Wild Things! You Make My Heart Sing.


Here’s the tom who lives in our woodsy neighborhood with his harem.  Our house is surrounded on 3 sides by woods.  The few acres on 2 sides are ravine-ish, undeveloped, belong to the city.  We own a mere acre between the low spots.  This bit of woods is home to white-tail deer, gray and red fox, a passing coyote, a fleeting bobcat, nesting hawks, several resident owls, bats, raccoons, the usual small critters and a variety of lovely birds including Canada geese, ducks, turtles—you get the picture.  We live a hop and a skip from the Twin Cities, and I love being surrounded by wild things.  But I have to say, they don’t have much wild space.  The critters I named are adapting to life in close proximity to people.  But how well are we accommodating them?


I snapped these guys on Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.  There aren’t any truly free-roaming buffalo anymore.  We’re lucky this magnificent animal isn’t extinct.


I didn’t take this picture, but I have taken some like it during the drives we love to take along the Mississippi River.  We’re lucky these guys have come roaring back from near extinction.  Forty years ago you never saw an eagle in the Dakota skies.  Now they’re a common sight.  And what a sight!


My 10-year-old granddaughter will attend a week of camp this summer at Wolf Ridge on the shores of Lake Superior (Minnesota’s “up north”) this summer—she’s been awarded a full scholarship!  The gray wolf survived in the wild in only 2 states—Minnesota and Alaska—and it’s been removed from the federal threatened list, which means management has been turned over to the Minnesota DNR.  Hunters and trappers have their sights set on the first “harvest” in the near future, which is controversial.


The protection of wild horses is controversial, too.  I’ve written a good deal about this over the years.  I’m a horse lover.  I’ve also been a rancher—the right-behind-you-honey partner—so I understand why the coexistence between wilderness and agriculture can be dicey. 

I’ve been thinking about this quandry a lot lately.  Where can the wild things be?  It’s a problem manifesting itself all over the world, and I fear it’s a tragedy in the making.  What’s it like in your neighborhood?  How important is it to spare the world some wilderness, and where should it be?  Do human needs take precedence, and under what circumstances?  What do you think?

The Last Good Man - print

I’m celebrating the April birthday of both the aforementioned granddaughter (10th!) and the re-birthday of THE LAST GOOD MAN, available in trade paperback and e-book.   There’s a $5 Amazon gift certificate in store for one of our visitors who leaves a comment today.


About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in books, horses, Kathleen Eagle, prize, The Last Good Man, wild animals in the yard, wild horses, wilderness. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Wild Things! You Make My Heart Sing.

  1. Kathy Johnson says:

    I agree with you about leaving land for the wildlife. I am fortunate to live in Maryland where they do tend to do this and as a result I back to a small amount of county property that is the home of a herd of deer, foxes and rabbits. It is really quite nice.

    • There’s so much more being done than there was back when I was growing up. Back in the 50’s they couldn’t build houses fast enough, and rather than save mature trees, developers would clear cut huge tracts of land and put up “little boxes, and they all look just the same.” Remember that song anyone? Then Daddy had to plant little saplings. At least we’ve come to realize the value trees add to a house. Take the trees away and the animals go, too.

  2. Ellie says:

    A very interesting post. We live in a state with a low population, a great deal of land and people who value this highly. We live in the foothills which I enjoy greatly. I hope that this remains as is.

  3. Like you, I “get” that nature v farming struggle. Take either side…I can argue the other. I love see the wild deer but OMG, can they make a mess in my yard, not to mention they are overpopulating the region. We live on a lake and the deer use my yard as a freeway to get a drink, which I don’t mind, except for their poop treats the leave in the yard.
    But I love your pictures

  4. Leanne says:

    Beautiful pics Kathleen! We have deer, squirrels, bunnies and way too many geese. The deer are beautiful, but they do have to be hunted or they’ll get out of control. I live in suburbia, so we don’t have nearly as many “wild things”.

  5. Pearl says:

    Your setting sounds idyllic. I enjoy land, room and horizons that stretch forever and that is why I live where I do. Cities are claustrophobic and constricting. Loved your values and ideals.

  6. loisgreiman says:

    Ahhh Kathy, you know this is a topic that makes me crazy. I worry constantly about the wild things. We’re losing more than a 100 species a day. A HUNDRED! A DAY!! It doesn’t even seem possible, which means that the 100 plus we’re losing must seem inconsequencial to us…the insects…the microorganisms…but how will it impact the lives of the honey bee and how will the demise of the honey bee impact the food we produce and how will that impact the quality of our children’s children’s lives and …

    Whoops. I went on. Sorry. Let’s just ahhh, try to clean up our act.

    • No, no, Lois, do go on. We can’t talk up the threat to the bees enough. the loss of 100 a day is mind-boggling, and we have to recognize that this isn’t evolutionary attrition. We take way too much for granted these days.

      We don’t know half their names, but can’t you just see a choir made up of endangered life forms singing “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone”?

  7. flchen1 says:

    Gorgeous photos, Kathleen–thanks for reminding us about what we have and how to take better care of it so we don’t lose it! The world isn’t just for us…

    Happy 10th to your granddaughter, and happy re-release to you!

  8. catslady says:

    I’m on the side of the animals. I care for ferals/strays and in the process I feed raccoons, possums and whatever else wants to stop on by. I also have bird feeders (cats cannot get to them lol). I see no reason why we can’t treat all life with respect and I do judge people who don’t. Wonderful pictures.

  9. Virginia says:

    I have a birthday this month also, not really looking forward to it.

  10. librarypat says:

    Unfortunately we forget that we SHARE this earth with other creatures. Each creature occupies a special place on this earth and has a reason to be here. Man has so disrupted the balance of nature that species are struggling to survive in healthy numbers. We have eliminated or reduced the numbers of predators to reduce their competition with our interests. As a result, the deer population often increases to a level that damages the environment and leads to an unhealthy deer population. Natural predators take the sick and weak animals. We take the healthy, prime breeding stock, taking the best genes out of the gene pool. I have to shake my head when I listen to the complaints after a Rattlesnake Roundup. They go out and collect every rattler they can find and kill it. Months later they are complaining about the damage caused by the prairie dog and jack rabbit population increase. Well, DUH! You have eliminated one of their main means of population control of these creatures. Snakes really are one of our best friends. Without them, the vermin would take over. Too bad most people’s first reaction is to kill them.

    We need to remember that we have moved into their world. We loose something important is they no longer have a place to live their lives the way they should. There is a price for sharing the space, and we should be will to pay it.

    • My mantra for my kids and grandkids: Snakes are our friends. Spiders are our friends. Bats are our friends. (Love to watch them do their work at dusk.) Be still and let the bee be.

  11. librarypat says:

    Meant to sign up for follow-up comments.

  12. kylie brant says:

    I strongly feel that the wild things were here first 🙂 Either we co-exist peacefully or get the heck outta their backyard! My brother lives in Black Forest, CO and loses lots of cats and small dogs to mountain lions. I live in a small town that is sort of rural. On the bike path last year I shared the path with ten wild turkeys, LOL. They’re sloooow walkers 🙂 but I wasn’t about to pass them! And if anyone hasn’t tuned into the eagles in Decorah, IA (about 50 miles from me) they have new hatchlings and the live feed video is fascinating.

    • #1 granddaughter joined the bird watching club this spring (which means I have to drive her to school early) and they check in on the Eaglecam regularly. I do, too. We love eagles!

  13. Sharon Mitchell says:

    I live in a suburban area where we have hawks, opossums, skunks, and occasional raccoon and coyotes. My children grew up watching skunk families feed on things from our garden. (placed on the patio by the dining room window, so they could see clearly, thereby saving them, the garden and the skunks.) Unfortunately, the coyotes are a threat to small children, so they are removed (if possible) or destroyed. When we travel, we make sure the children (now grandchildren) see wildlife as they should be seen – free. Thank heaven that there are still places where that is possible, like National Parks and nature conservation areas. Some children never get to see a hawk in flight, bear cubs at play or a mustang racing across the land. We must be more careful to preserve these wonders for future generations.

  14. diane says:

    Exploring, having a camp experience during the summer for children and taking time for hikes in the outdoors is so inspiring and healthy. Living at the edge of town is quiet and preferable. Great photos.

  15. Na S. says:

    Wild things make my heart sing too, although up close and personal can be too scary for me. It depends on the creature. In my area there are coyotes and bears. For the most part they are harmless more of a nuisance only because we are inching our way into their areas and leaving gargabe unprotected. Otherwise, they keep to themselves and are quite a sight when spotted. That’s not the view from my backyard though. Raccoons are more typical here 🙂

  16. loisgreiman says:

    So nice to see so many earth friendly comments. Somehow we have to translate that to legislature that favors air quality, clean water, lower petro use, and non-aggressive housing. The last 20 years have been the warmest on record. 2011 is the hottest single year EVER. We have to all do whatever we can to reverse the cycle for future generations. I don’t want my grandchildren blaming me for their lack of everything we took for granted.

  17. Shannon says:

    In my area we have a lot of deer, red foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and opossums. Most of the time they are just nuisances – deer eating floors, darting our in traffic, getting into garbage, etc. There have even been years when the city would kill off some animals because of “overcrowding.” I think it is sad that the animals can’t live where they used to and we just push them out. I mean we take the trees away so they can’t hide anymore so then they are out in the open or have to look for the next wooded area – from where we will soon chase them again… I don’t think there is an easy solution to it really.

  18. Nicole Cloutier says:

    We need to be careful about what we do. Every species is important and when we try to control their existence, it doesn’t take long to create an imbalance. Where I leave there are many hills around us so we can see deers, turkeys and coyotes often. There is also many kind of hawks around here, I like to see them. Something I have never seen in the wild that I would love is horses. I love horses.

  19. barbed1951 says:

    I live in Central Florida, and the only wild things I’m not too fond of are the alligators, which fortunately, I haven’t experience up close and personal. I have lots of squirrels, lizards, frogs, a few snakes and all kinds of birds that I encounter daily, but pretty much it for the wild life around my neighborhood. I do feel that there should be space enough for all of us to exist on this earth, the wild creatures didn’t ask for us to cut down trees and put in pavement over their homes.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  20. MaryC says:

    I believe that all living things are connected and that the loss of any species diminishes us.

  21. laurieg72 says:

    In Wisconsin I live in the country . We see a lot of deer, squirrels, racoons and an occaional black bear or a fox. I live within walking distance to a wild game farm with elk, fallow deer and white tail deer.

    In Florida I’ve seen alligators, bobcats and snakes! Lots of pelicans, hurons etc

  22. I grew up in the Glen Lake area of Minnetonka, riding my horses all over that part of the county. Just down County Road 4, the houses gave way to corn fields and pastures all the way to the river and Shakopee, when I was a kid. Now, the entire area–and far, far in every direction, there’s a sea of houses and new communities. When driving around the western suburbs of the Twin Cities I feel as if I’m on another planet, because it has changed so much. I’m so glad to be where I am now, out in the country, listening to coyotes howl at night, watching deer cavort out in our horse pasture. I just wish the raccoons and possums would stay out of our barn. 🙂

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