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When animals attack

October 12, 2009 - Steve Murch
Raccoons, emus, iguanas, pythons. Florida has them all – running loose in the wild, and in the neighborhoods.

Remember the urban legends about the alligators in the sewer system of major cities because someone flushed them down the toilet, only to find out they actually had recovered some? Well, CNN had a story (link to the right) about the problems Florida officials are having with wildlife, normal and not so normal, attacking humans.

Some of the issues stem from suburbs running into the wilderness. Our expansion outward – cities not having plans for urban sprawl and neighborhoods cropping up all over the place – has put humans infringing on wildlife habitat. In smaller communities like those in Northeast Michigan, spotting a raccoon, skunk or deer isn't cause for alarm, and it's almost common. But in the middle of a lot of civilization like a big city or suburb, some wildlife can cause a problem. What will a wild animal do when it feels threatened? Possibly attack. In the CNN piece by John Zarrella, one person called Florida “the Ellis Island of exotic animals,” and said it's only going to increase. Zarella said one official told him that in a decade or two Florida could be “a zoo on the loose.”

But why would someone get an exotic pet they know they aren't going to keep? Easy, because it's cool to show their friends. Then, when the thing gets to big or costly to keep, they just set it free. How'd you like to go into your backyard and find a 15-foot python? It's just a little mind boggling to think there are people who don't care enough to find a way to get rid of their “pet” in a way that doesn't pose a hazard to people's safety.


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