Blog post

Wildlife Worries at Townhall Meeting

On September 20th, residents of District 5 (Brisbane, Colma, Daly City, San Bruno, and South San Francisco) met at the Colma Community Center to talk about their experiences with wildlife and ask questions of humane educator Kylynn Pelkey from Peninsula Humane Society and SMCMVCD public health education and outreach officer Megan Sebay.

When asked for a show of hands, most residents identified themselves as animal lovers, but they expressed a range of concerns with wildlife ranging from property damage to aggressive encounters. Fortunately, there are many things that we can do to prevent conflict with wildlife and ensure that both people and animals can stay safe and healthy.

Here are a few of the questions, and the District’s advice for resolving them:

What do I do if an animal approaches my pet?

Wild animals can carry parasites and diseases that can make pets sick. They may also injure, or even kill, pets if a confrontation occurs. It’s best if cats are kept indoors and only let outdoors in a completely enclosed area, sometimes called a ‘catio’. Dogs should be walked on-leash. Small dogs can be prey for larger animals; if an animal approaches, pick up your dog. If your dog does come into contact with an animal, talk to your veterinarian about any additional care that may be needed.

How do I keep raccoons out of our garbage cans on garbage pickup day?

Don’t take your garbage cans to the curb any earlier than necessary. If your schedule permits, put them out in the morning instead of the night before. You may also need to secure the lid of your garbage can. There are devices available online for this purpose, but you can also use a bungee cord. Between garbage pickup days, securing your can so that it cannot be tipped over may help keep raccoons out of it.

If I see an animal out during the day, does that mean it’s sick?

Probably not. Even nocturnal animals are sometimes seen during the day. The animal may have been disturbed by human activity near its den, or may be a juvenile ’staying up late’. If the animal looks sick or injured, however, contact the Peninsula Humane Society for assistance.

Are there too many animals in the area?

Maybe. When wild animals have access to ‘human food’ like garbage and pet food sometimes their populations increase. This is unhealthy for the animals, since crowding increases disease transmission and conflict. The solution to this is to ensure that the animals in your neighborhood don’t have access to any additional food beyond what their natural environment provides. It’s also possible that there aren’t more animals in the area, but that the ones who are there are more visible because they are visiting resident’s homes in search of food. In this case, making sure they aren’t finding a meal on your property will help discourage them from visiting.

How can I keep animals off my property?

There are plenty of repellents and scare devices that are sold to discourage animals from visiting an area, but most of them don’t work very well. You will have much more success if you eliminate whatever is attracting the animal to your property, whether it’s food, water, or shelter. If the animal doesn’t find anything useful on your property, it may pass through but will not linger.

Still have questions? You can contact the District for advice and a free inspection anytime.