Unexpected encounters with wild critters

Black Bears, a skunk species (maybe) where it shouldn’t be, and a beaver.

It has been an interesting summer with several unexpected encounters with wild life. Maybe you’ve had some too.

First up is several encounters with black bears.
Maybe not as rare as it was only a few years ago. The cover for the most recent issue of WV Magazine is a close up picture of a black bear’s face. The article states that in 1979 they estimated there were 500 bears in WV. Today they estimate there are 14,000 black bears.

I often take 2 - 6 miles hikes on the grounds of the Green Bank Radio Observatory, which is about five miles from our vacation house.

I had my first on foot meet up with black bear on the “reflector trail” a couple of years ago. At a distance of about 40 yards.

One evening this summer when walking past the GBT [Green Bank (radio) Telescope], suddenly an adult black bear popped up on the road from a ravine about 40 feet from me. We both froze looking at each other. Me waiting to see if bear cubs would soon appear. If they had I was going to back away. But after about 40 seconds and they didn’t two steps sideways sent Mr Bruin running into the woods toward the 140 foot telescope. Saw what I assume was the same bear four days later at a location about .4 mile from the first introduction, but this time at a distance.

Two weeks later a cousin spotted a bear behind our house. I didn’t see it but there was plenty of bear poo in the back yard of the adjacent residence a bit south and behind our house. Along the road between our house and the radio observatory a bear has raked the bark off both sides of a tree up about 6 feet high. And I had a black bear run across the road ahead of me during a drive home.

Hog Nosed Skunk ?
Last summer one evening just before dark when I pulled into the yard an unusual looking skunk was in the yard. Perhaps 4x larger than most skunks I have seen before. The interesting thing about this skunk was not only was it bigger, it was completely white on top. Long white fur. It looked completely white until it turned to look back at me as it headed for the woods. When I could see it has a black face and belly.

It was seen in the back yard late at night about 3 weeks ago. This time I was more curious about what kind of skunk it is, and did a bit more research.

According to an internet search there are only two species of skunks in WV - Striped Skunks and Spotted Skunks. I’ve never seen a spotted skunk. The intriguing thing is the only species of skunk I found that is both larger than striped skunks and completely white on top are Hog Nosed Skunk. There are several species of them, but they are not supposed to be here. Their range is listed as mostly in south Texas and Az, and south to the southern tip of S. America.

However, He isn’t alone.
Two weeks later I did a night hike at the radio observatory. Where in a field near the 20 m telescope I saw another large all white skunk of the same species. So the one in my yard is not the only one in the area.

Another thing I learned this summer – Skunks seem to abide by the "stand your ground rule."They don’t run off when they see you and bears “usually” do. A month or so earlier during a late afternoon hike a small striped skunk blocked my path. Would he let me pass or would I have to do an about face?

Fortunately it paid no attention to me. Didn’t even look up when I clapped my hand or yelled at it. Just kept browsing. No fear at all. And no aggression. After waiting to see what they’d do, and waiting till he moved to the down wind side of the path. I walked past at a distance of about 25 feet.

Two different species of skunk neither of which seemed to take any notice of me. Just carried on with their activity as though I wasn’t there. I guess that is good to know, that they’re not out to spray ya on sight! :joy:

A Beaver took over my fishing spot.
A favorite spot I go to fish on the Green Brier River one evening was invaded by a beaver. Stopping my fishing as I didn’t want to cast over him, and it was more interesting to watch him. And keep an eye on whether he might decide I had invaded his land without his permission. And desired to deliver an eviction notice.

Just down stream of spot with riffles, where it seems it oxygenates the water attracting fish, the stream widens and deepens into a shallow pool.

just before dark I suddenly noticed something moving back and forth in the pool. What the heck is it? Oh, it’s some kind of critter. Otter or Beaver? It was too dark to see his tail. He finally climbed up on some stones on the far side of the stream, where I thought I would be about to see his tail. But he only only sat down in the shallow water washing his face and preening his fur for a few minutes before going back to swimming.

I finally decided from the shape of his head and body shape he was a beaver. A lure fisherman 40 yards down stream also thought it was a beaver. He was a local resident who said many years ago beavers were often seen in the area. But it was my first time having one invade my fishing spot.

While it was fascinating watching him swim around, he also seemed to show no awareness of me, no fear of humans at all, which made me a bit nervous when he swan into the shallow part of the water on my side of the river, because of the news reports a couple of years back about people being attacked by beavers. Not being sure how fast they can move on the ground and it getting dark enough to make it difficult to see him, or see the path to higher ground, I left the stream to him. A fun event. It’s not only about fishing.

Anyone else have unexpected and entertaining encounters with wild critters this summer?
If yes. Let’s read your story.


Seen quite a lot of moose this year, with the funniest being a very curious young one who I chatted with for a while.

Your story reminds me of a day on the Madison river in Yellowstone a couple of years ago.
The other two guys wanted to fish Firehole that day and I was keen on a particular stretch that I know holds a lot big fish (and doesn’t see too many anglers).

So they dropped me off and headed up to Firehole.
After catching several good rainbows I felt I needed to call my friends and see if their day was as good ad mine. It wasn’t, so I urged them to come down quickly ‘20" rainbows guaranteed’.

I hiked up to meet them by the road and took them to the sweetest pool, sat myself down to watch my friends catch big fish all thanks to me.
Nothing happened, not a single strike and I started to feel stupid for dragging them from a good fall baetis hatch at Firehole.
Then we saw the reason, a whole family of otters on the other side of the river, sometimes with trout in their mouths. They must’ve started hunting when I went to collect my friends.
We sat down to laugh at the whole thing and to admire fishing skills that far surpassed those of ours.

That night we had beers and pizzas at ‘The Slippery Otter’ in West Yellowstone. Very appropriate.


In Japan there is no skunk and beaver, but instead there is kamosika

kamosika is a curious animal and walks like your dog

Black bears also come close to us as humans do not bully

There is no thing to do harm unless you surprise either

But the[ higuma] in Hokkaido recognizes humans as bait

Scary wild animals in Japan may be monkeys
A monkey group attacks you when you make the monkey angry


Thanks for the story. The Otters may have moved in even if you had not left for a short time.

I wouldn’t want to meet up with any Moose during rutting season, I’ve read they can be quite aggressive at that time. Read a story years ago about a moose attacking the bright colored tent. Fortunately for the campers they were not in the tent at the time.

On a motorcycle trip in Vt. years ago it was near dark my intention was to ride to another town 40 miles away to spend the night. People at the gas station were advising me to spend the night there instead. Apparently a year earlier a woman was killed on the same road when she collided with a moose in the dark. The moose fell onto her car crushing her.

Half mile down stream from where I saw the beaver Deer Creek feeds into the same river. Last summer people complained that the fishing there was poor because a family of Otter had moved in. Don’t know if that was true or not. I never saw them and never fished that stream much last year.

This spring near the town of Marlinton, 25 miles away, a man was attacked by a Black Bear. But it wasn’t a random attack in the woods. The family left a bowl of cat food on their deck that attracted the bear. In the dark the man ran up the steps onto the deck, the bear was cornered. Clawed him on the shoulder making his escape into the woods.

I am familiar with that animal, but know it only as the Serow.
Kamosika, I guess, just means Japanese Serow. A more complete name.
Most website describe the Serow as a species of deer, but it always looked more like a species of goat to me.

For decades Yamaha has made a single cylinder small displacement dual sport motorcycle, the XT225 or XT250. I have an XT225. The Serow version is no longer imported into the USA. I wish they were. Same bike as the XT model, but the XT Serow version has higher quality components. Better wheels, swing arms etc. The Serow has quite a cult following in Japan and a few other places, and seems to be very popular model. At least where there is a realization that bigger displacement is not always better.

Read a story years ago about how the model acquired the Serow name. The author of story wrote that he discovered the history of the name while in Tokyo. Writing that he found a place in Tokyo with many old style small motorcycle shops. In one of them was displayed an original Serow model telling the story of how the model got the name, A sad story.

The story was that there was a man who was a big fan of the XT225 motorcycle. He was doing maintenance on the bike and while not in the garage his young son, wanting to impress his father, got on and started the bike, Unfortunately something caused the motorcycle to catch on fire and the young boy was killed. The Serow, being a deer, is an old symbol as an animal that keeps the forest alive, and in the boy’s memory Yamaha added the name Serow to the model.

I think for years there was just the XT225 Serow. Only later the model diverged into a more expensive & higher quality XT225 Serow model and a lower cost model just called the XT225.

Yes, that too is an unexpected thing.
Maybe 2 years ago I read a Japanese Tenkara blog telling about how they were fishing a remote stream, when they noticed many monkeys gathering in the nearby trees.

As more monkeys gathered they became concerned about being attacked and slowly crossed the stream and moved to a different location. A kept moving until the monkeys stopped following them.

With wild animals I think it is a good idea to move slowly if possible. Running shows fear, and can trigger an attack response, (which is also why we pulse our kebari), Whatever you do, Don’t run.

When I read the story I was quite surprised to read that people had to be aware of and guard against being attacked by monkey. :astonished:
[a story from a few years ago was about a woman, in Ct. I think, that was attacked by Chimpanzee, so I was aware they are dangerous animals. They bite off your fingers and attack your eyes]

Unrelated story.
I saw an online story recently about an elderly woman who was killed after being stung 150 times by Japanese Giant Hornets. I think I’ve seen smaller Humming Birds.

[ The Discover Tenkara guys had a picture of a Japanese Hornet Nest on a bridge in a recent blog post - in the future they might not need to travel to Japan to see them, a 2014 story stated they have been seen in Southern England]


It must have been a terrible ordeal for this unfortunate woman. Or any of the average 40 people per year killed by them, or the hundreds of others who are stung but survive. :fearful:

However, it is better to think more often about the funny encounters with wild animals, than the bad ones. Think to much about the slim possibility of being iattacked, and you’ll become afraid to go into the woods or along a stream. :grinning:

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Yes, moose can be quite dangerous in some situations. Keeping distance is good at all times, staying the heck away from mama moose with young ones.

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I walked up on a bear this summer.

First time in 40 years.

It was big, 300-400lbs and silver hair on its back. It stood up tall and ran into the edge of the forest up the valley side about 70 yards away and watched us.

It was fast but the encounter was safe and exhilarating.

I hope I never see one again.

I also do not like monkeys. They can be mean like people. Unexpected, aggressive, mean spirited. I am glad I didn’t see monkeys in my trips to Japan.

Fun question.

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Killer hornets(スズメバチ/suzumebachi) are so scary in Japan.A2B580B1-F15E-4761-9E94-0ECBB3E06F26


I had another unexpected wildlife encounter a couple of weeks ago. Probably not unusual for many people, but a new first for me.

During a hike on Slavin Hollow Rd while crossing the bridge over Deer Creek, I often look down to see if I can spot any fish. One darted down stream when I noticed some mud stirred up that wasn’t coming from where the I saw the fish, Following the direction of the line of muddy water pointed, on the far side of the creek I saw a group of Otters.

I don’t recall ever seeing Otters before, except at the state wild life center at French Creek game farm or a zoo.

I think there were five of them, but they were difficult to count as they kept moving into and out of the water onto the bank. Once in a while I will see what I think was a Mink on the far bank, or a Weasel, but I suspect Mink, and the occasional Muskrat. But never saw any Otters before in the wild. Hiked across the bridge a couple of more times hoping to see them again but never saw them again. It’s all in the timing.

I do recall last spring someone telling me the fishing on Deer Creek had declined due to some otters moving in but I never saw any of them last summer.

The bridge where I saw them is just south of the of the w in the green text of Slavin Hollow on the satellite image of the below map.

Slavin Hollow Rd


The first ten minutes of fishing in Japan, I struck one with my rod and down in the water in front of me. I didn’t see it till I felt my rod hit it in the air and buzzing down in the water drifting back at me. Thank goodness it did not come off the water.

With Kura-san, in Aizu, a horsefly bothered him for about 2-3 minutes. That was a little creepy. It was big and black, a little menacing. I don’t like them.

Or snakes.

Ito-san told me about a snake that I saw while fishing.

But the hornet?

Like a small hummingbird, with a stinger that can keep stinging.

That must have been cool.

I see so much stuff from bridges.

Lots of wildlife.