Discovering Wildlife in the Urban Environment
Is it possible for wildlife to live among civilization? The city is full of skyscrapers and people and traffic. Where could wildlife possibly find a place in this type of environment?
I don’t know about other cities, but I have experienced wildlife in the city I live in, Calgary Alberta. I know I am not the only one.
I have been privileged to watch squirrels play with magpies. I have been fortunate to have birds and squirrels visit my patio and dig in my empty plant pots. I have enjoyed butterflies flitting around me and I have enjoyed looking at the amazing structure of a spider web, delicate but strong.
There are pictures on Facebook and Instagram of people that catch bobcats on their outdoor security cameras. There is a video that is circulating from California about a girl pushing a mama bear off the wall of her backyard. These are amazing shots and I was never quite lucky enough to get a picture of a bobcat or a grizzly bear or a moose. Not outside the Calgary Zoo anyways.
I have never had the experience of a close encounter with a larger animal within the city limits. Until this morning.
I take my dog Kia for an hour long walk every morning before I sit down to work. I live across the street from South Glenmore Reservoir. This is a beautiful recreation area. It surrounds a large reservoir of water and there are paved walking paths, unpaved walking paths and lots of open space with dots of forests. This area includes Weaslehead Flats; a natural area where wildlife is free to roam. I have seen deer, coyotes, and owls from afar while walking in this natural area.
Kia had found a stick and she gets somewhat excited when she finds a stick and so needs room to throw it around. I took her off her leash so she could have some playtime with said stick. We are not too far form the main road, just on the edge of the park in the tall grass. She is barking at me, wanting me to throw the stick. Just then a man is peddling his bike on the main road and passing us…he yells out “COYOTE!”. I turn around and there she is! About 15 feet behind me, trotting on the natural path towards us.
I grab Kia and put her leash on and then grab my smartphone.
I call this Coyote a she, but I really do not know its gender. I take a few shots of her and then I turn on my video camera because she is amazing and breath taking. Not much larger than Kia, ears perked up and brown in colour, she reminds me of a regular dog.
She is not a regular dog though. She is wild! She is free! She lives only by her instinct and in the moment.
She is everything I want to be.
She knows we are there of course, but she avoids looking at us except for side glances. She doesn’t want a confrontation. She looks around from left to right and then sits down. She licks herself, yawns and stretches.
I am so close to her that I would be able to walk a few steps and pet her if I wanted. Instead I watch silently.
She hears something in the long grass and jumps like a rabbit to catch whatever it is. I imagine it is a small mouse and she is hunting for her breakfast.
She walks towards the road as if she is going to cross. She looks around then turns back. She sits and scratches.
Then she decides to leave and trots away, off to find her meal. This is where I stop recording and turn to walk away, grateful for this experience.
Kia and I walk away, she is on alert, stopping and looking back. I think she is making sure we are not being followed. I look back and catch a glimpse of the coyote jumping through the tall grass trying to catch her breakfast.