2001-Sun Apr 23 08:05:50 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A bestiary is a collection of stories about real and imagined animals. Dating back to the Middle Ages, bestiaries also offered commentary on the moral significance each animal was believed to embody.
The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild is a modern take on this ancient form, combining folklore, poetry and history with notes on animal behavior and how to identify scat. While not as allegorical as its medieval predecessors, this is not your typical nature book. We talked to author Lyanda Lynn Haupt about what it means to live with the creatures that surround us every day.
A. Lyanda Lynn Haupt: People that are more on the animal's side say: They were here first, it's their place, so we should bend over backward to allow their presence. The other side says: They're dangerous, they're rabid, they don't belong here. I think both of those views are oversimplified. Even though it's true that they were here first, sometimes cohabitation is just too complicated. We can't live with bears, we can't live with cougars, it's too dangerous. We have to find ways to allow those animals to flourish in their places.
But there are all kinds of wild creatures that are more adaptable, that really can make their homes in human places. A lot of animals are here because we create the perfect places for them. The most common crow in our cities is the American crow, and nowadays they're hardly ever found where there are not humans. And that's because although they don't like us in particular — they're wary of us and they don't like our cars and they don't like our dogs — they do like our garbage cans. We provide so much safe free food for them. The pickings are too good — why would they go anywhere else?
A. Starlings and house sparrows — some of the most abundant species in North America — were intentionally introduced by acclimatization societies that wanted the settlers to experience the birds and the birdsong they were homesick for.
Starlings especially have an interesting story. The societies thought it would be a literary and noble thing to do to introduce all the species mentioned in the Shakespearean canon, and in Henry IV he mentions a starling that learned to talk. It's that one line by the great bard that led to the introduction of starlings and their taking over of North America.
A. Humans have always lived alongside coyotes, but human development is reaching so deeply into the last remaining habitat, so coyotes are needing to adapt to a more chopped-up habitat where humans live nearby. One really interesting thing to me is that they've really changed the way they live in order to live alongside us. In a more rural place, they'd wake and sleep throughout the day. They'd be out and busy more of the day. In urban places, in order to avoid us, they've become more nocturnal.
It's a human obligation to make sure we secure our garbage, bring our pets in, and if you see a coyote, as much as we might long to observe it, the kindest thing to do in terms of coexistence is to chase it away. The continued wariness that coyotes have around us is the best hope for humans to accept them living around us.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.