Semi-Urban Wild Animals and Your Pet

Posted by Raja on December 4th, 2012 — Posted in Safety

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The United Staates leads the world in urban encounters with wildlife.  Which is wonderful- if we consider the global ecosystem.

Not one step further into the rough, puppy dog!

Here in New Jersey, Raja has foxes, raccoons, possums and even the occasional bear to deal with. Well, he doesn’t really deal with any of them if I can help it.  The worst problem is the foxes.  They run through his yard, scenting anything they like the looks of and the girl foxes are particularly thorough.  Raja finds the fox scent alluring, while I find it completely repellant. Completely. What he doesn’t know is that, although he is only a little smaller than the fox, he is completely docile and gentle and the fox is pure predator.  Raja sees the fox as an interesting dog friend.  The fox sees him as an enormous, tender snack.

In his California home, Raja has possums, raccoons and coyotes.  The coyote scent scares him and terrifies me.

In both locations, unbelievably, neighbors find the wildlife charming… until their cats don’t come home at night, that is.  Until they hear about a lost Chihuahua.

How do wild animals survive as suburban and urban sprawl encroach on their territories?  Very, very well, it seems.  Green belts in Northern and Central New Jersey cover enormous contiguous swaths of land all the way into upstate New York.  In California, the isolated hills of the mid state regions lead toward urban/suburban neighborhoods that dead end right at the feet of nature.

And we feed them.  A garbage buffet is fairly carelessly set out once a week.  Fruit and berry trees, as well as compost, attract small animals that larger animals eat.  Even badly cleaned grills lure with the deliciously rancid scent of animal fat.  Docile, protected wildlife like deer, wild turkeys and songbirds attract non-docile, but similarly protected, carnivores.  Urban golf courses grow tender grass that grows enormous, tasty gophers in spite of the pesticides.

I’m not advocating eradicating wild animals.  Except for the smelly foxes and hungry coyotes, I like having wild creatures around.  In theory, I even like the foxes.  On a good day.  But we all have to be sensible, especially as winter makes every wild thing hungrier.  And bolder.  And more confident to reclaim yards as cooler weather keeps people inside more. (Yes, even in California where some people think 60 degrees is awfully cold.)

In winter, put on your coat and go out with your dog in the yard.  If you stand behind a glass door and watch, you cannot beat a fox to the prey.  If you chase a coyote down the sidewalk at night, you will run out of steam far before the coyote tires, and he will not drop the Chihuahua to lighten his load.   Keep an eye out for movement at the edge of darkness at night and do not allow your dog to wander more than a foot away from you.

Especially in New Jersey and New York where Hurricaine Sandy has uprooted trees and taken down brush, if at all possible, reassert order in wooded property.  Chaos and neglect make for new neighbors.

We can all live together if we pet owners are vigilant and protective at the edge of nature.

4 Comments »

Comment by Cy,CT and Tasha

Great tips Raja! Our mom doesn’t even let us out alone in our fenced yard. We have some animals in the woods next to us and we have big dogs that sometimes jump our fence and come into our yard. We like running around but we’re glad mom is there to help keep us safe.

Thanks again for the good tips. We will be keeping our eyes open and our noses sniffing.

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Comment by Colette

We are lucky to be in the heart of the city, and not encounter such predators. Deer however have been a huge part of our walks… I think, having lived with the wilder species, that we can take precautions to avoid mishaps.

You are right on the money Helen… in that as pet owners.. we must protect our “young”. lol

Nature in it’s wildest is always nice to see.. but from a distance. Just far enough to keep everyone safe.

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Comment by Raja

Thanks Colette and Cy, Tasha and CT,

It’s amazing how many creatures we encounter who are thriving here, crossing in traffic and scurrying around town. I think Hurriciane Sandy has made our community less pet safe by making wooded areas off limits, at least until we can clean up our cleared areas and tackle the brush and twisted roots.

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Comment by Buttercup & Pat

Raja.. mommy always walks the yard with me no matter what time it is .. she never trust any wild animal .. not even the big rabbit that frequents my yard !

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 12:10 am

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