In general, wildlife will shy away from people and pets. However, it is always a good idea to keep pets – and pet food – at a safe distance from wildlife, as conflicts with pets sometimes do occur. It is important to keep in mind that wild animals are looking to survive, and conflicts that occur with pets are often a result of wildlife simply trying to defend themselves, their young, their food, or their territory.
Listed below are some tips pet owners can take to proactively prevent conflicts between pets and wildlife from occurring:
Keep your dog leashed and close by at all times. Do not let your dog harass wildlife.
Keep your cats indoors. The MSPCA encourages cat owners to protect their cats, other animals, the public, and the environment by keeping their cats indoors or controlled and properly supervised when outside. The average life span of a cat kept indoors is more than double that of a cat allowed outside. In addition, there are many hazards that endanger the health and safety of outdoor cats, like automobiles, infectious diseases and parasites, predators, etc. Unsterilized cats also contribute to the cat overpopulation problem and cats can kill wildlife. There are a number of things you can do to help make the transition easier for your outdoor cat to move inside. Walking or exercising him on a leash, building a secure, covered outdoor pen, providing lots of toys and scratching posts, and planting edible cat grasses and plants inside are just a few.
Skunks do not see very well and often respond to abrupt or quick movements by spraying in self-defense. If your pet gets sprayed by a skunk, the following recipe can help diffuse the odor: combine 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon mild liquid laundry or dish soap. This recipe can be used on animals and clothing, though some discoloration may occur. Skunk odor can also be neutralized with vinegar, lemon juice, or tomato juice. If your pet gets sprayed in the eyes, flushing them with cold water can help ease the discomfort.
When walking or hiking in the woods with your pets in the fall and the early winter season, it is important to take some extra precautions. When hiking, only hike during daylight hours and stay alert! This season is one of the busiest times for wildlife, as many animals are on the move, actively foraging for food and shelter, mating before winter, and avoiding hunters. There are several things you can do to keep you, your family, and your pets safe:
- Be aware of state hunting and trapping regulations. During the hunting season, hunters can hunt every day of the week except on Sundays in the Commonwealth. Report any hunter not adhering to Massachusetts hunting laws to the environmental police immediately. For a hunting and trapping schedule click here to be directed to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) website.
- Steer clear of areas where hunting is allowed.
- When walking or hiking in the woods with your family and pets, be sure everybody wears brightly colored outerwear. Purchase a florescent orange dog coat or vest at your local pet-supply store.
- Do not allow your dog to chase deer or other wildlife.
- When walking in areas where hunting is permitted, talk loudly and make noise periodically to alert any hunters of your presence.
- Know your route and stay on marked trails and pathways.