The year in animals: No lions, no tigers, but bears, oh my!

Brookline bearBrookline Bear almost became Boston Bear. Photo by Brookline Police.

2012 was the year greater Boston became a wildlife refuge. From owls in the subway to bears in Brookline, we became a lot wilder. And who can forget our domestic animals: Strollercat, anyone? Here's a roundup:

On June 24, startled motorists reported a bear ambling along 128. Although we didn't know it at the time, it turned out to be Cape Bear, back from western Massachusetts, and still looking for love. Over the next couple of days, he wandered through Needham and Newton before finally winding up in a tree in Brookline, only a few blocks from the border with Boston. His journey ended, though, when a state sharpshooter shot him with a tranquilizer dart, which only made him climb up even higher, before he finally fell asleep and plunged to the ground. Fortunately, he survived the fall; officials took him even farther west.

As Brookline Bear was gathering national attention, a moose was loose in Wellesley, Moosachusetts.

A Mattapan elementary school went into lockdown as police scurried around outside trying to catch a coyote. A coyote made it to Copps Hill Terrace in the North End. Another coyote wandered around downtown - and almost made it to the Ted Williams Tunnel - before it was cornered and captured in Chinatown:

Poor thingMaggie O'Neil photographed the poor thing on Summer Street.

Belmont announced plans to set up a brute squad to scare coyotes out of town. Coyotes continued to rule the night at the Arnold Arboretum.

The two-bit turkey toughs of Brookline reared their ugly heads again, forcing police to issue guidelines to panicked residents on how to avoid becoming a reverse Thanksgiving platter. Mt. Auburn Cemetery hired a hunter to shoot a turkey that had attacked a worker. Better behaved turkeys perched on a tree in the South End and took a car ride on I-95.

Owls aren't actually new to the Boston area, but suddenly, this year, they seemed to be everywhere. MBTA workers shooed an owl out of Park Street station and saved an owl found near the Green Line in Newton (sadly, it had to be euthanized because it turned out to have lost a wing). In Jamaica Plain, one owl spotter reported eight screech owls after playing owl screeches through a loudspeaker. Owl watchers came out of the woodwork to watch an owl in the Public Garden (ironically in a tree near a statue of a mountain lion catching an owl).

Somerville owlBill Ritchotte photographed an owl in Sullivan Square.

Service on the Riverside Line was briefly halted due to turtle.

Swarming clouds of ants made their annual appearance across the region in August.

Two scorpions showed up in Wellesley. A pair of vultures descended on Dedham Square:

Vulture?

A raccoon waddled into South Station - from track 6. A slavering raccoon terrorized the North End in July before it up and died under somebody's porch, creating a foul, putrid odor for days.

State officials put up a deer-crossing sign on Truman Parkway in Hyde Park:

Deer crossing

They later moved the sign to Enneking Parkway in Stony Brook Reservation on the Roslindale/Hyde Park line, which makes sense, given the deer that live there. State officials did not, however, post any deer-crossing signs in the Longwood Medical Area, even after a deer showed up at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

A deer jumped in front of a startled driver on Baker Street in West Roxbury, who slammed on her brakes - but not in time to avoid hitting the deer or getting rear ended by the car behind her.

A dozen ducklings dropped down a drain at Deer Island; a Winthrop animal-control officer was able to rescue them and reunite them with their parents; the brood was last spotted swimming off into the harbor.

A December nor'easter blew an Arctic Little Auk into Roxbury.

The world, or at least Twitter, erupted in fury over Strollercat:

Strollercat

A couple days later, Trainturtle popped up.

Some guy lost his cat on the Red Line. Unlike Penelope the Snake, however, it was in a carrier, which the T promptly found for him.

A Mission Hill resident found a boa constrictor in her backyard. An Orange Line commuter spotted a parakeet outside the Green line stop in Jamaica Plain. A parrot flew into a police cruiser in Waltham. A Chinese Golden Pheasant turned up in Braintree:

Pheasant to look at

A guy rode the Blue Line with an iguana on his shoulder. A girl rode a 66 bus kissing a rat. A woman rode the Orange Line with a ferret on a leash.

A dog in Roslindale ate some brie - and the knife that was in it.

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