Campus teeming with native nightlife

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Amanda Graef

The Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation founder said campus wildlife are resilient descendants of species native to this city.

By Thomas Macias 

Raccoons, opossums, bats, squirrels, skunks, snakes, foxes and coyotes were spotted around this college.

So what’s all this wildlife doing on an urban college campus?

Animals frequently seen on this campus are the resilient survivors of a once more robust San Antonio wildlife habitat, said Lynn Cuny, founder and president of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, in a March 21 interview.

Cuny, who is native to San Antonio, said this college’s wildlife is a link to a time when this city had more green space, water and native animals.

Cuny said the presence of wildlife predates this college, which was established in 1925 downtown and moved to this location in 1951.

“The wildlife lived in San Antonio since the 1920s and ’30s and certainly before because San Antonio’s terrain would support that,” Cuny said.

“Before San Antonio College was there, they were there.

“The minute you got out of downtown, it used to be very green,” Cuny said.

“It used to be wildlife habitat. It was a wonderful area to grow up in because you never used to feel like you were in a city. As time progressed and as human beings (regressed), we started doing more of what we see every day now. We started tearing down and destroying the green spaces.”

Cuny said this regression was the construction of a large number of shopping centers becoming the norm instead of traveling downtown where large buildings were concentrated.

Urban development started to expand outward, but the wildlife did not depart, she said.

“The animals have to make the best of what is certainly a bad situation for them, and that is what generations and generations ago the great grandparents of the opossums, squirrels, raccoons and the skunks and foxes that you see today — that’s what they did,” Cuny said.

“They stayed put, and they began to adapt because they had no other choice.”

Mary Enyeart

Cuny said constant development has steadily eroded this city’s natural habitats.

“I remember seeing all these animals as a kid,” Cuny said.  “As I grew up, I started seeing these animals disappear because the green space disappeared.”

This college’s students, faculty, staff and visitors are likely to be acquainted with campus wildlife.According to an Oct. 20 story in The Ranger, a large raccoon broke through a ceiling tile in McCreless Hall and was subsequently chased by groundskeepers and campus police.

Facilities Superintendent David Ortega said animals tend to appear on campus either at night or in the early morning.

Ortega said the presence of campus wildlife may be attributed to cat food left for this college’s cat population.

“If you feed them, they will come,” Ortega said.

Cuny said animals have adapted their diets as this city urbanized.

When the area consisted of green space, resident animals would eat rats, mice and bird eggs, Cuny said.

“Now they are eating dry cat food because that is what’s there,” she said.

Groundskeeper Jonathon Sanchez said he has seen bats at this college.

His colleague, Ruben Casarez, said he was told of a coyote that roamed campus. Faculty have reported seeing it.

Other faculty have reported seeing skunks.

Cuny said in addition to these animals, native wildlife also include migratory Mexican tree-tailed and red bats, an occasional gray fox and several species of snakes.

Cuny said most native wildlife are nocturnal.

Mary Enyeart

Animals that have entered campus buildings probably did so at night and could not get out, Cuny said.

In these instances, Cuny recommended leaving an open door or window for animals.

Both Ortega and Cuny agreed native wildlife should not be considered hazardous, but people should not attempt to remove them.

Ortega said the facilities department has a hotline in case of animal entry. Contact the hotline at 210-486-1235.

For those outside of campus, Cuny said Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation can remove a trapped animal as well.

For more information, call 830-336-2725.


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