The Wildcats of Foreclosure

Wildcats are taking over the foreclosed homes of Southern California. According to the neighbor of an abandoned house near Lake Elsinore, "this is the first she has heard of a wild animal taking over a foreclosure."

[Image: Karen Brown/The Press-Enterprise].

So is the wild coming back for good – or has the ongoing U.S. real estate bubble simply produced temporarily ideal conditions for the return of bobcats and other large feline predators?
After all, what sort of burgeoning ecosystem does the world of foreclosed homes represent? Mold, lichen, and vines; bears, deer, and wildcats.
Repurposed McMansions, emptied of their human inhabitants, are filled in later by a troupe of mountain lions.
I sense a children's film here.
But is this really the way the wild will reclaim our world? Starting with foreclosed homes and moving inward, to the centers of cities, from there. Soon ivy crawls across the well-polished tables of New York boardrooms, as the suburbs fall prey to nests of field mice.

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Blogger Brendan Crain said...

I wrote a short article for a local paper in Milwaukee a few years ago about the Badger Munitions Plant a few miles outside of Madison in the central area of Wisconsin...the plant was a huge facility used by the US govt during WWII (and I, I think), that was closed down in phases until it was shut down entirely in the 1980s. It has become one of the richest wildlife habitats in the wildlife-rich state thanks to the physical protection provided by the buildings and the protection from development provided by the government, which has not sold the site and keeps it off-limits to the general public.

But this is an interesting development! Foreclosed and unfinished subdivisions: the wildlife refuge parks of the future? I imagine them looking like giant copy-paste Acropoli, all half-crumbled, overgrown and such.

Hooray for ecological succession.

September 04, 2008 2:42 AM  
Blogger persey said...

Fantastic story-gives me hope for when I next vistit sydney Mcmansion burbs that they too may one day be taken over by the wily felines that have managed to populate every corner of australia from a couple brought out to Australia in first fleets. Then maybe they could duke it out with the cane toad into oblivion...or we can finally reproduce the Tasmanian tiger from microscopic particulates and a super race of feline and bufus predator could stalk our great browner land. Distopian intent- you bet! Now about those mcmansions.

September 04, 2008 2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

these cats are dangerous

September 04, 2008 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do I like this story so much? I wonder how many people share my profound misanthropy brought about by anger at the way humans have destroyed the planet and created a holocaust for all other species? We really deserve to be completely wiped out. It's great to see even a tiny example of the resilience of other creatures and the possibility that some might creep back. Plus it's got photos of cats?

September 04, 2008 3:40 AM  
Blogger Sweet Em said...

I think that the theory that these McMansions will become the tenements of tomorrow, packed with poor 3-4 families, or 15+ single guys is as likely, if not more, than animals reclaiming former greenfields. Although the cats will have it better, as they aren't dependent on public transportation or jammed freeways to bring home the bacon.

September 04, 2008 10:03 AM  
Blogger TheAdmin said...

There is a book by Alan Weisman titled "The World Without Us" that covers some interesting ways in which nature will reclaim our cities.

You can see an animation on the book's website, link is:

September 04, 2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger jdg said...

We deal with this sort of thing all the time in Detroit. My daughter and I were attacked by a pack of wild dogs on Belle Isle. I regularly see pheasants downtown. A few weeks I was standing in an abandoned building and watched while a pair of red foxes scamper into the ruins of Michigan Central Station, which I believe you've blogged about before.

Detroit shows what happens when even the densest urban areas are abandoned and left to nature; this post presents the fascinating possibilities of what will happen in the outlying areas of human encroachment when we're gone.


September 04, 2008 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Detroit… there was an article in the Sunday paper that bald eagles are encroaching into the suburbs.

September 04, 2008 3:20 PM  
Blogger JW said...


September 04, 2008 3:34 PM  
Blogger nstraghalis said...

Two songs come immediately to mind: Nothing But Flowers, Talking Heads; and River of Orchids, XTC (can't find an mp3).

September 04, 2008 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It reminds me of Kafka on the Shore by HarukiMurakami, in which a possible brain-damaged character called Nakata finds he is able to communicate with cats and they're very aware of their place in an urban environment. Or obviously its comparisons to Cats and TSEliot. The concept of intelligent animals reclaiming and using our human-built-world has fascinated us for centuries.

September 05, 2008 9:22 AM  
Blogger Yanuly Sanson said...

It would be interesting to study what draws an animal to an specific non natural environment. In this case, is the bobcat exploring or are they settling? Would they prefer this to "Nature"? How are they notions of territory changed?
Modern zoos try to recreate an environment to make the animal feel better around their confines, but, could we build a better Nature for them?

September 05, 2008 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reminds me of t.c. boyle's book the tortilla curtain, which has a nature writer as its main protagonist. delaney mossbacher likes to go into the neighbouring 'natural regions' for walks but is offended when a coyote jumps the fence and eats his partner's puppy. the fence thus functions as a sign for economic division, racial division (we're talking gated suburbs here), but also nature/culture division.
great post - more on nature/culture! more on gated suburbs!

September 07, 2008 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful that our inability to live in our own built environment leaves holes for lifeforms that don't buck against the order of nature. I find it amazing that our own systems of usury and bureaucracy leave us homeless while thousands of good (if ugly) houses go uninhabited. Go wildcats.

September 07, 2008 6:28 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

The gated suburb as evolutionary niche.

September 08, 2008 11:18 AM  
Blogger Lily said...

This isn't surprising nature has a way of adapting. In fact I wouldn't be surprised to see more and more of this happening.

September 10, 2008 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ian said: "We really deserve to be completely wiped out. "

Ian, with that attitude I suggest you start with yourself.

December 20, 2009 5:49 PM  

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