EARTHFIRE STORIES

Human-Animal Connections
February 20, 2019

Giving a Bear a Pill—Or Trying To…

There comes a time in the course of events when you have to give a bear a pill---or in Major Bear’s case, eight of them, twice a day. You might think it was easy. With...

Coyote standing in tall grass

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- Willow the coyote was on her back screaming convincingly as Streak, a male, stood over her growling mightily, touching not a hair on her body. But she certainly was making him feel powerful! This was a regular occurrence in their coyote politics. The drama started very early in their relationship. Willow had been rescued from a den at a golf course and we were taking care of her in our cabin. After a couple of weeks young Streak arrived. In spite of the fact that the cabin was already her territory and he was smaller and younger, when he approached her for the first time, she looked at him, paused a moment, flipped on her back and submitted. In...

Wolf dog in the snow

-- Susan Eirich, PhD -- We got the phone call on a Wednesday. There was this wolf-like animal hanging around the yard of the caller. Stephanie lived in a rural subdivision and was worried about his future. She suspected he would eventually be shot if he was left free. He was young, perhaps 5-6 months old, and apparently very lonely. When she was in the house looking out she could see him approach her two little dogs, trying to play with them. Over time he bonded with them. He slept in the bushes near the house. He would bring toys into the yard- a ball he had found, sticks, inviting them to play. She quite fell in love with him. Eventually she could sit on the porch and he would still...

-- By Susan Eirich, PhD -- Sometimes, the veil between species is pierced and it is a very beautiful thing. Life’s strong, biologically driven sense of individual preservation, common to all species, gives way under extreme circumstances. As a last resort, we overcome our fear and ask for help when there is no other option left. One exquisitely touching example of this is in the accompanying video. Four wild young deer, exhausted by swimming across the icy waters of Stephens Passage off the coast of Alaska, see a boat, swim towards it and essentially ask for help from humans. Which is gladly given. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yhnEs_mzOo There are many such videos: The raven...

Grizzly bear in a stock tank with mountains in the background

One of the things we love about babies of any kind is the wide- eyed innocent wonderment at the world. It is an endearing, evocative quality and not what one would expect of a grizzly bear. But it is just what we need with one of our bears, Humble Bumble. How can that be? How is it that a full-grown grizzly bear has the sweetness and innocence of a young animal? I have written elsewhere about his learning disabilities, and what it implies about the innate similarities between all of us. How an egg terrified him, and when he got the courage to swat it, it broke, and then he was terrified all over again. How it took forever for him to dare to go into his first pool. How easily he is...

We brought Miss Clover the Badger and Streak the Coyote out into a field. They had never officially met before. After some experimental sniffing and digging, Miss Clover found a likely spot for a meal and started to dig for real, dirt flying up behind her like a little brown geyser. Streak stopped, watched what she was doing, and parked himself at what turned out to be a second entrance. A vole came shooting up seeking safety from the onslaught behind it. Streak pounced, caught it, held it in his mouth, walked around to Miss Clover and trotted up to her as she continued furiously digging, oblivious to the vole on the other end. Streak tossed it invitingly up in the air. She ignored it –...

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