From bobcats to coyotes and skunks, wildlife invasions in towns and cities worldwide have drawn increasing attention in recent years. For those not used to seeing wild animals lurking in their neighborhoods, the invasion may seem sudden and unexpected. But wildlife has in fact been creeping ever closer to humans or, more accurately, human communities have been pushing further and further into wildlife habitat.
Mount Pleasant and outlying residential areas have much to offer wildlife, including an abundance of food, which can be found in gardens, in poorly secured trash containers, and on the ground around bird feeders. Some wild animals invade our neighborhoods because they offer safety from predators, which can improve survival and the chance of reproductive success. Other wild animals come because they have nowhere else to go, having been squeezed out of their native habitats by land development like the new loop being installed around the city.
In many instances, hunger and the opportunity for an easy meal brings wild animals into our backyards. Reaction to city wildlife is characterized by fear or irritation, often followed by a desire to have city officials capture and send the animals trapped out of town. In some cases, such as when wild animals are startled or become used to being fed, they can create real problems, immediate and long term, for residents.
Seeing wild animals so near to our homes offers a rare opportunity to cautiously observe and better understand the creatures we’ve displaced or inadvertently attracted. The more humans chip away at the animals remaining natural environments, the more we can expect to be sharing our yards with unexpected visitors from the wild.
To help protect your pets from wild animal aggression please make sure your pets stay on a leash when outside if you do not have a fence. It’s the LAW as well. If you have a fence make sure you don’t have any openings where an animal can crawl through a small hole. Coyotes are also known to jump over 6 foot fences.
What should I do if see a coyote?
- GET BIG! You want to appear larger than the coyote to scare it off. Raise your arms, wave them around, and shout as loud as you can to scare off the coyote.
- Keep your dogs and cats as close to you as possible, but do not bend over. Be large – not small.
- Carry an air horn and blow it to scare coyotes away.
- If the above scare tactics don’t work, walk slowly backwards (do not turn your back to the coyote) to a safe place. Get your pet to comply and keep it close.
What should I NOT do?
- Do NOT turn your back on them and run with your pet – that is acting like prey.
- Do NOT throw food at them.
- If they are within 50 feet of you, do NOT bend down to pick up small animals. This will make you look like you are cowering and small. Get your pet as close to you as possible and get big!
- Coyotes are not known to attack humans and will more than likely be scarred of you.
How can I keep my dog safe out on walks?
- Walk your dog
- Walk your dog on a 6-foot leash at all times. Remember all pets must me on a leash when outside (not in a fenced in yard) in the city. The term pet includes cats.
- on a 6-foot leash at all times. Remember all pets must me on a leash when outside (not in a fenced in yard) in the city. The term pet includes cats.
- Walk in high-pedestrian traffic areas.
- Try not to establish a regular routine (leave at different times each day) and walk different routes each day to avoid setting up a pattern for the coyote to detect. Coyotes have been known to stalk people walking small pets and they might learn your routine! If a coyote gets close to you the coyote is probably after your pet and not you.
- Avoid bushy areas or paths near abandoned properties.
If you have a wild animal problem in the city limits, Mount Pleasant Animal Services Department can set out traps and try to catch them. We will not harm wild animals and the law limits how far out of the city we can take the wild animal. Call the Shelter for assistance at 903-575-4174.