It’s the season for litters of wild animals, and snakes, and an important time to keep cats inside and dogs on short leashes.
A few weeks ago I posted a photo I took of a coyote bounding down John Anderson Drive in Ormond-by-the-Sea.
It was dusk and she was minding her own business, not even giving me more than a casual glance as I popped out of the car to try to capture a photo.
I posted the photo on the Ormond Beach Observer’s Facebook page with the intent of alerting neighbors that small pets shouldn’t be outside unattended, especially at dawn and dusk.
Darlene Kinard, who has owned and operated Wildlife Management with her husband Rick for as long as I can remember, wasn’t surprised to hear about my coyote sighting.
“Typically they will be out at dawn and dusk – typically,” Kinard said. "If they are nursing mothers they may be out earlier to get away from the litter or to food and water.”
Just because a traditionally nocturnal animal is out doesn’t mean it’s rabid, an old wives tale. There are many reasons raccoons, coyotes and other wildlife are seen during the day.
Kinard said we are into “baby season” and the reason the larger animals are seen in backyards is because often that’s where the food, supplied by homeowners, is located.
“Bird feeders, trash cans, leftover food left out for the cats, all make you part of the food chain for these animals,” she said. “You can’t just put food out for one (type of animal); if there is food they all will come.”
Several years ago she said there was a bobcat in Palm Coast who jumped a privacy fence to get to the animals that feed at the bird feeders at night, rats, raccoons and other rodents. On that night the family’s Yorkshire Terrier was in the back yard. The family was with the dog and managed to get the dog in and slam the screen door on the big cat. The dog was fine – but it’s a reminder as to why it’s important to watch our pets closely.
We have plumbago in our front yard that has recently captured the attention of both of our dogs when they are out. It could be our resident box turtles, and I don’t want the dogs bothering them, or it could be something like a snake or raccoon that, if feeling threatened, could attack my dogs. The dog’s noses, and the rest of them, are kept away.
“The snakes are hatching too, usually under bushes,” Kinard said. “It’s very important not to allow your dogs to get into those bushes or near bodies of water (alligators).
As far as the coyote, Kinard said wild animals have also been on the move.
“With all of the rain they may have been flooded out of their homes and are looking for another,” she said.
Her advice to keeping harmony with nature is simple: “Keep your dogs on a short leash and don’t let them go into the bushes.”