Urban wildlife in Huntsville reported more often these days

Urban wildlife — like skunks — have been reported by residents all over Madison County. (Alabama Cooperative Extension)

We have all seen birds and squirrels, bugs and snails, chipmunks and spiders on our property, and we have learned to co-exist with these creatures. But what about other wildlife that has made its way into our neighborhoods?

Well, sightings of coyotes, deer and foxes have been on the rise in the last couple of years in the Huntsville area. And that isn’t the only urban wildlife reported in our communities.

What kinds of critters are hanging out in our neighborhoods?

This raccoon may look all chill and harmless, but Huntsville Animal Control says not to feed or approach them. (Michael Seale / Hville Blast)

I mentioned birds, bugs, squirrels, chipmunks, spiders and rabbits as creatures commonly found in residential areas in Huntsville. And I have also written about sightings of snakes and even alligators. But those are only a handful of the critters found lurking in Huntsville’s neighborhoods, according to the Huntsville Animal Shelter.

The City of Huntsville has records of reports of a variety of wildlife making its way into residential areas of the city, including:

  • Coyotes, foxes and bobcats, which prey on small animals such as rodents.
  • Omnivores such as raccoons and skunks, which mainly come out at night. Recently, the armadillo joins these other omnivores in north Alabama as common urban wildlife seen by citizens. Opossums eat both rodents and plants. 
  • Rabbits and deer are herbivores and can be seen foraging in the early morning and evening. Shy of humans, deer are often spotted as a mother with fawns or a lone buck creeping through the trees and bushes.

Widespread development in the Huntsville area is the primary culprit in the increase in urban wildlife sightings. With wooded areas being cleared to make way for homes and businesses, the animals are left to find somewhere else to go. And that sometimes means your backyard.

For instance, whitetail deer prefer the forest edge and meadow to actual dense forest, so the cutting of forests has actually made more habitat for the white-tailed deer, which has increased its numbers.

In some cities, older deer seem to have learned how to cross the street, as they look back and forth while crossing roads looking for cars while fawns and younger deer will recklessly run out without looking. According to Huntsville Animal Services, most traffic accidents involving deer happen with deer that have just left their mother and are less likely to watch for cars.

How to prevent these critters from getting on your property

Coyote sightings in Huntsville neighborhoods have become pretty common, but these animals are dangerous to house pets. (Alabama Cooperative Extension)

As cool as it sometimes is to see a deer or a fox in your yard, many of these animals can do some derious damage to your yard and property and have been reported by residents to city authorities as a nuisance.

Here are a few tips to co-existing with urban wildlife:

  • Never, ever handle or touch any wildlife.
  • Never intentionally or unintentionally provide a food or denning location. Dog and cat food and bird feeders tend to be the most common source of unintentional feeding. 
  • Attempts to “tame” raccoons or bobcats through feeding typically leads to the death of the animal once it uses the doggie door, breaks a window or inflicts other destruction to the home, or literally bites the hand that feeds it.
  • Chipmunks, squirrels, ground hogs, armadillos, etc. look to hide nuts, create a burrow, or seek a yummy worm snack by digging in the ground – and this includes a beautifully landscaped yard. Residents can help keep wildlife from nesting in their attics and crawl spaces by making regular home repairs, such as replacing rotting facial boards and securing any exterior access. 
  • Sick or injured wildlife should be reported to Huntsville Animal Services.

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Michael Seale
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