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Friday, May 6, 2016

Wild animals should be left in the wild

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

After a recent sighting of a black bear near a Lawrence County residence, conservation authorities are reminding citizens of the abundant and sometimes nuisance wildlife resources in the area.

"This is the time of year when people are most likely to see some of Missouri's wildlife," said Missouri Department of Conservation Agent Andy Barnes who is based in Lawrence County. "Understanding and applying proper procedures when dealing with these types of situations is very important."

According to Barnes, it has not been that many years since deer and turkey were rare locally if not nonexistent. Furbearers, such as beaver and otter, were far and few between due to habitat destruction and over harvesting.

In recent years, however, deer are thriving due to reintroduction efforts and most furbearers are at numbers that have not been seen in generations. Nuisance wildlife comes in all forms from racoons tipping garbage cans over to deer eating garden vegetables or bears tracing down bee hives.

Barnes explained that as a conservation agent, he is available to assist landowners with wildlife that have moved in and become too close for comfort.

The two categories most commonly dealt with are diggers and eaters. Diggers include animals like skunks, groundhogs and armadillos. Skunks and groundhogs will burrow under a slab or foundation causing damage and spreading their scent to the discomfort of anyone in the vicinity.

Since armadillos tend to dig numerous holes in yards in their search for food, the best method of prevention could be as simple as a wire fence to prevent them from entering an area, such as a yard.

Eaters include deer, raccoons, opossums and canines such as coyotes and foxes. Barnes said the most effective method to prevent these animals from entering property is a good fence. Even an electric fence at the proper height can prevent most of these animals from eating gardens or raiding chicken coops, Barnes indicated.

Barnes said the use of preventive measures such as picking up cat and dog food every night as well as keeping trash and brush cleared can reduce the risk of the presence of these particular animals.

Although taking wildlife from its natural domain is not recommended or legal, some of these animals can be caught with a cage trap and the proper bait if the animal is causing damages.

"This is also the time of year when people find what they believe is an 'orphaned' animal such as a fawn," Barnes said.

According to Barnes, people often jump to the conclusion that a newborn animal is abandoned if it is found all alone. However, in most scenarios, the parent animal is afraid of people and will retreat when approached by them. If the animal is left alone and there is no human contact, the parent will usually return.

Citizens need to understand that "wildlife" have better chances of survival in the wild, Barnes said. It is illegal to possess many wild animals without a valid state or federal permit.

In addition, wild animals that are captured or killed should be disposed of only in accordance with the instructions of a conservation department agent.

For more information on Missouri wildlife, contact Barnes at 417-461-0668.

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