This time of year it's important to realize there may be more wildlife about and to know how to deal with it if you come across it.

"A lot of wildlife, a lot of birds, a lot of animals breed in the springtime and have more young out there," said Darren Julian, an urban wildlife specialist with Arizona Game and Fish. "There's more mouths to feed so they're more active and looking for more food sources. They may be traveling a little further distance."

Especially in Ahwatukee Foothills where the desert is so close, those animals could find themselves in your neighborhood. Julian says not to worry but to realize the reason the animal came.

"They need to look at why they're coming into their yard or why they're coming into their neighborhood," Julian said. "In almost every case it's a food source. These animals follow their nose. They're not only finding food sources in and around human occupied areas and communities, they're finding abundance."

Pet food left outside may attract some animals. Even bird seed spread out for small animals may be a problem. The small animals may be prey for a larger predator.

Some of the most common predators near Ahwatukee Foothills are javelina, bobcats and coyotes, though all are fairly rare to encounter.

Game and Fish recommends discouraging animals from coming into neighborhoods. If they are not scared away, they may become too comfortable around humans and cause more aggressive behavior later on.

"Do what you can to make these animals run away," Julian said. "Make noises, throw something at them, be aggressive."

Removal may mean death for an animal so every effort should be made to discourage the animal first. Arizona Game and Fish has a list of businesses who will get rid of wild animals but they will also charge a fee for the removal.

If a person comes across a predator while hiking, the same techniques should be used.

"Most wild animals are not dangerous," Julian said. "They'd either rather run away or shy away from people. But if people are encountering something that is a predator like a coyote, a bobcat or a mountain lion, the first thing is not to run. Stand your ground and try to make yourself appear large. Make low loud noises. Throw things at them, grab things to throw at them. Try to make these animals run away."

If hiking with a dog, always keep the dog on a leash. Small dogs should be picked up if a predator is near and big dogs should be kept close by.

Pets at home need to be kept either indoors or in an area that a predator cannot get over or under, Julian said.

For more information on how to deal with specific predators, Game and Fish has complete information at

"Coyotes and a lot of these other critters are going to be here long after we're gone," Julian said. "The message is not just there's wildlife out there, live with it. We want to teach people how to live with it. That's why we have so much information on our website."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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