Tired of all the bad news ? In the next weeks, read my blog, this will do you good !
Fear is one of the worst scourges of our times. Everyday, media reminds us that human race is a nuisance for planet Earth. Anxiety and despair builds up by listening or reading disturbing facts about the brutal deforestation in the Amazon, smog that covers our cities or unbridled melting of Arctic ice. Some days the news is so bad that it smells like Apocalypse...
What if we’re wrong ? Perhaps humans are more beneficial to this planet than we think ! During the next weeks, I will give you friendly and upbeat news that will put you in harmony with life and the human race !
Many people tend to view cities as biological deserts, noisy and polluted environments unfit for life. Yet the facts tend to prove the contrary since a very diversified fauna and flora – more than in some rural areas – can be found in several cities around the world. Scientific studies have shown that cities can be more hospitable than some rural districts where corn and soybean monocultures reign. For many mammals, birds and pollinating insects, cities are welcoming places where they find abundant food least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. In addition, there is often more plant diversity in cities than in natural areas, since it is necessary to add to the existing native vegetation the ornamental and edible species that humans grow in gardens and parks, on balconies, terraces and roofs and along the streets.
In my garden, which is located 10 minutes from downtown Montreal, in addition to bats, squirrels, cottontail rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons and red foxes, I’ve identified nearly 20 species of butterflies and about 70 species of birds including a pileated woodpecker, a northern saw-whet owl and a couple of merlins nesting at the top of a spruce in my neighbor’s backyard. Like the red fox, this bird of prey is an excellent hunter and is very useful to control squirrel populations as it willingly eats young rodents. There’s even white-tailed deers and coyotes living in Montreal !
I'm not the only one to see this urban wildlife that abounds, as the inhabitants of many cities around the world witness a cool phenomenon. Whether it is in Montreal, New York or Paris, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has made a comeback in recent years, attracted by the abundant food found on the premises. This is an unexpected return of biodiversity welcomed by biologists. Fast urbanization and various diseases including rabies and mange - vaccination campaigns have helped control rabies in some countries including Canada - has favored the fox decline in several cities. In Zurich, the red fox has reappeared in the late 1980s, while in Paris, where there are currently twenty individuals, this animal made a comeback a few years ago. There are hundreds of red foxes in Montreal, New York and Toronto, while in England there are nearly 35,000 urban foxes including about 10,000 in the city of London alone ! Some organizations like IUCN see this animal as an invasive species. I prefer to think that the presence of foxes in our cities is a bio indicator, that is to say it reflects the good health of our urban ecosystems. What a joy to come across a fox during a walk in your neighborhood ! This type of encounter puts a smile on your face and feed into discussions with your neighbors !