The Scariest Thing in the Woods

Newfoundland is lucky in both our variety of wildlife and our lack of wildlife at the same time.  Being an island, a lot of mainland species aren’t, or at least weren’t present on the island till introduced.  The common squirrel (ie: a rat with a furry tail) was totally unknown to me growing up and I think I saw my first one in the early 80’s.  I also never saw a snake, porcupine, deer, or skunk till I visited the mainland.

Yet we do have a variety of animals, some very large, some quite small.  Random Island was at one time over populated with moose.  I remember one drive to work at the Holiday Inn in Clarenville, I saw 19. I also remember a bike road home at about 10 or 11 pm, and having to drive one out of the road near Cooper’s Brook on the Apsey Brook road. I hear bears are getting pretty common too now, and while they were there when I grew up, I only saw one.  We had a few caribou, but again only saw one of those.

Smaller than these we had tons of mink, otters, beaver, muskrats, and even the teensy shrew.  Yet none of these gave us a scare when walking in the woods, except in rare instances, we left each other alone.

But there was one thing, one not so large thing, that would send your heart to racing, and make you jump about 50 feet when you encountered it.  Yes, there was nothing any more frightening than when you flushed a snipe.  These little birds were so well camouflaged you could nearly step on them, and when you did, they flew up in your face, making a sound like all the banshees of hell had been released.

Beware the snipe!