Arizona Game and FIsh Department - Managing Today for Wildlife Tomorrow: Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I get more information about bobcats, coyotes, javelina, mountain lions and other animals around my home?
A: These "Living with Wildlife" pages are designed to provide you with that information. Select the appropriate animal from the "Living with Wildlife - Arizona Wildlife" page.

Q: I found a young animal (bird, rabbit, deer, etc.) with no parent nearby. What should I do?
A: Many animals will leave their young alone during the day while they hunt or rest somewhere else. Young birds learning to fly will often spend several days on the ground while their parents continue feeding them and teaching them to fly and find food on their own. Unless a young animal is obviously sick or injured, it is best to keep an eye on it from a distance for several hours or a day to wait for its parents to return. Young birds on the ground can be picked up and put into a shrub or tree or even on the roof (if there is shade) to keep them out of reach of house cats and dogs.

Q: Should I feed wildlife?
A: Wildlife encounters around your home can be enjoyable, but at times may be cause for concern. Many Arizona residents feed wildlife, including birds, because we want to see them around our homes. When done properly, feeding can be the source of much interest and enjoyment. Keep in mind that feeding small wild animals can have unintended consequences, such as attracting rodents or larger predators. There are also certain animals that should never be fed because they can become a nuisance or even a threat to human safety, such as bears, coyotes and javelina. These animals, when fed, become comfortable with humans and may become aggressive. If this happens, the animal must be removed at great expense and with dire consequences for the animal. Aggressive animals are often either killed or relocated, and relocation results in very low survival rates. In fact, you can often do these animals a favor by going out of your way to make them uncomfortable. If they keep their natural fear of people, they are less likely to become a nuisance and more likely to live a longer life. 

In 2006, the Arizona Legislature passed a “no feeding wildlife” law, making it illegal to feed wildlife (except birds and tree squirrels) in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. Tree squirrels are generally those found in the mountains, such as Abert’s and Arizona tree squirrels. Squirrels in the low deserts of Phoenix and Tucson are generally ground squirrels, including Harris’ antelope squirrels, round-tailed ground squirrels and rock squirrels. If wildlife feeding in your neighborhood is causing large animals to become bold, please contact your local Game and Fish office. 

Q: Why do I have so much wildlife around my house?
A: If you have uninvited wildlife around your home, ask yourself, "What is the attractant?" You may be providing one of its basic needs: food, water, or shelter, either on purpose or by accident. In general, things like birdseed, pet food, water (fountains, pools, irrigation systems, pet bowls), garbage, and even non-native plants can attract unwanted wildlife. In most cases, if we remove the attractant, the wildlife will no longer visit. Remember, wild animals are only looking to fulfill their basic needs and will respond if we provide what they need. Only WE can change our behavior.

Q: What can I do about unwanted wildlife around my home?
A: If you have a wild animal trapped on your property or in your house, the best things to do are to provide it with an escape (by opening a gate or a door) and leave it alone. Most animals will leave on their own. If the animal is unable to leave on its own, or if the animal is injured, you may call a local wildlife rehabilitator. An animal that is finding food, water or shelter may become comfortable and unwilling to leave; it can often be discouraged by making loud noises or by spraying it with a garden hose. You can also contact a wildlife control business to capture and relocate some types of wildlife for a fee. However, relocation should only be used as a last resort because animals will continue to be attracted to your home as long as they can find food, water or shelter there.

Q: Where can I find animal deterrent products to discourage wildlife from spending time around my home?
You can use your computer to find many ideas about discouraging wildlife from visiting your property. Go to any search engine and type in general phrases to find some helpful links. Examples of search phrases include "wildlife proofing," "coyote control," "duck control," "raccoon control," "bird control," and "woodpecker control." Be as general as you can. The most common animals might have many links, while specific searches and less common animals may turn up empty.

Q: Is my pet safe in my yard or outside?
A: Pets are wonderful companions, but we must realize that there are many potential predators in Arizona and that our pets can do substantial damage to native wildlife if left unattended. It is our responsibility to keep our pets safe! Dogs should never be let off-leash in natural areas. Coyotes may lure them away, or they may be attacked by a mountain lion or bobcat. Free-roaming dogs can bite children, be sprayed by skunks, and can fatally disturb nesting birds, lizards, rodents, and even bighorn sheep. Small dogs and house cats are easy prey for hungry great-horned owls, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. They should never be left outside unattended, especially at night. House cats are responsible for killing more than a billion small mammals and hundreds of thousands of songbirds each year in North America. Cats are also susceptible to diseases, cars, and predators when left outside. It is best for the health of our pets and our wildlife to keep our pets inside or on a leash.

For the best protection, always keep your pet on a leash or in an enclosure with a roof when outside. If you see a potentially dangerous wild animal, either pick up your pet or keep it as close as possible while you scare away the wild animal. Make loud noises, make yourself look big, and move slowly toward an area of human activity.

Q: How does wildlife live in cities?
A: When you think of places where wildlife lives, you usually don't include places with buildings and roads. Key requirements that allow an animal to survive include available space, the right food, some water, and some kind of shelter. The oasis humans have built for ourselves is certainly an oasis for wildlife, too.

For space, wildlife can use parks, preserves, large and small vacant lots, large yards that people don't visit or manage often, cemeteries, airfields, and golf courses. Food for wildlife is also plentiful in urban areas. Both native and ornamental plants supply seeds, roots, leaves and fruit. Predators can easily find rodents, rabbits, ducks, birds, occasional domestic animals like dogs and cats, and dog and cat food left out. Wildlife also gets food from unsecured garbage cans and by people who purposefully feed. Water in urban areas is abundant, too. Residential sprinklers, ponds, pools, golf course lakes, resort fountains and lakes are just a few sources. Shelter includes culverts and bridges, under mobile homes or sheds, in thick vegetation, and in the numerous other nooks and crannies urbanization offers.

Surprisingly, wildlife can travel with relative ease throughout urban areas. Many of the open spaces mentioned earlier are connected and can also act as travel corridors. Alleys, canals, drainages, power line corridors and even the streets themselves allow animal movement and connect areas of food, water, shelter and space.

Q: If it is best not to feed wildlife, how can I attract native wildlife?
A: Many people in Arizona choose to use plants that attract certain wildlife, and several resources are available for choosing appropriate native plants. (For starters, go to any computer search engine and type in the name of your city and "native plants" or "native plant society," or visit your local botanical garden.) Some exotic plants can attract wildlife, but others attract animals that can be a nuisance or escape and harm native desert plants and animals. Planting a variety of native plants that provide food and shelter for native wildlife is a great way to see wildlife and conserve water.

Q: How is the Urban Wildlife Program at the Arizona Game and Fish Department funded?
A: The Heritage Fund came into existence with a vote by Arizona citizens in 1990. Money for the Fund comes from ticket sales for the Arizona Lottery. Up to $10 million goes into the Arizona Game and Fish Department's share of the Heritage Fund each year, of which about 15% is designated for urban wildlife and urban wildlife habitat.

Related AZGFD Info
- Wildlife Center
- No Feeding Wildlife Law
- Watchable Wildlife
Downloads [More]
- Feeding Wildlife Attracts Predators [PDF]
- Mountain Lions in Arizona [PDF]

External Resources rurces

- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management



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