Wild animals in unlikely places

We're still waiting to hear about the wolf found dead in Morris, Illinois.  It’s an odd occurrence, but one thing is for sure; it is one of many wild animals found in unlikely places.

Years ago when I worked for a living as a police officer I was directing traffic on Memorial Day out in front of Cedar Park Cemetery.  It’s a beautiful cemetery but it’s also a bit unusual.  The owners back then felt that a little bit of wildlife wondering the grounds was a peaceful and relaxing thing to see.

Cedar Park was known for having many deer wander through the cemetery.  Too you can see pheasants and if I remember correctly, even a peacock or two.

You have to realize that Cedar Park is located at 127th and Halsted. This cemetery is completely surrounded by residential homes.  Can you imagine how often persons were caught trying to hunt the deer or birds in this fenced-in park?

Once upon a time I passed up the Hollywood Casino in Joliet.  Along the parking lot I saw a gang of turkeys.  They had to be a dozen of toms and hens.   My wife and daughter were on the edge of Orland Park and saw a couple of turkeys crossing 159th Street at Will Cook Road.

I live within the corporate limits of Joliet and my cul-du-sac is surrounded by the town of New Lenox.  We use to have a red fox that lived in the treeline of my neighbor’s property.  It was on many occasions we’d see the fox laying on someone’s driveway, taking a nap in the warm sun.

Pheasant hunting in this area is nothing like it use to be 20 years ago.  There was a time when I had so many places to hunt in Cook County, I could not hit them all in one season.  Today, sure, there are subdivisions and strip malls that replaced the hunting fields, but the coyote population has not helped matters either.

We all know of the invasion of Asian Carp and how it all came about.  However several years ago big head carp were being found in City of Chicago lagoons and ponds.  With no connection to the Illinois River, the Calumet River, the Sanitary District Canal or the Chicago River, it seemed impossible for their existence to be in the lagoons.

Northern Illinois had confirmed reports of black bear sightings a year or so ago.  People talk about cougars being seen.  With all of the forest preserve property in Cook County the sighting of anything unusual would not surprise me.

I remember seeing white deer at Argon Laboratory near Lemont.  My wife has seen one at 153rd Street near 108th Avenue on Crystal Tree property many times.

When we see visit the Northwoods of Wisconsin and see a white deer or a bear, we’re wowed.   We feel like we’re lucky to be able to see such an unusual sight.  We get excited to see a bald eagle on a lake in Wisconsin but not so much so when there’s dozens upon dozens that winter on Plum Island across from Starved Rock State Park.

Wild animals can pop up anywhere.  Whether man has something to do with it or the animal just wandered across state or county lines, I say it’s something that just happens.  So when we drive down the road we not only need to watch out for pedestrians and other vehicles, but also for the wildlife that has no boundaries.

I recall an old joke about the kid who whistled while standing on a street corner.  A man asked him why he did that.  The kid said, “To keep the elephants away.”  The man then replied, “But there are no elephants around here.”  And the kid said, “See.  It works.”

Maybe that kid will be surprised at what he sees one day when it turns a corner.

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