As a result wild animals end up living in suburbia. Key Deer in Florida are found on the endangered species list and in driveways. Watertown, Mass., sees moose galloping down Main Street. A bobcat is at home in Burbank. Deer live side by side with residents in Princeton, N.J. How to live near nature, while keeping it an arm's length away is a problem more and more homeowners face.
The issue is particularly bad in California, where a large deer population attracts predatory mountain lions to the suburbs. "If there is a healthy population of deer, you can bet there is a lion," says wildlife expert Michael Connolly.
Dick Taylor's home is a half block from an elementary school. A cougar showed up unexpectedly in his yard recently. He guesses that it may have been attracted by cat food, his pet cat itself, or, as with many wild animals, human encroachment left it nowhere else to go. "I would say it came from the new construction," he says.
When a 400-pound bear wandered near his neighborhood, Taylor caught it and released the bear into what was wilderness. Two years later, it's now a construction site.
Up to 6,000 mountain lions live in California, and while there are only 11 documented attacks involving people in the last 100 years, two of the five deaths happened in the past five years. As development increases on the fringes of the wilderness, so does the potential for trouble.