The return of winter in some suburbs and smaller cities has meant that some beloved pets have something to worry about other than the weather, wild animals who may hurt or kill them for food. In suburban areas in NJ and Indiana, there have been reports of animals missing, pets being killed in their yard, and coyote sightings. Even in cities like Portland, OR there are sightings of foxes, coyotes, and aggressive raccoons that have killed ducks, chickens, cats, dogs, and sometimes tried to break into the garage looking for food or refuge.
With the natural habitats for these wild animals getting smaller as cities and suburbs expand, the animals that were once hunted for food by these animals becomes scarcer. Chipmunks, wild rabbits, and other small creatures are chased away by homeowners or trapped and relocated to wooded areas. Coyotes and other predators are also trapped and moved but some also hide and come out when the streets are quiet looking for food.
The problem is amplified in the winter and a stray cat, loose dog, and other small animal may end up being caught in a fight for life against a coyote, raccoon, and sometimes owls.
So, what can be done to cut down on the chance of your pet being hurt by a wild animal?
1: If you have chickens and ducks, put them in their little houses for the night as the sun starts setting and keep their habitat clean. Sometimes being a few minutes late can be dangerous so try to keep a very strict schedule to make sure no predators stalk them.
2: Feed your indoor/outdoor pets inside. If you have an outdoor cat, pick up any leftovers and store petfood, feed, and other food in containers and inside where it’s inaccessible to wildlife.
3: Position bird feeders in a location that’s less likely to attract small animals and bigger ones. Chipmunks and squirrels are often caught red-handed climbing up and shaking the feed from the feeders. This also attracts the big guys like coyotes and sometimes deer and bears.
4: Do not discard edible garbage where animals can get it. It’ll keep them coming back. If you have a compost pile, make sure it is not near your house, keep it covered, and secure your garbage containers. Some waste disposal companies offer compost cans that close securely and keep critters out.
5: Trim the hedges and shrubbery so animals can’t hide in and under them. It’ll reduce the chances that an unwelcome guest will be lingering in your yard waiting to pounce on your pet.
6: At nighttime, when you let your dog out for her night time potty run, turn on the backyard flood lights. It’ll keep the wild ones at bay and you’ll be able to watch your dog.
7: If you start seeing wild animals in your area, call your local humane society so they can trap and release the animal in a safe area.