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When Carnivores Become Neighbors

By Pace University

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Carnivores play an essential role in a balanced ecosystem and they provide us with an opportunity to preserve many of the remaining intact forests and open lands in North America. Carnivores regulate “pest” species, such as rodents and help keep deer populations in check thereby reducing negative human-deer encounters. Predator species serve as indicators of biodiversity value, are sentinels of subtle ecosystem threats, and flagship species with high public appeal in education and dissemination programs. Changing landscapes and the ability of some carnivores to adapt to life in the suburbs have led to increased carnivore sightings in Westchester County. Based on the eastward movement of some carnivores, mid-Atlantic states should prepare for the inevitable repopulation of these species. How do we (do we?) embrace and encourage this ecological phenomenon?