By Don Messersmith
“It’s a Zoo out there” is sometimes used to describe some human activity, but here on our campus a number of wild animals are wandering around as if we were also a zoo, or at least a wild animal park. Most obvious and largest are the whitetail deer, which are almost tame or at least not afraid of humans. I even have a doe that occasionally comes to my bird feeder for a snack.
Gray squirrels are perhaps the most common mammals on our campus, with even a few black morphs of this species. Rarely seen because of their nocturnal habits are flying squirrels that reside in the woods. Cottontail rabbits apparently breed somewhere in the woods around the perimeter of the campus, as do several other mammals. Foxes have had a den with pups on the other side of the small pond and are occasionally seen running across Gracefield Road, with at least one being killed on the road.
Raccoons and an occasional woodchuck have also been seen near Mallard Lake and elsewhere. An opossum has been reported at least once by a resident. Less desirable mammals are rats and mice, which have been seen or reported by residents. The least desirable creatures are the feral cats that roam the campus seeking birds and baby mammals to kill.
None of these wild animals should be fed by well-meaning, kindly residents. Human food is not good for wild animals. In addition, there is always the chance of being bitten or contracting a disease. It’s best just to admire them from afar.