What to Do When You Encounter a Wild Animal

Rancho Cordova, CA  |  By Asha Kreiling
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Coyotes can be dangerous. Stock photo.

Special from City of Rancho Cordova

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG) - The City of Rancho Cordova has highly trained Animal Services Officers who provide field services, such as response to stray or lost animals, barking dogs, loose aggressive and dangerous dogs, injured animals, deceased animal removal, investigation of animal cruelty, and public education. If you need Animal Services, call (916) 851-8852. For emergencies involving immediate threats to public safety, call 911.

Here are a few tips from your city staff:

Always be vigilant and use your common sense in areas where wild animals might be present.

Small pets and children should never be left unattended where wild animals might be present, and dogs should always be walked on a leash. Problems are more likely to occur when the animal is out of the owner’s control. It can also be helpful to carry a noisemaker, such as an air horn or whistle, citronella spray, or pepper spray. Here are some tips on wild animals that you may encounter in the Rancho Cordova area:

  • Coyote/Wolf: Use a loud and authoritative voice or make loud noises to frighten the animal. Throw small rocks, sticks, or other objects near the animal and become as big as possible. This will show your dominance and intimidate the animal. Remember, the intent is to scare and not to injure.
  • Snake: Remain calm and still. If you are with your dog, keep him/her close to your side. Step backwards slowly, and only turn your back when you are more than six feet away from the snake.
  • Opossum: They are usually docile and will not attack unless provoked or cornered. Keep your dog on a short leash and remove yourself from the area.
  • Deer: They do not generally pose a threat unless they feel threatened themselves. Keep your dog close to you and walk past the deer. They should move along. If they make aggressive movements or sounds, turn away and leave the area. If you encounter a baby deer alone, do not disturb it. Mothers leave fawns alone while they forage for food and return to the fawn’s original location.
  • Mountain Lion: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Do not approach a lion or run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal and become as big as possible. Talk calmly and regularly and back away. Do not turn your back, crouch down or bend over.
  • Bird: If you encounter a baby bird by itself, it is usually best to leave it alone. If a bird appears distressed or injured, contact the Wildlife Care Association’s wildlife care hotline at (916) 965-9453 for recommendations before attempting to assist the bird.

Report emergencies to 911 or, if you are in the American River Parkway, call 875-PARK (7275). A map containing useful information about animals that reside along the American River Parkway and safety tips can be found at http://arpf.org/pdf_files/ARPmap.pdf

What do you do when wild animals pose a threat to public health and safety or cause damage to property or livestock? The City of Rancho Cordova has a contract with the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office Wildlife Services, which is a cooperative program involving the United States Department of Agriculture, State Department of Food and Agriculture, State Department of Health, and Sacramento County. Wildlife Services is responsible for the control of non-domestic animals, such as skunks, opossums, raccoons, beavers, coyotes, and damaging birds that pose a threat to human or animal health and safety, or cause damage to property or livestock. A Federal Wildlife Specialist can be reached at 916-875-6603, Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

What do you do for distressed or injured wild animals? If you see a distressed or injured wild animal, contact the Wildlife Care Association’s wildlife care hotline at (916) 965-9453. The Wildlife Care Association is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization in Sacramento that is permitted by the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to care for wildlife. Wildlife Care Association (WCA) rescues and rehabilitates wild animals that are dropped off by concerned citizens and public agencies. They do not provide a pick-up service, so call the wildlife care hotline or visit the WCA website (http://www.wildlifecareassociation.com/found-animal/) for tips on how to properly rescue a wild animal.

If you feel the animal is in need of immediate care or you are not comfortable waiting for a call or email back, please take the animal immediately to the WCA facility during their intake hours 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.seven days per week.

Source: City of Rancho Cordova