Co-existing With Wildlife

Sponsor an Animal

Become a Sponsor and connect with our animals in a personal way. Your support will go toward food, veterinary care and enrichment.

Learn About Sponsorship

The Wildlife Waystation is home to an abundance of native wildlife and a variety of unique habitats found across the United States. But as the human population in the country and across the globe continues to grow, so does the desire and need to change natural habitats into more usable human space by expanding neighborhoods, roadways and shopping centers. Ultimately, this continued expansion means that the frequency of encounters and incidents between humans and wild animals also increases. There are many factors at play but this pressure is largely due to basic things like competition for space, as well as access to natural resources like food, water and shelter.

For additional information on how to better co-exist with native wildlife in California, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can also learn what native animals frequent your neighborhood or yard by visiting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Life History & Range Maps, where you can look up the known habitat distribution of any native California amphibian, reptile, bird or mammal.

Hints on Co-Existing With Native Wildlife

  • Do not leave pet food and water outdoors, especially overnight.
  • Do not leave small pets and children unattended - even if fenced - in an active wildlife area.
  • Quickly harvest ripe or fallen fruit. Rodents who eat the fruit ultimately attract predators such as coyotes, bobcats and foxes.
  • Trim all trees and bushes within 4 feet of a house so that animals cannot reach the roof.
  • Make sure that compost piles are kept in secure, closed containers.
  • Place trash cans away from structures and secure lids with bungee cords. Deposit smelly refuse in trash shortly before pickup.
  • Cover all access openings to a house with mesh securely attached to house and install chimney caps.
  • Put woodpiles on raised platforms at least 18” high to discourage nesting by rodents and other animals.
  • Make sure you clean up under bird feeders so that discarded seeds are not attracting rats, mice, squirrels, etc.
  • If you have a water source like a pool, fountain or fish pond, be sure the water is being circulated to avoid providing a mosquito nesting ground.

Living With Predators

The planet is inhabited by many different predator species, all of whom hold an important place in the ecosystems they call home. A predator is any animal that feeds on other animals (prey), typically, ones that are smaller or weaker than it. In many regions around the world, humans have historically hunted and pushed out many of these apex animals, sometimes to the detriment of the entire ecosystem. We sometimes react negatively to the mere presence of certain wildlife in our backyard and neighborhood. But we are coming to learn that co-existence is the key to sharing the planet peacefully with other animals.

Many times, a negative reaction to wildlife entering “your territory” comes from a place of fear (of wild animals or a particular species), as well as a lack of understanding of that species’ habits and behavior. If you find that an unwanted predator is frequenting your yard, stop to consider the reasons it may be entering your yard and try to think of ways that you might help lessen that behavior. It can sometimes be as simple as picking up rotten fruit, removing piles of brush and debris from your yard, or bringing your cat or dog food inside at night.

If you live in an area that has carnivorous predators like mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyotes and rattlesnakes, you must educate and prepare yourself for encounters with these majestic animals. If you have a good understanding of what types of native animals are in your area, as well as learn more about predatory behavior, you will be better equipped to handle any chance encounters with these animals should they occur. For a better understanding of the importance of predators in the world, learn more about the biology and impact of predators in an ecosystem.


Wildlife Emergencies

Baby Deer Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife People, usually with good intentions, attempt to rescue baby animals every day. Sadly, a lack of training in the proper care and diet can cause more harm than good. Sometimes an animal may not even need to be rescued! If the animal appears healthy and there is no immediate danger, then the following guide may help you to re-unite the baby with the parents.

If you have any questions about your rescue and you live in the Los Angeles area, please give call us – do not email! We take emergency calls 24 hours a day on our main line at (818) 899-5201. You may have to leave a message between the hours of 5:00 pm - 7:00 am (PST) but someone will get back to you in a timely manner even during evening hours!

Signs a wild animal needs your help

Injured Bat
  • Your dog or cat brought it to you.
  • There is a dead parent close to where you found the animal.
  • It appears to be bleeding or have a broken limb.
  • Featherless or furless, and on the ground.
  • It feels cool or cold to the touch or is shivering.

Common Wildlife Emergencies

Baby birds - not fully feathered
Baby Woodpecker These should be put back in the nest or nearby in a makeshift nest, such as a box or plastic container lined with shredded tissue. The makeshift nest can be tacked up to a nearby tree where the parents can easily access it. The parents have no sense of smell & will not reject the baby. The parents will not feed their baby if you are visible, so observe from afar. If a parent does not return to the nest within two hours, rescue should be initiated.

Baby birds - fully feathered
Peregrine Falcon The animal is unable to fly more than a few feet along the ground. These are considered fledglings and are usually being taught to fly and find food on their own. If adults are present, do not interfere. They will take care of the baby until he can fend for himself. Be sure to keep your cats and dogs indoors during this time. If it seems no adults are tending to the fledgling, and no imminent danger is present, wait two to three days before intervening. However, if no adults are present and there is an imminent danger, rescue should be initiated.

Tree Squirrels
Squirrel with Baby Bottle Photo credit: Noricum/Flickr If the squirrel is able to walk steadily & climb on his own, place him on a high branch & watch to see if a parent leads him back to the nest. If the squirrel is unable to climb, or his eyes are not yet open, follow the same procedures as for the not fully feathered baby birds.

Ground Squirrels
Since infants are rarely seen above ground, you may have caught the mother in the process of moving her babies. Keep a close eye out and intervene if the mother does not retrieve “abandoned” babies within thirty minutes.

Racoons & Skunks
Skunks and racoons can be carriers of rabies, distemper & other diseases. You should not attempt to catch these animals yourself, just call a wildlife professional. If absolutely necessary to handle an orphaned or injured skunk or raccoon, be sure to wear heavy gloves and immediately secure the animal in a safe, durable container.

Opossums
Opossum Bottle Feeding Photo credit: Kathy/Flickr Babies can survive on their own when they are at least five or six inches long, not counting the tail. If you find a deceased female, check the pouch for any live young. If live young are found, wrap them in a soft, ravel-free towel and transport to a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. Young opossums cannot survive long outside the pouch environment.

Opossums are generally shy, will avoid people and will appear dead when extremely frightened and may also emit a foul odor to dissuade predators from eating them! If found in your yard but not appearing injured, the best thing to do is leave the area and give the opossum time to recover. Put your dogs and cats in house. Do not immediately place the opossum in a plastic bag or garbage can! If after at least 4 hours there is no movement or signs of life, you can safely dispose of the deceased animal by wearing protective gloves and simply double-bagging it and putting it out with your trash. You can also contact animal control in your area, but not all local agencies will come out for wildlife remains and disposal, unless an illness is suspected.

Ducks in a pool
Ducks in a swimming pool Photo credit: Alasam/Flickr You can discourage migrating ducks from enjoying your pool by putting brightly covered objects like beach balls or kids’ toys in the water. You can also cover the pool until the ducks have moved on, as well as trim low-lying shrubs and bushes to discourage female waterfowl from nesting on your property.


For other animal emergencies in the Los Angeles area

Pelican in oil spill Photo credit: Alasam/Flickr

Report a stranded marine mammal

Lost pet in Los Angeles

Report animal cruelty in Los Angeles

Report an animal bite or suspected rabies in a wild animal

Encounters with Wildlife

It is important that we understand the importance of co-existing with wildlife, so that we can begin to change behaviors or patterns that may be inadvertently causing harm to animals. This understanding will also reduce the likelihood of conflicts with wildlife in the future, as well as help us to better support native ecosystems. To learn more about what to do in the event of these common animal encounters, check out the informative brochures below!