Source: D4K: “Urban Wildlife”
Visit the D4K companion Web site to learn more about Urban Wildlife. D4K: “Urban Wildlife”
This video segment from IdahoPTV's D4K discusses the benefits and problems of wildlife living in a city. It explains why this occurs and how to coexist with wildlife in the same habitat.
Hey, come check this out.
What is it?
Just come look.
EEW. That's so gross. What is it?
It's raccoon poop.
My dad says raccoons poop in the same place every single time.
Well I'm glad it's in your yard and not mine.
Hey, the raccoon was here this morning. Look, I even got a picture.
Oh cool. Let me see.
Wow, that's really cool.
Not really. Now we have to be really careful with Lucky.
Dad says the raccoon can really hurt our dog if she tries to chase it.
Why would the raccoon even come into your yard? I thought they were wild animals.
I don't know.
Maybe it was hungry.
What would it eat here in your yard?
Well there are lots of things.
JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN: Wildlife is frequently drawn to urban areas because towns can provide good habitat. You know, food, water, shelter and space. Take food. The things we grow to eat such as our fruit trees and gardens can make a yummy snack for wildlife. Even your landscaping can be a meal for a wild animal.
JOAN: Sure. Space is where food, water and shelter are found. How much space do you have in your town? Do you have rivers, ponds or lakes for water? What about trees for shelter? Or someone's back deck. Yeah, that's where this raccoon is living.
JOAN: Urban areas can provide habitat for smaller animals like fox, raccoons and hawks. Sometimes even bigger animals like deer make a city their home, especially in the winter. Deep snow in the high country brings animals down to lower elevations. They're looking for areas where there's less snow, temperatures are warmer and it's easier to find food. These areas are called winter ranges. When people build homes in animals' winter range wildlife may have no other place to go. So what happens to that wildlife in town?
JOAN: Well, life in the city can be hard for some wildlife. They could be hit by cars, chased by dogs and may even starve if they can't find enough to eat. So why don't we feed them? (Here Carson)
JOAN - well sometimes we do but certain wildlife like song birds don't become dependent on the food in your bird feeders and while it can be fun to watch the birds in your yard, if you run out of food the birds will just move on to other food sources. But you don't want to feed most other wild animals because they do become dependent on your hand-out and that can cause problems. Large animals like deer and elk will gather around food sources and never leave. Stronger animals get all the food leaving little for others that may really need it. And once you start feeding everybody brings their friends.
It's just like kids. If you sneak a cookie in class someone will notice, then someone else, and then two more and then a few more - well, you get the idea.
And think about this. These are wild animals. If we make them dependent upon us for food, are they really still wild? Wildlife that's no longer wild can be a hazard to humans and themselves. A thousand pound moose can be kind of scary if it doesn't run away.
Having wildlife in an urban area can really add a lot to our lives but there's a balance. Don't leave your dog food outside to tempt the raccoons. But remember it's okay to build a backyard for the birds. Enjoy the wildlife you see and be glad they're wild.
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