The majority of people now live in urban areas, and carnivores are taking advantage of these new habitats. In addition to the more familiar raccoons and opossums, cities are seeing a rise in red foxes, coyotes, badgers, and mongooses. Even grey wolves, black bears, and hyenas have been spotted in or near urban areas, scientists note in a Journal of Zoology review article.I would add leopards to the list, since they have been seen in several African cities. I remember a news story about a mother with kits who was found in a culvert under a busy road.
Urban carnivores have adapted readily to man-made sources of shelter and food. For example, red foxes have made homes in British inter-war housing, using the surrounding gardens as cover. In the Tokyo suburbs, Japanese badgers have established resting sites under the floors of buildings. And the abundance of pets, roadkill, and discarded food may offer carnivores a more reliable food source than natural habitats. In one California park, a resident was feeding red foxes seven kilograms of meat per day.
This cushy environment is allowing some carnivores to flourish even more than they would in a natural habitat. In some areas, urban raccoons and coyotes have higher survival rates than their rural counterparts. One team found seven times more coyotes per square kilometer in urban parts of southern California than rural areas.
Foxes and raccoons are a dime a dozen in my neighborhood, but I've never seen a coyote. I enjoy seeing wild animals around my house, but am not sure that we can co-exist indefinitely with deer, beavers, coyotes, badgers, and all the rest of the wild animals that now call our cities home. I wonder if eventually we will start drawing firmer lines between ourselves and the wild world.