A new 60-foot-tall nesting pole for ospreys (a type of fish-hawk) was dedicated along the Bluff on Sept. 10. This is an opportunity for the ospreys to have a nursery and for LMU students to study the birds’ behavior.
But while we’re gawking at the more exotic creatures from the wetlands, it might be worth looking at the animals on campus that have made their homes in more human-centric habitats. LMU has to be more educated about the environment we share with other species.
There are many different animals on campus like crows, rabbits and lizards; however, those specific species don’t really throw a wrench into how most students operate on a day-to-day basis. One species students do encounter on campus, though, is the raccoon.
“There are always one ... or two raccoons hanging in front of McCarthy at night,” remarked Camille Bautista, a sophomore animation major. “My friend calls them Bonnie and Clyde.”
Raccoons aren’t really as lovable as Rubin from “Gallows” by Loyolan staff cartoonist Harrison Klein. Not only are raccoons a “primary carrier of rabies,” but they can also spread roundworm infections and the potentially fatal disease Leptospirosis, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
“Raccoons can get vicious, and they’re also not like mice, where they’re very small; they’re pretty big creatures,” commented Bautista.
There’s no way to rid campus of this kind of wildlife. LMU can’t have a campus full of trees and bushes while also being free from any animals happy to have those plants in their environment.
“We have this idea that there’s the urban world and there’s nature. We’re the only species that looks at landscape that way,” said Eric Strauss, a professor of biology at LMU and the executive director of the LMU Center for Urban Resilience, in an article for CityLab.
Strauss’s argument also holds true for our campus, which has a unique mix of gardens and trees blended with streets and sidewalks, perfect for humans and non-humans to be intertwined in the community.
“LMU’s wildlife is part of what makes our campus unique,” said Brittnee Wadlington, a facilities management associate at LMU. “In fact, there are many academic courses and research centers that focus on wildlife around our campus.”
While this line between the wild and the University might be blurred, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps both students and the administration can take to understand how we should and should not interact with our furry friends.
For instance, LMU could change how it handles trash. The common format of most trash receptacles on campus seem ripe for raccoons and other animals to steal garbage from. It has a big flap on top of the design and easily unlockable door for taking out the can itself at the bottom of the design.
On the University’s end, these designs can be improved with better locks. Securing the doors with bungee cords at night can prevent easy entry, as recommended by New England Today.
Granted, these kinds of precautions aren’t guaranteed to always work, but it’s a step up from our current system of a scavenger buffet.
Students can do their part by being more responsible with their trash. Far too often, I see the trash cans near the Lair overflowing with paper plates and plastic forks because some people couldn’t be bothered to take their garbage somewhere else. When you have trash in hand, find the right place to put it away and don’t stuff it where there isn’t any room left.
If you live in Hannon or Tenderich and have a compost bin nearby, one useful tip, as highlighted by the Toronto Wildlife Centre, is to freeze your compost so as to reduce smells that might attract raccoons.
As for taking late-night walks on campus, I’d try to stay clear of any unlit and planted areas. Raccoons like dark and quiet spaces, according to Nuisance Wildlife Rangers, so walking into the alley-like nooks of some campus apartment buildings or by the trees near the Habit is a good way to run into them.
When we mold our school around the fact that humans are not the only species that live on campus, we can expect to see a ecologically conscious community that values life even in the least likely of places.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.