Goats in Wales; coyotes in San Francisco; rats, rats, everywhere: With much of the world staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, animals have ventured out where normally the presence of people would keep them away.
Under the cover of night, in their feathered, silken, cream-colored coats, they trotted into Llandudno, a seaside town in Wales.
On Thursday evening, a herd of Great Orme Kashmiri goats galloped through the desolate streets of the small town looking for food. Some goats got their fill from hedges, others climbed building walls.
“They are very mischievous,” Andrew Stuart, a Llandudno resident who spotted the goats, said in an interview. “They seem a bit wary of humans, they wouldn’t go past me at one point and were very cautious.”
Luckily for the goats, there weren’t many humans around.
More than a billion people worldwide are staying at home under guidance from their governments, socially distancing themselves from one another to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed over 43,000 lives globally, including 2,300 in Britain.
The Great Orme goats ventured out farther than they normally would, Mr. Stuart, 31, said.
The goats live in Great Orme Country Park, in Conwy, Wales. They were a gift from Queen Victoria, from the royal herd, but their descendants are wild animals that roam and forage in the large park.
“They like to come down when it gets a bit windy,” Mr. Stuart said. “When they get down to the bottom of the hills they don’t go much further because there is busy town life. They are known for coming down a bit and causing a bit of mayhem.”
But with the country under lockdown because of the coronavirus, the goats saw an opportunity to get a whiff of their neighboring town and hopped right to it. In the video Mr. Stuart recorded, the goats can be seen running down the middle of a street.“They were just racing through the town,” said Mr. Stuart, who called a nonemergency police line. “They are in town because it is so quiet, because hardly anyone is about.”
There is also hardly anyone outside in San Francisco — except for the coyotes.
Residents in San Francisco have been under orders to practice social distancing for two weeks, leaving their homes only to buy groceries, go to pharmacies and participate in other essential tasks. The streets have been left to the coyotes, which seem to be venturing farther into the city because there are so few cars, according to Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for San Francisco Animal Care and Control.
“We have had a lot more reported sightings of them in the streets,” she said. “They are probably wondering where everyone went.”
Social distancing has not increased wild animals’ populations, but it does seem to have changed their behavior in seeking new food sources, said Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association.
“What we are also seeing is that they are looking for food in places they had not before,” he said. “The part of the equation that is missing right now is people.”
Ever since Louisiana imposed a lockdown, causing restaurants to shut down, the rats in New Orleans are almost certainly wondering where the usual French Quarter crowds — and their trash — have gone.
“Animals are opportunistic and feed off trash,” said Claudia Riegel, executive director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board. “The restaurants are producing a lot of trash, and right now, a lot of that is just gone.”
The original story appeared in the New York Times, and can be accessed here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/science/coronavirus-animals-wildlife-goats.html