Wildlife Sightings on the Rise in California
Trish Consunji: 916-649-0599 (California Veterinary Medical Association)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS ON THE RISE IN CALIFORNIA
California Veterinary Medical Association Urges Home and Pet Owners to Follow Guidelines to Prevent a Surprise Attack
Sacramento, CA – Most Californians will never see a mountain lion at their doorstep, but recent encounters between homeowners and wandering wildlife have prompted the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) to calm pet owners’ fears with tips on what to do to prevent an attack and how to react if confronted by a wild animal.
“Drier conditions, fire devastation and increased activity this summer have combined to drive animals out of the hills and into populated areas in search of food and water,” said Dr. Jeff Smith, past-president of the CVMA. “People have a natural affinity for animals, but it’s important they understand the difference between domesticated pets and wildlife that appear to be friendly and approachable. Under no circumstance should people take action and put their lives at risk in the event of a visit by a wild animal.”
Recent incidents of wild animals being visible in close proximately to humans include mountain lions that have attacked small pets near Los Angeles and Sacramento; a mountain lion that attacked a hiker in Humboldt County; and incidents with bears that have become more aggressive in the Lake Tahoe area. Authorities have even responded to calls about male deer attacking dogs.
“People should be aware that even deer, normally seen as docile and shy, may attack humans and pets” said Smith. “As residential areas expand, wild deer become more accustomed to and less fearful of people. When someone gets too close, a buck could panic and gore them, causing serious injury or even death.”
The CVMA urges people to keep wildlife at a safe distance at all times and call 9-1-1 to report any sightings of large wild animals such as mountain lions or bears. Among some of the tips offered:
- Avoid hiking, biking or jogging alone.
- Never leave small children or pets outside unattended.
- Don’t feed wildlife. It is illegal in California to feed deer, which attracts mountain lions.
- Avoid landscaping with plants that deer like to eat.
- Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons or opossums, which are mountain lion prey.
- Do not approach a wild animal or run away from one. Do scream or fight back if an animal attacks.
- Dispose of garbage in sealed cans.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- Don’t try to heal sick animals. Call a local veterinarian, the California Department of Fish and Game or animal control for help.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals.
According to the USDA Wildlife Services, the California Department of Fish and Game and other expert wildlife sources:
- Coyote attacks on humans and pets have increased year after year. There were 48 attacks on children and adults from 1998 through 2003 compared to 41 attacks during the period of 1988 through 1997.
- About five to seven mountain lions exist in California per 100 square miles.
Despite the increased number of wildlife and wildlife attacks being reported in encroaching hillside communities, the CVMA emphasizes that wild animal attacks on humans are rare. By following the tips above and using common sense, homeowners’ fears could be eased and wildlife encounters kept to a minimum. This will avoid further human tragedy and the destruction of precious wildlife that wander into human territory.
For media interviews with a California veterinarian regarding this issue, please contact Phil Boerner at the CVMA: 916-649-0599. To access past CVMA press releases, visit the CVMA Media Center in the News Room at www.cvma.net.
The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 7,000 members. Founded in 1888, its mission is to serve its membership and community through innovative leadership and to improve animal and human health in an ethically and socially responsible manner.
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