Health & Safety

January 31, 2014

Drought puts Edwards pets at risk from predators

Bobcats like this one, along with coyotes, can be seen all over the base landscape. Edwards residents are reminded to take precautionary steps to avoid attracting the animals, which could pose a safety risk to both pets and humans.

Edwards housing area residents are reporting increasing numbers of coyotes and bobcats in people’s yards and neighborhoods. These desert natives will snatch small pets and attack even large dogs if they are hungry enough.

The reason for this increase in attacks is that the predators’ normal food is in short supply due to the prolonged drought. Native jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits and other small rodents are much more scarce than normal. A hungry predator will follow its stomach into populated areas with water sources looking for prey. They do not distinguish between a cottontail rabbit and a small pet, creating potential issues near urban-wildland interfaces.

To protect the health and well-being of your pets and those of your neighbors, practice these tips:

  • Do not leave pets outside or unattended. Small pets are in the greatest danger of attack, but desert predators will even attack large dogs. Attacks are especially prevalent at night and require high vigilance.
  • Remove all outside food sources. Never keep pet food or water outside, it attracts hungry predators and other wild animals.
  • Do not feed predators. All this does is encourage them to stay.
  • Do not feed their native prey. This includes birds, rabbits, rats or squirrels. Putting out food for these animals encourages native desert animals to stay in the area. This attracts predators. Even for people who don’t own pets, feeding wild animals of any kind could bring a death sentence to the neighbors’ pets. If you have bird feeders, bring them in at night and remove spilled feed as soon as possible. Do not keep bird baths, as they are like big, water bowls.
  • Secure garbage cans so they cannot be easily knocked over or opened. Use a rope or elastic cord to secure the can to a fence or other immovable object and another cord to keep the container closed. Put garbage out just before it is collected. Don’t leave trash bags outside a secured container even on pick-up days. If ravens, animals or the wind spread garbage outside the can, clean it up immediately.
  • Trim high grass, overgrown tree limbs, bushes and shrubs to minimize hiding places or shady spots.
  • Keep pets on leashes when walking. Arm yourself with a stick, golf club, horn or loud whistle when walking pets.
  • Never panic or run from a predator. Make yourself appear larger than you are. Talk loudly or yell to distinguish yourself as a threat. Make eye contact. Turn your body sideways and slowly walk away from the animal.
  • Make predators uncomfortable. Whether the predator is in a yard or walking on the street, stand tall and be loud. Make eye contact. Yell. Throw rocks and sticks. Wave brooms or large sticks at them.
  • ALWAYS make sure a predator has an escape route. Cornering an animal near a fence or a building will increase their aggressiveness and they will tend to lash out in fear.
  • NEVER get between a mother predator and her pups or kittens.
  • NEVER get between a predator and a recent kill. Animals will fight to the death over a meal if they are desperate enough.

Coyotes and bobcats are usually not a danger to the public. If a wild animal seems to be aggressive or is harassing pets and will not leave the area, call the base’s law enforcement desk at (661) 227-3340 or the wildlife section at (661) 810-3600. Environmental Management staff can address other concerns and questions when you call (661) 277-1401.

More information about coyotes can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/coyote.html.

More information about bobcats can be found on the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_bobcat.shtml.




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