It is a testament to the adaptability of Wild Mammals that more and more of them are making their homes in Urban Areas. The city nearest to us has a large and vigorous population of the same four legged animals that wander here in the country – deer, coyotes and skunks. The city also has animals that have not normally lived in our woods – racoons, rabbits (both wild and feral domestic) and an imported species of squirrel. The rabbits and squirrels have recently arrived in our neighbourhood, thanks to those kindly city folk who trapped and transported them. I hope the native predators are enjoying this new menu item. With any luck the imported animals will disappear from our area again.
While we are happy to share our rural landscape with all of nature’s citizens, we are also protective of the fenced area that is off limits to any animal that eats my vegetables or flowers. While some people will say this is selfish of me, in this part of the world most people who grow gardens do so because it is an economical, nutritious, flavorful way to feed their families. It is also hard work. Gardeners do not take kindly to having the garden eaten up by a deer or a rabbit that has a plentiful source of food to eat on the other side of the fence.
The absolute worst thing people can do to a wild animal is to treat it like it is tame. Wild animals that are fed by humans or are allowed to graze or rest close to human habitation, lose their fear of people and potential predators. Once that fear is lost, the animal can become aggressive towards humans and the other animals that it would normally try to escape from.
I have had the unsettling experience of coming face to face with a deer that had no fear of humans. I backed away, and was glad that it didn’t charge me. This lack of fear will not help the deer escape predators. Coyotes who have lost that fear will attack domestic pets, even when an adult human is standing nearby.
Which brings me to why people need to wear their Scary Face. While it is all very nice to observe wild four legged animals, they should not be encouraged to take up residence in your backyard. These critters will lose their fear of humans if you don’t put on your Scary Face and encourage them to move on.
There is no reason why wildlife can’t live in urban settings. But the only way that can work for the animals and the humans is for the humans to treat them like the wild animals that they are.
– Do not feed them, either deliberately or inadvertently.
– Do not deliberately or inadvertently supply a home for them in your back yard.
– Encourage them to live in the open or forested areas of the city which is the habitat they would normally live in.
– And don’t trap them and transport them to the country. We’ve got just enough food for the animals who already live here, thank you…