Where is all the wildlife going?
Two years ago, my father was up visiting us in early May -late April. He had gotten up earlier than the rest of us fixing his coffee in the kitchen. I could smell the deep roast of coffee brewing, so I got up and went downstairs to converse with Dad.
He was excited -he had looked out at the bird feeders through the kitchen window and low and behold he said a Fox went running by. When he told me this, I immediately put on my shoes to go see if the fox had left any tracks. Not finding any, I just kind of tucked this information away. Since we were working on some home project at the time, I had to run over to Home Depot and pick up some items and as I was getting in the car, I look over to the public dog walking area and guess what I see – Yepper, the fox. Now, I have lived here in this house for almost ten years. I have never seen a fox. I have heard the coyotes running down the street at night – yipping and howling and occasionally growling a bit when they were near a dog or some other animal but never a fox.
I thanked the universe for providing me this opportunity since I basically live in town, not down town but clearly not in a suburb either.
This was on a Saturday. On Monday, I was returning to work when our neighbor Holly from down the street was walking her dog going past our house. I greeted her, and Holly knows I love to take photographs and immediately spilled the fact that we had a family of foxes living in the neighborhood. I shared my experience with her and she told me the location of the foxes. I immediately drove around the corner and waited – sure enough there were a family of seven foxes. Five kits and their parents. Ok, do you know how hard it was for me to go to work that Monday. I wanted so badly to fast forward every clock in the building.
Well, I was blessed for a week. I went every morning and sat outside the fox’s home for about an hour or two each morning. I shot many pictures which if you click on the word FOX you will find some of my most precious photographs of these wonderful animals.
They didn’t really have a happy ending. Coyotes came and chased them out and as they were crossing a main highway several of the kits were hit by cars. The last any of my neighbors saw of them was one of the adult foxes being chased down the center of the street by a coyote one night. My heart was broken.
Even in one week, I felt like I had gotten to know each of the kits and their parents personally. They never seemed to mind me which was interesting as if they saw someone or animal that appeared threatening they immediately retreated into their den which was behind a fenced in yard underneath the deck of a swimming pool.
The littlest one, I named Tulip Boy and he or who knows maybe it was really a she – always came out each morning to greet me as if he was waiting for me to come by and say hello. He seemed to be the “watch” dog as it were as he would alert the others of any perceived dangers even though he was the smallest. I am writing a children’s book about this fox family and will let you know when it finally goes to press.
So, what does this have to do with where does all the wildlife go? Well, when we encroach on their land, when we fill up their dens with gravel, pipes, asphalt and buildings, the wildlife must go somewhere. I live in town. I have heard more coyotes, seen more foxes, watched more hawks, eagles, herons, cranes, pelicans and more from my back yard than I did when I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere central Illinois.
I saw one of the foxes several months later, late at night as I was coming back from that farm in central Illinois – I was pretty discouraged at that point and time and the fox just sat there as if to reassure me all would be ok.
I have never seen them again.
We get upset when the coyotes, the foxes, the raccoons, the opossums eat our pet food, injure or even kill our pets or damage our bird feeders. Yet we have caused this problem ourselves. We are taking over their habitat and they have nowhere to go but to join us in what land is left – sharing our yards, our fenced in pools, our streets and our fishponds.
There have been cougar sightings in Menominee Falls, coyote photographs from Milwaukee, and fox sightings from several urban areas. This is going to be our new norm and even more so as we continue to encroach and force the wildlife from their natural lands.
We are really doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing – we should be providing more buffer zones for our wildlife and birds but again I will put forth – when will we reach the tipping point and it becomes too late?