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Living with wildlife

Spring is right around the corner, and as the weather gets nicer we spend more time outdoors and wildlife tends to become more active.  Sometimes this increased activity results in human and wildlife interactions.  During the spring and summer months, MV Animal Services staff receive numerous calls for service regarding wildlife.  This includes baby birds learning how to fly, snakes, other baby animals and wildlife being struck by cars.

Often the best advice for callers concerned about seeing wildlife in their neighborhood is to do nothing.  While some encounters require action, most of the time wildlife should be left alone and enjoyed from a distance.

Baby birds typically have parents nearby observing, and a human intervening just scares parents away. Sometimes a screaming baby bird is protesting being self-sufficient or begging for food from parents who are keeping the bird under a watchful eye as it gains competencies needed to survive on its own. 

Snakes don’t bite when left alone, and they usually retreat if they can.  Most snakes would rather escape from us than bite us.  Most snake bites occur when we pick snakes up or if we step on them.  However, there are some things we can do to make our yards less hospitable for snakes.  We can clear clutter and remove piles of rock and debris. Keep lawns cut short.  Snakes like the cover of tall grass.  Repair holes and gaps in fencing, seal openings under doors and windows.

Coyotes are also common to Orange County.  If you encounter a coyote, don’t panic.  Coyote attacks on people are very rare. Hazing or standing your ground and making loud noise, waving your arms and throwing small objects should be enough to scare a curious coyote.  This behavior teaches a coyote to fear humans.

Some general tips to keep wildlife from around your home include not feeding wildlife.  It’s never a good idea to feed wildlife.  Feeding wildlife rewards them for coming close to humans.  It helps them lose their natural fear of us, which can in turn lead to aggressive or bold behaviors.  It also makes wildlife dependent on us for food, which can jeopardize their survival when we stop feeding them.  It is also good to eliminate unintentional food sources by removing your pet food when your pet is done eating, securing garbage can lids and removing fallen fruit from around trees.  Coyotes are attracted to small animals that surround bird feeders, so it is also suggested that bird feeders be taken down during summer months when wildlife is more active.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to keep your yard free of debris piles and dense grasses and shrubs—any area that provides shelter for animals you don’t want around.