Please Don’t Feed the Wildlife

A couple of road trips ago I visited the state of Wyoming with the primary aim of seeing Devil’s Tower and then heading into Yellowstone National Park. When I arrived at Devil’s Tower I parked up the car and decided to go on one of the walking trails around the base of the tower. Having been brainwashed by the film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ I half expected to encounter some aliens on my trek round, or at least a secret governemnt base. As it was, the paths were near-deserted and, apart from a few individuals who were climbing the side of the tower itself, I seemed to be the only one there. The walk took just over an hour and, once I’d finished it, I dropped in on the visitor centre on the way back to the car. 

As soon as I got into the foyer of the visitor centre I realised why the paths had been so quiet. Apparently the site had recently been overrun by rattlesnakes and visitors were being advised not to go on any of the walking trails until the snakes moved on. I scanned back through my memory and didn’t think I’d heard much rattling on my walk round but it was a stark lesson that I had to remember that I was in a country where a lot of the wildlife was actually quite dangerous. I had to ensure that I checked visitor centres or information boards before going on walks in the future. 

 

Flash forward to yesterday as I was travelling through Georgia on my way back North. I had decided to stop off at a couple of the state parks en-route and the first one I came to had a large lake, several small rivers and swamps and an old canal system. I parked the car and picked up a walks leaflet from a handy wooden box on the side of a tree. There was a walk that went down the side of the lake, along one of the old canals and then back via a river path. The weather was sunny but not too hot so I set off on the walk. 

 

Here are some pictures showing the kind of territory I covered:

 

 

 

 

 

On the way round I heard calls from many birds that I didn’t recognise and there were several types of fancy heron wandering around on the edges of the lake. In the swamps and rivers there seemed to be lots of movement but I couldn’t make out from what. Numerous exotic insects and dragon flies came to investigate me but they all seemed to be of the flying-but-not-biting kind. Overall it was a very present walk.

 

I came back to where the car was parked from a slightly different direction. This seemed to be the way that you were supposed to set off on the walk as there were a number of large notice boards and some rest rooms. I had a glance at the notice board and my attention was immediately drawn to the sign below:

 

 

Ah yes. Alligators. This is America. And in America the wildlife may fancy you for its dinner. It was Wyoming all over again. I cast my mind back to all the movement I had seen in the swamps…could it have been that I came close to crashing and alligator mud party?

  

Perhaps even more interesting than the sign above was the one next to it on the board which proclaimed “Please do not feed the wildlife” in large blue letters. It occurred to me that, with alligators among that local wildlife, visitors may not have much choice in whether they end up feeding them or not!


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