In my many years of spring in northern Michigan things have changed, many for the better. New arrivals in the north are Turkeys, Sand Hill cranes, Turkey Vultures, opossums. The return of Eagles, Bluebirds, Otter, Coyotes, Wolves, Cougars and the Beaver through efforts of environmentalists have brought this area back to a more natural protected ecosystem. Invasive species such as the Lamprey Eel, Emerald Ash Borer, Watermilfoil, Zebra Mussel, and Asian Carp dramatically effect our natural balance. Global warming has brought us Lime Disease, West Nile virus, and now Brain Eating Amoeba. What's next outer space creatures?
All things considered northern Michigan is one of the safest areas in our hemisphere. In fact my most dangerous experiences have been with Hornets and Burrowing bees. If you can run fast, escape is easy...don't ask me how I know? Poison Ivy, Bee stings, even blood suckers like Black Flies or Mosquito are your worst enemy. They can steal a few weeks of your summer while you recover. Knowledge of nature is your best protection. Example; when a bee or two fly directly into your face it's a warning. Your standing near their nest, move away fast. My biggest concern is the return of the carnivorous animals. My only contact with them has been so fast I hardly remember the incidents but I stayed unharmed.
I used to carry a pistol several years ago, but the hand gun has become the choice for criminal violence. Still in my older age and with less capable physical abilities, my concern is a deadly confrontation with a stronger non-human mammal. During western trips to the Rocky Mountains and Grizzly country, I found that the local guides were armed with a .44/40 Colt Frontier or Winchesters Cattleman's pistol. It was more of a nostalgic choice for them. The Colt 1873 was designed for the west and they have a romantic attachment to it. Fact is you better be fast and accurate to stop a 500 pound Brown Bear with a single action six shooter. My research has found that nothing is more effective than
"Pepper Spray". It is endorsed by all outdoor officials in our parks and preserves. It is devastating to anything with a nose and eyes. Bears, wolves, Coyotes, dogs and criminals...stops them in their tracts. I feel that porcupines, skunks and bees sport the best non deadly defenses in the natural world and pepper spray follows that philosophy, good enough for me.
So this year I will sport pepper spray. Lone joggers, mountain bikers, fly fishermen, or just families picking blueberries, pepper spray might be a good idea. The return of many predators to our area is a waiting game for the next incident. In the past, outdoor enthusiasts were armed. Deer hunters, small game hunters, bear hunters, all carried personal protection mostly in the form of a side arm. Today most of us are just enjoying the country side. If we are to maintain a safe respect with the fauna...non deadly pepper spray will be the new "Peacemaker".
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings