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Drought conditions driving more wildlife to residential areas, Utah DWR says

Posted at 10:24 PM, Aug 24, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — As hot and dry conditions continue, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is weighing in on an increased number of wildlife sightings in residential areas across the state.

Standing near intersections, taking over construction sites, making friends with people’s pets and spotted in backyards – wildlife has been caught on camera all over the Beehive State in recent weeks.

“We’re just seeing these animal more often,” said Faith Heaton Jolley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

Of course, Utah is no stranger to animals. But this year, residential areas are looking a little extra wild.

“We’re living in a lot of these habitat areas that are home for bears, cougars, deer,” said Heaton Jolley. “Most of the time we’re trying to relocate those animals out of the urban areas.”

According to DWR, there are a number of reasons why we are seeing more wildlife — from the areas we are building in, to increased wildlife populations, or even just seeing more of them because of an increased popularity of doorbell and security cameras.

This year, however, DWR biologists believe there is one main factor driving wildlife: Drought conditions, impacting 98 percent of the state.

“It’s just really hot, it’s really dry, it’s a drought year and often times when that happens it can push wildlife into some of our urban, residential areas,” Heaton Jolley said.

In turn, sending Utah’s four-legged friends searching for refuge right in your neighborhood.

“It’s so hot and dry, they’re coming down to get food and water. But unless it’s threatening you, don’t bother them and leave them alone,” Heaton Jolley continued.

DWR provides a list of things you can do to remove attractants from your property, including:

  • Restricting access by fencing gardens, compost piles and ponds.
  • Installing chimney caps/closing off crawl spaces
  • Securing trash with a locking lid, or waiting until the morning of pick up to put it out
  • Picking up fallen fruit and ripened vegetables
  • Trimming vegetation to reduce hiding places
  • Installing outdoor lighting and noise makers as a deterrent
  • Supervising pets when they are outside and securing them inside at night
  • Removing bird feeders

Above all, DWR asks that residents use their best judgment. If an animal is dangerous or could cause conflict, report it to DWR immediately.

If it is not dangerous, or appears to be passing through, DWR advises not to touch it, feed it, or water it.

“This is their home too, so we need to make sure we’re being hospitable neighbors when we can,” Heaton Jolley said.

To report a potentially dangerous wild animal, contact DWR.