Bobcats and Cougars, Oh My!
Carnivores, in search of food and water, have come into neighborhoods. This October a family living near Elings Park, lost their bunny to a bobcat. A San Roque family was surprised to find a bobcat in their yard. A woman in Painted Cave saw a cougar in front of her house.
Changes in wildlife behavior require changes in our behavior to keep our pets and families safe.
Try these tactics:
- Bring small pets indoors at night. If that is not practical, then securely nail the roof and floor to the frames of rabbit hutches chicken coops. Place hutches close to the house so you can hear disturbances at night.
- Do not leave water or uneaten pet food outdoors. Do not leave bird seed on the ground. Pick fruit as soon as it ripens and clean up fallen fruit. Birds and small rodents can attract carnivores.
- Use motion-activated lights or sprinklers to make a bobcat uncomfortable.
- Clear excess grass, shrubs and branches that might offer a hiding place or access into your yard.
- Check your fences and repair any gaps; however bobcats can jump up to 12 feet, so do not rely on a fence alone.
- Partner with your neighbors for vegetation removal, fence repair and good wildlife practices.
- To discourage a bobcat from returning to your yard the Arizona Fish and Game Website recommends immediately scaring them with loud noises. The Defenders of Wildlife suggest yelling, sounding an air horn, or banging pots and pans together. If your neighbors live far away you can put a radio outside set to a news or talk channel.
- Learn at a free presentation: Living on the Edge: Urban Carnivores, Wednesday Nov. 12, 7:00 pm at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, 2559 Puesta del Sol Road. Our thin sliver of urbanization between the ocean and forest is bisected by some of the shortest watersheds and wildlife corridors in the country. Living on the Edge will address issues arising from this human-nature interface and provide a forum in which the community can discuss solutions.
As the drought continues, our neighborhoods will be a source of scarce food and water. But, we can do much to reduce the risks to our families, our pets and to wildlife.
Our thanks to the Arizona Fish and Game website and to the DFW Wildlife coalition for their informative websites.