Our Future Neighbors

American black bear
Ursus americanus
Photo: Illustration by Sarah Esteje

There are 38 species of mammals in New York City, according to Jason Munshi-South, whose lab at Fordham University’s Louis Calder Center studies our urban wildlife. Considering such factors as climate change and shifting species populations, what animals does he expect to add in coming years? His predictions:

5 To 10 Years
Abundant in the days before fur trappers and polluted waters, the otter will likely recolonize the Bronx River and nearby estuaries as efforts citywide to improve water quality start paying off.

20 years
As bobcat populations keep climbing (it’s already hunting in Westchester), New York will be the tree-climbing carnivore’s heaven, where prey, such as rodents and rabbits, haven’t yet adopted proper anti-predator strategies.

Black bear
30 years
If by mid-century climate change has crippled foraging patterns (it’s already decimated pine trees, a crucial food source, around Yellowstone), bears in the Adirondacks and Catskills will come to the city in search of food.

Mountain lion
100 years
If sea levels rise and coastal areas are converted to parkland—as some suggested with the Rockaways, post-Sandy—Munshi-South speculates that a cougar could creep into an outer borough in pursuit of deer.

Our Future Neighbors