Why I support organizations like the World Wildlife Fund is simply because I was surrounded by wildlife for so many years . I lived by myself in the Kananaskis Country of Alberta and later in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains for over twenty seven years. With my horses and cats to keep me company. Before arriving in Canada – from the United States – in 1976, I had lived in cities, mostly Europe. I also did not have the luxury of growing up in a “Huckleberry Finn kind of childhood”, like Monte Hummel, President Emeritus & Chair, Legacy Giving, World Wildlife Fund. On the contrary, when I was two years old, World War II had started in Europe, and our country during the bombardments in the years 1940 until 1945 was completely destroyed. Not the kind of childhood one likes to remember, but must. Being in Canada and reminded of the war regularly.

Not long ago I received a book from Monte Hummel titled Wintergreen, Reflections from Loon Lake. I did not even know where Look Lake is: “Loon Lake is a resort and vacation/retirement community off Highway 97 just north of Cache Creek in British Columbia, Canada.” In it, he wrote: “To Renata Sch., I hope this little book reminds you of an important place in your life.” [signed: Monte Hummel]. It sure does, to me always Alberta comes to mind, although since 2002 I have resided in British Columbia. The memories of Alberta and my animals are so strong that I even have ‘AB with a banner and the wild rose’ tattooed on my leg, together with a horse, and a dream catcher. Among others.
My large piece of land in the foothills was bordered by miles of Crown Land. My nearest neighbor almost a mile. To get groceries I had to drive with my truck into town, one hour. In winter the snow was at times five feet high and trees down. I always had to take my chain saw with me and cut myself out of my place, to even get anywhere. Of course, being alone has also its draw backs, many accidents, no medical services anywhere. I survived !
In winter, my resident moose cow came by, she always had her calf near my home. Lots of white tail deer abound. We also had the occasional wolf, bear, and cougar. The grizzly bear, dangerous. I recall a particular incident when I had to drive though the bush with my 4-wheel drive truck to the little saw mill to pick up lumber for my fences. Arriving at the site, I did not see the usually present lumberjack. All was deserted. The only thing I noticed was a yellow wildlife service tape strung around the trees, KEEP OUT sign. Grizzly Bear. In fact, a Grizz had taken down a cow and the fresh kill was still there. On my way up to the saw mill I had also met another truck with two guys – white in their face – leaving at high speed from the opposite direction.
Many times in winter and summer I rode alone with my horse, through bear country. Important is, to make some kind of noise, if it’s only singing. I never had any bear spray on my. Useless anyways. In the high country, when I see fresh bear scat on the trail in the bush, I quietly get out and on my way, return to where I came from. Reason is, that my horse can easily get scared, dumping me. Not a good idea, with a large animal that is scared of a mouse.
One such incident in the Kananaskis: A lady rider with her horse, running into a cougar, the horse bolted, turned and she was thrown. The cougar – being a cat – then jumped the horse and injured the poor animal seriously. I saw the horse later in the barn. The rider had been lucky.
I also had a cougar den at the other end of my property – half a mile down – where I had done some logging. With my horse, I just get out of the way.
Smaller animals, we had plenty. Including a visitor who arrived at my house and played on my porch one winter, a snow white weasel, beautiful creature
[ http://www.aitc.sk.ca/saskschools/animals/weasel.htmla ], not shy at all. And in my large pond a family of musk rats. My duck family returned annually in spring to have their babies on my pond. Usually they have seven, which is typical I suppose. Where they hang out in winter, I do not know. At this elevation, snow usually started around Thanksgiving in October, and often stayed until beginning of June.
What I learned about wildlife is, no wild animal is really dangerous or harms you, if you treat it right and with respect.

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