It’s an increasingly wild world out there. Wildlife and humans have long been at odds, in ways both big and small. But as we continue to build 4,000-square-foot homes where forests once stood and pile into cities (predator-free, all-you-can-eat buffets for the animals that follow), our lives are intersecting more and more. It turns out, animals appreciate the ease of urban and suburban life as much as we do. They’re thriving. We’re cowering. And it’s getting a little out of hand for everyone involved.
Rats are having pizza parties in Philadelphia. Bears are climbing into kitchens in the Sierra. Coyotes are casing playgrounds in Los Angeles. Mountain lions are mauling dogs in Denver backyards. And, in Ocean City, New Jersey, seagulls are swiping pizza and popcorn right out of people’s hands.
The thing is, though, people aren’t acting any better.
Last year, researcher Vincenzo Penteriani concluded that nearly half of attacks by large carnivores—including bears, coyotes, and cougars—are associated with “unnecessarily risky human behavior,” also known as blatantly stupid human behavior.
The tips are all out there, somewhere—outdated, updated, posted at the trailhead or at the beach, buried on nps.gov or on the back of your bottle of bug repellent. I thought it’d be handy to have everything in one place: an authoritative, all-in-one guide to dealing with North America’s most feared or frustrating animals. As a semi-neurotic urbanite who loves the outdoors—just not coming face-to-face with every creature in it—writing this book was like a form of exposure therapy, an attempt to work it all out for myself, so that the next time I’m hiking in the Sawtooth National Forest or running at Point Reyes National Seashore or picking nits out of my daughter’s hair, I’ll feel a little more prepared.
I mean, I’ll still freak out. But at least I’ll have all the info. And now, so will you.
Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Levin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.