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Urban Wildlife Increase
Old 08-04-2018, 03:42 PM   #1
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Urban Wildlife Increase

The rain finally left so I tore myself away from the keyboard, and ER.org, and went outside to turn over my backyard compost pile. Immediately, I had an amazing wildlife encounter, right here in the city of Raleigh, NC.

Before I explain, a few questions for you:

- Has wildlife increased where you live?
- If so, what kind?
- Is any dangerous?
- What is the most dangerous?
- Do you like/love it, or hate it?

My encounter today was all by surprise. I was turning my compost pile in the deep woods of my backyard. Without warning, a small bird flew between my legs from behind and landed on the pile, against the back mesh. Whoa! But wait, the real surprise was a hawk came right on its tail and brushed by my ear and landed on the pile behind the bird. I yelled, "What THE!" and scared both animals away. Birds are precise and neither hit me. I think the sensation in both cases was of the breeze from the wings. However, I have to say having a hawk graze your ear is an amazing experience.

In retrospect, I was fascinated by the smarts of the small bird. I think it saw safety in the big oaf human, me. It used me as a shield of sorts. My yelling was not well accepted by the hawk, and it suddenly realized the big oaf with a shovel may not be too kind.

I have never seen a hawk up that close, merely 2 ft. away. Beautiful. Dangerous. But scared too.

Mostly, I embrace all the wildlife we see regularly. The recent addition of the bald eagle nesting pair, only 1/4 mile away is great. Right in the city!

As for the wildlife, I usually embrace it. But some days, I curse it. One word about that. Ticks.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:48 PM   #2
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We have squirrels, moles, snakes, armadillos, deer, a red fox, large turtles, cockroaches (big ones), ticks, and mosquitos. There are birds, too. Plus a protected eagle's nest nearby. All this in a town of 130,000 that is adjacent to a city of 5 million.

There are more bugs and birds, but I can't name them all.

Oh, I almost forgot about the lizards that try to get in the house.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:50 PM   #3
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- Has wildlife increased where you live?
Heck yes. As the urban forest has become more mature, the bird life has blown up. Hawks, owls and eagles have moved in over the last 2 decades. Deer own the ground level.

- If so, what kind?
Deer, deer and more deer. Deer to me are tick UBER. Beavers too, but the city tends to relocate them. Flying squirrels are sneaky fun to watch if you stay up late. The bald eagle nest is the talk of the town. Crowds come to visit a nearby park and watch them in spring. They take off later in the year. The eagles are amazingly tolerant of city life.

- Is any dangerous?
Yes. We don't have alligators. We have copper head snakes. Black widow and brown recluse spiders can be trouble. But my greatest fear is TICKS. I hate ticks and they are on an incredible increase. They carry all kinds of diseases.

- What is the most dangerous?
Ticks and copper heads.

- Do you like/love it, or hate it?
Mostly love it. I watch for snakes and let them be. Most copper head problems are due to surprises. You have to give them a warning. Don't plant a foot or bare hand in a rocky area before rousting them out with a rake or something.

Ticks. Well, I'm a DEET addict now.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:55 PM   #4
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I think it has increased. We've lived here 23 years. About 2 months ago I saw my first coyote ever walking through the back yard. Then about 2 weeks ago I saw my first fox ever. He/she roamed around the backyard for almost an hour. What a beautiful creature.

We have hawks in the yard all the time. The closest for me was years ago when I was sitting about 5 or 6 feet from the bird feeder. A hawk swooped down and nailed a bird who was on the ground below the feeder. We also had one swoop at our yorkie one time. We kept a close eye on her after that.

Just now I watched a groundhog amble across the deck and through the yard. We also have raccoons, squirrels, possums, chipmunks, skunks, snakes, toads, frogs and even a turtle in our pool one time (a snapper!) and all kinds of birds.
I love all our wildlife.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:57 PM   #5
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I think the deer population are losing here as development is pushing them out and many does are getting hit by cars and trucks.

It's hard to tell about the rest of the wildlife as long as we have trees, protected areas, large water bodies, bayous, and some state forest lands.

Of course, the Houston are is *at seal level* pretty much, and tropical, so we are technically living in a giant swamp. We do have alligators as far north as us, but they tend to stay in the lakes and ponds.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:07 PM   #6
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I haven't lived in Toronto for almost 37 years, (the Greater Toronto Area population is now ~ 6.4 million), but the raccoon, skunk, and even coyote population appears to be increasing exponentially, (hey, why 'work' when there are goodies for the taking...trash for the coons & skunks, pet dogs for the coyotes).

Even before I left there was an abundance of wildlife......out for a run early one morning, circa 1978, I even saw a brace of pheasant.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:23 PM   #7
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I haven't lived in Toronto for almost 37 years, (the Greater Toronto Area population is now ~ 6.4 million), but the raccoon, skunk, and even coyote population appears to be increasing exponentially, (hey, why 'work' when there are goodies for the taking...trash for the coons & skunks, pet dogs for the coyotes).

Even before I left there was an abundance of wildlife......out for a run early one morning, circa 1978, I even saw a brace of pheasant.
Or pet food. Good point that a lot of "wild" life is being fed by the humans.

aja8888: did flooding have any effect? In Raleigh, we have all this green space and the deer own it. There is no culling. They move from that up to the yards and munch on the nice flowers. Again, no fear of anything.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:25 PM   #8
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- Has wildlife increased where you live?
- If so, what kind?
- Is any dangerous?
- What is the most dangerous?
- Do you like/love it, or hate it?
Deer seem to be on the increase and of course they are the most dangerous. I recall reading that WV and PA lead the nation in deaths caused by collisions with deer.

The rest of the wildlife pretty much stays down in the woods that our back yard backs up to. We see some wild turkey, an occasional fox (saw one in a fight with a neighbor's cat, when the fox saw me it ran) groundhogs, and an occasional black snake. Although there are supposed to be copperheads around here I've never seen one, and that's fine by me!

Oh, and down by the pond there are are ducks, geese, and the occasional swan.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:34 PM   #9
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I live in a small residential town at the beach in NE Fl. I went outside this morning to feed one of my outdoor cats who adopted us a few years back. It took 4+ months to gain her trust but the past 3 years she loved staying in the back yard sunning herself and chasing lizard. I built places for her to stay and a number of places for her to lounge. Every time I would go outside she would run to me for head rubs and belly rubs.


This morning she didn't come running for her breakfast. I found what was left of her ripped apart by a coyote. This is not the first time coyotes have attacked small pets in this town. In one development there have been dozens killed in the past couple of weeks. The towns response has been to coexist


We also have many raccoons and we are constantly getting rabies alerts. I wonder what the town commissioners will say if one of their family members is attacked by a rabid coyote. Coexist?


It is a sad day today
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:43 PM   #10
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Deer seem to be on the increase and of course they are the most dangerous. I recall reading that WV and PA lead the nation in deaths caused by collisions with deer.

The rest of the wildlife pretty much stays down in the woods that our back yard backs up to. We see some wild turkey, an occasional fox (saw one in a fight with a neighbor's cat, when the fox saw me it ran) groundhogs, and an occasional black snake. Although there are supposed to be copperheads around here I've never seen one, and that's fine by me!

Oh, and down by the pond there are are ducks, geese, and the occasional swan.
Walt, good point about the car deaths by deer.

I'm surprised you haven't seen a copperhead. Then again, you may be just far enough north from us. They are everywhere here.

Growing up in Chicago as a kid, during the DDT years, there was nothing. I'd read about all this stuff and it seemed like fantasy. Now, if some visitor asks, it is simple. Wanna see a black widow? termite? fox? deer? copperhead? Sure, no problem.

OK, maybe an exaggeration. But I can produce termites and black widows at will.

BTW, a neighbor got struck by a copperhead on his back deck. The snake felt that the empty space under his dog water bowl made a perfect place to coil. When he reached for the bowl to refill the water, the snake was unhappy with the sudden exposure and struck. He had quite a hospital bill from that. (anti-venon + fasciotomy)
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:47 PM   #11
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I live in a small residential town at the beach in NE Fl. I went outside this morning to feed one of my outdoor cats who adopted us a few years back. It took 4+ months to gain her trust but the past 3 years she loved staying in the back yard sunning herself and chasing lizard. I built places for her to stay and a number of places for her to lounge. Every time I would go outside she would run to me for head rubs and belly rubs.
Badger, sorry to hear about your story of your friend!

Coyotes are definitely a newer problem in the east, mostly in the last decade or two. Raleigh has seen an increase, along with foxes. Foxes are easier to live with then coyotes.

My sister in Chicago lost a beloved pet to a coyote. Very sad.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:53 PM   #12
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Of course there's more wildlife in urban areas, we're in their world. Been happening my whole life.

I just came home and there's two mule deer munching on grass in a guys yard. He doesn't feed them but there's always trophy mule deer in his yard. I sent a father/daughter pair of hunter's there last fall for pictures. There were 3 trophy deer in the front yard. This house is on very busy road half a mile from the closest thing resembling a highway in the area.

There are mountain lions in this area. This spring the conservative department was trapping for one in the canyon below our house. Not sure if they captured it, but we're not seeing deer carcasses anymore.

My barber told me a local was feeding mule deer downtown last year. Most deer migrate to lower altitudes, but a few stay, especially if they have easy food. Apparently a lion had a couple of deer snacks and his neighbors had a discussion with him about liability if the lion ate a child.

When I was in the KC area there were always rumors about mountain lions. The conservative department took the line of: "They don't exist, people are mistaking Bobcats for lions. If Lions do exist, they're escaped captive animals!".

Then one was hit and killed on a major metro highway. A mature male living in a boxed in area between major Interstate highways! He and much wildlife lived in those 50 island like acres. He was apparently going out looking for love!

We spent ten years 62 miles away from KC in an area that was mostly farm land. Our town was under 250 folks, most related. We had all kinds of wildlife in our front "yard". I had taken whitetail deer from the front porch.
One day a funny looking yellow lab walked around a pond. It moved stealthy, like a cat, nobody in the area had or had seen a yellow lab....?
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:59 PM   #13
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BTW, a neighbor got struck by a copperhead on his back deck. The snake felt that the empty space under his dog water bowl made a perfect place to coil. When he reached for the bowl to refill the water, the snake was unhappy with the sudden exposure and struck. He had quite a hospital bill from that. (anti-venon + fasciotomy)
I've seen several news stories about the "sticker shock" people get from the bill after being treated for snakebites. It seems $40k-$60k or more is not at all uncommon. That anti-venom is expensive stuff! And if you look at youtube videos of how they collect the venom you can see why - handling poisonous snakes all day probably pays pretty good, but the worker's life expectancy is the pits.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:00 PM   #14
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aja8888: did flooding have any effect? In Raleigh, we have all this green space and the deer own it. There is no culling. They move from that up to the yards and munch on the nice flowers. Again, no fear of anything.
Not that we could tell. This area is pretty used to flooding (greater Houston) and there are bayous everywhere that eventually lead to the Gulf. Larger animals will flee north to find drier land, and we have lots of it in that direction (but increasingly getting developed).
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:07 PM   #15
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There are mountain lions in this area.
When I lived in British Columbia there were often problems with cougar incursions, particularly on Vancouver Island, (one crashed through a woman's basement bathroom window in Victoria).

These are mainly adolescent males without an established territory; the older males who have laid claim to a territory will drive them out while, (of course), permitting young females to remain.

Nowhere else to go, nowhere else to hunt, they're hungry, so these adolescent males drift toward (human) populated areas.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:07 PM   #16
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I've seen several news stories about the "sticker shock" people get from the bill after being treated for snakebites. It seems $40k-$60k or more is not at all uncommon. That anti-venom is expensive stuff! And if you look at youtube videos of how they collect the venom you can see why - handling poisonous snakes all day probably pays pretty good, but the worker's life expectancy is the pits.
This is exactly what my neighbor said the final bill was. It also included some time in the hospital. The anti-venom was $20k or so (10 years ago).

Edit: "... is the pits ...". Walt, you wise guy!
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:10 PM   #17
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When I was in the KC area there were always rumors about mountain lions. The conservative department took the line of: "They don't exist, people are mistaking Bobcats for lions. If Lions do exist, they're escaped captive animals!".
We have that going on in central NC with regard to alligators. Every now and then, one shows up in a pond or lake. It is always called out as a released captive, or a prank. Apparently, some jokers will capture one at the coast and release it up here for fun.

Last winter was too cruel for alligators (we had a night down to 0 F). However, I would not be surprised to see some over-winter during a milder year.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:12 PM   #18
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I'm in a suburb close enough to KC that my neighbor is within the KC boundaries. I live on a lake, which makes a difference, but I've seen deer in my yard several times, the occasional red fox in the street, and also the occasional box turtle in addition to many aquatic fowl. We're periodically reminded that if we find a turtle the the street we should take it across the street (in whatever direction it was headed) so it doesn't get run over.

Not sure how it's changed; I've been here only 3 years. The deer don't seem to have a big appetite for my shrubs, for which I'm thankful. The only real danger is probably ticks and I need to be more careful about them. And the only critter I REALLY wish I could shoot to kill are the Canada geese, with the squirrels a close second.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:22 PM   #19
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And the only critter I REALLY wish I could shoot to kill are the Canada geese
Back when, in Toronto, (where they abound), someone came up with the idea of culling & cooking the geese as free food for the homeless.

The homeless apparently thought this was a great idea, but the SJWs (or whatever they were called back them), denounced the suggestion as 'discriminatory'......so the birds thrived and the homeless went hungry.

Probably a moral in there somewhere.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:29 PM   #20
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And the only critter I REALLY wish I could shoot to kill are the Canada geese, with the squirrels a close second.
Yes, the geese are loathsome creatures, there are always some at the storm pond a couple blocks away. We were lucky for a few years, when the golf course was open the owner had hired a groundskeeper who also owned a Border Collie trained to chase geese away. Naturally everyone in the neighborhood loved that dog!

Sadly, when the gold course closed the groundskeeper left and had the audacity to take his dog with him. The geese returned shortly after.
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