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Signs Of Dangerous Wildlife Living Close To Your Home

Bear hidden in yellow forest. Image via depositphotos.

Living near nature offers many benefits, from breathtaking views to peaceful surroundings. However, it also comes with the responsibility of being vigilant about the wildlife that shares your environment. Certain signs can indicate the presence of potentially dangerous animals near your home. Recognizing these signs can help you take appropriate precautions to ensure your safety and your family’s. Here are 15 signs to watch out for:

1. Unusual Animal Tracks

Bear footprints. Image via Depositphotos.

One of the most obvious signs of wildlife is tracks left by animals. Large, unfamiliar tracks near your home could indicate the presence of predators like bears, mountain lions, or wolves. Pay attention to the size, shape, and pattern of the tracks. If they seem unusually large or distinct from common domestic animals, take note and consider contacting local wildlife authorities.

2. Scat and Droppings

Scat droppings. Image via depositphotos.

Animal droppings, or scat, can reveal a lot about the types of animals in your area. Large, predator-like droppings with hair, bones, or other animal remains suggest that carnivorous wildlife may be nearby. Familiarize yourself with the appearance of scat from local wildlife to better identify potential threats.

3. Disturbed Garbage and Food Sources

rubbish dumped on the side of the road in a park in nature. Image via depositphotos.

If you notice your trash cans frequently being overturned or find food scraps scattered around, this could be a sign of foraging wildlife. Bears, raccoons, and coyotes are notorious for scavenging through human garbage. Secure your trash cans with tight-fitting lids and store them in a locked area if possible.

4. Unusual Noises

Coyote
Coyote in the Meridian Business Campus in Aurora, Illinois. Joseph Gage from USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Strange sounds, especially at night, can be a sign of wildlife. Growls, howls, or even the rustling of leaves can indicate the presence of predators. Coyotes, for instance, have distinct howls and yips, while mountain lions are known for their eerie screams. Listening carefully and identifying these sounds can help you stay alert.

5. Pet Distress

Cat and dog. Image via depositphotos.

Pets can often sense wildlife before humans do. If your dog or cat is unusually agitated, barking, growling, or refusing to go outside, this could indicate that they’ve detected a wild animal nearby. Monitor your pets’ behavior and investigate if they seem distressed.

6. Livestock Attacks

Cow Disapproves Boyfriend
Image of a cow via Pexels

If you keep livestock and notice unexplained injuries or deaths, this could be due to predatory wildlife. Coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions can attack sheep, goats, chickens, and other farm animals. Installing secure fencing and using guard animals like dogs can help protect your livestock.

7. Damage to Structures

Large scratch marks on the trunk of a tree. Image via depositphotos.

Scratches, claw marks, or bite marks on trees, fences, or your home itself can indicate the presence of large wildlife. Bears, in particular, leave deep gouges on trees and structures as they search for food or mark their territory.

8. Burrows and Dens

City of animals. Fokskholds colony on slopes of mountain hills. Colony of wild animals. System of underground passages and holes. Traces of animals in wild. Image via depositphotos..

Discovering burrows or dens on your property is a clear sign of wildlife habitation. Foxes, badgers, and even snakes can create burrows, while bears and cougars might use dens. If you find such structures, keep a safe distance and consider contacting wildlife experts for advice.

9. Bird Disturbances

Image by Maridav via Depositphotos

Birds can act as early warning systems. If you notice birds suddenly taking flight or being unusually vocal, this might indicate the approach of a predator. Birds of prey like hawks and eagles can also indicate the presence of smaller wildlife they might be hunting.

10. Missing Pets

Old english sheep dog
Picture of an Old English Sheep Dog. Image by Meredith Bannan via Wikimedia

A sudden increase in missing pets in your neighborhood can be a sign of predatory wildlife. Coyotes and larger cats like mountain lions can prey on small dogs and cats. Keeping pets indoors, especially at night, can help protect them from becoming prey.

11. Animal Carcasses

A wolf eating chunks of meat from an Elk carcass. Image by: Ellie Attebery – Down the Hatch, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=102159747

Finding the remains of animals near your home can be a grim indicator of nearby predators. If you come across half-eaten carcasses, this suggests that a large predator is hunting in the area. Be cautious and report such findings to local wildlife authorities.

12. Nesting Materials

Swan
A Mute Swan landing at its nest. Image via This Photo was taken by Böhringer Friedrich.Feel free to use my photos, but please mention me as the author and if you want send me a message. or (rufre@lenz-nenning.at), CC BY-SA 3.0 AT https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons

Some wildlife, like birds and small mammals, may collect nesting materials close to human habitation. If you notice an abundance of twigs, leaves, and other natural materials in unusual places, this could indicate nearby nesting wildlife. While not always dangerous, it’s important to recognize the presence of these animals.

13. Strong Odors

The wolverine, glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch

Certain wildlife can emit strong, distinctive odors. Skunks are an obvious example, but other animals like foxes and raccoons also have a musky smell. If you detect unusual odors around your home, it could indicate the presence of these animals.

14. Changes in Behavior of Local Wildlife

Mule deer
Mule deer Deer eat a variety of food types, including browse (leafy parts of woody plants). Image via Depositphotos

Noticing changes in the behavior of local, typically non-threatening wildlife can be a clue. If deer, for example, are acting skittish or frequently running, it could mean that there’s a predator in the area. Observing these behavioral changes can give you a heads-up about potential dangers.

15. Visual Sightings

Black bear
Black bear. Image via Depositphotos

The most straightforward sign is actually seeing the animal. If you spot a large predator like a bear, cougar, or wolf near your home, this is an unmistakable sign that you need to take precautions. While sightings can be rare, they are definitive proof of wildlife presence.

Staying Safe

Unrecognised man holding lightbox with text. Image via depositphotos.

Recognizing these signs is the first step in ensuring your safety and that of your loved ones. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Secure Food and Garbage: Ensure all food sources, including pet food and bird feeders, are secure and not accessible to wildlife.
  • Install Fencing: A sturdy fence can help keep larger animals out of your yard.
  • Use Lighting: Motion-sensor lights can deter nocturnal wildlife from approaching your home.
  • Keep Pets Indoors: Especially at night, keeping pets indoors can protect them from predators.
  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on local wildlife sightings and alerts from wildlife authorities.

Conclusion

Image by Cavan via Depositphotos

Living near wildlife requires a balance of respect and caution. By being aware of the signs of dangerous wildlife and taking proactive measures, you can coexist safely with nature.

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