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Coyotes and Foxes and Bears  at Cabela's

Coyotes and Foxes and Bears

Author: Massachusetts DFW

A sure sign of spring is the renewed activity among a host of wildlife species.

Coyotes and Foxes and Bears
Not only are the peepers, wood frogs and red-winged blackbirds announcing the arrival of the season in area wetlands, but coyotes, red fox, black bears, skunks and other mammals are increasingly active and on the move. MassWildlife receives hundreds of calls from concerned property owners who have encountered a skunk or red fox denning under a porch or garden shed. Other callers report bears tearing down bird feeders, coyotes cutting across a backyard or a raccoon peering down from an uncapped chimney. Often the callers voice concern about the proximity of wildlife to their homes and yards and wonder why the animals don't stay in the woods.
Skunks will learn that roadside trash is a regular source of food.
The answers to these concerns and questions can be summed up by understanding the basics of wildlife behavior. In simplest terms, the day-to-day activities of wildlife are driven by two purposes, survival and reproduction. When conditions in suburbia help one or both of these purposes, the animals will be quick to capitalize. Survival depends on an adequate food supply as well as shelter for protection from the elements and predators. Successful reproduction for many requires adding a den site to the food and shelter equation. Nature provides all these necessary elements but people frequently supplement the food, shelter and denning opportunities when an area is developed. As houses begin to appear in formally forested areas, for example, human provided food for wildlife such as roadside trash, household garbage, compost, gardens, fruit trees, bird seed, suet, lawn grubs, pet food and road kills actually enhance the food supply for adaptable species like coyotes and skunks.

In addition to the artificial food supply windfall, wildlife takes advantage of habitat changes as well. Stone walls, crawl spaces under sheds and pool houses, brush piles and wood piles all provide excellent shelter that species such as woodchucks and red foxes will utilize for dens. The margins of suburban house lots are also attractive to wildlife. Brushy edges, where maintained lawns meet wooded areas, are natural havens for chipmunks, rabbits, snakes and the predators that pursue them. Wildlife doesn't respect our property boundaries, particularly when we make conditions for them so attractive on "our side" of the fence. requires adding a den site to the food and shelter equation. Nature provides all these necessary elements but people frequently supplement the food, shelter and denning opportunities when an area is developed. As houses begin to appear in formally forested areas, for example, human provided food for wildlife such as roadside trash, household garbage, compost, gardens, fruit trees, bird seed, suet, lawn grubs, pet food and road kills actually enhance the food supply for adaptable species like coyotes and skunks.

In addition to the artificial food supply windfall, wildlife takes advantage of habitat changes as well. Stone walls, crawl spaces under sheds and pool houses, brush piles and wood piles all provide excellent shelter that species such as woodchucks and red foxes will utilize for dens. The margins of suburban house lots are also attractive to wildlife. Brushy edges, where maintained lawns meet wooded areas, are natural havens for chipmunks, rabbits, snakes and the predators that pursue them. Wildlife doesn't respect our property boundaries, particularly when we make conditions for them so attractive on "our side" of the fence.

What to do? If you're concerned about potential conflicts with wildlife, make your home and yard as unattractive to animals as possible. Eliminate all artificial food sources, take in bird feeders,enclose the compost pile, and secure your trash in covered containers. Eliminate the shelter and potential den sites by screening off crawl spaces, removing brush piles and capping the chimney. Be a responsible pet owner. Don't expose your pets to potentially harmful contact with a skunk, raccoon or coyote by leaving them unattended, especially at night. And finally, reinforce wildlife's perception of you as a predator. If a coyote or fox appears in the backyard, scare them off with loud noises, bright lights and thrown objects. Make sure these species' natural fear of man remains acute.

For more information or a referral to a licensed Problem Animal Control specialist, contact the nearest MassWildlife District office: Pittsfield (413.447.9789), Belchertown (413.323.7671), West Boylston (508.835.3607), Acton (978.263.4347) or Bourne (508.759.3406)





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