The loss of habitat is the single greatest threat to wildlife of all species. Without the proper habitat wildlife can not survive.Humans carve up land into communities with no regard for the wildlife living there. I would estimate that 90–95% of the people living in a city do not know there is any wildlife present. In fact many species have adapted to the presence of humans, and actually thrive. Foxes, coyotes, deer, geese, squirrels raccoons, opossums, skunks, and some birds have all made adaptations to live in our towns and citites.
Far too often when land is developed, three is no thought given to the wildlife that is present in a newly developed area. Many animals find themselves cut off without a safe escape route to another area. Most are killed by vehicles as they try to move into another area. A few will starve to death, and a less than one percent will find refuge elsewhere.
With just a little forethought and planning prior to development all pf these problems can be averted or reduced greatly. Green lanes can be mapped out to allow larger mammals such as deer to migrate to another area. In highly trafficked areas over or underpasses could be installed to allow the same type of migration. This method has been proven to work in several states. This can reduce the rate of accidents between vehicles and deer.
Humans should not have all of the blame placed on them. While it is true that humans do transform habitats into areas suitable for their own needs, Mother Nature can harm herself. Earthquakes, erosion, floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters can ruin habitat. True, given enough time the land will eventually heal itself. But most species of wildlife do not have that kind of time. While the species may survive in another area, the individuals living in a disaster area most likely will not.
We must be careful and vigilant not to allow ourselves to interfere or unduly influence these naturally occurring forms of habitat loss. Erosion is perhaps the worst (and unrecognized by the public at large) type of habitat loss that we humans can unknowingly worsen and speed up.
Habitat Loss - Erosion
The image below shows the natural progression of erosion from the top down. The rock face here is being eroded by many elements – rain, wind, temperature variations, and the trees growing above. Rock faces always have tiny cracks and fissures in them. These fissures allow water to permeate the rock. Water oozing, dripping, and eventually flowing through the cracks, help to make them larger. The trees growing above compound the effect of the water's erosion.
The extensive root systems slowly crept through tiny cracks and crevices allowing wind, and water to invade the rock. Over many years as the roots grew larger and penetrated deeper, those tiny cracks and crevices got larger and larger. This expansion caused the cracks to continue growing larger with each passing season. Eventually the soil surrounding the rock was laid bare to the elements, washing away and leaving the roots of the trees, grasses and bushes open to those same elements causing them to wither and die. The trees just sent out more roots, compounding the problem.
Without the outer protection of the soil and grasses, the procedure speeds up. As cracks grew ever larger, they would eventually break free and fall to the woodland floor. As he rocks crashed into rocks below, they would again break apart making gravel or scree. Given enough time and rain, wind, and more rocks falling from above, soil would be forned. This process takes hundreds and thousands of years given natural forces, but is often sped up by the acts of humans.
A real pet peeve of mine is watching people disrespecting wildlife. I have witnessed this almost every time I go to a national park, national wildlife refuge, lake, river, city park and even at zoos. This disrespect comes from one source – ignorance. As you can see in the image below, this guy is way too close to these bison. He is putting himself, and the bison at risk. Any one of these bison has the ability and speed to reach him in about three powerful steps if they charged... And for what? A picture? It is not worth risking your life for a photo. Besides the danger here, it is against park regulations. Those regulations are for a minimum distance of fifty yards (for all mammals other than bears) between you and any mammal. That distance is 100 to 300 yards in bear country.
While the animals are acclimated to being around people, they are not tame! They are wild and can be dangerous. More people are injured by bison, elk, and deer than they are by grizzly, wolves, or black bears.
Let's talk about bears for a minute. First, it is illegal to feed bears (and any other wildlife) because they will associate food with humans – not a good thing. But if a bear attacks someone it will be deemed a "problem bear" and either be trapped and relocated, or worse yet, killed. This happens much more frequently than it should. The bear pays for someone else's ignorance. If you want to look at bears, that is fine – just stay in your car. It is safer for you and the bears.
My second pet peeve is dogs not on a leash. If you are allowed to take your pet into a National, state, or municipal park, at least have the courtesy to follow the rules! I see it all the time, after many people get out of sight of the parking lot, they take off the dog's leash. Not only could they harm wildlife wildlife could harm them.
And lastly, please pick up after yourself, your pets, and everyone else in your group. Leave the wilderness better than you found it. There is NO excuse for littering.
End of Rant.