WHY WILD ANIMALS ARE MOVING INTO CITIES, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT (3 pages)


posted
Categories: Wildlife

relationship between humans and large predators is changing. "We're now seeing generations of certain carnivores that have had fairly light amounts of persecution by people," Gehrt says. "They may view cities quite a bit differently than their ancestors did 50 years ago. Then, if they saw a human, there was a good chance they were going to get shot."

In The City

While the new inhabitants keep their distance from people most of the time, conflict is inevitable when these animals and humans share space. Sometimes the conflict is between the invading predators and our own domesticated animals. A few years ago in a Chicago suburb, an elderly woman fought off a coyote that tried to attack her leashed poodle in a mall parking lot. More serious clashes are rare but not unheard of. In a two-month span in 2011, a coyote attacked children in the Denver suburb of Broomfield on three separate occasions.

As we make our cities greener, they become more attractive to humans and animals alike. Gehrt and two other wildlife ecologists traveled to Broomfield to help officials find out what was causing the attacks, and the report that they wrote serves as a template for other cities dealing with carnivores.

Much of the advice is common sense. Taking away easy meals—garbage and outdoor pet food—can help control issues with any species. In Nevada, for example, bear-proofing garbage cans and dumpsters has helped decrease complaints by two thirds since 2008.

Ultimately, though, the key to living with urban carnivores might be to return to an older, more natural relationship between humans and wildlife—one in which they are genuinely scared of us. Gehrt's report urges anyone who spots a coyote to shout, throw rocks, or even shoot it with a paintball gun.

When a large predator loses its instinctive fear of humans, after all, that animal becomes more likely to attack. Gehrt says that culling truly fearless animals is necessary for maintaining a harmonious urban life with coyotes—a life that he sees as inevitable.

Whether you find yourself in the USA, South Africa, Russia, South America, Australia, or Great Britain, it doesn't matter.  There will be 

  Page Turn