Wildersmith March 2

"Down a few hundred more from the '10-'11 count, the spiraling downward decline of moose is cause for considerable... concern"

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Finally, a little bit more winter along the Gunflint byway! February ended and March came in on somewhat lion-like terms.

It’s hard to tell whether the bashing and bantering about Old Man Winter being a wimp is the reason or not. But the past week has resembled more what the season is about than any time since 2010 and ’11.

In any event, the snow depth out this way, after being stable for the better part of a month, has shown a marked increase in the past 10 stanzas. Everyone is excited, needless to say, as the territory cannot get too much moisture, and more is always welcome for help in replenishing a dried-up wilderness landscape.

Last Sunday, with the quiet white dropping from the heavens, the wilderness world seemed completely at peace. An occasional gust from the northeast was all that broke the silence of tender flakes plummeting from thousands of feet aloft.

Wildersmith had several deer browsing in the yard that afternoon. Splendid is not enough to describe the wondrous effects of Mother Nature as she blanketed not only the ground, but also the backs of those peace-loving white tails. Nothing can match the magic of snow falling in the boreal forest!

Barring any major spike in the temps, it would appear that there will be plenty of cover for the sixth annual “color me pink” gala that’s now just a week away. So while the Old Man of the North is coloring us white for the time being, organizers of this effort on behalf of breast cancer research have to be smiling with relief.

Sad news broke last week when the MN DNR released the latest estimates on the northeast Minnesota/Cook County moose population. Down a few hundred more from the 2010-11 count, the spiraling downward decline is cause for considerable upward concern about what can be done to help these icons of the territory.

It seems researchers are pointing toward an accumulation of multiple possibilities. From a layperson’s view, it would seem fairly easy to start addressing possible causes by eliminating maybe a couple items that could be on that list.

Number one would be to place a moratorium on the hunting season. Shooting even one in this time of survival turmoil for the herd seems beyond reason. And number two would be to eliminate the obscene amounts of snow/ice melting chemicals placed on county roads. These applications not only draws them into vehicular harm’s way, but is also ingested in copious amounts (who knows what it’s doing to their innards). Just a couple thoughts!

On a happier note, two fishermen heading up the snowmobile trails to Northern Light Lake had the good fortune to come across four of these regal northwoods stalwarts. Guess there was a fine looking bull in the accompaniment of a younger bull and a cow with her calf. All were said to appear quite healthy.

Then on their return trip, more viewing luck came their way, as a quartet of lynx were spotted. Tracking single file, it appeared that the felines could well have been a family. This sighting adds to several that have been observed recently from Greenwood Lake clear up this way and on into Canada.

To top off their excursion, in between the critter sightings, they caught a lot of fish. This must be the fundamental example of a hat trick, northwoodsy, in the truest sense.

Keep an eye toward the night sky, as the full Ojibwe “crust on the snow moon” (Onaabani Giizis) will be growing into its pre-vernal glow by the time we meet next. Also known by another tribal name as the full “worm moon,” it will be our last of the lunar winter season, so get out and enjoy!

Keep on hangin’ on and savor the border country forest, adorned in white lace!

Airdate: March 2, 2012

Photo courtesy of Doug Brown via Flickr.


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