Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NEW NEIGHBORS IN OLD CITIES


Those of you in the North American TV viewing range may have seen the recent History Channel series called Life After People. It showed how the earth and nature would rebound in stages after some unspecified disaster or event caused all the humans to disappear. The cause of the human departure was not important, and served only as the device to show how the planet would change. In later segments, the show dealt with the crumbling of buildings and other structures in the decades and centuries to that followed the departure of humans, but one of the first big changes to occur would be that any surviving domestic animals would quickly turn feral, and the wild animals would move into cities to occupy niches not available to them for many generations. The show painted quite an intriguing picture of how quickly things can alter without us. Then, a few days ago, an article on a Detroit news website caught my eye. The title said: Red Foxes Moving to Downtown Detroit.

Apparently, sightings of the shy and elusive red fox in the downtown core, as well as the urban residential areas, is becoming fairly common. And it’s not just the foxes. There’s also an increase of raccoons, opossums, deer, skunks, and some raptors, all of them moving in to take advantage of the increased habitat. And that habitat is the abandoned lots and homes in Detroit, a city hit harder than most by the economic downturn. Uncut lawns quickly turn to prime real estate for small rodents and birds that attract many of these small-prey predators. In some neighborhoods, several empty lots in a row are creating whole new segments of woodland or open grassland. And that means more food for the larger vegetarian browsers. It wouldn’t surprise me if this kind of thing were happening in other large older cities that suffer from the same urban decline. These local parts of the planet are changing, just like in the History Channel series. The people may not have completely gone, but nature never lets anything go to waste, so the animals are moving back in.




Photos from Google images: Fox from www.rivernen.ca/anim_fox.htm Deer and cat from boldt.us/humor/deer_cat_window.jpg.html

9 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Terrific post, Deborah! Love the photos, particularly the deer and the cat! It is interesting what is happening in old cities. We still have plenty of squirrels and raccoons, but so far there are still far too many people -- or maybe it just seems that way to me, to attract any other species -- yet!

Aleta said...

I watched that show and it was interesting. But wow - to know it's "happening" in some way. It's understandable though, the changes that are being brought about. If we weren't here, our existenc would be crumbled cement slabs. After Katrina, no animals were around (other than the ones abandoned by the owners and left in the homes). No birds, nothing. It was deathly quiet. Other than the bees and wasps and those were ticked off and stinging anything that moved. When people returned, it was slow. We saw crops of watermelon and strawberries in the front yard, because of the seeds being dispursed from the waters.... and yes, rodents and stray cats took residence in the empty homes. But nothing like the fox and deer (cool pictures by the way).

Lin said...

interesting thought and photos...I know bears are also more common and moose here in Utah for those who build in the foothills.

Annie said...

There is something very sad and bittersweet about this post. I also could not help but think that with animals moving into urban areas such as described in Detroit, unauthorized hunting might start. When money is limited, people get creative and a bow and arrow won't attract much attention because of its silence.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I didn't see that show, Deb, but I do worry about the critters. Everytime I hear them clearing a wooded lot up here to build another house, I think about all of the critters who live in that lot. Who cares?????

We humans need to learn to share.... But that is sad--what is happening in Detroit and other places around the country.
Hugs,
Betsy

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Interesting. We have always had moose and deer wandering into town, even downtown Portland, but lately we see fox and coyotes all the time. Around here, the living space of wildlife is getting smaller each year. What are they supposed to do?

I wish I had seen that program.

Dee said...

What a thought provoking post! I heard some parts of that show on the History Channel. I tend to have the TV on as background noise so I didn't watch it closely but what I heard was fascinating. We have urban coyotes and javelina here in Tucson-pushed into the city by the ever expanding city taking over their natural desert land. They dine on neighborhood cats and dogs and the like....

Cloudia said...

Yes, great post!

And large snakes are all over Florida now. glad I live in snakeless Hawaii!

Detroit is a fascinating city. Do you know Walking Man?

Aloha-

Comfort Spiral

Rose said...

I was in Terre Haute two or three years ago, and right in the middle of town, there were a couple of bob whites walking down the side walk.

I live in a small town...I think around 8,000, and a few years ago, a neighbor across the alley had a deer get in its chain-link fence.

It got scared and instead of jumping out just tried to run through it. It got so excited/scared it ended up killing itself.

Not quite sure why I am telling all this...