Algonquin’s opportunistic plants and animals enjoy a deserted campus

Algonquin College’s Woodroffe campus is usually full of people walking from class to class and enjoying the many amenities the campus has to offer. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented students a difficult challenge but the wildlife at Algonquin with a new opportunity. As in many other spaces with less human presence during the pandemic, the […]
Photo: Mitchell Ansell
A duck gently floats through Algonquin on May.31,2021

Algonquin College’s Woodroffe campus is usually full of people walking from class to class and enjoying the many amenities the campus has to offer. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented students a difficult challenge but the wildlife at Algonquin with a new opportunity.

As in many other spaces with less human presence during the pandemic, the Algonquin campus has seen an increase in wildlife activity, especially near the horticulture paths, according to several people who are some of the few still required to visit and work at the campus.

Jessica Scallen, an employee with the Early Learning Centre, said that she is enjoying the new increase in wildlife she sees daily. “There are definitely more birds like robins, blackbirds, and geese. With fewer people here you can hear their songs a lot more clearly now, it’s wonderful.”

Scallen also mentioned the notable lack of gulls, which she attributed to the decrease in food waste and litter on the campus.

Leaping squirrels, dashing chipmunks, and hopping bunnies all make regular appearances to the passersby strolling through the greener parts of the campus.

Neelam and Praduman Tandon, a retired couple that frequents the Woodroffe campus for nature walks, noted the increase in small animals, but they were more eager about the plant life that has grown along the trails. “The flowers are more beautiful than ever, fewer people stepping where they shouldn’t give the flowers the best chance for blooming,” Praduman said, as he grabbed a bright pink flower, brought it to his nose and inhaled the sweet smell. “Fill your lungs up with that!” he exclaimed.

Pretty flower blooms at Algonquin College horticulture paths. May 31,2021
Pretty flower blooms at Algonquin College horticulture paths. May. 31,2021 Photo credit: Mitchell Ansell

It is not just Algonquin College that is experiencing the return of wildlife. The environmental benefits of social distancing have been felt worldwide. Fish have returned to the canals of Italy with less boat traffic, the air quality in New York has seen short-term improvement, and there are reports of deer frequenting subway stations in Japan.

Now, more people are getting vaccinated, and hope is on the horizon for Canadians to return to public areas.

Wildlife at Algonquin will probably not enjoy the return of students to the campus, but like us, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they will have to adapt to the changes around them.

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