Man vs. “Wild”: when animals “encroach” the neighborhoods

beautiful and healthy coyote standing in the middle of a neighborhood street. Law in front of it and a bush behind it. It's looking directly at the camera.

I just read a NYT article about peacocks which made me think about all the feral cats roaming around Phoenix. I feel bad for them because it’s hot here and their numbers increased when the housing market crashed in 2008.

(I’m feeling a little old saying it that way: “Back in ’08…”).

Arizona was one the hardest hit places, along with California, Florida, and Nevada. A lot of people lost their homes and dumped their animals in the process. I think there were people who really tried to rehome their animals (not all), but because the shelters were and continue to be so full a lot of animals were dumped or abandoned. This was especially true for cats. I remember a period where none of the shelters would take cats, not even cats that were found as strays.

Have you ever encountered a clowder of feral cats?

It’s kind of scary. Really scary in some cases. Years ago, I took the wrong exit off I-10. My boys were in the car, still car seat ages. I pulled into a Walmart parking lot to turn myself around and get back on the freeway, but the parking lot was so chaotic that I averted the heart of the parking lot, turning right before the building and down a side aisle all the way to the back. This is off to the side of the Walmart where people weren’t really parking, so I could avoid other drivers and turn myself around. This is the areas where massive amounts of extra carts were being stored and the dumpsters were located–it’s not really a “public” space. It’s more of an outdoor warehouse space.

On top of the dumpsters, on top of rows and rows of extra shopping carts, and on the ground were dozens of feral cats. Dozens. Talk about rolling in where you do not belong–that’s what the three of us felt. We’re animals lovers around here and even the boys told me not to stop.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

black cat sitting on a sidewalk with dappled sunlight streaking across it. Behind it is a bed of river rock.

We have trap and release groups around here, but they are busy and spread thin. Cats reproduce faster than Mr. Smith replicates in The Matrix. So when I read this NYT article about peacock vasectomy, all I could think about is what kind of pull would you have to have to get this approved and running? We can’t get a simple cat program the attention it needs.

Money, I’m sure.

This is an interesting read and I feel for these homeowners. And yes, it’s different than feral cats (which we’ve caused, in part).

Have you ever heard a peacock? It’s a little alarming the first or second time you hear one. It’s loud and strange. This article notes their destructive nature. However, I have some mixed feelings. I have some sympathy and empathy for that neighborhood but also for the animals. I also wonder at human’s hubris in controlling nature, as we encroach animal territory. I watch the lizards hanging out in our yard grow much larger this summer than they have previous summers and hear (and see) more reports of coyotes roaming our neighborhoods. We’ve even had neighbors complain about a fox that we briefly saw on our walk one evening.

Perhaps, the animals are “fighting” back?

What you think of the peacocks (linked article)? Do you have some animal “control” issues in your neighborhood, or any general animals thoughts?

Post them in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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