Sunday, August 17, 2014

Urban Wildlife

With the exception of Disney's Animal Kingdom and Sea World, you don't think usually think of Orlando, as Wildlife Central.  But right here in The City Beautiful in your own backyard, you can see plenty of oppossums, raccoons, alligators, pileated woodpeckers, black snakes, red-shouldered hawks, bears, coyotes, and eagles. 

As more and more development occurs in Florida taking the place of valuable habitat and migration corridors, wildlife will try to survive with man, venturing into communities and neighborhoods that offer easy access to food (outside pet bowls and trash cans) and instead of risking their lives crossing highways, wild animals know they can safely migrate through a development's mandatory conservation areas.

It's important to remember even if you have a fenced-in backyard, you might cross a path with a wild animal that has climbed over, across, or torn down a structure to find its way into your area.  Being vigilant while walking in parks, at dusk and dawn, and during mating seasons is recommended.  Another reason to watch out for wildlife is protecting your family pets. Small dogs and cats are a source of food for coyotes and alligators.  Always watch out for your pets, especially at dawn and dusk which is when wildlife looks for something to eat.
Mama bear and baby meandering through a Seminole County gated community.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has posted a free curriculum for teachers and parents to teach children to be prepared when meeting bears.

Even here in College Park, an urbanized neighborhood, with the I-4 corridor going straight through the city, has seen bears traveling in search of food or a mate.  Another wildlife species causing havoc in College Park are coyotees which are venturing out of the local woods to eat cats.

Coyote killed pet cat.
National Wildlife Federation provides these safety tips:
Important note:
Teach children early on to observe through quiet observation and to never approach, try to touch, or feed wildlife. As stated elsewhere in this book, animals that become habituated to humans eventually become aggressive and may have to be euthanized.
          Respect Wildlife
  • Observe wildlife from a distance.
  • Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals (store food and trash securely).
    Control pets at all times.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter. 

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