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article imageOp-Ed: Urban bears, mountain lions? That’s what’s being predicted

By Paul Wallis     Oct 6, 2012 in Environment
Sydney - If you think urban coyotes are fun, you’re in luck. Scientists are now predicting the movement of bigger predators into the cities. The reasoning is fascinating. Apparently the carnivores are cashing in on a softer life.
Equally apparently, the issues with dangerous feral animals aren’t understood.
Science Daily:
For at least six years, a coyote community has maintained its existence within about a third of a square mile. "That's an indication that they don't have to go far to find food and water. They're finding everything they need right there, in the suburbs of Chicago," said Stan Gehrt, an associate professor of environment and natural resources at Ohio State University who has led the tracking of coyotes around Chicago for 12 years. "It amazes me."
On the subject of larger carnivores-
The bigger ones include wolves, mountain lions and bears. Mountain lions have been seen on the fringes of cities already, and one was shot near the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago.
"They are going to be an even bigger challenge," Gehrt said.
Gee, ya think?
Take a look at the hopeless efforts to “manage” coyotes. Coyotes have spread across the US and North America in the last decade. They’re now routinely reported as attacking and eating domestic pets. They’ve expanded their range so fast that they’ve gone from near extinction to being a real nuisance. They’re also a risky animal to argue with. In groups, they’re no joke.
Gehrt’s coyote couch potatoes obviously have plenty of support in their area. Typically, when animals have lots of food and support, populations explode. What happens when numbers rise isn’t clear. In the US, so far, not much. Apparently the world’s most heavily armed nation isn’t too good at dealing with coyotes, pests or not.
Coyotes eat anything they can find. They’re the North American hyena/jackal, active hunters as well as scavengers. In theory, they could replace a lot of waste management contractors, but in practice they seem to prefer to freelance.
The rationale for the failure to manage coyotes is cost. Gehrt says it’s a matter of cost benefits. Programs used to exist to remove coyotes, but of course now people know better and it’s cheaper to have dangerous animals around to do anything with them. You’ll soon be able to hear the sounds of the kids coming home from school and saying how they nearly got bitten, septicaemia, etc. as yet another case of cheapskate environmental and social laziness becomes a way of life.
This is an interesting point:
Humans have not been a predominantly urban species for all that long worldwide, though about 80 percent of U.S. residents live in cities. One reason humans flocked to cities was to get away from the risks associated with living near wild carnivores.
As a matter of fact, walled cities were designed to keep people out and provide shelter for those members of the population who didn’t particularly want to get massacred by other humans. It’s fairly difficult to farm in the middle of a road and farmers simply dealt with their rural conditions as best they could. Dangerous animals were exterminated on sight and kept in check by dogs.
The legal situation is that the city authorities are responsible for managing their areas. (Two naughty words in one sentence… managing and responsible. How unfashionable.) If you’re attacked by a coyote, a dinosaur or other environmental hazard, the city is potentially liable. Yes, even the two legged coyotes can be sued for something. This little fact may or may not persuade city authorities to take their jobs seriously, but it’s great class action fodder.
The likely result, of course, is that city, state and local governments will do their usual hopelessly inadequate jobs of cutting services while refusing to actually do anything to justify payment of taxes to them. Taxes are supposed to be paying for services, not just the salaries of useless political careerist sleazebags. See if you can find anyone in public office anywhere on Earth who knows that little fact or understands it. Meanwhile forget about safety in your local place of residence.
So given the usual level of total incompetence, expect lions, bears, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalo, and probably crocodiles in your neighbourhood soon. The same people who’ve failed for nearly two generations to do anything at all about street crime are going to go to “work” on feral animals. They’ll figure out a “good outcome” and “achieve a cost-effective management profile”. Meaning they’ll do absolutely nothing.
Gehrt appears to feel that coyotes fear humans and that’s how it should be. Maybe he should be more worried about the inevitable clash of humans and wild carnivores, particularly large ones. This road leads straight back to the Stone Age.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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