5/13/2014 10:40:00 AM Drought conditions may force wildlife into local neighborhoods
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Don't be surprised if you see more wild animals around town in the next few months. Drought conditions may cause creatures like elk, deer, bobcats, foxes, coyotes and even bears to wander further into town than normal, as they seek sources of food and water.
"Animals may go into search mode," said Larry Phoenix, field supervisor with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "If they can't find food and water in the forests, mountains and areas where they normally live, then they head to places where these essentials can be found."
Feeding animals in residentail areas does more harm than good.
"You should never provide food, cover or water for wildlife," said Phoenix. "Animals that receive help from people become habituated to human-occupied areas and can feel too comfortable around humans. That's how many human-wildlife conflicts begin, as some animals become aggressive. Often, the animals that wind up biting or attacking people were previously human-fed. This type of aggressive behavior also puts the animal's life in danger."
Baby animals that seem orphaned and in need of help may be fine.
"Usually, the parents are not far away," said Phoenix. "They may be out gathering food or taking a short break from their young, and if you remove the baby, you're actually creating a problem."
This is also the time of year when waterfowl are nesting, so dogs should be kept on their leashes and kept out of Kachina Wetlands, Pumphouse Wash and local wetlands and marshes. Pets off leashes are a danger to nesting birds and other wildlife.