AZGFD reminds public to help keep wildlife “wild”
Posted May 24, 2022
PHOENIX — As campers and other outdoor recreationists head for the high country to escape seering, triple-digit temperatures, the odds of human-wildlife encounters taking place only climb higher.
That’s why the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is reminding the public to help keep wildlife “wild” by discouraging animals from hanging around and leaving baby wildlife alone.
“Animals that receive help from people become habituated to human-occupied areas and can feel too comfortable around humans,” said Aaron Hartzell, supervisor for the department’s regional office in Pinetop. “This is how many human-wildlife conflicts begin, and it can lead to some animals becoming aggressive.”
In many cases, animals that wind up biting or attacking people have been previously human-fed. This type of aggressive behavior also puts the animal’s life in danger.
Most nuisance wildlife activity begins in the spring, when animals — including bears — are looking for food and water, and young animals are establishing territories. This search for food can occasionally lead to neighborhoods and populated campgrounds. If there’s nothing to eat or drink, wildlife will typically move on, but if they are rewarded by food they can learn to stick around for an easy meal.
AZGFD offers the following reminders to discourage animals from taking up residence in populated areas:
- Don’t feed wildlife. Remove pet food, water bowls, garbage and other attractants from around your home or campsite.
- Make possible den sites or shelters unavailable, including the crawl spaces under homes, by blocking them with fencing or other barriers.
- Don’t let animals get comfortable in your neighborhood — spray them with a hose, light up the area at night, or bang pots and pans to keep the animals moving.
- Keep a clean camp. Store food items and trash away from your tent or sleeping area. Even an empty food wrapper can attract a bear from a long distance.
- If camping, wash up and change clothes before going to bed to eliminate odors from cooking.
- Put food waste and garbage in a secure location, such as a bear-proof dumpster.
- Carry bear spray.
- Encourage others to take these precautions. Discouraging bears and other animals from a campground requires everyone to do their part.
AZGFD understands the public’s interest and connection with wildlife, including the urge to help sick or injured animals. This kind of “help,” however, can have negative consequences for the animal. That’s why it’s always best to leave wildlife of all ages and species alone.
“Baby wildlife is rarely orphaned, and handling them may make it reliant on humans,” Hartzell said. “That reliance will often make it difficult for that animal to survive in the wild.
“Usually, the parents are not far away. They may be out gathering food or taking a short break from their young, and if you remove the baby, you’re actually creating a problem.”
For more information on living with wildlife, visit www.azgfd.gov/wildlife.