Suburbs still see their share of wildlifeBy SUZANNE McLAUGHLIN , Associated Press
Jun. 29, 2013 3:06 AM ET
WILBRAHAM, Mass. (AP) — This town, although a suburb, sees its share of wildlife, including deer, bears and foxes.
Kevin Moriarty, a former longtime selectman, frequently worried about the preponderance of deer in town because they had a habit of colliding with the cars of residents as the deer came off the mountain. Recently a bear made its way out of the woods and was seen by students from inside both Wilbraham Middle School and Mile Tree School before it made its way back into the woods.
"I have a lot of wild turkeys in my yard," Moriarty said. "I saw a fox running across my driveway tonight. It had a small animal in its mouth. It had a nice, bushy tail."
Marion Larson, information and education officer for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the state always gets a lot of calls at this time of year about the large numbers of foxes.
"People are spending more time out of doors, and this is the time of year in which the kits are exploring beyond their dens," she said.
She said foxes, like some other animals, are very comfortable in suburban neighborhoods. "They may be attracted to unsecured trash," she said, "and some people feed their pets outside, which also can attract wild animals."
Some people continue to feed birds in the summer, which is not necessary to the birds' survival, Larson said. Bird seed, which falls to the ground, attracts animals other than birds, he said.
And bird seed may attract wildlife, including bears, Larson said.
There is also shelter in suburbia which is welcoming to animals, including sheds, porches and decks.
Foxes prefer landscapes of mixed habitat. They thrive where areas of forests, fields, orchards and brush lands blend together, according to a MassWildlife brochure compiled by the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. Foxes typically use the transitional areas between these habitat types for most of their activities. They are frequently seen at dawn or dusk, but they may be seen during the day.
Anyone who wants to block habitat for foxes close to their homes should block off crawl spaces under porches and sheds. Larson said she recently saw a fox behind her house and she went outside to make some loud noises to scare it away.
Larson said it is better for the survival of wildlife if the young do not become too tame.
People should keep their pets restrained, Larson recommended. He said all mammals can carry rabies, and the best way to protect humans against rabies is for people to keep their pets' rabies vaccinations updated.
In Holden, a bobcat recently attacked a man as he arrived home from work. The man shot and killed the bobcat, which was found to have rabies. "That's very unusual," Larson said.
Tom O'Shea, assistant director of wildlife at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, said animals usually only show aggression when they are rabid.
The foxes that he has seen in Western Massachusetts appear to be quite healthy, Moriarty said.