Fall’s more temperate weather makes animals, like people, more likely to be active.
For those who live in town, that can mean more close encounters of the animal kind. It’s not necessary to be frightened by the sight of wildlife in town, said Cody Morris, game warden for Marion County.
“When you should be concerned or alarmed by an animal you’re seeing a lot is if it looks like it’s sick,” Morris said.
Animals that appear rabid, mangy or disoriented can pose a danger, especially to pets.
“Seeing a wild animal in town is not as rare as it used to be,” Morris said.
Another time to be concerned is when an animal is getting closer, either in a first encounter or over time, Morris said.
“If you have coyotes coming in closer and closer, that’s when you should be concerned,” Morris said. “Usually they’re just as nervous about you as you are about them. When they lose that fear of people, that’s when we start getting concerned.”
A call for help with the animal is in order in that case.
“I would tell them to call the sheriff’s office or local police department,” Morris said. “If it’s something they are not comfortable with, they’ll go ahead and get hold of me.”
Skunks, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls, opossums, and occasionally armadillos are the most often-sighted wildlife in town, Morris said.
“Don’t get too nervous when you see something,” Morris said.
For coyotes and raccoons, the best thing to do is get rid of food left outside for dogs and cats.
“When you take their food supply away, they usually go somewhere else,” Morris said.
Marion County Undersheriff David Huntley said he hasn’t noticed any recent upticks in the number of calls about wildlife in towns.
“As far as I know we aren’t getting any more than usual,” Huntley said.
Most animal calls the office gets are cows or calves on the loose and injured deer.
“If there’s a suspicion of a rabid animal, we go ahead and shoot them,” Huntley said.
Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said he discourages people from leaving food outside for their pets.
“We’re starting to see sporadic sightings of coyotes again,” Kinning said. “We have someone we deal with to trap them.”
The trapper comes to get the coyotes more as a public service, Kinning noted.
“They’re not worth much anymore,” Kinning said. “We have the occasional fox.”
For skunks making homes around, or under houses, he recommends sprinkling flour in front of foundation openings to check if they are coming in and out.
“We do our best to control them if they start getting out of hand,” Kinning said.
Kinning noted that coyote sightings are usually late at night and early in the morning.
He hears of bobcats on the edge of town once every few years, Kinning said.
“Don’t leave your garage door up a little bit open so your cats can get out because that’s when the possums get in,” he noted.