Friday, January 6, 2017

In Which I Propose Various Episodes For A New BBC Nature Show on Urban Wildlife

So I've been massively enjoying Planet Earth II, and I loved the one on Cities, which I wish could have been its own show. I've never liked the idea of wilderness as separate from human influence and the built environment being free of natureI would really love to see an entire episode just on Alaskan urban bears. Did you know that there's dozens of brown bears and hundreds of black bears living in Anchorage? There are several salmon streams* that run through the city, and the effect of improved stream quality there has been an increase in the bear population. The bears around Fairbanks behave very differently to the ones in Anchorage, and need lots more "personal space" because they're not used to fishing shoulder-to-shoulder on the banks of a salmon stream with dozens of other bears. And in my imaginary show about urban wildlife, the bear episode would look at polar bears in towns like Nome and Barrow, too. I hope the BBC is paying attention** here***.

Moose constituted most of the charismatic megafauna I saw in Anchorage. I lived there during the snowiest winter on record, (>130" of snow), which sent lots more moose into the cities than previous years, when the snow got too deep for them to wade around in. The immense volume of snow transformed the city, too, and I remember more than one close encounter with a moose when roads became extremely narrow and there were few available exits. Moose in the city can destroy gardens and property, and people sometimes threaten and harass them, making the moose unpredictable and even dangerous. I biked or walked or took the bus most places, and I saw many, many moose, but fortunately I was never threatened by a moose in the city (in the field is another story, though...).

*And salmon streams are in turn a massive conveyor of nutrients to riparian ecosystems.

** And if you are, the other urban wildlife episode I really want to see would be about tanuki.

***Ok there is one thing I really don't like about the Planet Earth shows: the audio effects. Even in this clip of a sub-millimeter sized bug, there's still the sound of tiny little footsteps when the things move around. 

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