Mark, please check your archive e-mails for the bobcat photo. I posted it on FB 11-4-13 in Pa. Am trying to clear up a misunderstanding, Thanks….
Steve there was no reason to block me on Facebook. I was just trying to state facts. If it is your son’s photo then there is no misunderstanding.
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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 14:06:31 +0000
While growing up in rural Southern Oregon, Mark Taylor
developed a passion for the outdoors while he and his younger brother tagged along with their father on fishing,
hunting and camping adventures.
Graduating from Northwestern University in 1988, Taylor spent four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy based
in Norfolk before moving into journalism.
After five years writing about the military for a Norfolk-based publishing company, he became the outdoors
editor at The Roanoke Times in 1998. He lives in Roanoke with his wife and twin daughters.