Saturday, January 3, 2009

Where's the wildlife?

I've been thinking on and off today about a question that a nature walk participant asked yesterday.

He wondered why there wasn't any 'wildlife' in his small town (a historic town right next to ours). The rest of us looked at him rather blankly; the walk leader had just been telling us about seeing a bobcat near his house in another small rural town nearby, and talking about the wild boar (aka feral hog) he would be roasting later on that day, which one of his neighbors had shot after it had attacked a number of cows. Aside from these quite 'wild' examples, many of us have plenty of squirrels, birds, mice, racoons, etc. in relatively woodsy neighborhoods, where mature oaks, hickories, and conifers make up the fabric of the landscape.

The questioner went on to say that he saw more wildlife around his former suburban home in Chicago than he did around his house in Pendleton. So where was the wildlife, he asked again?

Another participant (new to the area, too) joked about how the people around here shoot wildlife, suggesting that accounted for it, which didn't strike me as very enlightened; we are in the Southern U.S., where hunting is certainly a strong tradition, but there are hardly people out roaming the yards and gardens of our university town or towns nearby looking for their next squirrel to put in the pot.

Having never noticed any particular lack of wildlife in Pendleton myself, or lack of suitable habitat, I asked him where he lived exactly. He replied with a name of one of the newish sub-divisions with a historic name.

I'm not that familiar with it, but the name provided a clue. I think it's one of those developments that was laid out on a largely cleared landscape and now is filled with houses rimmed with lawns and standard landscape choices, most of which aren't very sustaining to wildlife.

I'll have to go by and see if I'm right. An addendum: here's the follow-up post.

Certainly, we didn't have much wildlife in our immediate landscape when we moved in. Lawn and a few big trees wasn't much habitat diversity (the sidebar photos bear this out and the web gallery version of a wildlife-friendly garden talk illustrates it, too), and a whole neighborhood like that would be akin to a desert for self-respecting Piedmont animals with any ability to go elsewhere. But after adding hundreds of native and a few non-native plants, creating layers with native trees and shrubs, and diversifying habitat, we certainly have a diversity of wildlife to enjoy now. Even the woodchucks....

3 comments:

  1. While in Seneca over Christmas, we were thrilled to see 4 deer on the family property. At least one fox has been spotted as well.

    In the past 10 years, there have been flocks of wild turkey, deer, fox, raccoon, skunk and even an entire flock of buzzards. (Much to my father in-law's dismay.) Of course, the property hasn't changed much in the past 50 years, though there has been development all around it. The worst thing right now is that the lake is so very low.

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  2. I'm glad (but not surprised) that you've seen plenty of wildlife on your family's property. We're hardly in an urban area, although there's plenty of development going on. It just makes me mindful that we need to keep connecting the 'dots' - that is, creating the wildlife corridors that help sustain the network.

    Thanks for your comment. The drought IS the worst thing right now for our area.

    LKW

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  3. You are right, I have NEVER seen the lake this low...don't remember when it was being filled, either in my infancy or just before.

    Just 3 hours east, we seem to be coming out of the drought. They have kept us at stage 3 water restrictions, but Lake Wylie and the Catawba are looking a lot better. I hope we can keep that trend through the summer.

    The drought hasn't changed how I garden very much though due to the amount of time we spent out west where the scarcity of water is not a new concept. LHR

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