School project exposes city’s wild side

Katie Harris, an animal science student at the University of Saskatchewan, recently installed 30 trail cams around the city, and the results were startling. | Twitter/@RyanKBrook photo

Wildlife was not a foreign concept for me growing up on a cattle ranch beside the Souris River south of Estevan, Sask.

Beavers made the biggest impression, and I can remember Dad wrapping chicken wire around a lot of our trees to stop beavers from doing what beavers do.

Wild animals became less noticeable when I moved to the city — first Regina, then North Battleford, Sask., Moose Jaw and finally Saskatoon.

It’s not like wildlife is completely unheard of in Saskatoon. Skunks wander through backyards occasionally, and deer make an appearance from time to time. There was the time conservation officers had to deal with a black bear up a tree in the north end of the city, and a sick-looking coyote showed up once in an alley near our house.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rabbit population explosion that has occurred in Saskatoon in recent years, but generally speaking, wildlife sightings are an aberration and not an everyday occurrence.

Or so most of us Saskatonians thought — until now.

An animal science student at the University of Saskatchewan recently installed 30 trail cams around the city, and the results were startling.

Katie Harris told CBC she was surprised at the number of wild animals that regularly walk through the city, including a moose near downtown.

She also said her cameras picked up a large number of foxes. That might surprise a lot of folks who may never have seen a fox in town, but maybe it shouldn’t, considering the rabbit population explosion I mentioned earlier.

“There’s our world that we live in, but there’s kind of also a second world that’s kind of been superimposed over the city, and it’s this world that none of us really get to interact with,” Harris said.

“When I start to sit down, parse through all these photos and all this data and really see what we have and where it is, like, there’s this whole other world that a lot of people aren’t aware of.”

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Regular readers of this column may remember my suggestion from earlier in the year to name Gurdeep Pandher, the bhangra dancer from the Yukon, as Canada’s person of the year for 2020. Considering the recent trouble at Rideau Hall, I would now like to update that suggestion and nominate him as our new governor general.

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