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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

When Bad Things Happen to Good Wildlife

Published 05/16/08
By Sandy Haynes, Grassroots Coordinator

One thing I love about where I live is the seemingly endless maze of biking/walking trails that wind their way along canals throughout the neighborhood. Though manmade, over the years these have become beautiful wetland ecosystems where my dog and I are sure to find a variety of ducks, coots, turtles, cormorants, geese, salmon, small birds, squirrels, plus an array of seasonal wild birds that make their way through.

It makes me happy to know I can find all of this glorious wildlife practically right outside my door. (Actually I do have squirrels that wander across my back patio on a regular basis.) And I’m very conscious about doing my best to be a humane observer, curiously watching as all these animals go about living their lives day to day.

I really wish more people would learn how to live humanely with wildlife, because it makes me sad when I read yet another story about a wild animal being killed for being a “nuisance.” And it usually seems that when humans and wild animals cross paths, the wildlife almost invariably loses. It doesn’t seem to matter that the animal was usually there first, or that she may be entering a new area because some construction project has displaced her from her former home.

And often people don’t help the situation, intentionally or unintentionally enticing animals closer — often right into their backyards — and encouraging them to lose their natural fear of humans. Then I hear of situations such as the recent attacks by coyotes on children in California, which sadly has all these issues rolled in together, and I’m really disheartened. And to make matters worse in that case, now traps have been set for the coyotes, which may even take out other animals as well since traps are notoriously indiscriminate, not to mention cruel.

As much as I would like to just continue to enjoy my little piece of suburban wildlife, my enjoyment is tarnished by the worry that if more people don’t take an interest in conserving the wildlife around them, and learn how to coexist with the animals, rather than removing them as a “nuisance,” or hunting, fishing, or trapping them for some moment of misplaced glory, pretty soon there will be no wildlife left to enjoy.

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