Free video teaches living with wildlife
A new Arizona Game and Fish Department program will educate people about how to live near wild animals.
"When people more into previously unpopulated areas we begin to see problems between humans and wild animals," wildlife biologist Johnny Wills said.
A video "Living with Urban Wildlife" is available free to anyone who stops by the game and fish office, 5325 Stockton Hill Road.
There is a $3 charge to have the video mailed.
A compact disc "Exploring Arizona's Natural Resources" also is available through the Game and Fish Department.
An interactive program, the CD presents a detailed look at Arizona wildlife and plants.
Especially during drought, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, coyotes, snakes and bobcats looking for food and water have been sighted in residential areas in and around Kingman.
"Water and food supplies dry up in drought conditions," Wills said.
Hired by the Arizona Game and Fish Region III office about nine months ago, Wills was working toward a master's degree in wildlife management in Virginia when he decided to apply for the game specialist position at the Kingman office.
"Dry weather often forces wildlife to go outside their natural habitat for food or water," he said.
"If water is unavailable mountain lions and other wildlife will go to other sources of water, such as small ponds, even if close to residential neighborhoods."
In addition, well-meaning people who leave food out for wildlife aren't really helping the animals and could endanger humans and pets.
"If people encourage coyotes or other wild animals to come into residential areas by feeding them, they are putting domestic animals and small children at risk.
Coyotes are tricky animals," Wills said.
"They are not stupid.
"You are also taking a risk if you leave dogs and cats out at night," he added.
Hay, salt lick or alfalfa pellets attract deer, which in turn attract mountain lions, Wills said.
In addition, when a large number of animals feed together disease can be spread more quickly.
"Leaving dog or cat food outdoors attracts wild animals.
Don't let food sit outside.
Only feed your pet what it can eat, and then bring the food bowl inside," Wills said.
Game and fish regional superintendent Bob Posey said crews haul water to water catchalls and stock tanks in critical areas for wildlife, but the drought has many animals looking for food and water around residential areas.
"We tell people not to feed wild animals and not to do things that attract wild animals, especially in urban settings," Posey said.
"It will just cause more problems."
Posey said even something as simple putting bird seed on the ground is not good because the seed can become contaminated and birds on the ground attract larger animals.
Bird baths also breed disease and attract larger animals.
People who live in the mountains shouldn't feed deer and elk because the deer become prey for hungry mountain lions," he said.
"I think a lot of animals have perished because of the drought," Posey added.
"It is a nature occurrence, but a drought is harsh in the desert."
Recent citings of a pack of coyotes in the Valle Vista area prompted Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife manager Shawn Wagner to issue a warning: Don't feed the wild animals!
"Don't do things to attract animals to residential areas - keep them wild," Wagner said.
Wagner's advice comes on the heels of a sighting by Valle Vistans of a pack of coyotes near the Valle Vista clubhouse this week.
At the Valle Vista Property Owners Association meeting Thursday Jon Clarke, president of the VVPOA Board, warned residents of the dangers of people leaving dog food or other food items out where coyotes, or other wild animals can reach it.
Clarke said dry seasons have attracted mountain loins to the ponds around the area in the past.
"Mountain lion prints have been seen around the ponds.
But it is primarily coyotes that have been running through the area."
Clarke stated that Valle Vista resident Donna Rushing's chuiahua was recently attacted by a coyote and resident Mel Phillips had five coyotes running through his yard during the day.
"We were at one time an adult community.
But during the last two or three years we have had more families with young families move in.