On Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 the director/curator of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum, Karly Tumminello, co-presented at the Wild Things conference with Susan Ask, founder of animalia project, and Mike Redmer, a senior biologist of USFWS.
Their presentation, “Bears, Cougars, and Wolves, Oh My!… Adapting to Life with Large Carnivores in Chicago’s Urban Wilderness” looked at the current trends in these three species returning to the Midwest region, where they were previously extirpated from during the 1800’s.
Key takeaways from this talk:
1) Sightings of black bears, cougars and wolves will remain infrequent in the near future. Generally, young males may move through our region looking for suitable habitat and food resources (such as the white-tailed deer).
2) The fact that these animals are looking for suitable habitat in our region speaks to the successes of collective and continued conservation efforts. Restoration projects have successfully increased biodiversity in many ways.
3) These creatures generally avoid all contact with humans. However, there are measures we as humans need to take to ensure we do not inadvertently attract these animals. This includes things like securing trash cans, taking in bird feeders at night, and not leaving our pets outdoors unattended.
4) It may be challenging to identify an animal, especially if seeing it for the first time. There are many key characteristics to look for which may help distinguish between similar species. If at a safe distance, you could try to get a photograph to submit to an expert for confirmation.
Report any unusual wildlife sightings here: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/sightings.cfm
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