“Camels are extremely popular right now.”
December 9, 2014 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Coyote Booms, Bear Attacks And How Climate Change Is Wreaking Havoc On The Animal Kingdom. "'The long-term drought impacts on vegetation that affect the prey of the animals that predators feed on is also a reason for encroachment,' said Crabtree. He said he thinks all large carnivores have this problem, especially the ones that depredate, or plunder — such as coyotes, bears, mountain lions and wolves. 'The drought decreases natural forage for herbivores like deer,' said Crabtree. 'There will be a relatively higher density of deer in urban areas where there are lawns.'"

"Wildlife sanctuaries such as zoos and private facilities in California are dealing with the challenges of limited water availability and higher costs. The San Diego Zoo recently started collaborating with the San Diego County Water Authority in an effort to conserve water and the Wildlife Waystation outside of Los Angeles has been trucking in water as groundwater runs low. While many species struggle through the habitat changes brought on by drought, ocean acidification, and the expansive ecological damage associated with climate change and fossil fuel extraction, some species, like the coyote, are adapting — even thriving — in this human-dominated era.

"This year a black bear killed a hiker in New Jersey for the first time in over 150 years as the bear population grows and spreads throughout the state. Polar bear attacks on humans are increasing in areas around the Arctic. And a new hybrid between coyotes and wolves, the coywolf, is rapidly expanding across the East as it combines the prowess of a wolf and cunning of a coyote — a bad combination for deer, another species that is thriving across suburban America. This inter-species breeding of the coywolf is brought on by human-driven stresses on species, such as habitat loss, over-hunting, and climate changes that lead to things like drought.

"Seal Beach is just one microcosm of this national phenomenon in which human growth and resource demand is colliding with nature’s resilience. 'The city of Seal Beach has refused to be transparent about how many coyotes have been trapped and killed by the program,' said Shannen Maas, from the non-profit Empty Cages Los Angeles, an animal rights collective. Mass said that coyotes will simply increase their population if and when it is depleted and that the best long-term solution to this problem is to 'rewild' unused land in the community, as well as intense education and training about how to co-exist.

"The question of how to save a species is never easy, but figuring out how to live with them can be just as hard. When water becomes scarce, animals already accustomed to entering urban or suburban areas will do so more frequently, and more desperately."
posted by quiet earth (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
My city has multiple cougar (mountain lion) sightings every year now within the city. It's thanks to a well-established greenbelt and a network of walking and biking trails leading to the "interface" and the hills beyond. The attraction is a massive urban deer population that also uses the greenways, trails, and backyard gardens.
posted by Nevin at 2:03 PM on December 9, 2014


a bad combination for deer,

Deer are wildly overpopulated in many areas; a bit of predator pressure will only be to the good.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:13 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Here in Los Feliz we're definitely seeing more coyotes, and we've been advised to "haze" them as the article says. But they're much bolder than coyotes of yore. A friend was walking her dog recently, on a leash, and a coyote grabbed it and tried to make off with it. They never used to get that close to people.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:21 PM on December 9, 2014


A planet of suburbs, even for critters.
posted by No Robots at 2:23 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


My parents live near Seal Beach, and coyotes can be seen wandering through neighborhoods and down really busy main streets. And there's a whole pack living on the CSULB campus; they used to prey on the feral campus cats, but the cats finally figured out how to outsmart them, so now they're chowing down on local pets instead.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:33 PM on December 9, 2014


In countries like Guatemala they have almost no wildlife left, it's hunted out of existence.
posted by stbalbach at 2:54 PM on December 9, 2014


NOAA says the current California drought is within historical norms for the region, and not caused by "global warming".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:08 PM on December 9, 2014


NOAA says the current California drought is within historical norms for the region, and not caused by "global warming".

That may be so, but the changes in the environment through development and use of water by human beings definitely have an effect on native plant and animal species.
posted by suelac at 5:16 PM on December 9, 2014


> NOAA says the current California drought is within historical norms for the region

I'm sorry, but where does that document say that? The highlighted section certainly doesn't.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:17 PM on December 9, 2014


NOAA says the current California drought is within historical norms for the region, and not caused by "global warming".

Without reading the entire 42-page report, I am 100% certain that they didn't actually conclude it "wasn't caused by global warming." What they concluded was that they couldn't statistically prove that it was outside of historical norms, which isn't even surprising because there is an enormous amount of variability in this distribution so an event would have to be unbelievably severe to be so anomalous that it became statistically significant.

To even think for a second that scientists would claim to be able to prove that a particular event "wasn't caused by global warming" speaks to a complete lack of understanding of the science and methods at issue here.
posted by dialetheia at 5:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really didn't like that article. It was a mishmash of only tangentially related issues - predators in the cities because of growing populations, but also because of DROUGHT which is also cause problems for zoos and rescues because hollywood elites likes their weird animals. Also - camels are bad.

I think there were two or three interesting stories that could have been teased out, but as it was, there were too many things that aren't necessarily evidence of what the author wanted us to think. More predators in the city? Yes, it could be from the drought. It could also be from changing attitudes towards wildlife. We are seeing wildlife move back into cities across the country as people are learning to live with animals. That's not to say the drought isn't having some effect. It's just that this article does a piss poor job of making that case.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I see what you mean, [insert clever name here]. The article tries to cover too much. It's not tight enough.

That said, I liked the introduction of the ideas that hybridized animals are displacing their older counterparts, or that bears and cougars are moving into more rural areas, with everything that implies. I sort of wish the author had stuck with that narrative, and/or the drought (with more examples and statistics to back up that argument).
posted by quiet earth at 7:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Without reading the entire 42-page report, I am 100% certain that they didn't actually conclude it "wasn't caused by global warming."

And still, every damn headline I've seen about it has claimed just that. Sigh.
posted by Lexica at 9:03 PM on December 9, 2014


Without reading the entire 42-page report, I am 100% certain that they didn't actually conclude it "wasn't caused by global warming."

It's not difficult to see what it does say without reading all 42 pages. The table of contents will point you to the two pages in the section specifically devoted to looking for a relationship between long-term climate change (aka global warming) and recent events. Here is some of what it does say:
"Given that the recent California drought included precipitation drops in midwinter
as well as spring it is not consistent with the model-projected human-driven climate
change signal. [...] The circulation anomalies during the recent California drought are
therefore also not consistent with model projections of human-driven circulation
anomalies."

That's about as close as you can get to "it wasn't caused by global warming" in more scientific language.
posted by sfenders at 4:41 AM on December 10, 2014


Here's some more discussion of the drought in California and its context - population growth and climate change.
posted by sneebler at 6:57 AM on December 10, 2014


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