Residents should expect<br>wildlife behavior changes

GCNP — As the fall and winter seasons approach, various types of wildlife around Grand Canyon National Park begin thinking about where they’re going to settle down during the cold months.

That’s why local residents should take caution to discourage wildlife from picking out their home as a place to frequent.

“This time of year, we get a great number of reports of skunks and other rodents looking for winter denning spots,” said Elaine Leslie, wildlife biologist. “We also get a large number of requests for trapping these mammals.”

Park officials don’t have the resources to run out for every little incident, however. As a result, residents must do their part.

“Unless wildlife is actually inside of a residence or has burrowed underneath a residence, we do not trap for the sake of relocation or removal just because a skunk or other such mammal is in the vicinity of a residence, perhaps causing an odiferous nuisance,” Leslie said.

Leslie said that’s why park officials are stressing pest exclusion for local structures. Residents are urged to not put attractants such as pet food on porches or in backyards, for example.

“It is also why we enforce the pet policy,” Leslie added. “Animals with access to such mammals as skunks, bats, raccoons, bobcats and coyotes have the potential of contracting diseases such as rabies, plague and distemper.”

Pets can contract such a disease with minimal contact, like becoming infected from saliva. The animal then comes back into the home and can infect human residents.

“From the native wildlife’s perspective, loose pets are hazardous in that they can spread diseases such as parvovirus and distemper to uninfected native populations,” Leslie said.

Also, Leslie said millions of small mammals, birds and reptiles are killed each year by loose or feral domestric dogs and cats.

“Even the best-fed cat has natural instincts to kill,” Leslie said. “Thousands of birds are killed annually in this park alone by loose and feral cats. We will continue trapping loose pets well into the winter this year.”

As of last week, 13 cats and two dogs had been trapped by park officials.

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