Urban Wildlife

Urban Wildlife

What is urban wildlife?

          Urban wildlife are wildlife species that able to survive in areas affected by anthropogenic changes. Urban wildlife comes into contact with people from the downtown core to the rural outskirts. Animals that become successful in an urban environment are usually generalist; they are able to utilize many of the food sources provided by humans like, garbage, human food, pets, pet food, bird feeders etc. They have been able to do well in the wake of disturbances from construction. If an animal is able to adapt to food sources, changes in environment, and out-competes other species they will be successful in the urban landscape. The raccoon is an example of an urban wildlife species that thrives in the city.

Types of Urban Wildlife

          There are different urban wildlife categories that group the animals into groups based on how proficient the are in the urban environment. The first group is the domesticated animals, the cats, and dogs. Domestic animals thrive because they are taken care of by humans. Domestic animals predate on wild animals, like migratory birds, and transmit diseases to wildlife. Next in line are the beneficiaries, the animals that do better in urban environments. These are the omnivorous generalists that can utilize human resources. Being able to use a variety of food sources coupled with decreased predation in urban centers has led these species to do very well and experience higher population numbers than in the wild. The raccoon and gray squirrel are common examples of beneficiaries in Nanaimo. The adapters are species that live alongside and use human resources in rural/urban areas but they are not species that benefit from humans, these animals stick to the outskirts of a city. Examples of adapters are coyotes, deer, and black bears. The fourth category involves animals that do not always interact with the urban landscape if they can help it. They may come into contact from dispersion or migration, which often brings them into conflict with people. These avoiders have intimate habitat requirements that are often unfulfilled in human settlement, and subsequently experience higher mortalities, loss in genetic diversity and lowered reproductive rates. The cougar is an example of an avoider.

Urban effects on wildlife

          Urbanization does yield negative results for wildlife. Certain immediate consequences are species that are harmed from noise, and light pollution like specific bat species. Aquatic organisms in streams and lakes are harmed from chemical run-off. Diseases can be transmitted from domestic animals harming wildlife species. Poisons used on rodents create a domino effect when the poisons are transferred to the predators that consume the rodents. Larger predators are negatively affected when there are spatial constraints and fragmented habitats, this will lead to a decrease in genetic diversity. Other consequences are not so direct. For example, urbanization changes the inter-species interactions which changes the types of predators that animals have and the kinds of prey. Fragmentation of the landscape from human activity will make it difficult for sensitive species to adapt when their climatic niche is taken away or divided.

Human-Wildlife Conflict

          As urban centers continue the urban sprawl into territories and environments not previously occupied by humans; there is an increase in human-wildlife interactions, which leads to more negative interactions like attacks, property damage, and decreases in livestock from predation and disease.

References

BC SPCA: Urban Deer [Internet]. 2013. BC SPCA; [Cited 2017 Jan 11]. Available From: www.spca.bc.ca/animal-issues/wildlife/issues/urban-deer html.

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