Tuesday, May 11, 2010

urban wildlife

We live in a typical suburban neighborhood that is fairly densely populated. Ours is a fairly large lot in comparison to others in the area, but by no means big enough to harbor the varied wildlife that has been lately in evidence. This isn’t a heavily wooded lot either so there seems to be no logical explanation for the all the critters that have been seen here.

Just over the past two weeks we have seen in our backyard such visitors as a red fox, a ‘possum and a raccoon. Each spring there are usually a group of ducks that will hang around until the water pool from the melting snow in the far backyard dries up. Deer have been seen along the fence that separates us from the nearby freeway. There are too many rabbits to count (they really do breed like rabbits), and there is the extended family of frisky squirrels that chases around in a continuous game of tag. Thankfully we haven’t yet spotted any coyotes in the area although they have been sighted in nearby communities.

So far we have coexisted with these wild critters without too many ugly confrontations. But it seems that these urbanized critters are getting more and more brazen and confrontational lately. They seem to know how close they can get without entering the danger zone. That danger zone has been getting closer and closer to our personal space though.

Just last evening, shortly before it got dark, a raccoon the size of a watermelon ambled across the deck, turned toward me and gave me disdainful look with those bandit eyes before thumbing his nose at me and disappearing under the deck. Our leashed Jack Russell terrier went totally berserk at the sight and smell of that interloper and was violently demented in her frustration at not being able to tear it limb from limb. And a few evenings ago the biggest, ugliest “possum I have ever seen trotted along the hedgerow between us and our neighbors. Thankfully, it was headed away from us and not toward the rather congenial area under our deck. The sighting of the red fox the other morning was exciting except for the fact that it was obviously hunting and had found a small rabbit it was enjoying for breakfast. Not a pretty sight.

All these various creatures have somehow adapted to life in the city, making the most out of the loss of their normal habitat. We manage to coexist mostly peaceably, but more often now our relationship is strained. We don’t like the destruction they can do to our landscape and buildings and they don’t like us cutting down the trees and shrubs and wild grasses that make up their homes. We would prefer that they find someplace else to have their babies than under our deck and find a different food source than our vegetable gardens and flower pots and garbage cans.

We can and will continue to get along as long as neither of us gets too upset with the other. I really don’t mind too much seeing the rabbits hunkered down in twitching wariness each evening or laughing at the energetic frolic of the squirrels. As long as that ‘possum was just passing through I don’t mind watching him waddle away. And if that fox would be so polite as to clean up after his furry meal so I don’t have to shovel the remains out of sight I would be ever do grateful. It would also be nice if the cohort of critters didn’t actively seek to antagonize my poor little dog by staying just out of reach of her leash or leaving their scents all over the deck while she has a demented fit watching them through the patio door. And I can even tolerate the brazen coon who thinks I, rather than he, am in the wrong place if he would just lose the attitude.

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