Friday, July 28, 2017

WILDLIFE AND HUMANS COEXISTING BY Roz Denny Fox


As a resident of Southern Arizona my greatest concern about building a solid border wall is the effect it will have on natural, long-time wildlife corridors. The growth of urban areas has led to an ever-increasing lessening of wildlife habitats. Because migration routes and areas where mountain lions, bear, wolves and even coyotes hunt life-sustaining food has of necessity moved farther afield. Their range has spread to thinner areas of open forests, deserts and across state and country borders. Any solid barrier is a sad additional hindrance for our ever challenged, decreasing wildlife.

The National Wildlife Federation set aside an Urban Wildlife Week in Los Angeles, California last year. And they had another in Seattle, Washington from May 1st through 6th this year.

The first recognition came about because NWF partners and staff became aware of, and traced the path of a banded mountain lion who crossed two busy freeways to settle in Griffith Park, one of the country’s largest urban parks in the heart of busy southern California.

This trek brought to attention the need for safe corridors which will allow animals the ability to live and hunt successfully in our developed landscapes.

In this area our Native American tribe whose reservation crosses from Arizona into Mexico is against building a solid, high wall across their land where animals from small to large freely roam, and where they often cross to join family or harvest saguaro fruit. Many fear they are fighting a losing battle.

However, the Annenberg Foundation, the Boeing Company and others who supported the first Urban Wildlife Week have taken personal action to ensure people and wildlife can coexist in and around cities. They are shining a light on the risk of fragmenting habitats creating needless wildlife population declines due to blocked natural corridors of animal travel.

A few years ago I watched a mama mountain lion take refuge in our back yard with her two cubs for a period of three days while she tried to teach them how to climb our tree and scale the walls that here are around most homes. She caught birds and I suppose any field mice to keep them fed. I loved having the ringside seat from my office window to observe her progress in getting all of them out of our back yard and into one of the washes that I hope led them to safer, better hunting. What it did was highlight to me the need to keep some areas open and free for such gorgeous animals to travel.

Wildlife in the City is a program designed to gather resources and information on helping link city parks, backyards, office parks with other open spaces to ensure the survival of wildlife that are an essential component of our ecosystem. With so many calls on our money and time, it’s grown increasingly more difficult to help wild animals thrive outside of zoos.

I personally think it will be a sad day if we spend billions of dollars closing off our southern border which to date has kept endangered species like the Mexican Gray Wolf and almost extinct jaguar alive in their cross-country hunting expeditions. I hope people who read this won’t judge my comments as political. I believe it helps to voice concerns.

21 comments:

  1. How wonderful it must have been for you to watch the mama mountain lion teaching her two cubs! On home backs onto conservation land and I love seeing the animals in our back yard. Sadly we keep encroaching and interfering with their natural habitat. I wish there was more that could be done. Thank you for brining attention to this important issue, Roz.

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  2. Roz, I'm amazed you had a lion family outside your office -- what a treat that must've been!

    And, shoot, I never even thought about the wildlife aspect when considering problems with the wall...now I'm trying to remember if that St. Francis of Asisi prayer refers to (along with Brother Sun and Sister Moon) more of God's creations like Brother Bear and Sister Deer. Sure seems like it should have.

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  3. You are spot on, Roz. We don't need another wall. There has to be a better way to spend our money.

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  4. Thanks--love this post. I had read about this and have mentioned it in discussions about all the ins and outs of the issue. The more voices advocating for wildlife the better.

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  5. Thanks you three for taking time to stop by and comment. Humans will find a way over, under or around a wall, while animals will be stuck.

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  6. I think it's a tribute to humans that we honor the rights of animals, even animals like cougars who maim and kill humans because yes, they do. Google cougars and Vancouver Island, if you don't believe me. I had not thought about wildlife corridors in relation to The Wall but has there been meetings with authorities about it?

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  7. M.K. I know the native groups on the border have discussed not wanting animal corridors blocked. And of course you're right about wild animals still killing humans at times. In Northern Arizona we have a black bear problem at times. If the bears can't be relocated they are euthanized. My concern is that the more we squeeze wildlife into human towns and cities, the more trouble we'll have.

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  8. Hadn't thought about how a wall would impact animals. Something to think about. Thanks for the information, Roz.

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  9. Thanks for the informative post, Roz. I admit, I'd given no thought to the animals.

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  10. That's amazing that you had a reclusive animal like a mountain lion in your backyard, much less a family. Such a privilege. I hope you got pictures. We have a lot of interconnected green spaces in Anchorage, mostly along the creeks connecting various parks. Unfortunately, moose would rather walk on the plowed streets than the deep snow in the parks in the winter, and we average over 100 moose killed by cars. In the summer, bears are a problem. Still, most people think its worth the risk of accident or attack to be able to watch the animals in the city.

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    1. Beth, I did get some photos through the window as I didn't want to scare them off.

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  11. I agree strongly with everything that's been said in your blog, Roz, and in the comments. And I love the idea that you could watch the domestic life of a mountain lion family!

    Paula Eykelhof

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  12. I remember you talking about the big cat in your backyard :)

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  13. Roz, you've given us another great topic to think and ponder on. I agree with you and appreciate and give a big thumbs up to all of the comments here, especially "Humans will find a way over, under or around a wall, while animals will be stuck." Well said.
    A mountain lion family in your backyard! What an amazing experience.

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  14. Wow! You've got your own wild kingdom right outside your windows. I loved that TV show. :) Like others, I never thought about the impact on animals, Roz.

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  15. You are completely right about a border wall harming wildlife. I'm jealous over your mountain lion family. We've had a bobcat, but no mama lion and babies. But when their kittens are nearby, they are ferocious. Did you stay out of backyard while they were there?

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  16. Roz, you are so fortunate to love in such a beautiful place and have the opportunity to watch creatures of the natural world up close and especially, advocate for them. Have you ever thought of writing a children's book about your place? I think urban kids would love to know more about the world beyond city skyscrapers. Thanks for this very interesting and informative post!

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  17. Amazing that you got to witness the mountain lion's actions up close! Of course, living in AZ & near an arroyo, I've had my opportunities to witness wildness. They deserve their space on this planet, too. And I agree completely with your on the further building of a wall. Interesting topic, Roz. Gives us all something to think about.

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  18. OH Roz, What a blessing to have seen those lovely animals in your yard. I love animals and have been blessed many times to see them in their natural habitat. It is very distressing how their habitat is diminishing. My heart aches for them. Hopefully there will be enough people who are concerned to save our natural heritage. Thanks for sharing this. Hugs

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  19. I got back to this site late as we've had fierce monsoon thunderstorms the last couple of days. Thanks everyone who found their way in and left comments. I guess I've become an animal right's activist.

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  20. Roz, sorry I'm late to comment (couldn't during RWA travels), but had to say here, here! Thanks for posting on such an important issue. You know I'm a wildlife lover and support their cause and I think the wildlife impact was ignored with respect to the wall. It impacts not only their survival and food resources in the immediate future, but genetic diversity in the long run as well. So sad and frustrating.

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