NEBRASKAland

NEBRASKAland December 2018

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

Issue link: http://mag.outdoornebraska.gov/i/1057682

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6 NEBRASKAland • DECEMBER 2018 In spring 2004, I was attending a National Association of Interpretation certification and training program as a naturalist. The daily workshops were interesting, but as is often the case, the most memorable part of my trip took place during the meeting off-hours. I was spending the night in a cabin in the woods. I was also tired and very pregnant at the time, only a few weeks shy of my due date. As I was trying to rest, I heard a scratching sound. The sound stopped, so I closed my eyes again. Several minutes later as I was dozing off, I heard the noise again. Other than the scratching, the cabin had been unusually quiet because my cabin mates were off on an evening adventure. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep until I figured out where the noise was coming from, so I rolled out of bed curious but also slightly afraid of what I might find. After pacing through the cabin, I finally determined with certainty that the source of the scratching was coming from the interior of the large wood-burning stove. I couldn't see through the closed cast iron doors, so instead I imagined what might be scratching around. I speculated that a bird could have fallen down the chimney and gotten stuck. It also occurred to me that there could be some larger animal like a raccoon in there, and I should proceed with caution. I probably should have tried to contact someone with the park and waited on a maintenance person for assistance, particularly given my condition. But instead, I began searching closets for a flashlight and a pair of gloves. I found cleaning gloves but no flashlight. I grabbed the biggest blanket I could find. I thought a broom might be a good idea too just in case. My three cabin mates sauntered through the front door about the same time and wondered what the pregnant lady with all the gear was up to. I explained the situation, and we all anxiously braced ourselves for the creature's great reveal. We slowly opened the wood-burning stove's doors – lo and behold nothing but darkness. We held the blanket over the opening and began gently pushing the broom around the interior of the stove. Within seconds, something "flew" into the blanket. What was it? Nobody saw it, but nevertheless we now had it captured within the folds of the blanket! PHOTO BY EEI_TONY By Melissa Panella, Wildlife Biologist NEBRASKA'S THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES

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