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Adele Elliott: Wildlife


Adele Elliott



I was fascinated by the recent sightings of coyotes in Columbus' city neighborhoods. These animals were seen by several residents. Although this is rare, they have been documented by a local game warden. 


When we moved to Columbus, my husband and I were quite surprised to observe wild deer walking slowly along the roadside and crossing streets. This is something we never encountered in New Orleans. Chris and I haven't really become accustomed to seeing these beautiful creatures in person. There is a sense of magic each time we startle one grazing, or emerging, ghost-like, from a stand of trees. Sometimes they look up to stare at us, the interlopers in their world. 


I have seen masked raccoons frolicking in the gutters on Main Street. My neighbor, Jyl Barefield, once found a huge snapping turtle in her driveway after a heavy rain storm. 


We have all heard the story of a large ram that roams the wooded areas on the north side of town. This legend has floated around for years. I once met a man who opened his door one morning to see the ram on his doorstep on Seventh Avenue North. This animal may be skillful at avoiding capture, but he surely exists. 


Few people believe me; however, I am sure that I once saw a monkey of some sort perched on a fence post in the Black Prairie area. Denise Reynolds believes me. She too, swears that she saw a monkey next to the highway between here and Starkville. 


Yes, I know that we have no indigenous primates in Mississippi. But we are quite close to the veterinary school at Mississippi State University. They could have been escapees, or perhaps an exotic pet on the loose. 


It is often difficult to trust our own eyes. If someone claims to witness the unexplainable, they are usually the object of ridicule. But why? 


In the last few decades creatures that were thought to be extinct have been rediscovered. Everything from birds, to fish, to lizards, to rats, has been photographed alive. Some were declared extinct over one hundred years ago. 


Most of these specimens are quite small. So they could have been easily overlooked. But not the Javan elephant. This giant "became extinct sometime in the period after Europeans arrived in Southeast Asia ... they were hunted out in the 1800s. But the elephants were rediscovered in 2006 ... on the island of Borneo" (Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed, July 17, 2009).  


Hundreds of people maintain that they have seen Bigfoot (or some variation such as Yeti, Abominable Snowman, Yowie, Meh-Teh, Raksha, Kikomba, The Great Bear, Sasquatch) alive in the wild. 


Unfortunately, the cast of the TV show "Finding Bigfoot" has had no such luck. Every week, they go hunting for the elusive creature. Spoiler alert -- they never find Bigfoot. This show is a lot like "Gilligan's Island." No matter how close the shipwrecked group came to being rescued, they remained stranded from 1964 to 1967. The show did manage to evolve from black and white to color. But, alas, they were destined to isolation on a rather cushy desert island. 


Therefore, if your neighbor tells you that he has seen a coyote, or a deer, or even a monkey, you should believe them. But if they profess to have met Bigfoot, you should probably go inside and lock the door.


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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