From fungi to insects to rats, birds, and coyotes, Sam Fisher knows about life in the city. This city is not just a concrete human habitat, he says, but a thriving urban ecosystem “with a highly-stratified food chain.” As the ecologist who wrote the wildlife management plan for the city’s small urban parks, Fisher is well-attuned to our city’s wild web of life.
And when it comes to the creatures of our town, he’ll tell you, humans are definitely a minority.
At just under 500,000 people, the city is one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S., after New York, etc. But how many other creatures share our seven-by-seven mile urban peninsula?
“There’s likely more insects in one acre of land in the Presidio than there are humans in the entire city,” says Fisher, who talks about bugs mainly as a food source for birds -his favorite animals.
Fisher gives bird tours of the city and says that he once logged 124 different bird species on one bicycle tour of the County. On a busy spring day, “there are at least as many birds as people in the city, probably more.”
No one has done an animal census of the city, so no one knows for sure how many critters share our space. However, using statistics compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Care, and Control director David Jordan estimates that the city is home to around 120,394 dogs. “And they all live in my neighborhood in the region,” he quips. As for felines, which Friedman says are “more of a companion of choice” in the city, the ACC estimates that there are roughly three cats for every dog.