Each spring wildlife from South Mountain are a little more visible around Ahwatukee Foothills, but experts warn that because of a mild winter and low rainfall residents may see even more in 2012.

This year, with such a dry desert, greenbelts and yards may provide an easy meal and shelter for some animals, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“Green areas bring in the small mammals like rabbits, which in turn attract coyotes and javelina when the desert is dry and lacks adequate food resources,” said Darren Julian, an urban wildlife specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s regional office in Mesa. “Negative encounters with wildlife are almost always associated with a food source, so it’s important to work with your neighbors to discourage wildlife from coming into close proximity to people.”

Coyotes are known to hunt cats and other small animals in Ahwatukee neighborhoods so it’s important to make sure when they are seen, limits are set and the animals don’t get too comfortable around humans.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has many suggestions for keeping wild animals in the wild and away from homes.

Never feed the animals.

If you see a coyote or javelina, discourage it by using aggressive gestures, yelling, shaking a can filled with pennies, or spraying it with a hose or water gun filled with diluted ammonia.

Trim back plants and bushes surrounding the house to prevent hiding or nesting places and try to keep fences at least 6 feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground.

To eliminate a coyote’s ability to get over the top of a fence or wall, install barbed wire or a pipe that spins around a wire.

Keep small pets indoors, on a leash, or in a secure outdoor enclosure with a roof. Feed pets inside and pick up uneaten food between feedings.

Store any garbage indoors and place trash containers outside at the last possible time on pick-up day.

For more information on specific wildlife and how to keep them away, visit the Game and Fish Department’s website at

Homeowners associations interested in scheduling a nuisance wildlife presentation at their next HOA meeting can contact the Game and Fish Mesa regional office at (480) 981-9400.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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