Animals fill urban voids left by humans isolating from COVID-19

by | Apr 14, 2020 | News

Ashley Radcliffe, News Reporter

Wild animals are moving into urban areas as people continue to self-isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic,

Many businesses, schools, and public areas in Ontario remain shut down over health concerns and the usually busy traffic in many populated areas areas has slowed down.

This allows animals to start wandering the streets in broad daylight. Foxes, deer, and coyotes have been recorded by social media users throughout all hours of the day.

Toronto biologist Emily Rondel said there are a number of reasons for this spike in wildlife sightings in urban areas.

“The most obvious reason is the fact that there is less traffic and less noise, which makes it safer for them to gallivant wherever they please,” Rondel said.

“We also have to take into consideration that the seasons have changed, and the warm weather has caused all the snow to melt away. This has increased water levels that have forced animals to migrate to different areas,” she said in a telephone interview.

Deers stand in a field in front of houses near Ernstbrunn, Austria, on April 6. Animals seem to be filling in the areas left idle by humans during the global COVID-19 outbreak. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Encounters with these critters is nothing new for Ontarians, but the increased number of wildlife sightings has given people some cause for concern.

Some people are worried about their safety around these wild animals, especially during the day when they need to leave the house to get groceries. And this increase has been noted all over the world.

“It’s important to give these wild animals their space,” said Elk Grove, Calif., Animal Control Officer Michael Hildebrandt.

“They may seem calm, but they are very protective of each other and may react out of fear,” he said in an interview through WhatsApp.

Recent social media posts show a deer herd resting on the front lawn of someone’s property in London, England while  mountain goats were spotted roaming in urban parts of Wales, in part because of the lack of human activity.

Human social distancing has encouraged animals to make the urban areas their own.

The safety of people’s daily limited commutes has been a major concern for pedestrians, and the heightened chances of them running into wildlife during the day has added more stress on people in this already stressful time.

Hildebrandt advises commuters to be mindful when driving for the safety of themselves and the animals.

He said there would be many animals trying cross roadways more than usual, especially in rural areas.