Oct 8, 2009

Grandma’s VS. Raccoons today

by Katherin McGill

Not so long ago a person would think twice about threatening a mother raccoon. My grandfather taught me such wisdom as we walked thru the woods near his house. He said, “Beyond their survival needs, animals abide by Live and let Live, and it’s best if we humans do the same”.

Sadly, society today has very little comprehension of animals beyond domestic pets and livestock. More human’s means further encroachment on wildlife habitat. The best antidote for conflicts? KNOWLEDGE!

Urban wildlife is a fact of life, yet so many particulars are unknown to us. If all we are told is presented as a risk or a nuisance of course we won’t appreciate nature, or have any patience. Less sensationalizing and more sensible education is the missing link today.

Education should not come from fear: “Don’t approach wild animals / secure trash and pet food / report ‘strange’ activity” is good advice, but severely inadequate. How do we even know what “strange” is anymore! Healthy nocturnal animals DO venture out during daylight, yet do you know why? Or what vital roles each wild animal plays in a critically important and balanced ecosystem?

When humans lose patience with wildlife the agencies responsible for managing it will also, and the balance dangerously tips. Management then becomes more about regulation enforcement and essential education regresses further. Please, implore agencies, and the governments above them, to implement and support educating the public and renewing appreciation for urban wildlife.

Take children to Nature parks, surf the intranet, invite wildlife rehabilitators and educators into our schools, and truly learn about our wild, interesting neighbors. You will be amazed by what you have NOT been told! We all win with peaceful coexistence, and we definitely all lose without it. ‘Live and let live’ is still very manageable – and even quite enjoyable!


Nathan said...

I couldn't agree more with you about the need for education. The Government needs to be proactive and educate the public on many issues surrounding human-wildlife encounters. Whether it is urban wildlife, forestry practices, fish habitat management, etc. I have worked for various levels of Government and you are absolutely right about how the actions of the general public play into a shift in mandate. It goes from education to reactive managing, regulations, enforcement and so on. This isn't as productive and is definitely not the best course to take when managing our ecosystems. One other interesting note, I have noticed time and time again that when there are budget cutbacks to Government funding, guess what is one of the first things go to go. That's right, the Education Program!
Thanks for this post and I hope it helps people realize the importance of understanding our natural environment.

StarPirate said...

People don't realize that a mother raccoon or skunk that is nursing (or about to have babies) will venture out before dark, when they are extremely hungry. They are cautious. These animals just want to get food and get back home. When some people see this--the first thought is--oh diseased animal. Not so--as with any wild animal-be cautious-but not silly. It is good for you to point out people need to be aware of these things.