In “Bears in the Backyard,” Edward Ricciuti discusses the increase in human/animal interactions.
The book focuses mainly on predators, with chapters devoted to cougars, coyotes, bears, pythons, and venomous snakes. A chapter is also devoted to the dangers of deer and moose.
When I started reading the book, my initial thought was that the main cause of increased human/animal encounters was urban development and suburban sprawl, moving people into areas formerly occupied by wildlife.
According to Ricciuti, that is one of the factors involved in the increase in encounters. However, the other more surprising cause is that the animals are moving into neighborhoods and cities where they’ve been absent for decades.
For example, “Bears in the Backyard” discusses Chicago’s large population of coyotes at length. These city coyotes behave somewhat differently than their rural counterparts, establishing smaller home ranges, hunting in packs more often, and standing twice as much chance of staying alive for a year.
Cities and suburbs provide predators with plenty of food in the way of rodents, trash, and pet food left outdoors, combined with the the safety of a gun-free zone.
The bottom line is that coyotes and other predators are adapting to a world filled with humans.
Throughout the book, Ricciuti cites a number of examples where humans have been attacked and even killed by predators in close proximity to residential areas. However, he goes as far back as the early 1980s to find his examples and paints them in a somewhat sensational light. He also offers preventative measures that can be taken to avoid becoming the victim of an attack, along with instructions on what to do if you are attacked in any way.
Overall, “Bears in the Backyard” is an interesting read for anyone interested in how animals, particularly predators, are adapting to life in the modern world. Just don’t let Ricciuti scare you away from your outdoor pursuits. Some of Ricciuti’s best advice is given about the threat of Lyme’s disease, but I feel it applies equally well to the other aspects of the book. So, don’t let the boogeyman scare you out of the woods.
You can purchase your copy of “Bears in the Backyard” or a number of other books about animals and the natural world by Edward Ricciuti at Amazon.