Living with Wildlife
One of the wonderful things about living in our community is the presence of wildlife. Most of the time we coexist peacefully, but on occasion wildlife may intrude on home life. Here are a few things you should know about some of our wildlife companions and how to keep them at bay when necessary. A common theme for residents to learn and abide by is NOT TO FEED WILDLIFE, and keep your pets in sight and in secured locations.
Living with Bobcats
Bobcats are not considered a threat to human safety except in rare cases when they have rabies or are extremely aggressive. Bobcats are generally seen alone, but groups may consist of mating pairs, siblings, or mothers with kittens. Bobcats are most active around sunset and sunrise, and it is not uncommon to find one napping under a shrub in a brushy backyard. Individual bobcats will defend a territory of one to 12 square miles and can jump as high as 12 feet. You can recognize a bobcat by its short tail with the black tip. Carnivorous animals, bobcats generally feed on small mammals and birds and will also eat lizards, snakes, and small pets, including house cats.
If you see a bobcat near your home, there is no need to panic. Bobcats rarely attack people. Bobcats may be attracted to a yard that has abundant wildlife, domestic birds, small pets, water, and shade or other shelter. Shelter for bobcats can include rooftops, attics, and the space underneath decks. Other small spaces can make attractive dens also, and bobcats will sometimes rest during the day or bask in the sun. This makes them attracted to thick brush, shade, and unoccupied yards. Bobcats will keep visiting the same area if attractants aren't removed.
To discourage a bobcat, scare off with loud noises or spray with a garden hose. If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave on its own. If it is still confined the following day, or trapped inside a residence, contact a wildlife control business or the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Check for bobcat kittens in the area, and if kittens are there, then consider tolerating them for a few weeks until the kittens are large enough to leave the area with their mother.
To prevent bobcats from returning to your location, keep small domestic animals inside or in a secured enclosure with a sturdy roof and do not feed your pets, birds or other wildlife outside. Keep shrubbery, grass, and trees trimmed to reduce hiding cover.
Living with Coyotes
Coyotes are common in rural and urban areas throughout Arizona. Coyotes tend to travel and hunt alone or in pairs, but they can form groups where food is abundant. They are usually gray with rusty color on neck and flanks and black patches on the base and tip of the tail. They can run as fast as 40 miles per hour and live primarily on a diet of fruits, vegetables, pet food, small animals, snakes, lizards, and garbage. They quickly learn to take advantage of any new food source and may be attracted to yards with fruit trees, water, or pet food, or may even patrol walls looking for small cats and dogs. Large dogs may be considered threats, and small dogs—even on leash—dinner.
What should I do if I see a coyote?
If you see a coyote near your home, don’t ignore it. This may cause it to lose its natural fear of people, which can eventually lead to aggressive behavior. Instead, try one of the following:
- Make loud noises.
- Shout and bang pots and pans or rattle an empty soda can with pebbles in it (coyote shaker).
- Wave your hands or objects like sticks and brooms.
- Throw small stones or cans.
- Spray the coyote with a hose.
- Use a commercial repellent like Mace, if necessary, on bold animals that refuse to leave.
If on a rare occasion a coyote is aggressive and refuses to leave, do not turn away or run. Instead, exaggerate the actions above, maintain eye contact, and move toward other people, a building, or an area of activity. Call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday/Friday excluding holidays). Also, call Game and Fish if severe property damage has occurred or if there is possession of a live coyote. After hours and weekends, a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.
To prevent further problems, make sure that there are no food sources outside of the home, including bird feeders that may attract rodents as well as birds, and keep pets inside unless monitored, especially from dusk to dawn, when coyotes are most active. Secure garbage containers and eliminate odors by cleaning trashcans with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution.
Living with Javelinas
Though some people think javelinas are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. The Javelina is common in much of central and southern Arizona, including Phoenix and of course, Anthem. Javelinas form herds of two to more than 20 animals and rely on each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel corridors. Javelinas are most active at night, but they may be active during the day when it is cold.
Peppered black, gray and brown hair with a faint white collar around the shoulders, javelinas can weigh up to 60 pounds. They have very poor eyesight and may appear to be charging when actually trying to escape. They do have a keen sense of smell –all the better to scout out the plants, cacti, tubers, and even garbage or birdseed they might like to eat. If you find a javelina in your yard, it has come for food, water, or shelter—or perhaps a patch of moist soil to roll around in for a cooling effect.
What should I do if I see javelinas in my yard? Scare off animals by making loud noises by banging pots, yelling, stomping, or shaking a can with pebbles in it. Throw small rocks in their direction, or spray with water from a garden hose. If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave. If it is still there the following day, contact a wildlife control business or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Are javelinas dangerous?
Javelinas occasionally bite humans, but incidents of bites are almost always associated with people providing the javelinas with food. Javelinas may act defensively when cornered, to protect their young, or when they hear or smell a dog. Dogs and coyotes are natural predators of javelinas, and they can seriously hurt or kill each other. Javelinas around your home may also inadvertently attract mountain lions, because mountain lions prey on them. If you are walking your dog and see a javelina, walk away immediately.
To prevent further problems, DO NOT FEED the javelina. Remove all sources of food, including birdseed, and feed pets inside. Keep dogs on leash and inside the fenced yard to prevent defensive attacks.
In an emergency: If a javelina is acting in an aggressive manner toward people, is contained and cannot leave on its own or be let out easily, or is in human possession, please call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office during weekday business hours. After hours and weekends, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at (623) 236-7201.
Living with Mountain Lions
The mountain lion is the largest cat native to North America. Mountain lions can be found throughout all portions of Arizona. Because mountain lions are shy and elusive, people don’t often see them but they have been sighted in our community. Mountain lions are usually solitary, except females with young, and can weigh up to 150 pounds and stand 5½ to 8 feet long. They can jump 20 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally in a single leap. Although the diet includes primarily deer, other animals also serve as food, including javelina and smaller animals such as rabbits.
What attracts a mountain lion to a neighborhood?
Mountain lions are often just passing through, but may visit an area to get food, water, or shelter. Food found near a home could include deer, javelina, rabbits, or unsecured domestic pets. Water for drinking can include a swimming pool, fountain, puddle, or a pet’s water bowl. Wildfires may damage vital habitat and force animals into new areas.
How do I prevent one from coming into my yard?
· Keep dogs, cats, poultry, rabbits, rodents and other domestic animals indoors or in a secure enclosure with a sturdy roof. Always walk pets on a leash. Do not feed pets outside; the food can attract javelinas and other mountain lion prey.
· Avoid feeding any wildlife. By feeding deer, javelina, birds, or other wildlife in your yard, you may inadvertently attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
- Trim landscaping around your home. Remove dense and low-lying vegetation that can provide good hiding places for mountain lions and coyotes, especially around children’s play areas.
- Install outdoor lighting. Keep the house perimeter well lit at night, especially along walkways, to keep any approaching lions visible.
What should I do if I see one?
Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.
- Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
- Appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not easy prey and that you may be a danger to it.
- Maintain eye contact and slowly back away toward a building, vehicle, or busy area.
- Protect small children so they won’t panic and run.
- Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, and even mountain bikes. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.
Reporting Mountain Lion Encounters
Report all mountain lion attacks to 911. Report all mountain lion encounters and attacks, plus sightings in urban areas, to your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday/Friday excluding holidays). Also, call Game and Fish if severe property damage has occurred or if there is possession of a live mountain lion. After hours and weekends, a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.
Living with Rattlesnakes
Anthem is a desert community, and we share it with resident wildlife, including snakes of various types. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Diamondback Rattler is one of the fifteen species of rattlesnakes in the area. Although always present, the snakes are most active March through October. They can be seen basking in the sun almost any month of the year, and they use preexisting holes and shelters to take up residence—especially abandoned burrows of other animals, woodpiles, or rock crevices. Their diet may consist of rabbits, rodents, lizards, and birds, although they do not eat every day.
To co-exist with the snake population, it is important for residents to undertake a few important steps to secure their homes, people, and pets.
· On warm nights when rattlers are most active, carry a flashlight or have yard lights on when outdoors. Keep walkways clear and well lit.
· Don’t feed the birds. Birdfeeders attract rodents, and they attract snakes.
· Move wood piles or other collections away from the house, and if there are empty rodent burrows, fill them so that snakes are deprived of potential housing.
· Keep tabs on the location of any rattlesnake and alert people in the area to be cautious.
The Snake Encounter
Fortunately, when a rattlesnake is startled, its first defense is to warn you of its presence using its rattle. If your hear one, take the following actions:
· Back away slowly and deliberately to a safe distance—at least the length of the snake. Experts advise that usually, the snake will either hold its ground or move away from you. The rattlesnake will not chase you. If the snake moves toward you, it may be trying to get to a secure location just behind where you were standing.
· Restrain pets until the snake moves on.
· Watch the snake. Most likely it’s just passing through, and you will not see it again.
· Do not handle a rattlesnake with bare hands, even a dead one. Reflex bites with venom can occur for several hours after death.
If you believe a snake must be removed from your yard, call the Daisy Mountain Fire Department. A team will be dispatched to remove the snake. Note: Studies have shown snakes moved more than a mile from their home will often not survive. People not wishing harm to the snake should encourage removal a short distance away from the house or just over the fence.
If the Snake Strikes
If you’re careful and take the recommended precautions, the likelihood of a venomous snakebite occurring is low. Most bites occur because the snake was provoked.
What to do if a rattlesnake strikes:
· Remain calm and/or reassure the victim.
· Remove all jewelry or watches from affected area.
· Immobilize the affected extremity and keep it at a level below the heart.
· Decrease total body activity as much as possible.
· Move the victim to a medical facility without delay.
What NOT to do if a rattlesnake bite occurs:
· Do NOT apply ice to bite area.
· Do NOT use an incision of any kind.
· Do NOT use a constriction band or tourniquet.
· Do NOT administer alcohol or drugs.
· Do NOT use electric shock treatment.
Pets are sometimes bitten by rattlesnakes. Cats, by behavior, tend to hide out after an injury. Despite this, many survive. Although many large dogs do well with no veterinary care, it is recommended that any pet be taken to an emergency veterinary clinic if bitten.
Feral Cat Control / Elimination in the Community
Feral cats are a problem in various areas of the valley as well as here in Sun City Festival. Maricopa County Animal Control has stated that they will address stray dogs but do not take action on feral cats but believe they should be handled and controlled. One of the best ways to keep feral cats away is to eliminate any extra food sources. Residents of the community are urged to not feed feral cats at all.
View the Living With Feral Cats information distributed by MCACC.
Coyotes - Information & Cautions
As humans expand their living areas and coyotes expand their range as well, contact is inevitable. Most of the time, coyotes go out of their way to avoid humans, but they are discovering that humans are a good source for food. Resourceful and adaptable as coyotes are, they will take advantage of this when they can. The most serious problem is that the animals may become habituated to people as they lose their fear of people.
Coyotes are wild animals and if fed regularly by people, they will come to depend on them for food. They won't starve if you stop feeding them, but they will be hungry, unafraid and get very aggressive when approaching people. If they can't find food, then the small animals and children in the neighborhood can become their targets. Because of this, it is important to keep garbage can lids closed tightly, do not leave pet food outdoors, and do not leave your small pets outside unaccompanied.
For more information, please visit the AZ Game & Fish website.
Information on Pigeon Removal