Hot Topic of the Season

How the California Drought is Affecting our Local Wildlife

Out-of-character behavior by wildlife has become common across the state as the drought deepens and natural sources of water and food become harder to find. Driven by hunger or thirst, wildlife are wandering into residential areas, road ways and other places they normally would avoid and at times of the day they typically are not wandering at all. This puts wildlife, already at risk because of shrinking food, water and cover, at increased risk of predation or fatal encounters with motor vehicles. It also can put pets and humans at increased risk of unpleasant and, on rare occasions, dangerous interactions with wildlife.
Raccoon Photo
Droughts tend to reduce the number of rodents and other small prey, the mainstay of coyotes, foxes, skunks, snakes and other predators. Many small prey animals make their way in to urban areas in search of food and water which, in most cases, means our yards where lawn sprinklers and lush vegetation provide a retreat for these critters. The larger predators simply follow the food source. As the warmer weather approaches we will likely encounter more snakes also. Gopher snakes, Coachwhips, King snakes, Racers and Rattlesnakes are commonly found in this area.  They too will be in search of food, water and shade which can be found around yards and buildings.

The most effective means of dealing with nuisance wildlife is to “Keep them Wild” and follow the tips below.

Discouraging Wildlife from Visiting your Property

  • Eliminate food sources: unsecure trash cans, pet food, fallen fruit/vegetables and bird seed.
  • Reduce ground cover and hiding places: keep vegetation trimmed and eliminate accumulated brush and debris.
  • Utilize motion sensor lighting.
  • “Keep them Wild” and claim your territory: make wildlife feel unwelcome by using air horns, yell, throw rocks or shaker cans (aluminum cans with pebbles inside)

Standard Safety Measures

  • Keep pets indoors at night. Be cautious with small pets any time of the day but especially during dawn and dusk.
  • Never allow pets to run loose and maintain current rabies vaccinations.
  • Be cautious with children as you would with pets. Teach them what to do if they see a wild animal.
  • Report close encounters with predatory wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. Sightings are common but it is important to contact authorities if people or pets are attacked and if wildlife becomes too bold and are not easily scared away.

For more information about our indigenous wildlife check out our Wildlife page or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at www.wildlife.ca.gov. To report wildlife incidents call the Animal Center at (909) 466-7387. For emergencies call 911.