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As Cities Expand, Wildlife Proliferates

You can sure tell when a city’s limits are expanding. And, no, I’m not talking about the obvious signs like the actual retail and dining establishments cropping up at a breakneck pace. No I’m talking about…roadkill. Yep, it’s a pretty grim indicator, but an indicator nonetheless, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’m seeing more and more wildlife within the city and county limits than I have ever seen before–the WBKR parking lot included.

Honorary WBKR pet. (Photo by Dave Spencer)

The other day, I saw this little guy wandering around the building and was lucky enough to get a picture. Rabbits, as it turns out, are just as afraid of me as I am of their much larger fictional counterparts. But there must be another rabbit lurking in the weeds. Because now I am seeing offspring. Just last week, I parked behind the radio station and nearly missed noticing a tiny little rabbit–and I guess at that size, they’re bunnies–sitting motionless next to a large shrub. And “tiny” might be an overstatement. This little thing could have easily sat in the palm of my hand with room to spare. It ran into the bushes as I approached, which is good; its gray coat made it blend into the asphalt and become practically invisibile. But these furry little creatures aren’t the only examples of urban sprawl. I just seem to be seeing more dead deer, possums, racoons, and turtles on the sides of roads than ever before. Sure, they’re the usual suspects, but the frequency of their demise has increased considerably. And, now that I think about it, Owensboro is not alone. I’ve seen this sort of thing, recently, around Evansville, Lousville, and Nashville. And a few years ago, when I was visiting friends in Cleveland, I got quite a jolt. My friend Jeff and I were coming back from the store one night and walking up his sidewalk when he stopped cold. So did I–it freaked me out. I said, “What is it?”  He said, “Skunk.” And sure enough, there was a skunk under his porch. We were frozen until, thankfully, Pepe Le Pew made his departure. Now I know I can remain motionless should the need arise. This, by the way, was a house in the city of Cleveland, not a suburb. Jeff told me that it’s nothing to see skunks, raccoons, and possums inside the corporate limits. Our four-legged friends are popping up everywhere. Well, maybe not “friends.” I mean we are talking skunks and possums. And I don’t like raccoons either, but that’s a story for another day.

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