Editorial: A Plethora of Eagles, or Sympathy for the DNR

Editorial: A Plethora of Eagles, or Sympathy for the DNR

William E. Stein, D.D.S.*:

Dear Readers,
Every so often I feel the need to contemplate or write about something other than dentistry. This is one of those times. However, the sharp-eyed reader will find a reference to a gypsum product we use every day in our offices.

Suddenly I feel like I am Marlin Perkins living in “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”. Is it just me, or have we suddenly become besieged by all manner of wild critters? Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing.

It all started on a frigid July day, walking into a 30-mile-per-hour headwind with a temperature of 53 degrees (more proof of “Global Warming”). I was ambling down the trail to check out my deer stand. Suddenly I heard music. I thought maybe Big Ernie, my next door neighbor, was out in the woods with his boom box, when I realized it was my new cell phone. I took it out of my pocket and started a pleasant conversation with Terry. I rounded the bend in the trail and came face to face with a magnificent six-foot-long timber wolf.

“Well Terry, there’s a timber wolf,” I mentioned in passing conversation.

The wolf took one look at me and realized he was in the wrong place and skedaddled. I will always remember how he took off into the woods but never made a sound.

The deer are bolder than ever. Out here in the suburbs of Lard Lake they gather in gangs to pillage the hosta beds and forage from our apple trees. I never thought I would see the day when I would be besieged by a herd of deer and upon yelling and clapping my hands they would acknowledge my presence with a nod and go back to munching the fallen Haralsons.

But the worst, or best, is yet to come. In mid-September we had a small die-off of ciscoes, the baitfish that feed the muskies of Lard Lake. We used to have massive die-offs of these fish before the DNR started stocking the lake with muskies years ago. The shorelines would reek with the rotting carcasses of hundreds of ciscoes. Newcomers to the lake were alarmed by this latest event, but this was nothing. However, the abundance of cisco corpses attracted a reunion of eagles.

For many years, a family of eagles has used the big cedar tree in our backyard as a resting place and training station for the current year’s crop of eaglets. With this year’s family reunion, three generations have showed up. In the past, the top of the tree was eagle central; now they have reached the numbers where they are using the whole tree and all the branches. It looks like a Christmas tree decorated with eagles. Terry and I were having dinner on the pontoon boat last Sunday and counted 25 eagles enjoying the bounties of the lake. And yes, I can tell an eagle from a buzzard!

As elating as it is to see a plethora of soaring eagles and to have the feeling of being in the midst of an eagle airport, there is the downside of having them use my pontoon boat as their “port-a-potty”. I awoke the other day to see one of the babies (which are as big as their parents) poised on the canvas canopy cover. I rushed out to chase it away, but it was too late. Imagine a two-gallon bucket filled with dilute plaster of Paris slopped over your lawn furniture and left to dry. Oh well, a small price to pay for such natural grandeur, I guess. Then again, there are the talon marks left in the canvas ...

My hat is off to the DNR who have brought back all these wonderful creatures from the brink of extinction. However, as much as I thank the Lord for the blessing of all his magnificent creatures, if I ever find the beaver that dropped the aspen tree on my hunting shack, he’s toast.

*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minn., AitkinDent@AOL.com.