We’re so lucky to live in an area that is still surrounded by open space and fields. It gives a country feeling to an otherwise urbanized area. Along with the space though comes the inhabitants of that area – wildlife. It’s amazing how you can live here for years and with the exception of birds, never have seen a wild animal. That’s because by nature they are elusive and avoid people. But we know they are here – raccoons, skunks, coyotes, hawks and more.
Last week someone sent a picture they took of a coyote walking through Golis Park. What a lucky person to have witnessed that! But it also serves as an opportunity to remind people about precautions that we all should take to keep everyone, including the wildlife, safe.
Coyotes are scavengers and are always looking for an easy meal. Leaving dishes of pet food outside might be a convenient way to feed your pets but you are inevitably feeding a host of other creatures too! We don’t really want to lure these wild animals close to homes and into proximity to our own pets. If feeding an outdoor pet, be sure to pick up whatever wasn’t finished during a mealtime. It is not recommended to just leave a bowl of kibble available all the time. It’s also important to make sure all garbage cans are sealed securely and are only left outside the morning of pick-up; do not put meat scraps in compost heaps; and restrict the use of bird seed, which also attracts small rodents.
Most wildlife is out at night or early dawn and at dusk. Those are times that it’s most important to keep your pets safely indoors. Cats and tiny dogs are especially vulnerable and should only be let outdoors with supervision. Some of these toy dog breeds are so small even an owl could scoop one up! Coyotes and foxes are not normally aggressive to humans and pets; they much prefer prey that are least likely to put up a fight and injure them such as squirrels, rabbits, mice and rats. They are omnivores and will also eat fruit and berries so clean up fallen fruit to eliminate that attraction.
If the wild animal does not look sick or injured, there is no need to interfere with them. They are just passing through. Wild animals in general are looking for three things: food, water and shelter (especially breeding females). It’s easy to make our homes unsuitable for their residence. Don’t leave food or standing bowls of water outside and make sure to block access to crawl spaces, under patios, inside sheds, etc. Top your fences with coyote rollers to keep animals from climbing into your yard. And if you do come across a coyote on your property scare him off by banging pots together or spraying him with a hose.
If the animal is acting sick (for example, circling, laying out in the open, or drooling) or is visibly injured, then call the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, 526-9453 (526-WILD) for assistance and advice. The California Department of Fish and Game has strict laws against trapping wildlife and releasing them. Besides, it is illegal, it is not humane to trap an animal and take it away from his pack and territory and release him in an unfamiliar area.
For more information written in an easy to read format go to: http://www.wildlifehotline.org/coyotesfoxes.html. With some common sense and basic precautions we should all be able to enjoy the wonderful wildlife that shares our little place on earth called Rohnert Park.
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed 1-6:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri-Sat 1-5:30 p.m.; Sun 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.