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JENKINS: Could weird animal behavior be a sign of the apocalypse?

I've noticed that the wild things seem to be behaving a bit strangely these days. And no, I'm not talking about politicians. As far as I can tell, they're behaving the same way they've always behaved.

I mean actual wild animals, the four-footed kind, of which Gwinnett, despite rampant urbanization, still has a full complement and more, especially in our beautiful parks. I've spent a lot of time walking in those parks over the years, so I'm in a pretty good position to compare the way animals are acting now to the way they've acted in the past.

Take chipmunks, for instance. In four decades as a nature lover and outdoorsman, I've never caught more than a quick glimpse of a chipmunk, scurrying with lightning speed from one hiding place to another, cheeks full of nuts. In fact, the only chipmunks I've ever really gotten a good look at are Alvin, Simon and Theodore.

You might say that chipmunks are kind of like nature's lawyers, rarely seen except when they pop up to grasp at some prize, then swiftly disappearing again into their holes.

Until recently, that is, when I've started seeing them all the time. Chipmunks, I mean, not lawyers, thank goodness. Now they meander across the trail right in front of me, not even hurrying. Occasionally one will stop and squat on its haunches to consider me. That is NOT typical chipmunk behavior.

Sure, squirrels do it all the time. But even squirrels seem to have gotten bolder lately.

It used to be that if you startled one, it would dash off into the branches of some nearby tree. Now they move barely an arm's distance away, then watch me intently until I pass. I get the impression that if I were to lunge at one, instead of fleeing in panic, it might fly at my face.

And then there are deer. One of the great joys of nature walking is catching an occasional glimpse of a single deer, or better yet a doe with fawns, usually at a distance, perhaps in some sun-dappled glen 20 yards off the trail. Such an encounter used to be something of a prize; many long walks in the woods have yielded not a single sighting.

Now I see them every day, often four or five at a time, sometimes so close to the path that I have to change my trajectory. And they don't move. They just stand there, chomping their foliage, giving me that same appraising look I get from the squirrels.

Could it be that all of this odd animal behavior is somehow an omen? That maybe we're in for long winter? A double-dip recession? The end of the world? A violent election?

I don't know, but there is one thing I'd like to say to my furry friends: If Alvin were on the ballot, he'd probably get my vote.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.

Comments

1725parker 2 years, 5 months ago

My father-in-law called me from NC to report that a wild deer had walked up to him and allowed him to pet it before it moseyed back to the woods.

He assured me that: 1) he wasn't joking; 2) he was wide awake; and 3) he hadn't been imbibing.

Not sure it's an omen of anything. I think animals are just getting more used to having us encroaching upon them and maybe they can sense something about some of us. My FIL is the gentlest man in the world.

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sbrown 2 years, 4 months ago

I too have noticed the weird behavior. I've lived in my house 30 years and it was rare to see a chipmunk, I now have an investation! They have torn up every garden, including burrowing in my PLANTERS on the deck! And the squirrels in the parks practically walk up and kiss my dog on the nose (55 lbs) - they do not scamper away - we have to chase them away and in Mulberry a fawn walked right up nose to nose to my dog with her mother standing 10 feet away. The squirrel and chipmunk population isn't just fearless - its four fold what it used to be. Maybe because of leash laws? No dogs can chase them off? I don't know but if ANYONE knows how to get rid of chipmunks - help! I've tried moth balls, ammonia and uck ! coyote urine granuals - no luck - they are undermining the foundation of my home and have "titled" the A/C because of burrowing!

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