We can start the conversation with squirrels and chipmunks. They’re all over. Cute, but sometimes a little bit of a nuisance.
Then there are the standard issue raccoons, skunks, and deer wandering the neighborhoods. And we also hear of the occasional bear, usually more in wooded and peripheral areas.
But this year we’ve seen a preponderance of foxes moving into backyards and empty lots.
A number of dens have been identified, including, but not limited to, one in Harvey, one on the east side near the lighthouse, and one on Northern’s campus. So what’s up with all the foxes?
Local wildlife photographer Steve Lindberg thinks an abundant food source, among other factors, has to do with the growing fox population.
“It may have something to do with the bumper year of chipmunks that we had last summer and it could also be related to our recent mild winter, as this is the hardest season for most animals in the U.P.”
Another common theory whenever wild animals invade populated areas is that we’ve developed them right out of their natural territory.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, “The conversion of lands to housing developments, roads, office parks, strip malls, parking lots and industrial sites” is one of the main causes of habitat loss.
Okay… so we’ve got foxes. Is that a problem?
According to the website Critter Control, foxes aren’t violent or aggressive, but they may carry rabies and infectious parasites. Generally, foxes are not dangerous and do not harm people unless threatened.
Fox attacks on cats and dogs are rare because they typically try to avoid conflict. However, they will defend themselves if cornered. A mother protecting her kits can also be hostile toward animal or human intruders, which is a good reason to keep a reasonable distance.
One thing you have to admit, they’re darn cute.
Lindberg sums it up best… “I try to be tolerant of all the animals that I share this space with on our planet. I have to remind myself that they were here before people came and started crowding them out.”
Amen to that.
Not her first rodeo
Who is her? Her is Jesie Melchiori. And we’d call her the queen of the Great Lakes Rodeo except there will be an actual Queen, chosen from a group of young contestants for that royal coronation.
Nope… Jesie Melchiori is just one of those busy people who seem to get everything done, and then some. She’s been with the Great Lakes Rodeo since its inception some 15 years ago when it was called the Sawyer Stampede, and she’s still with it today, serving as the organization’s president.
Melchiori, when she’s not working her regular gig at the Up North Lodge, is the driving force behind the rodeo. And according to proud sister Sarah Sanville, it’s just one of her interests.
“She spends a ton of time volunteering for other organizations such as local 4-H programs, horse shows and even spent every Saturday morning in the freezing cold helping at the front gate for the Gwinn Ice Races.”
Due to the efforts of local rodeo enthusiasts, as the event grew, it needed a new venue and relocated to the Marquette County Fairgrounds. And now they’ve moved again, this time to that Ice Racing Track, just off the main drag in downtown Gwinn.
Jesie explains, “The Great Lakes Rodeo, over 14 years, has given so much to my family that it’s heart warming to be able to contribute to the community! I love watching what this sport does for our youth, from the confidence it builds, the life lessons it teaches, and on top of that the ability to be able to give back!”
Oh yeah. To date, the Great Lakes Rodeo has given over $50,000 to youth programs in Marquette County. And you thought rodeos were a western thing? Well they’re a thing here too. Melchiori says advanced tickets sales indicate there’ll be a great crowd for the first year at their new location.
Together, Jesie and Sarah are the Sisters Rodeo Company. But of course it takes more than two ambitious siblings to put on a rodeo. Support from volunteers and a long list of corporate sponsors give the event a foundation that ensures continued success.
The whoopin’ and hollerin’ starts next Friday and runs through Father’s Day Sunday with a full schedule of traditional events. More information can be found at the organization’s website at greatlakesrodeo.com.
4th of July Follow-Up
We wrote a couple weeks back about Marquette’s 4th of July plans, which at that time included the lower harbor festival and fireworks, but no parade. Well apparently that didn’t sit well with the patriotic folks at Marquette Elks Lodge #405.
Thanks to them, the parade is on… with some necessary last-minute adjustments. It’s scheduled for 12 noon on Sunday, July 4th, and will take place on North Third Street from Fair Avenue to the Marquette Commons.
Participation entry is free. Organizations and businesses wishing to be a part of the parade can find an application on the city’s website at: www.marquettemi.gov/departments/police/
“This year’s parade is a great opportunity to showcase our mission,” said Russ Ransom, Marquette Elks’ Exalted Ruler. “We are extremely grateful to the local organizations and individuals who have joined us to finance and plan the parade.”
Well done Elks. And everyone else who’s helping make this happen.