ARE SO MANY ANIMALS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
December 27, 2015
wild animal tracks is always a bit exciting, especially to little kids.
So when my grandson proudly pointed to several deer footprints in a
mulched area by our house, I played into his enthusiasm.
that they probably had been left the night before when no one could
see them and maybe we should look for them at night.
that these were not the tracks of Rudolph and Santa's other deer that
had come through recently, because they would be on our rooftop, not
in the side yard. Just kidding. He already knew that.
while feigning fascination, I did turn a watchful eye toward our camellias,
azaleas and forsythia, wondering which ones would be eaten first when
they reached their peak in the spring.
considered how frequently I am asked about the abundance of wild animals
that are showing up in residential neighborhoods in many areas.
perceived as nuisances, including armadillos that burrow, coyotes that
might eat a pet cat and deer that munch on shrubbery and garden vegetables.
All are encountered more commonly than in the past.
for wildlife's newfound interest in suburban neighborhoods are several.
In many areas the enforcement of leash laws has eliminated dogs as control
frequented our yard when our wide-roaming German shepherd was still
alive because he would have taken issue with such an intrusion. But
other reasons can also be given.
reduction in widespread use of certain pesticides and herbicides that
kill a wide variety of harmless insects and other invertebrates is almost
certainly a factor.
have too many pesticides lurking about, but things are better than they
factor is the vegetational maturity of many neighborhoods.
more established residential areas in a community typically have larger
shrubs and trees than when they were first developed, leading to more
comparison these days would be the number of wildlife sightings in housing
areas established during the last decade with older neighborhoods that
have had time to become revegetated.
overall environmental outlook has changed: more people have a positive
attitude toward protecting wildlife.
As a result,
people in a community are more likely to support efforts to retain undeveloped
habitats, especially wetlands and natural woods, where native species
with that is a greater familiarity with and interest in learning about
wildlife, so that wild animals are more likely to be noticed.
possible cause for wildlife in residential areas is that certain species
may have actually "learned" how to coexist with humans and
have adapted to new opportunities for feeding (garbage cans), hiding
(beneath porches and houses) and nesting (eaves, chimneys) that are
absent in wild habitats.
turtles and mammals might actually have learned to avoid crossing highways
or residential roads, which is often a costly behavior.
tendencies have a genetic component? Maybe animals that avoid roads
are more likely to survive and produce offspring that inherit road-avoidance
reason for why certain larger animals seem more abundant than they once
were is they have been able to expand their original geographic ranges
or to reinhabit areas where they had been exterminated earlier.
might occur because former predators have been eliminated (such as mountain
lions that eat deer) or new food sources have become available (such
as agricultural crops or horticultural plants).
the reasons may be, natural adaptations by certain species have permitted
them to adjust successfully to human inhabitation of a large portion
of the country.
I'm willing to sacrifice a few yard plants to have deer or rabbits visiting
I do not particularly like the idea of what damage deer hooves might
inflict on our roof, I'm certainly not going to do anything to keep
you have an environmental question or comment, email