Wild Among Us
As human society grows, animal habitat goes, and our homes are not just our own castles anymore. Looking for a place to raise their families, industrious raccoons, squirrels, and other small creatures gnaw and claw their way into roofs, attics, basements, vent pipes, and chimneys. They ask for so little: shelter from the elements, sustenance for their babies, a soft spot for nesting and nursing. The raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and other wild animals who find their way into the cracks and crevices of our abodes are only doing what their human counterparts have always done: carving out a place in the landscape that they can call home. There’s perfect logic to it, from a critter’s perspective.
In the same spots where squirrels crawl into roof vents and raccoons climb down chimneys; these animals’ ancestors once took up residence in the cavities of aging trees that have long since been chopped down and underground burrows that are now trapped under asphalt.
These creatures are nothing if not resourceful, these wild urban residents have managed to adapt to a changing world and find the next best thing to natural habitat: manmade structures that provide all the insulation and protection they need to raise growing families. Rather than admire their ingenuity, however, some members of our society want only to evict them from their environs in whatever way possible. On the borders of ever-shrinking woodlands and expanding urban landscapes lies an imaginary barrier created by a culture that, somewhere between the dawn of civilization and the twilight of industrialization, has all but lost its connection to the natural world. In an age when a snake sunning himself peacefully in the garden is often perceived as a grave threat, it’s no surprise that animals that have penetrated the walls of our homes seem even more forbidding. But all they are doing is looking for a home of their own.
“Wild animals are adjusting to the conditions, opportunities and resources we provide them, intentionally or not.” They don’t know that a hole leading into an attic takes them into a place where they are not welcomed. Their populations are growing and expanding, too, and they will use all the resources available to them in response to that growth.