Urban areas are often considered to be devoid of wildlife, but this is not true. Cities are home to a variety of plants and animals, some of which are native and some of which are introduced or invasive. Urban wildlife can provide many benefits to humans, such as pollination, pest control, recreation and education. However, urban wildlife can also pose many challenges, such as conflicts with human activities, health and safety risks, habitat loss and degradation, and biodiversity decline.
How to Manage Urban Wildlife
Managing urban wildlife is not an easy task. It requires a balance between conservation and control, as well as collaboration among various stakeholders, such as government agencies, non-governmental organizations, researchers, landowners and residents. Some of the techniques that have been used historically to restore and manage wildlife in urban areas include1:
- Passage of laws and regulations to protect wildlife and their habitats
- Establishment of refuges and corridors to provide safe havens for wildlife
- Control of predators and invasive species to reduce competition and predation
- Reintroduction of native species to restore ecological functions
- Feeding and watering of wildlife to supplement their natural resources
- Erection of nesting structures and artificial habitats to enhance breeding success
- Habitat restoration and management to improve the quality and quantity of wildlife habitats
Examples of Urban Wildlife Management
Many cities around the world have implemented successful urban wildlife management programs that aim to conserve biodiversity and foster coexistence between humans and wildlife. Here are some examples234:
- In New York City, the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program works with local communities to improve access to nature and green space, provide environmental education and outdoor recreation opportunities, and address social and environmental justice issues. The program also supports the management of more than 100 national wildlife refuges located within 25 miles of urban areas.
- In Leipzig, Germany, peregrine falcons have been reintroduced to the city after being extirpated by pesticides in the 1960s. The falcons have adapted well to the urban environment, nesting on tall buildings and feeding on pigeons and other birds. The falcons survive and reproduce more easily in cities than in rural areas, due to the abundance of prey and the absence of natural predators.
- In Singapore, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, wildlife management is integrated into urban planning and development. The city has created a network of parks, gardens, reservoirs and green corridors that connect natural habitats and support a rich diversity of wildlife. The city also employs various methods to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, such as fencing, signage, education and enforcement.
Urban wildlife management is a complex and dynamic field that requires constant monitoring and adaptation. It is important to recognize that urban areas are not biological deserts, but rather potential havens for wildlife. By applying sound scientific principles and engaging with diverse stakeholders, we can create more livable cities for both humans and wildlife.