We have an intern pastor at our church who grew up in the Lindstrom area and has been an Army chaplain for 30 some years. A few of our members had breakfast with him, and we were talking about how things have changed since his boyhood years in Lindstrom. All who met were older than him, and I am much older. Not only did we talk about the old days, but we also got on the subject of local wildlife and how their habits and habitat have changed.

The conversation began by someone saying years ago hunters would need to go up north to find deer because they were scarce around here. Now they are everywhere … in the hay, corn and soybean fields, in the orchards, gardens, and on roads, ditches, and too often, on the hoods of cars, much to the surprise of the car’s driver.

I’m 85 years old and in my youth, I never saw a wild turkey. I saw a program on TV where the DNR transplanted turkeys from up north and even from other states. The bird’s main diet was acorns from the oak trees. In our area they have plenty to eat like corn, oats, acorns, berries, and apples, and they love to forage in the garden. I for one no longer consider wild turkeys as wild. Not long ago I came across some of them standing on a side road. I had to stop because they wouldn’t move, so I honked my horn. A big Tom came over and started pecking at one of my tires but got tired of that and eventually walked off.

Years ago, you never saw an opossum and now they are the number two road kill animal next to the racoon. When we had outdoor cats, I found one had been eating with the cats all winter long. The saying “Playing Dead” is only partly true. When they are threatened, they actually faint dead away as a defense. Those that know say that the opossum came up here from the south, and now with our warmer winters, they can survive just fine. How they get to this area is another question but one theory is that they hitch a ride in large bales of hay.

Sandhill cranes, which at one time I’d only seen at the zoo or picture of one in a book, are now seen everywhere. A very frustrated woman I know had them eating all her tomatoes! They are especially obvious at harvest time when they eat to fatten up for their long journey south.

An old memory of mine growing up are the many bats flying around our yard light eating bugs. During the day they lived in our attic leaving their droppings behind. When I visit my old home place, I see bat droppings up in the old granary but I never see them flying around during summer nights.

When I was growing up, bluebirds and eagles were near extinction due to the pesticide DDT. Now they are protected and are much more abundant. However, some species of frogs, turtles and snakes are dwindling.

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