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Mindfulness key to successful co-existence between wildlife, humans

Fast facts:

  • Deer move during twilight hours; use extra care driving
  • Feed pets inside, so no wildlife-pet conflicts occur over food

LITTLE ROCK – Interactions between people and deer, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, bears and other wildlife can sometimes turn into problems.          

“Wildlife live closer to our homes and families than we realize,” said Dr. Becky McPeake, extension wildlife expert for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Wild animals constantly seek food and shelter. If we toss out food waste or feed pets outside, we are going to attract animals because those food sources are easy to access, plentiful and available on a regular schedule.”

“We also fertilize our yards, and plant fruit trees and vegetables in our gardens, which attracts deer and other wildlife,” says McPeake. In most residential areas, no hunting is allowed, which gives animals the opportunity to populate with little mortality, other than collisions with vehicles.

“It’s really basic ecology,” says McPeake. “Herbivores survive by eating plants around our homes, and carnivores soon follow.  More residents in the Little Rock area are reporting altercations with coyotes, which are just doing what comes naturally and seeking prey.” 

Unfortunately, that prey can be a pet cat or small dog.

The damage to a vehicle can be significant, not to mention what injuries you and your passengers can sustain.

To help wildlife while keeping your family and yourself safe, consider these tips:

  • Deer generally travel in herds. If you see one, more than likely there are others close by, too. Deer also are most active between 6 and 9 p.m. so it’s important to be alert during the evening drive home.
  • Do not mistake wildlife as pets. While you may watch a familiar raccoon or squirrel in your yard every day, they are wild animals.  Keep them at a distance. 
  • We often mistakenly assumed a baby wild animal has been abandoned, when actually the parent is nearby, just waiting for us to leave. The best action is to leave healthy wildlife alone.
  • Do not attempt to rescue or rehabilitate wild animals.  A list of trained wildlife rehabilitators is available at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website ( Feed pets inside, or only feed the amount they eat without leaving leftovers outside. “Leaving pet food outside will encourage wildlife to come to your property, which can become a nuisance,” McPeake said. “Also, if your dog or cat feels threatened, it may fight the wild animal, which can lead to injury, illness or death. If there are coyotes around your home, keep small pets indoors as much as possible, particularly at night.”
  • Pick up litter and dispose of it properly. Keep trash cans and recycling bins in the garage or in an area where wildlife cannot get to it. Put both out as close to the time of pick-up as possible.
  • Be alert when driving in wooded areas. Wildlife like skunks, rabbits, squirrels and others may not be able to react quickly enough to get out of the way of a vehicle.

For more information about wildlife,visit extension's Web site,, or contact your county extension agent. Please note that has been renovated and some of your bookmarks may have moved.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

By Kelli Reep
For the Cooperative Extension Service
UofA Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Extension Communications Specialist
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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