19 June 2013

Suburb Reverting to Nature?

Early this month, a coyote bit the dog of one of my writing-group friends, Karen Day. This was, the local newspaper reported, one of more than fifty recent coyote sightings in town.

In addition, our suburb’s police killed a black bear that was hanging in a tree over the highway. Wild turkeys are walking the roads—twenty roosted in my side yard a couple of years ago. I routinely see rabbits on the sidewalks.

Indeed, there are so many rabbits in the suburbs close to Boston that Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters has invested in a artificial coyote (as shown above) to scare them away from the plantings. It doesn’t seem to be working; the site’s Facebook page featured a photo of a rabbit sitting happily beside the coyote figure. But perhaps the coyote that bit Karen’s dog will make its way there.

I grew up in this area, and the only wild mammals I remember seeing are raccoons, squirrels, and chipmunks. I saw ducks and geese down at the ponds but no turkeys. I was a kid; I would’ve gotten all excited about bunnies, and my parents would certainly have taken note of coyotes and bears.

What’s changed? One possibility is that we’re simply seeing the result of population cycles among those species. Another is that decades of environmental improvements have made this neighborhood more hospitable to turkeys, rabbits, and other wildlife, and the predators have followed. And then there’s the opposite explanation: that more development further out from the city has driven those animals out of their previous homes into ours.

1 comment:

Tam B said...

I live directly north of you near Ottawa - we are also seeing black bears and coyotes and turkeys where they have not been seen since the 1950s. I know that the wild turkey presence was due to wildlife conservation projects to reintroduce them. But the big predators? Not sure. There are rumours of cougars around here, and I certainly hope those are not true.