Second Nature Urban Areas Teem with Wildlife: Animals, People Both Fit the Bill

Article excerpt

Missouri Department of Conservation agents say St. Louis and St. Louis County are Missouri's wildest wildlife reserve.

Maybe that's because of the coyotes that live in Ladue. The wild turkeys trotting down Interstate 40 or the Canada geese who hang out on the Vianney High School field in Kirkwood honking at runners.

Or maybe it's because of the 1,700 Homo sapiens who call the Missouri Department of Conservation each year about their bird and animal neighbors. Some people ask how to mend a robin's wing. Others want to kill a crow. Some request directions for attracting Bambi. Others want tips on repelling deer. "People tell me all the time that they like nature but they want it restrained," said Mike Arduser, the urban wildlife specialist who handles most of the calls. Arduser does most of his work from behind a desk at the Powder Valley Nature Center, 100 wooded acres filled with animals, insects and birds near the intersection of interstates 270 and 44. He offers options within state, federal and local laws and in line with the creatures' habits for handling the confrontations. Arduser said woodland patches like Powder Valley, parks, lawns, hedges, lakes, gardens and garbage cans are the sources of shelter and food that make the area a haven for birds and animals. Missouri Department of Conservation agents don't have official counts, but coyotes have been spotted in nearly every suburb. Hunters shot some 500 deer in the county during the last season and agents think the deer population numbers in the thousands. Protected by federal law and seldom sighted years ago, more than 20,000 Canada geese call St. Louis and St. Louis County home during fall migration. The safest place to raise goslings may be a commercial complex or subdivision lake that nobody stocked with turtles, bass and catfish, their natural predators. …