There were also modern-day wolves, and it is ironic and coincidental that a wolf returned this week to the Great Valley for the first time in a century. It is a young male from Oregon who made an epic journey through Modoc County into the Sierra Nevada near Yosemite Valley, and then into the Sierra foothills of Fresno County, and across the Great Valley (including two freeway crossings). At last report it's now in Monterey County (it's wearing a radio transmitter).
I have no picture, but I came upon a Gopher Snake in the road that was in serious danger of being run over. I stopped, looked at it carefully to make sure it wasn't a rattlesnake, and then I picked it up to put it in a safer spot. I was suddenly reminded of how Gopher Snakes sometime pretend to be rattlers! They can flatten their normally narrow heads into the triangle shape of a rattler, and will strike in a similar manner. I didn't hold it for long...how do you explain to the EMTs that you picked up a rattlesnake that you thought was something else?
If you are lucky enough to live near a California prairie, this is a good time of year to explore them. If you tend to rush through this unique part of the Sierra Nevada and the Great Valley on your way to Yosemite or some other mountain destination, slow down and give these precious and unique lands a quick look. You won't be disappointed.