While touring the Biennale route in Vancouver’s urban landscape, consider the urban wildlife that shares this area. Coyotes, racoons, and rats may get the most media attention, while deer, bears, and cougars occasionally turn up. Pet owners often release rabbits, turtles, and snakes in local green space, while urban trail walkers expect to see squirrels, pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows. What do all of these species have in common? In ecological terms, they’re all considered generalists. That is they can thrive in a wide variety of habitats and they have a diverse diet. As our environment changes, these species likely will adapt along with us.
On the one hand, urban wildlife offers plenty of opportunities to engage with a species and have a very personal experience (a bird taking seed from your hand, a squirrel at your suet feeder, and a raccoon leading their ‘kits’ across your lawn). On the other hand wild species are just that, wild, and encounters can be horrific (a coyote going after a dog on a leash, a skunk nesting under your front steps, or a bird dive-bombing your child keeping them away from a nest). Frequent contact with people generally makes wildlife bolder.
Understand that food is a primary motivator for wildlife and re-consider what, or if, you feed them at all. If you do feed wildlife (such as giving something to a Raven, Grey Jay or Squirrel when sitting on a mountain peak eating lunch), please consider carrying sunflower seeds, unsalted nuts or millet, but also consider the implications even of doing this.