There’s lots of overreaction when wild animals are spotted in the big city
Deer, coyotes and other wild animals have been thriving for years in large cities and sprawling suburban communities all over the U.S., so it shouldn’t be a big surprise when people encounter them. But it is.
People never cease to be amazed when a coyote trots past them on the local jogging trail, or they glance out the kitchen window and spot a deer “pruning” the roses in their back yard.
Every morning when I arrive at the Times, the first thing I do is check out the wire services in our computer system to see what kind of animal stories the Associated Press has been sending out to its member newspapers during the night. Here are a couple of recent examples:
June 5, 2007
City leaders support sharpshooting to control urban deer
HELENA, Mont. — City commissioners trying to deal with deer that damage gardens, obstruct traffic and sometimes frighten people here want to hire sharpshooters who would kill several hundred of the animals.
The Helena City Commission voted 4-1 on Monday to send the state wildlife agency a deer-management plan with use of sharpshooters as one of the recommendations. Public comment included support for the plan and denouncement of what critics call a city-sanctioned slaughter. Some speakers questioned the importance of the deer issue. Others offered to shoot deer themselves, with personal weapons. …
June 5, 2007
Coyotes sighted in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Coyotes in Golden Gate Park? That’s what San Francisco Animal Care & Control officials are receiving calls about. The animals have also been sighted in the Presidio and Bernal Heights, Animal Care & Control is reporting today.
There have been no reports of aggressive behavior or interaction with people or animals. No one knows where the coyotes came from or how they got to the city. Animal Care & Control advises that people living in the area of the sightings take common sense precautions. …
Those of you who follow this blog should be aware that I’ve been writing about wildlife and the “urban wilderness” for the last 37 years. By “urban wilderness,” I of course mean your back yard and the streets, parks, back alleys, rooftops, storm drains, and even the downtown sidewalks of the city where you live.
My goal has always been to try and help people learn to get along with their wild neighbors.
You probably have been long aware of the more common high-profile wildlife that prowls through your back yard in the early evening hours just after dark. These animals include raccoons, opossums and skunks.
What you may not know is that coyotes, deer, red foxes, gray foxes, bobcats, bats, great horned owls, barn owls, and a lot of different kinds of wild rodents may also be sniffing around your patio later at night after you’ve gone to bed. On extremely rare occasions in a few communities near open space areas, a curious mountain lion may stand on its hind legs so it can peer over your back fence to see what you’re watching on television.
And then there are the wild beasties that flit, hop, flutter, dig, slither and crawl around, in and above your yard during daylight hours. These fascinating creatures include songbirds, birds of prey, treefrogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, lizards, gophers, moles, and a scurry of spiders, scorpions, preying mantids, and many insects you may never even have heard of.
That’s why I started calling the places where we live, the “urban wilderness,” or sometimes, the “urban jungle.”
Huge trees have even been found growing on the tops of many old buildings in some large Eastern cities — their roots drawing sustenance deep from within the “soil” created by the natural composting of rotting rooftops, walls and wood used to construct the buildings. The trees were probably “planted” by birds that deposited feces containing fertile seeds onto the rooftops.
That’s just a sample of what’s going on in the urban wilderness around us. Drop by every day and I’ll try to keep you informed on what’s going on in your back yard while you’re fast asleep.
I’ll also offer suggestions, from time to time, on how you and your wild neighbors can get along compatibly so no one has to be shot by sharpshooters provided by frustrated city fathers (and mothers).