The Village of Elm Grove is a residential community characterized by large lots, mature tree stock, well managed landscapes and natural water sources. These features help define not only the “look” and value of the Village but also make it an attractive area for wildlife. In fact, the presence of many wildlife species actually adds to the “look”, ambience and value of the Village.
Numerous species of wildlife native to Wisconsin acclimate very well to a suburban habitat like Elm Grove, which provides bountiful food and water supplies with minimal predation. However, these same conditions can lead to increased human/wildlife interactions and property damage issues as wildlife populations grow and additional species establish residence.
Some urban wildlife species are particularly valued by some Village residents, just as those same species are seen as particularly troublesome or dangerous by other Village residents. The White Tail Deer is a good example of such an animal. Other species like Coyote have not yet caused much debate in the Village even though they are bountiful. Coyotes have become well established I believe due to absence of any natural predator and bountiful food supplies. Since some of that Coyote food supply is Canada Geese and feral cats their predation has been mostly positive in the last 5 to 10 years. Yet, when residents’ pets are victims of predation we will hear calls for aggressive control.
Many residents are avid bird feeders and watchers in our “Bird Sanctuary” village. Yet, other residents allow their pet cats to roam free during much of the day even though the best available science indicates that bird predation by domestic cats is a significant issue. Studies estimating avian mortality due to domestic and feral cats vary, but an accepted consensus mortality rate is 37 million birds per year in Wisconsin.
The point of this background discussion is to point out that the issue of urban wildlife management is broad and complicated. What is one resident’s beloved creature is another resident’s pest or health risk. Both opinions are often correct. Resident concerns produce calls for Village government “to do something” or Village government safety and health concerns prompt proposals to “do something.” These calls for action tend to rise and fall with the natural rise and fall of various specie populations. Further complicating any discussion of wildlife management issue is the fact that most activities involving wildlife management are controlled and regulated by federal and state law and agencies.