An aggressive bobcat has attacked several small dogs in base housing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., over the last few weeks.
In one instance, the bobcat followed a pet into a house. Environmental Management is currently addressing this issue.
This desert predator’s attacks are because its normal food – jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits and other small rodents – is in short supply due to the prolonged drought.
A hungry predator will follow its stomach into populated areas with water sources looking for prey. These predators do not distinguish between a cottontail rabbit and a small pet, creating a hazard wherever neighborhoods border the desert, which includes all areas of base housing, base biologists say.
Coyotes and bobcats are usually not a danger to people, and no people have been attacked here.
Pets cannot be safely left alone in back yards on base.
If a wild animal is aggressive or is actively harassing pets, attempt to scare it away. If it will not leave the area, call the base’s law enforcement desk at 661-277-3340. Environmental Management staff can address other concerns and questions when you call 661-277-1417.
To protect the health and well-being of your pets and those of your neighbors, practice these tips:
* NEVER leave small children or pets outside unattended. Small pets are in the greatest danger of attack, but desert predators will even attack large dogs. Attacks are especially prevalent in the early morning and at night and require high vigilance.
* 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.
* Remove all outside food and water 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 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 for wild animals.
* 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.
More information about coyotes can be found on the Arizona Department of Fish and Wildlife website at https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/livingwith/coyotes/. More information about bobcats can be found on the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/livingwith/bobcats/.