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Book Chapter

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Despite the potential for difficulty, there are several reasons why urban wildlife should be valued and better understood. First is its scientific and heuristic value. Urban wildlife populations are essentially parts of ongoing natural experiments in adaptation to anthropogenic stress. How urban animals are affected by human activities— and how they cope with them— can represent, on a highly accelerated scale, a model of what is happening to species in other biomes. No other wild animals live in such intimate contact and under such constant constraint from human activities as do synanthropes. Second, urban animals are exposed to many environmental hazards and should be considered sentinels on our behalf. Additionally, wildlife in urban environments is apparently quite important to people (Adams 1994; Kellert 1996; Reiter et al. 1999). It may be critical that these coinhabitants maintain a connection between people within the most densely settled human developments and the natural environment. Finally, we argue that there is an inherent value and right for wildlife species to exist, in whatever type of environment they are found. Human beings have a moral obligation to recognize and appreciate the diversity of life and celebrate it by acknowledging the rights of others.