Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sun, Oct. 20

Column: Our properties are at risk of wild animals, too

A hawk buzzes a dirt driveway in Williamson Valley. It is not a bear or bobcat (those photos are quite fuzzy), but this is a pretty cool shot! (Tim Wiederaenders’ trail cam/Courier)

A hawk buzzes a dirt driveway in Williamson Valley. It is not a bear or bobcat (those photos are quite fuzzy), but this is a pretty cool shot! (Tim Wiederaenders’ trail cam/Courier)

Friends and people I talk with — who have never been to the Prescott area — often act surprised that we have “seasons.”

“I thought you lived in Arizona,” they say, meaning they think we live in the desert where temperatures easily top 100 degrees in the summer and fall no lower than 50 (maybe 40s) in the winter. (That’s more like Lake Havasu City, as I recall.)

No, ours is a four-season year — with me writing this wearing a sweatshirt and cap on this chilly October morning.

Likewise, people (even those among us) often are shocked when wild animals make their way into our neighborhoods.

Bobcats, skunks, hawks, foxes, coyotes, deer … even mountain lions and, yes, bears can be seen among our houses and backyards.

I say that because the trail cam photos on my Williamson Valley property are proof.

Still, when a black bear is seen roaming the StoneRidge subdivision in Prescott Valley, as happened last week, some respond with fear and loathing.

Yes, I would hate to think a bear starts thinking of people as food — and a child is playing in a backyard it peers into.

This conjures up at least two thoughts:

• Always take care while outside. The story we reported Saturday about the black bear that visited StoneRidge had the animal looking over a block wall.

Remember, never approach a wild bear, the Arizona Game and Fish Department says.

“Black bears usually avoid people, but if they start to associate people with food they may become aggressive. If a bear is in your yard or neighborhood, immediately contact the Game and Fish office in your area.”

You can scare the bear, making it feel unwelcome, by making loud noises, such as yelling, whistling or banging pans, Game and Fish officials added.

• Yet, whose home is this? Some will quickly say (and I am one of them), we’re in their neck of the woods. We do not live in the desert, which by the way has a host of wild animals, too.

If our homes are far enough into the mountains to be at risk of wildfires, they also are close to the wild residents.

Every night I drive slowly up Williamson Valley Road and down my street, because we have what I call “resident herds” of deer. Regularly seen also are javelina and other critters. They’re among our homes sometimes because of drought.

Seriously, I think we can co-exist. Be prepared, though, some wild residents can get too close for comfort.

Don’t act or react. Call Game and Fish at 928-692-7700; we’re in Region III based out of Kingman. You also can call the main number in Phoenix, 602-942-3000. Unfortunately, they work only Monday through Friday. If you’re calling outside of regular business hours, call local law enforcement.

Be safe out there, folks.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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