Urban Wilderness: When Humans and Wild Animals Become Neighbors

The wild creatures that occupy the urban wilderness are not like the wild creatures that live in the natural wilderness away from people. They won't eat the same food drink from the same streams, climb the same trees, build their nests from the same materials, den in the same hollows or interact with man in the same manner as normal wild animals do. While they may look alike, keep in mind that they're not the same, at least not in their manner of thinking or habits.

Not all species can adapt in the city’s urban wilderness, and those that do are perhaps altered forever. Is this what we have to anticipate in the near future as the last few left over open spaces are reduced down to stamp-size plots? If we wish to keep a healthy, workable wild population of all the creatures found in the natural, unexploited environment, there have to be enough wild spaces to accommodate the broad range of biological diversity. To have the best of all worlds, there must be large protected areas where man and wildlife don't ever commingle.

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It's nice to see wildlife living in the city. Some enjoy feeding the birds from backyard feeders, and it's fun to spy a turkey vulture gliding over the house and a skunk tottering down the street when leaving for work in the morning. But is it truly a good thing that these wild creatures live here, in such close proximity to people? It is otherwise not natural for a few of these animals to have these types of interactions.

The wild animals that currently live in our artificial suburban and urban wilderness give us an unequaled opportunity to study and observe them, which should be done. And not just in a conversational, casual, random way. It must be required that biologists and ecologists and other scientists to check out these unique backyard relationships that are happening around where we live so we can determine what becomes of all these different wild species when we come in their natural habitats and remold them for our own use.

As we take part in the arduous process of attempting to figure all this out, we also have to take a long, mindful look at how we humans supervise ourselves. Otherwise, we could well become one with the very creatures we are straining to save. And if that materializes, what new wilderness would we humans discover ourselves forced to live in, and who (or what) would attempt to save us?

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