USA

Photographer depicts animals in urban habitats

Calling the Earth is CNN’s editorial series dedicated to reporting on the environmental challenges facing our planet and showcasing solutions to address them. Rolex’s Forever Planet Project partners with CNN to raise awareness and educate people about key sustainability issues and inspire positive action.

(CNN) — A huge black bear slithered through a gap under an abandoned house in South Lake Tahoe, California. Its fur shone in the camera flash, a color somewhere between dead pine and the rusty red paint of the house behind it.

Photographer Corey Arnold was told there was a bear in the den, and he set up a camera equipped with a motion sensor and waited for it to appear. I had no idea how big the bear was. A series of images show how he slowly and relentlessly pulls his bulging belly out of the hole in search of dinner. Later that night, he was caught on camera returning to his house.

Arnold said the bear’s size comes from the fact that it feeds on human garbage. In some areas of the United States, black bears live in and around cities, and their behavior and morphology have changed. Bears in cities are less active than bears living in the wild and eating sugary human food, according to research conducted in Lake Tahoe and Asheville, North Carolina. Therefore, their weight sometimes triples.

Black bear cubs play on a swing in the backyard of a home in Asheville, North Carolina.

Black bear cubs play on a swing in the backyard of a home in Asheville, North Carolina. “I set up a camera trap to capture the many urban bears that frequent this area,” explains photographer Corey Arnold. (Source: Corey Arnold)

For better or worse, wild animals must adapt to survive in increasingly urbanized areas, and these animals are the protagonists of Arnold’s Wild City series. Originally commissioned by National Geographic magazine and published last year with an article by journalist Christine Dell’Amore, the project was recognized at the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards, taking first place in the Wildlife and Nature category.

Arnold said they are targeting black bears, coyotes and raccoons, species whose populations tend to grow in urban areas. “They’ve learned how to adapt well to man-made landscapes, such as cities and suburbs,” he explained to CNN.

For three months, he followed the daily lives of animals in cities across America: where they slept, how they found food and their relationships with humans. The results are revealing: raccoons nest in narrow gaps between buildings, bears crawl out of containers, and cubs play on tire swings.

A group of raccoons was photographed as a car approached San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

A group of raccoons was photographed as a car approached San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. (Source: Corey Arnold)

A raccoon forages for food in a recycling bin in San Francisco.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

A raccoon forages for food in a recycling bin in San Francisco. (Source: Corey Arnold)

A volunteer helps track bears and remove them from other people's properties.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

A volunteer helps track bears and remove them from other people’s properties. (Source: Corey Arnold)

In Chicago, Arnold worked with scientists to track coyotes with collars. He was amazed at how they learned to navigate urban conglomerations and avoid vehicular traffic (their biggest killer) across an extensive network of railroad tracks. “They would wake up in an open clearing, run along the tracks, stop and look for rabbits or mice in the clearing, then go back to the tracks and go down,” he explained.

Despite the density of cities, they still have specific territories, know where to find mates, and are adept at finding hiding places that are inaccessible to humans. “Most of the time when we track people with collars, they are barely visible. I know exactly where they are, but somehow they just cruise in the shadows,” he added.

A coyote barks aggressively at dogs walking in the distance at an off-leash dog park in San Francisco.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

At an off-leash dog park in San Francisco, a coyote screamed aggressively at dogs walking in the distance. (Source: Corey Arnold)

A coyote crossed a freight train bridge in Chicago to avoid traffic.

A coyote crossed a freight train bridge in Chicago to avoid traffic. “After spotting a coyote on the railroad tracks, we ran to film it,” Arnold explains. “Luckily, the coyote came running along my side of the tracks.” (Source: Corey Arnold)

However, these animals are not always safe from humans. They often wreak havoc: they rummage through trash cans and throw trash on the streets, they nest in people’s basements or attics, leaving behind a foul odor, and sometimes they even attack humans or their pets.

One of Arnold’s photos shows not a wild animal but a puppy named Misto in the front yard of a San Francisco home. He’s wearing what looks like a punk rock accessory, but is actually a coyote-deterrent spike. The owner bought the dog after hearing stories of coyotes snatching puppies on city streets.

Misto wears a spiked costume to deter coyotes outside his home in San Francisco.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

Misto wears a spiked costume to deter coyotes outside his home in San Francisco. (Source: Corey Arnold)

In Asheville, some residents hunt black bears during certain times of the year, luring them with bait and even eating the meat afterward. Others put birdseed in their gardens and feed them. Arnold told how a woman left a giant water fountain outside her house so bears could roam her yard. Year after year, he said, the same bear would come with a new litter of cubs, and the person would interact with them through her window.

Arnold has always been fascinated by the complex relationship between humans and animals. When he was growing up on an avocado farm in Southern California, he would find lost animals, bring them home and nurse them back to health, but he would also go fishing with his father on the weekends, where they would be dropped off “Garbage” “Without a second thought.

“As I got older, I started thinking about the strange relationship we have[with animals]: we admire them, we love them, and we eat them too. Why don’t we eat our pets, but we eat other animals” Why Are we going to shoot some animals because they eat our food, we give treats to other animals in the yard, and we like seeing them? “He said.

Janice Husebo interacts with black bears through the sliding glass door of her Asheville home.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

Janice Husebo interacts with black bears through the sliding glass door of her Asheville home. (Source: Corey Arnold)

A white-tailed deer breaks through a hole in a chain-link fence in Chicago.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

A white-tailed deer breaks through a hole in a chain-link fence in Chicago. (Source: Corey Arnold)

This curiosity has shaped much of his photography, from documenting commercial fishing and life at sea to increasingly images depicting a range of encounters between humans and wildlife, from people bathing guinea pigs to clothing Leopard fur coat for women.

As a photographer, Arnold believes it’s important not to judge different relationships. “I’m a guy who can step back and look at the big picture, whether it’s hunting or conservation,” he said. “I try to find a balance and try to listen to everyone’s opinion on how we should treat our animals.”

A black bear and her cub wander around South Lake Tahoe in search of food.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

A black bear and her cub wander around South Lake Tahoe in search of food. (Source: Corey Arnold)

Janice and Janney Husebo, a retired couple living outside Asheville, have fully embraced living with bears.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

Janice and Janney Husebo, a retired couple living outside Asheville, have fully embraced living with bears. (Source: Corey Arnold)

The Wilderness City project illustrates the potential dangers that arise as cities grow, native habitats are destroyed, and humans and animals live ever closer together. It also sheds light on the lives of these animals and suggests that the better we understand them, the more likely we are to find ways to get along with them.

“There are always going to be some conflicts. We just have to find a middle ground where we don’t eliminate them but learn to live with them and keep our distance,” Arnold said.

Asheville scientists trapped black bears in barrel traps as part of a study to understand how bears and humans can safely coexist in urban environments.  (Source: Corey Arnold)

Asheville scientists trapped black bears in barrel traps as part of a study to understand how bears and humans can safely coexist in urban environments. (Source: Corey Arnold)

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *