Mountain lion prints
Recently, many towns have been visited by larger, more exotic animals that ignored the line separating nature and civilization. Take a look at some of Massachusetts residents’ latest encounters with wild animals.
In two separate incidents—one in late February and one this week—Winchester residents have reported spotting an animal described as a large cat. But in neither instance has the animal been confirmed as a mountain lion.
Now, Winchester police and state wildelife officials can’t agree on whether prints left behind at each scene belong to a mountain lion or a large dog.
Pictured: The apparent mountain lion paw prints discovered in Winchester. Next
Two black bear sightings were reported in Groton on March 23. Authorities suspect the same bear in both sightings. Experts say that a prolonged thaw has slightly delayed the bears’ emergence from hibernation – which explains why they might seem hungrier than usual. Watch video of one of the encounters here. Next
A Newton boy’s walk to school was interrupted in November 2013 when a deer burst out of a swampy area on Adeline Road and ran right into him.
The 17-year-old boy was not knocked down but not injured, said Newton police. The deer ran away following the collision.
“That was it,” said Newton Police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker. “The kid went on his way, and the deer went on his way or her way.”
Note: The attached photo is not of the offending deer. Next
A Brookline animal control officer was taken to the hospital in November 2013 after his vehicle rolled backwards and knocked him down while he was responding to a report of an aggressive turkey. Six months earlier, he had captured a rogue turkey that many residents had complained about.
Pictured: An animal services vehicle sits at the bottom of Short Street at Beacon Street Tuesday after police said it rolled backwards and knocked down the animal control officer Next
Dead shark at pub’s door
A dead shark was found lying in front of the Sea Dog Brew Pub in Nantucket in August 2013 and removed by the Department of Public Works.
It wasn’t clear who caught the shark or dropped it at the restaurant, but Nantucket police are looking into it, said the pub owner. He said two people were escorted out of the bar in separate incidents that previous night, but he wasn’t sure if either of those incidents was connected to the shark.
Shot through the head
A Canada goose that was shot through the head with an arrow in late July 2013 near Plymouth was released back into the wild a month later after a month of recovery.
“Some geese are very mild-mannered, but this guy was wild and didn’t seem to like people,” said the veterinarian who cared for the goose. “I suppose if you were shot through the head by a human, you would feel the same way.”
My deer friend
This deer was spotted in Weston grazing. In July 2012, Weston selectmen voted unanimously to allow bow hunting for deer on town-owned conservation land as a way to cull the town’s burgeoning deer population.
But recently, Weston Deer Friends asked selectmen to hold off deciding whether to renew the controlled deer hunt until after Town Meeting in May. This organization opposes the deer management program that opened five wooded areas to bow hunters.
The ban proposed by local anti-hunting group Weston Deer Friends would have ended the town’s year-old deer management program that last fall allowed 26 prescreened bow hunters to set up tree stands in five narrowly defined stretches of conservation land in a bid to reduce what officials consider to be an overpopulation of deer.
Turkey vultures were blamed for almost $10,000 worth of damage to the roof of a city school.
Officials said the vultures gathered on the roof of Hopewell Elementary and pecked on the rubber covering of the roof. At one time, there was 60 carrion-eatintg birds on the roof.
The birds are federally protected, which makes getting rid of them complicated.
Pictured: Turkey Vultures perched on a tree in Connecticut in 2011. Next
A Brookfield man was attacked in his garage by a bobcat. The man said all he heard was a hiss before he was pounced upon, then bitten in the face and clawed in the back. The man’s nephew was also attacked before the man and his wife pinned the bobcat down, shooting it.
State Environmental Police took the bobcat to have it tested for rabies, which they think is likely given its unusual behavior.
Pictured: A camera set up on the property of Walter Bickford in Sudbury Valley captured this image of a bobcat in 2004. Next
Deer caught on ice
Waltham firefighters rescued a deer stranded on the ice at the Cambridge Reservoir in early January 2013, but the animal was in such poor condition after it had to be euthanized.
Officials said they believe the female deer had been stranded on the ice for hours, possibly overnight, struggling.
Another deer was found previously on the ice when rescuers arrived, but it was already dead. Next
The wild animals seemed comfortable roaming the residential areas, and not all agree that a coyote is a ‘big bad wolf.’
Some bears can’t take a hint
There have been numerous spottings across the state of black bears, although it’s impossible to tell if it’s the same bear on the move or multiple ones. In June 2012, there were reports of a black bear ambling down by the Charles River in Needham. In the same month, a bear was spotted in a few yards around Norwood but was never caught.
One particularly adventurous bear spent weeks roaming Cape Cod, romping through cranberry bogs and backyards and spawning bear-themed T-shirts before being tranquilized in Wellfleet.
That 5-foot-tall black bear that had rambled around Cape Cod before being tranquilized and transported to Central Massachusetts made a return journey east two weeks later, ascending a tall backyard tree in Brookline before being brought down by another tranquilizer dart.
Officials took the bear farther west this time. It has not been back. Yet.
Rare lobster escapes the plate
Most lobsters that are sent to Jasper White’s Summer Shack restaurant end up on a plate next to a cup of drawn butter. But in May 2012, one special lobster was picked up by scientists from the New England Aquarium, destined for a research and educational center in Rhode Island.
A rare calico lobster—1 in 30 million, to be exact—known for its marbled color pattern was found in the 1,200-gallon lobster tank in White’s Cambridge restaurant.
Moose on the loose
In June 2012, Wellesley residents reported sightings of a 600-pound moose racing through backyards and across streets.
Wellesley Police worked with Environmental Police to track the moose for hours from the area of Reeds Pond, where the moose reportedly went swimming, to Lexington Road and Shirley Road.
The wild interloper managed to evade the authorities and the search was eventually called off. The large animal remains at large.
Pictured: A moose spotted in Wellesley on June 25. Next
Terrible terrorizing turkeys
Many turkey’s just didn’t give a honk about Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t unusual to find turkeys roaming front yards, backyards, and even crossing the street in various neighborhoods in Brookline, Newton and Cambridge. Many residents said there were too many sightings to count.
During a town hall meeting in December, Brookline Police said they have been seeing an increase in the number of calls reporting turkeys blocking streets, sidewalks and aggressively following humans.
“Longfellow,” a turkey that frequented Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge was shot and killed by Cambridge police after it charged after baby strollers and then attacked a cemetery employee.
Pictured: The male turkey the locals called ”Longfellow” who was shot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Next
In August 2012, just when Cape Cod beachgoers might have thought it was safe to go back in the water, a 12-foot shark was spotted dangerously close to shore in Wellfleet.
Pictured: Walter Szulc Jr., in kayak at left, looks back at the dorsal fin of an approaching shark at Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass. in Cape Cod on Saturday, July 7, 2012. An unidentified man in the foreground looks towards them. Next
Doe, a deer
While it may not be rare to spot deer in wooded areas across Massachusetts, this deer (pictured) nestled itself comfortably in the HOV lane on the Southeast Expressway.
State highway workers were preparing the zipper lane for the morning commute when they discovered the stranded fawn. The fawn was later turned over to environmental officials and released back into the wild.
Deer are all-too familiar in Weston, where the town has debated catching the animals and injecting them with contraception to limit the burgeoning population.
Owls and soccer don’t mix
A juvenile male great horned owl is examined at Tufts Wildlife Clinic a few hours before it was released back into the wild. This owl sustained an injured elbow after getting caught in a soccer net in Weston, and was brought to the clinic where it spent four weeks being treated before being released back into the wild. Next
Beavers have been back in full force in Wellesley. Department of Public Works employees have noticed some tree damage in the Longfellow Pond area and have ave strung mesh up around some of the other trees in the area to discourage the beavers from building dams and flooding area waterways.
Pictured: A beaver in a thick "willow" area in Yellowstone. Next
For centuries, Castle Island stood as a bulwark against foreign invaders. But in 2012, the popular South Boston park battled domestic intruders: rats.
“They’re overwhelming; it’s infested all over the island,” said Bill Spain, president of the Castle Island Association, a nonprofit historical preservation group. “It’s really bad at night. Someone is going to get attacked.”
Over in Downtown Crossing, officials recently passed out violation notices to property owners in an effort to crack down on infestation from rats, pigeons, and cockroaches.
While inspectors said they pay attention to Downtown Crossing throughout the year, they launched the inaugural seasonal blitz because they received complaints and have seen problems there in the past, and because of high traffic from shoppers and tourists.
Pictured: Rats spotted by Queensberry Street near Fenway. Next
Moths vs. flies
After every Thanksgiving, a mob of winter moths rise up from the dirt and swarm blizzard-style across New England.
“When I’m out at night driving, sometimes you’ll hit pockets of them, and it looks like it’s snowing,” said Janet Bowser, executive director of Wellesley’s Natural Resources Commission, which spends $20,000 spraying trees on town property each spring to keep them from being devoured by the moths.
In 2011, winter moths defoliated 89,000 acres of trees across the state, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. An early thaw followed by a cold snap killed many this spring, and their toll went down to about 10,000 acres.
Still, a crude estimate puts their numbers in the trillions, and growing; in the springtime, up to 100,000 caterpillars hatch on a tree and eat the leaves before they bud, leaving lacy skeletons.
This year, a team of researchers are importing special flies (pictured) that dine on winter moths from Canada. About 30,000 flies will be released in about 10 spots throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and coastal Maine.
A woman in Wellesley had an unexpected surprise after her trip home from visiting Italy. Police were called after the woman was stung in the foot by the stowaway-- a baby scorpion.
The arthropod was “quite agitated” after it was unpacked but did not have enough venom to seriously injure the woman.
Afterward, the baby scorpion was adopted by an animal behaviorist at Wellesley College. It was named “Piccolo.”
Pictured: The traveling scorpion’s new home. Next
The New England Wildlife Center rescued many exotic animals, including an opossum family from Braintree. The mother was found in a wall of a home and her 10 babies streamed into the center over the next few days. The babies and mom were all released back to the wild. Next
In July, a great horned owl, hatched in March and still sporting downy baby feathers on his head, swooped low across a Weston backyard and landed straight into a woven soccer net.
In the same month, Waltham police helped rescue a sick or injured hawk that was limping along the road.
Pictured: This Saw- whet Owl was in rough shape when he got to New England Wildlife Center. After intensive assist feeding, treatment for parasites, and treatment for sepsis, they were able to coordinate with Drumlin Farms (Mass Audubon) to place this now healthy baby in a foster nest to be raised by his new mom.
Submit your animal sighting
Pictured: The elusive bear in Brookline, estimated at about 200 pounds, male, young, found in a tree, foiled first attempt to tranquilize it. But he eventually succumbed to the tranquilizer, fell, and was removed from his Pine Street perch in Brookline in June. Back to the beginning
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