Wildlife is an important part in having a balanced environment. In fact, wildlife is a good tool that can be used to indicate the overall health and stability of an environment. The Bronx River became heavily polluted during the 19th and 20th centuries, essentially becoming a reserve for industrial and residential wastes. This harmed the river’s vegetation, and thereby the native species, such as oysters and fish. Therefore, any new wildlife along the river is a sign of progress.
The Bronx River possesses New York City’s first beavers in over 200 years. Their names are Jose and Justin. Beavers actually have a long history in the city, dating back to Dutch settler Adriaen van der Donck’s account, talking about how the beaver was the foundational animal for his settlement. The fur trade during the 1600s and 1700s caused beavers to be entirely wiped out by the 1800s. This ended up hurting the ecosystem of the Bronx River since the dams that beavers built raised the water level, allowing for additional plant growth that raised the food supply for other animals.
In addition to beavers, other wildlife are also making a comeback in the watershed. Recently, ecologists were able to capture a photo of a bobcat roaming around the Bronx River. Bobcats (or Lynx rufus) are nocturnal and “the most abundant wildcat in North America.” They are approximately twice the size of a domestic housecat and are usually brown or grey with white bellies and black spots all over. Their most notable feature is their black pointed ears. Bobcats are predators that mainly target rabbits. They do this by stalking their prey and pouncing on them (which is indeed very similar to house cats).
Dr. Bobby Habig of the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Queens College mentioned that cameras were placed along the Bronx River for the last 15 months, allowing the picture to be taken. Although it may be odd that a bobcat found its way to the city, Dr. Habig theorized that the Bronx’s connection to the rest of the country and the bobcat’s desire for food led it to the river.