Living With Wildlife
Being at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains means we frequently have furry visitors. With increasing human population, there becomes less area for wildlife to exist. Many species relocate while others learn to successfully co-exist with humans. Co-existence can bring problems such as scavenging from trash cans, destruction of plant life in yards, and the potential for human/wildlife contact that neither desires.
Who To Call
If you have an emergency involving wildlife, please call 911. For other inquiries, you can contact the California Department of Fish And Game at:
California Department Of Fish And Game
4665 Lampson Avenue
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Learn About Some Of Our Visitors
Please select from one of the species below to learn more about them and their habits.
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera, whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, can only glide for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread-out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane or patagium.
Bats represent about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders: the less specialized and largely fruit-eating megabats, or flying foxes, and the highly specialized and echolocating microbats. About 70% of bat species are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters. A few species, such as the fish-eating bat, feed from animals other than insects, with the vampire bats being hematophagous.
Bats are present throughout most of the world, performing vital ecological roles of pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds. Bats are important, as they consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides. The smallest bat is the Kitti's hog-nosed bat, measuring 29–34 mm (1.14–1.34 in) in length, 15 cm (5.91 in) across the wings and 2–2.6 g (0.07–0.09 oz) in mass. It is also arguably the smallest extant species of mammal, with the Etruscan shrew being the other contender. The largest species of bat are a few species of Pteropus and the giant golden-crowned flying fox with a weight up to 1.6 kg (4 lb) and wingspan up to 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in).
Bats enter buildings through:
- Holes under roof underhangs
- Cracks around windows
- Spaces under ill-fitting boards
- Around pipes leading into the house
They can squeeze through openings as small as a dime-sized hole, so when the bats are gone, make sure you repair or patch all entry points that are usually discernible by oily stains.
Bats are a vector of rabies in California, and you should immediately contact the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control at (626) 962-3577 if you find a bat that is not flying or appears to be ill within your house.
You must report all bites by bats to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control at (626) 962-3577 and health department.
Picking Up Bats
Instruct your children to never play with a bat and never pick up a bat with your bare hands.
The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food.
The American black bear is the world's most common bear species. It is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to the species' widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN. American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears, a behavior common to many species of bears.
EncountersIt’s not uncommon to see bears in and around communities located near bear habitat. A bear sighting alone is not a cause for concern. If a bear causes damage to your home or property, contact your California Department of Fish and Wildlife Regional Office at (562)598-1032. CDFW will provide strategies to make your property less attractive to bears, explain the depredation permit process and may conduct a site inspection. Remember prevention is always the first step. It’s up to all of us to help keep bears alive and wild for generations to come. If you encounter a bear in your home:
- Do not approach the bear.
- Remove yourself from danger.
- When safe, call 911.
- Do not block any exits that the bear may use to escape.
- Slowly back away.
- DO NOT approach the bear.
- Allow plenty of room to pass or withdraw.
- Once you are a safe distance away, encourage the bear to leave by banging pots and pans or making other loud noises.
PreventionOnce conditioned to human sources of food, bears will seek them out, creating conflicts with humans. Attracting bears to urban areas can also increase risk of vehicle collisions, harming both humans and bears. The bear’s behavior will not stop voluntarily, and unless the nuisance behavior can be corrected, bears may be killed to ensure public safety. In order to avoid these deaths, food sources must be removed. People have a responsibility to the wildlife whose habitat they are sharing. Never feed a bear!
- Keep your trash secure and consider a bear-proof garbage container.
- Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
- Harvest fruit off of trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
- Avoid using bird feeders, they are a powerful attractant.
- Keep pet food inside.
- Consider installing motion-detector alarms, electric fencing or motion activated sprinklers.
Click here to download the "Homeowner’s & Renter’s Guide to Living in Bear Country" brochure.
Bobcats And Mountain Lions
The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago (AEO). With 12 recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States. The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semidesert, urban edge, forest edges, and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range, and populations are healthy.
With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller on average than the Canada lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.
Bobcats definitely exist in your area. They are very rare in sightings and will usually know of your existence long before you will ever see one. They usually do not pose a threat to humans as they are very secretive and will almost always avoid contact with humans.
The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, mountain cat, or catamount, is a large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar. Solitary by nature and nocturnal, the cougar is most closely related to smaller felines and is nearer genetically to the domestic cat than true lions.
An excellent stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While large, it is not always the apex predator in its range, yielding to the jaguar, grey wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear. It is reclusive and usually avoids people. Fatal attacks on humans are rare, but have been trending upward in recent years as more people enter their territory.
Mountain lions range from 100 to 200 pounds and are from four to five feet in length. Although attacks upon humans by mountain lions are very rare, they have occurred in Southern California.
Avoiding Being Attacked
The general advice to avoid being attacked by a mountain lion is to travel in groups when hiking. If you encounter one by yourself or with children, stop and make yourself look as big as possible. Pick up small children and put them on your shoulders to make you appear even larger. Aggressively defend your position. The idea is to deter their attack by making them think that it isn't going to be easy for them. Pick up a rock or branch to help fight them if needed. Don't run away as this makes them think you are prey and may encourage an attack. If you encounter a mountain lion that acts aggressively toward you, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control at (626) 962-3577 immediately.
Coyotes are common in the foothill communities of Southern California. They are generally afraid of people and rarely attack humans. However, they do occasionally attack cats and small dogs.
Protecting Your Pets
Keeping Coyotes Away
- Don't keep pet food outdoors
- Always pick fruit from your trees as it ripens
- Never leave rotten fruit on the ground
- Keep trash can lids securely fastened
- Keep trash cans in your garage until collection day
- You may encounter deer in the foothills of Southern California.
- There are several good deer repellents that are available at garden or animal food stores.
- Deer are powerful animals and can pose a danger with their hooves and antlers.
- Never hand-feed a deer
For more information on living with deer, visit the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
- Pointed nose
- Bushy tail
- Reddish-brown coloring
- Fruit Birds
- Small mammals
- Unattended garbage
Most are gray, but some are black or brown Pink nose Black eyes Bluish-black ears Gray, hairless tail Pink / white feet and toes Adults range in length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh from four to 15 pounds.
They are not aggressive and flee when pursued. One of their common defenses is playing dead. The frightened animal rolls over, becomes limp, and shuts its eyes, coming back to life at the first opportunity to escape If you come across an opossum on your property or on hikes, leave it alone. It will go away when you vacate the area. If it appears sick and remains in your area for several hours, notify the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control at (626) 962-3577.
They have both urban and suburban habitats. Sometimes they get into basements, attics, sheds, and garages.
Parasites and Disease
Opossums are known to host parasites and spread diseases such as:
- Fungal diseases
- Bacterial diseases
- Viral diseases
If You See A Rattler
- Pet food (especially cat food)
- Unattended garbage
- Certain insects and grubs found commonly in lawns
- Open house vents
- Open garage doors