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  • Suburban Wildlife Link Dump

    Posted by Dan from Madison on December 16th, 2008 (All posts by )

    A few days ago I left my gym after another great workout. It was around 9pm. The parking lot and surrounding area was cold and dark. The usual silence was broken by a sound I hadn’t heard for 30 years, since I visited a family friends’ farm. I heard the distinct sound of coyotes howling. It sounded exactly like this.



    I was shocked and not shocked at the same time. I have written rather extensively on the coming issues we have with animals encroaching back into suburbs and cities. On the one hand I was surprised to hear the coyotes so close to me smack dab in the middle of Madison, Wisconsin. They sounded very excited, and I surmised that they were celebrating a kill, be it a domestic dog or perhaps a deer. On the other hand I remembered all I had written about the seemingly increasing populations of wild animals in what used to be a “no mans land” for wild animals – urban centers. After thinking about it a while, it really is no surprise. The zoo does indeed seem to be coming to us.

    All of my evidence that I have presented in my writings seems to support the idea that burgeoning populations of coyotes, turkeys, cougars, birds of prey, deer, and other creatures seem to be popping up in and around cities. Also, all of my evidence is totally and completely anecdotal. I am not a wildlife expert, but have a keen interest in this subject. Every single comment I have received here and at other blogs that I write at seems to support one general theme. The theme is that wildlife is almost certainly exploding in population and making a move into cities from the country. I remember some thirty years ago, when I was a boy seeing a deer and thinking it was an act of god. Now there is hardly a day that goes by where I don’t see at least one and usually more deer on my way to work. That is only the beginning of what I see as one very large critter problem that we will have to deal with in the very near future.

    I am not talking about the idea of “urban sprawl”. I am more interested in investigating communities that have been around for quite some time that are now getting visitors that they haven’t had for quite some time. Of note, deer and coyotes seem to be making gigantic comebacks. The cougar populations in the plains are swelling too, causing the males to begin making treks outside of their normal lands to find their own hunting and breeding grounds.

    But enough of that, on with the links. Today we will cover cougars, coyotes and birds of prey.

    Cougars:

    Reports from Louisiana, Nebraska (YOW that is one LARGE kitty), Nebraska again (nice shot!), South Dakota (again, nice shot), Manitoba, Saskatoon.

    Coyotes:

    General info about coyotes. Northeast USA, Chicago (youtube link – excellent job by animal control btw), Dallas, New York City, Pittsburgh, Columbus.

    Birds of Prey:

    Peregrine Falcons in Iowa, Ann Arbor, Buffalo, and general information about the comeback of the Peregrine.

    Urban Hawks - A whole blog about the birds of prey in NYC. Amazing photos. Red Tailed Hawk in San Francisco. I see a lot of these around Madison. Also, Red Tailed Hawks in Boston, New York City (good photos), Cleveland and Omaha.

    Eagles: Arlington, New Haven, Dublin, CA, Baltimore, Orlando.

    If this subject interests you, visit Jonathan’s new blog Subdivision Wildlife , and if you have any photos of urban or surburban wildlife, submit them to me at johnstone185 at gmail dot com, or to Jonathan at submit at subdivisionwildlife dot com.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

     

    11 Responses to “Suburban Wildlife Link Dump”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks for the link!

    2. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “In Berlin’s Boar War, Some Side With the Hogs: City Appoints Urban Hunters to Track Streetwise Swine; Three Pigs in Day Care” by Marcus Walker in the Wall Street Journal on 16 Dec 2008[$ub$cription website]:

      Boars are really nasty destructive creatures:

      Boars like to dig up worms and grubs with their snouts, churning manicured gardens into muddy battlefields. They’ve plowed up parks, cemeteries and even the training ground of Berlin’s major-league soccer team, Herta BSC. The swine are an obstacle on Berlin’s streets, where 211 have died in traffic accidents in the past eight months.

      The city fathers have taken action:

      The growing threat to life, limb and lawns has led Berlin to take extraordinary measures. In 2002, City Hall began appointing special Stadtj√§ger, or “urban hunters.” Some are police by day, others are veterinarians. A couple, like Mr. Eggert, are foresters. Their quarry is streetwise.

      The hunters have had limited success:

      Hunters have shot over 500 boars in urban areas since April, but boar numbers keep rising. Up to 7,000 now live in the city, Mr. Ehlert estimates.

      Of course, the people in Berlin are anxious to protect themselves and their property:

      But despite the porcine problem, part of Berlin’s human population is siding with the boars against those who shoot them. Urban hunters have been beaten with sticks, called “murderers” and had their tires slashed.

    3. James R. Rummel Says:

      Long time readers know how I feel about wild pigs.

      If you read the essay I linked to, you will know that I had a run in with a wild boar in Texas a few decades back while hunting on a private ranch. The place was maintained by an old Mexican and his wife, as well as a large number of his family.

      One of his sons was driving the pickup that would periodically travel along the dirt roads criss crossing the ranch, giving me a chance to load up my trophies and ride back to the bunkhouse. He would always just stop the vehicle and wait while I wrestled the deer I had shot into the bed, staring straight ahead and never even glancing in my direction.

      But that changed the day I shot the pigs. He got out of the pickup and stared at my scratched up, dirty face for the first time. Then he took off his hat and bowed his head to me, an act that was so shocking that the memory makes me uncomfortable even after all this time.

      It was a day for firsts, since he loaded the boar into the pickup and refused to let me help. He went into a huddle with his father as soon as we arrived back at the lodge, and then the old man did the hat-off-and-bow thing himself. For the rest of my stay, all the males of the family would snatch their headgear off every time I made an appearance, while the women would say the rosary.

      It was tough to find out what was going on, and I’m not completely sure that I have the whole story, but it seems that a few of their kids were killed by the boars some years before my trip. I suppose they mistakenly thought I’d killed the pigs by going hand-to-hand, and thought I was the fleshly instrument of divine retribution. God’s deadly messenger from Ohio, no less.

      According to the WSJ article, one man has been killed already. The “nature is wonderful” crowd don’t really seem to mind since he was trying to kill the pig at the time. These German boars don’t seem as mean as the Texas variety, but I’m really worried about what can happen if a child decides they want to pet a piglet while the sow is nearby.

      I wonder if Berlin will give me a job? I don’t speak German, but I do have some experience with the hands-on details when it comes to this kind of work.

      James

    4. Dan from Madison Says:

      Good info guys, I had never heard of these wild boar issues. And a great story, James.

    5. Trent Telenko Says:

      My wife saw a feral sow pig in my inner suburban Dallas, Texas neighborhood a couple of weeks ago.

      It was a couple of blocks from te intersection at Buckner and Fergison.

    6. Upriver Says:

      Back in Brazil a friend of mine unloaded a Magnum 44 on the top of the forehead of one of these beasts before it stopped, a few feet before him. Nasty things.

      Delicious meat though. Probably one of the best dishes you can have in rural Japan: ask for botan-nabe. Rare and expensive but truly down-to-earth, savory dish.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      (Shameless self-promotion: Anyone who wants to post pig photos, videos or stories on SubdivisionWildlife.com is more than welcome to submit them to me at submit at subdivisionwildlife dotcom or the chicagoboyz support email address.)

    8. Firehand Says:

      The Disneyfied animal-lover types, for the most part have no idea
      A: just how dangerous a wild pig can be, and
      B: you don’t have to do something YOU think is ‘provocation’ to set them off; it’s what the pig decides ticks him off.

    9. Maureen Says:

      I don’t care how you kill a wild boar (short of bombs from 10,000 feet). Killing a boar is an act of bravery, craziness, and/or desperation. Performing such an act and surviving deserves respect.

    10. Mitchy Says:

      LOL@killing a boar deserving ‘respect’, or how ‘dangerous’ boars can be.

      I’ve hunted hundreds of wild boar in the gulf of carpentaria. They are nothing to be scared of. My 12 year old cousin doesn’t even bat an eyelid while taking aim at one running towards him, as they are stupid beasts that are easily outwitted and killed.

      Come back and gloat when you’ve hunted big game that stalks you back — as in a true man-hunting predator — which is a boar is not (lol).

      Oh, and the idea that civilization has kept predators at bay, and that there is some ‘new’ trend towards them encroaching on urbanized areas, is ludicrous. Maybe in America that’s the case, but in the rest of of the world humans have coexisted with predators for a millenia. In some places predators still coexist with humans (India and tigers for instance, or aboriginal communities and crocodiles in the northern territory, actually any large Australian town with a river above the tropic of capricorn runs the risk of having crocodiles). But rather than rely on some anecdotes, why don’t you go check out Hans Kruuk’s ‘Hunter and Hunted: Relationships Between Carnivores and People’ or David Quamen’s ‘Monsters of God’. Both books talk about the historical, and ongoing, relationships between predators and humans.

    11. JohnR Says:

      If you don’t want to shoot a hog, here is an alternative:

      http://www.lonesomepineknives.com/HawgHunts.asp

      Larry Harley swears that you can kill a hog much quicker with a knife than with a gun. And Mitchy, take a look at the tusks on those swine and tell me that they couldn’t hurt you really badly.