I was just watching a doco about reindeer in Finland, and it got me wondering about just how common it is for your average Joe in metropolitan London or Budapest or Singapore or Los Angeles or Boston to come across native species in their daily lives.
Here in inner-suburban southern Oz, it is practically mundane to encounter both ringtail and brushtail possums, whilst in the ‘green’ bits (parklands within a few k’s of the CBD), you will find all sorts of reptilia, echidnas and perhaps a platypus or two if you’re lucky.
A brief jaunt towards the outskirts of the cities will see kangaroos and wallabies aplenty (and not just as road-kill either) as well as koalas and bandicoots and numbats etc, often residing in the backyards of average houses on average 1/4 acre blocks.
New Zealand isn’t as big on native mammals as Australia (bats and seals are about the only ones), but in metropolitan Auckland we see and hear native birds (tui, fantail, white-eye, herons, cormorants, terns), plus there are the native skinks and wetas.
Foxes are very commoneven in the centre of most British cities. If you want deer you’d have to go to a deer park or out into the suburbs, but we do get them. If you do include suburbs then plenty more animals can be found in people’s domestic gardens – badgers, bats, squirrels, rodents and amphibians of various kinds etc., etc.
In the DC area, the deer population has been out of control for the past 15 years in Rock Creek Park. A ranger told me that the only measure they have of the deer census is how many of them smack into moving cars. They don’t know how many there are, but they know the population has doubled in recent years. Deer wander out of the park and into neighborhoods regularly. One walked into a subway station a few months ago.
In a celebrated case from about 10 years ago, a moose was seen in several Boston suburbs, within about 10 miles of the city center. He apparently wandered along a railroad track, thus avoiding the problem of crossing roads.
While authorities were scrambling to come up with a plan to capture and remove him, he decided he’d seen enough, turned around and ambled north again.
Construction sites in the city of Chicago are no longer allowed to use wood for the ground level portion of scaffolding - seems beaver have moved back into the area and were mistaking them for trees, causing great damage and annoyance.
In addition to the ubiquitous deer, we have the usual rabbits, squirrels, mice, rats, bats, oppossums, and raccooms. More than one coyote has been found in the downtown Loop area.
Birds include the urban pigeon, seagulls, crows, sparrows, wrens, and small brown miscellanous birds I can’t identify. We also have red-tail and peregrine hawks, ospreys, falcons, owls (various), ravens, and blue herons.
And, oh yes, yesterday one of those nutcases who keep exotic big cats had his lion get loose, but I wouldn’t describe that as a native species. In the rural areas you ocassionally see an escapee from one of the ostrich or emu farms, but, again, those aren’t natives.
One was on 16th street a few weeks ago at 5:00 am and nearly caused the metro bus I was on to crash. I guess that’s the price we pay for having a beautiful park in the middle of our city. I love to eat venison though-that would cure that situation.
There are goddamn armadillos all over Orlando. Of course, we aren’t exactly a London/Shanghai/those other places you said.
You’ll see a dead snake in the road every couple weeks too. Once it was a constrictor of some kind; I’m fairly sure there are no native constrictors, but either way this one was at least nine feet long.
Oh, and we’re a lot more likely to have a gator napping on the porch than the rest of you (although some of you will have crocs, no doubt).
Big belly-aching laughs Krokodil! I’m truly a dumb blonde! Are you serious? Any recommendations? I don’t stray there very often. I’m fairly new to the area and am afraid of violence that I hear about on the news, though I love Salvadoran food.
Seriously, it’s great to bike there and be surrounded by nature and beautiful animals considering the jungle we live and work in. The animals at National Zoo aren’t faring so well lately, though.
Racoons, woodchucks/groundhogs, skunks, (and, of course, squirrels and rats) are common in all the northeastern U.S. cities. Foxes can be found, but are more rare.
In the last 20 years, coyotes (that have expanded out of the far west into the rest of North America as their wolf competition has been eliminated) have been wandering into the cities, probably along rail lines.
Cleveland has deer fairly close to the center of the city, but that is probably due to the park network that encircles the city, with several branches leading in toward the center. Ohio has a fairly restrictive deer hunting season, so there is no psuedo-natural method of control, leading to a lot more urban deer than in, say, Michigan. (Growing up 25 miles outside Detroit, seeing a deer was a big event. 40 years later, living 25 miles from downtown Cleveland, it is no big deal to find a small herd in my back yard every couple of years.)
I live in a suburb of boston (adjoining a 44-acre wooded park). We have:
-woodchucks (one ate my flower garden last summer)
and: wild turkeys! (One was in my backyard, eating spilled seeds from the bird feeder)!
In Victoria we’d have tons of deer, pheasants, mink, otter, eagles, hawks and on two occasions, a cougar in the yard.
When I was in Vancouver, I often saw coyotes, skunks, raccoons and a couple peregrines. If you were up in the hills, it wouldn’t be odd to see black bear. I recall that before I moved away the city was having problems with the coyotes starting to bite children.
Besides the already mentioned squirrels, rats, mice, possums and raccons, I have occasionally come across rabbits here in Houston. We have lots of owls and there’s a hawk that lives near my office. Snakes are around, but you almost never see them - I think cottonmouths and rattlers are the only dangerous ones in this area.
A co-worker’s wife recently encountered a big cat while out for a walk. We guessed it was probably a cougar, as they’re sometimes seen. And once in a blue moon an alligator crawls up out of a bayou - that’ll make the newspaper.
My parents in Lexington Ky get opossums, raccoons, and muskrats in the yard, as well as herons, ducks, shorebirds, hawks, vultures, and owls.
In Albuquerque we sometimes get black bears in town, particularly after a dry summer in which the bears have not been able to find enough food in the woods. Cougars and bobcats occaisionally venture into town too. There are beaver and coyotes along the river, screech owls nesting on buildings downtown, and deer wandering into yards on the edge of town to devour peoples’ rose bushes.
In the part of town where I live there used to be prairie dog colonies in the vacant lots, but some #@# poisoned them.
In addition to all the other Boston fauna anecdotes already mentioned, I have it on good authority that there are active coyote dens in the so-called Emerald Necklace (the specific place I read about was near Jamaica and Leverett ponds). I would think Franklin Park and the Arboretum probably have them as well. Supposedly there are rattlesnakes on Blue Hill.
We had a black bear wander into our town 25 miles from downtown Boston a few years back.
Boston harbor also gets harbor seals, Logan airport has snowy owls most winters, there was a gyrfalcon (a large Arctic falcon) hanging out in South Boston the last couple of winters, and peregrines live downtown.
I’ve posted this link before to a site with pictures taken by automatic cameras of animals in three Wildlife Refuges outside Boston:
Actually, the Moose in Boston suburbs happens about once every two or three years. The most recent was in 2002, IIRC.
Here in Rochester, NY, we’ve got a deer problem, too. About four years ago a gentleman was killed when a buck was hit by a car two or three cars ahead of him, flipped into the air, and landed rack first into his windshield. We have also had problems with feral dogs and cats, as most American cities do, and back in 2000 there was the great Webster Wallaby scare, where apparantly a few wallaby that got loose from a private collection had been seen in fall wandering about.
While I was living in the NYC area, about the time that Manhattanites were freaking about the coyote living in Riverside park, I was shocked when I had a 'possum walk into my apartment one rainy winter evening. I was shocked that an animal so known for lethargy and stupidity could survive in an urban setting, especially since I’d noted a few feral cats in the neighborhood.
As of the last population spread map I’d seen coyotes are now in 49 of the 50 states, and most of the southern provinces in Canada as well as moving along the Latin American penninsula. IIRC the only credible coyote attacking human stories I’ve seen were from the slums of Mexico City, for example.