Is civilization going wild? Or are wild things gettng civilized?

I’ve been aware that certain wild animals — black bears, coyotes, foxes, bald eagles — have proliferated and spread into places where they were rarely seen even twenty years ago.

For some reason, though, I still tend to think of aquatic birds as rara avis, which I suppose is why I’ve been startled to see a great white egret making itself at home at a park along the Raritan River in Central New Jersey, at a spot where the endless hum of traffic on Route 1, the New Jersey Turnpike and other busy highways is endlessly heard.

Within smelling distance of exhaust fumes and Superfund dumps, within walking distance of a gritty city, here’s this lovely peaceful green oasis where I’ve also seen deer, and a red fox, and at least two resident blue herons, where turtles sunbathe on logs on the edge of a placid pond, and where I fully expect to someday see a brashly rambling bruin crashing through the brambles and to awaken in the Jersey night to the barks and yips  of wily coyotes.

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