Column: Wildlife encounters in my own backyard

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been hearing what I think is a frog located somewhere in my front yard.

I assume by the loud, familiar croaking noise that it’s a frog, though I haven’t actually seen it. It will start singing at odd times of the day, and as soon as I rush outside to find it, there’s silence.

We’ve had frogs at our house in the past; my son and wife carefully caught one in a bucket in our backyard. They kept it for a very short while in water before returning it to where it was found. As we do not live near a creek, pond or other natural water source, I am always awed by our amphibian guests, wondering where they’re coming from.

I know, a frog – nothing to get excited about. But I think it is.

Growing up where I did in Vancouver, wildlife visitations were generally limited to stray domesticated cats and, on the very rare occasion, a raccoon from the neighbourhood cemetery that would travel down the alley to take a quick swim in the small above-ground pool in our backyard (which only my parents ever witnessed).

Read more: Carnivorous praying mantis put to work in the Shuswap and Okanagan

Read more: VIDEO: Praying mantis fights black widow in epic West Kelowna battle

Read more: Coyotes, cougars spotted around Okanagan city

Having lived in Salmon Arm for the past decade, I know from experience it’s not unusual for wildlife to visit one’s backyard.

When we were living off of 17th Street SE, with a trail and creek behind our residence, in addition to domesticated cats my family would sometimes receive visits from deer or bear slowly making their way through our backyard. We’d watch from our windows with respect and excitement – especially when it was bears.

A couple of years ago, my family had another unexpected wildlife encounter. We found a praying mantis standing next to our house. Okay, maybe not comparable to a bear, but equally awesome. At least to me, as I had no idea these beautiful green carnivores could be found in the Shuswap. After a quick search on the Internet I learned, courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, that the praying mantis was introduced to the Shuswap and the Okanagan in the 1930s to control (consume) grasshoppers eating agricultural crops.

Speaking of local wildlife I hear but never see, I also enjoy listening at night to the coyotes yipping in the distance. And, thankfully, they stay in the distance as our own domesticated cat enjoys spending summer nights in our backyard. He’s definitely more mild-life than wildlife.


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