I love urban wildlife. For all the hundreds of species that are pushed out, a few can make a go of it in human-dominated landscapes. There’s urban salmon that spawn in the middle of Seattle and wild turkeys that beat on Boston joggers. There’s female moose in Wyoming that protect their calves from grizzly bears by hanging out near paved roads. And of course, the red-tail hawks of the Upper East Side.
I think urban wildlife is incredibly important to maintaining city dwellers’ connection to nature. The “Last Child in the Woods” syndrome has been amply documented, but not everyone has the opportunity to run amuck in an Idealized American Childhood. If an enterprising kid can catch frogs and see raptors, he or she is going to feel some connection to the natural world.
Cities can do relatively easy things to encourage wildlife to reside in their parks and streams. Minimizing big open spaces encourages more small mammals – cool ones like the Vancouver marmot. Removing antiquated culverts that block streams encourages fish migration. And apparently Florida has built special highway underpasses for its bears (scroll down).
Right now I’m pretty happy watching the extremely dignified and dinosaur-esque pelicans off SIO and looking for the San Diego Bay green sea turtles.
Photo from palemale.com