Nature and Urban Sprawl: How Much is Too Much?
Urban sprawl is defined as the spreading of urban or suburban land over rural areas. Many are concerned that this sprawl is forcing many animal species to find new homes, and forcing many others into the danger of extinction, while others claim that some species of wildlife are more prevalent now than they have been in over 100 years! In “Unwelcome Human Neighbors: The Impact of Sprawl on Wildlife,” by Jutka Terris, she explains that urban sprawl could become a very large problem for U.S. wildlife in the 21st century. This is because the expansion of built areas is moving at a rate that is much faster than population growth. Jane S. Shaw, however, feels differently. In her essay, “Nature in the Suburbs,” she states that the wildlife population is going up in these areas, because of a transformed America, which is becoming a haven for wild animals.
Terris believes that urban sprawl is destroying the wild animals’ natural habitats. She says that generalization of habitat, the ability of some species to adapt to human-shaped environments, is drastically lowering the overall number of species in certain areas. This trend results in the survival of species such as pigeons, squirrels, and raccoons, but is drastically lowering the number of species that are not quite as hardy, she says. She notes that while standing in a suburban backyard, one may still hear birds singing, but the choir is not as diverse as it was before the subdivisions came and the mature trees were chopped down (Terris 257).
Shaw, on the other hand, shares her opinion that “wild animals are increasingly finding suburban life in the United States to be attractive.” She claims that “the idea of urban sprawl wiping out wildlife is simply poppycock” (Shaw 261). Shaw shares two phenomena which are fueling the supposed increase in wild animals. One is natural reforestation, especially in the eastern United States. The percent of forested...