Maureen Rowe is well aware of the state's wildlife resurgence. She deals with it every day.
A Dane County wildlife biologist, Rowe often fields calls regarding smaller mammals like raccoons, fox and woodchucks. In the spring, especially, when dens are built under porches or woodsheds, animals get protective of their young and can become a threat to people or pets.
"If we are going to have greenspace in the city," she says, "we are going to have wildlife living in that space."
One manifestation of this, says Rowe, is the thriving turkey population in the UW Arboretum. The animals have been known to get aggressive with people, including the occasional postal worker on Madison's west side. Rowe chalks this up to easy food and springtime hormones. The birds are just following natural instinct.
"We have to take responsibility for how we've changed the environment and how it has affected wildlife," says Rowe. "Sometimes we get a little lazy. There are things we could do better to coexist with animals." For instance, not scattering seed that could attract turkeys and raccoons.
While there are no known bear dens in Dane County, Rowe says black bear have been spotted traveling south along the Wisconsin River and a river system near DeForest.
Similarly, "There aren't any established packs of wolves in the Dane County area," says Chip Lovell, a federal wildlife biologist based in Dane County. "But when they wander, sometimes they go a long way." Stray wolves have been seen as far south as northern Illinois.
More troublesome are the Canada geese around the Dane County airport, which Lowell says pose an "extreme aircraft safety hazard" around airports. Another bird that has ruffled a few feathers in these parts is the Cooper's hawk. Considered threatened until it was removed from the federal list in 1989, this bird of prey generally nests in wooded lots, often where new housing carves into forested acreage.
When animals pose problems, Dane County officials generally encourage changes in human behavior. A case in point: Rowe, who lives on a farmette outside of Madison, says a family of fox wiped out her chickens. If she gets more, she'll first build a fox-proof henhouse.
Although animals can get aggressive, Rowe is "more worried about human predators than wildlife predators in Dane County." For both, she says, "You just have to use a little common sense."