Nature is having a tough time surviving in this 21st century. With new developments claiming virgin forests, untamed wilderness and spectacular scenery, the wild life are being pushed out of their natural habitats and forced to forage in urban and rural areas for their survival.
Victoria is synonymous with gardens. No matter where you are or where you look as you roam the city, gardens and flowers are everywhere. Now, there are signs for something new. By the scenic road that winds past the prestigious Victoria Golf Club, there are signs that warn motorists to watch out for Mama Duck and her numerous babies. Mama tends to lead her ducklings across the road at the worst moments and always, there is the rebel duckling with his/her own sense of where it wants to go. Lately there have been new signs popping up around the city. These signs show the silhouette of a Mother Deer and/or Rabbit with their off-springs. It is a warning to motorists that these wild-life frequently cross the road. It made me stop and ponder how the deer, raccoon, rabbits, squirrels and occasional cougar can survive in urban settings.
I use to work in an acute-care hospital outside the city limits and built on a piece of cleared wilderness. It is a strategic location for highway or industrial accidents happening north of Victoria. It is also a great dumping place for pet rabbits no longer considered cute after Easter came and went. The few existing wild rabbits were no doubt rapturous at meeting such an abundance of eligible bunnies. The rabbits did what rabbits do when meeting their soul-mates. It didn’t take long to notice hundreds and hundreds of cute bunnies hopping, nibbling and doing what rabbits do, literally covering the massive grounds above and tunneling beneath. It is a marvel of bunny engineering the hospital foundation didn’t sink due to all the hundreds of interconnecting tunnels proliferating underground!
There were occasional cougar sightings. These wild cats ventured down the highway, crossing city limits in their search for food. It seemed ironic they had missed the best feeding grounds enroute to the city. It may seem cruel that these plump furry bunnies could have been some cougar’s dinner, but this is Nature’s way of culling the rabbit population. Humans spent months on agonizing debates and discussions to decide how best to cull the rabbits. Volunteers raised the necessary funds and labour to humanely capture thousands of rabbits that were supposedly shipped to a “rabbit refuge” somewhere in Texas. A few “escapees” found their way to the University of Victoria’s undeveloped and wooded areas where they happily settled to do what rabbits do best–creating the same problem in a different location.
When Hubby and I moved to our house, we were amazed to see our first deer stroll casually past our front yard. Initially, it was a novelty to be so close to something wild as it ventured into our neighbours’ yards to nibble at the roses, azaleas and daisies. I’m talking about an established and developed urban neighbourhood, well within the city limits. In the past few years, the deer problem became very real and very serious.
Like the rabbits, there have been numerous committees, discussions and debates on finding a humane solution to the deer problem. For every person against shooting or trapping the deer, there is someone vehemently for. At the moment, the deer have been left alone. This is not as humane as it seems for these beautiful animals are literally starving from human kindness. If they had been left to survive in the wilderness, it would be by survival of the fittest. Left to survive in urban surroundings, there is not enough food to sustain these animals and their constantly expanding families. The deer are becoming aggressive and extremely territorial if any humans cross their path. They are merely protecting whatever “turf” they have managed to keep in their daily fight for survival.
A decade ago, the city belonged to humans. It was rare to see any wild animals strolling through the neighbourhood. Today, deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and the occasional cougar are a common sight because people are driving them out of their natural habitat. It really makes you reconsider that dream-house with the spectacular view and the woodsy backyard. Which Nature’s creatures was evicted from their wilderness home to give you yours?