Epic showdowns that pit man against beast don’t just happen in the forest, on a mountain peak or in the ocean. Most urbanites have come face to face with wildlife while taking the trash out. A list of cities and the creatures that call them home, whether the local human residents like it or not.
Toronto vs. The Raccoon
Though the city’s raccoons have starred in viral videos and graced the covers of local magazines, the dexterous, bandit-like creatures have made their mark on Toronto in smaller and much more destructive ways. They frequently upset green bins and garbage cans, pillage gardens and wreak havoc in homeowners’ attics and crawl spaces. With as many as 100 raccoons estimated per square kilometre, Toronto is the unofficial raccoon capital of the world.
New Delhi vs. The Monkey
The capital of India has a rhesus monkey problem. The city has caught 13,013 monkeys since 2007 and the primates can be pretty aggressive when begging for food and have been known to even bite the hand that feeds them. Even more worrisome are the deaths and serious injuries blamed on monkey attacks: a few years ago, the Delhi deputy mayor died when he fell from his terrace after being attacked by monkeys, and a 14-year-old girl was seriously injured when she fell from the roof of a five-story building after being pursued by the animals. Roopi Saran, a Delhi resident, explained how bad the issue is to the New York Times: “So we sit inside our house like caged animals, like we’re the ones in the zoo and they’re the owners outside looking at us.” So far, the best solution has been other monkeys. Larger langur monkeys are being trained to chase the gangs of rhesus monkeys away.
Ottawa vs. The Squirrel
A well-to-do suburb of Ottawa, Westboro has no great love the buck-tooth, tree-hopping critters. In fact, some locals are so against squirrels that they’re smuggling them across the border to Quebec and letting them run loose there. When informed of the clandestine deportations, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources wondered, “Are they French speaking squirrels?”
On a more serious note, the ministry pointed out that relocating wild animals may cause more harm than good even if residents are annoyed with the creatures for chewing wires or taking shelter in their attics. Plus, moving wildlife across provincial borders is actually illegal so it looks like the anti-squirrel residents are lawbreakers too.
New York City vs. The Rat
Here’s a stat that’s sure to keep New Yorkers up at night: it’s believed that there are as many as 4 rats per person in the Big Apple. The rodent population is such a concern that city has a rat portal for pinpointing where the creatures call home (we’d love to see that data turned into an infographic). Though stories of giant mutant rats are largely the stuff of urban legend, there’s been at least one news report of a gi-normous, roughly 3-foot long rat found in Brooklyn. Recent efforts to curb the spread of the vermin include a sterilization project.
Charlottetown vs. The Crow
Victoria vs. The Bunny
Though they officially declared the campus to be bunny-free as of 2011, it wasn’t very long ago that the University of Victoria in British Columbia was overrun by rabbits. Some 900 floppy-eared creatures were removed from the school and placed in sanctuaries. Rabbits have a habit of breeding like – wait for it – rabbits. They’re a problem in Denver, Colorado, where they’ve damaged cars in airport parking lots and Stockholm, Sweden where they’ve been culled and used for biofuel, and Australia, where they’ve pretty much overtaken the continent. I, for one, welcome our new cottontail overlords.
Moscow vs. The Dog
Man’s best friend has taken to the metros of the Russian capital. The clever canines, part of the city’s large population of street dogs, have been known to seek shelter in the subway and use it as a transit route, moving from the suburbs to scavenge and beg for scraps in the big city. Some experts believe that the wild dogs even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop (they learn where to get off by paying attention to length of the trips). The feral animals are believed to number roughly 35,000 and their migration patterns mimic those of other commuters – traveling to the city in the morning and returning home to the outlying areas in the evening.