Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Howling Good Time

Trey Smith


We lived in South Bend on the edge of a forest for 6+ years and yet I've seen or heard more wildlife in my first month in Ocean Shores!

Late last night, as I walked with Jaz in a nearby field, we heard a pack of coyotes not more than 2 or 3 blocks away. A few nights earlier, I watched a raccoon the size of a koala waddle across the road about 4 blocks south of our apartment. Everyday I see scores of deer in all sections of town. In the southern part of the Ocean Shores peninsula, there are sitings of fox, otters and, on occasion, even black bears. The last reported siting of a cougar was near the high school (about 1.5 miles north of us).

When we made this move, we ostensibly moved from a small town to a slightly larger one. According to official census data, the population of Ocean Shores (5,500) is over three times greater than South Bend (1,700). But those figures are a bit deceiving. There are a lot of people who are counted as Ocean Shores residents who don't actually live here. They are snow birds. They own property and "live" here only 2 months of the year (July and August).

While this is a more urban environment than South Bend, it's not by much.

There are two other factors at play as well. First, there is a lot of unimproved land sprinkled throughout this peninsula -- excellent habitat for wildlife. Secondly, while Ocean Shores is 3 times larger than South Bend in population, it is nearly 6 times larger in total area (12.4 square miles to 2.01 square miles). Less human population density is an invitation for greater wildlife density.

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