Experts offer tips on protecting property from urban wildlife

The hot, wet summer and the ongoing construction around Mansfield have combined to create a perfect habitat for wooded animals. Experts from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the city’s own Environmental Services Department have advised the city that residents can take measures to protect themselves and their property.

In addition to mosquitoes that inhabit creeks and other standing water, wildlife ranging from mice and rats to snakes and raccoons are looking for food, water and shelter from the elements.

“While it’s great to see all the construction activity throughout the city, turning dirt often means displacing wildlife from their habitats,” said Howard Redfearn, environmental manager for the city. “One of the biggest impacts is along Highway 360. The area where the road is being constructed was home to several species of wildlife for many years. That wildlife is now looking a place to call home.”

There are measures homeowners can take to keep nature from invading their yards and homes says Sam Kieschnick, urban wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“First of all, it’s not a wise decision to leave out food for wild animals,” he says. “If folks are feeding outdoor cats or dogs, they need to make sure that they remove all uneaten food. Other critters will utilize those food sources.”

Kieschnick also suggests sealing garbage and trash cans. “Many wild animals are opportunists, so if there is leftover food or bits of food in the rubbish, a raccoon or opossum or rat would take that in a minute.”

Another important step is removing any possible habitat for wild animals. Homeowners should remove brush or wood piles or remove shrubs and thick vegetation.

Redfearn said many of these tips, including removing standing water from around homes and property, are also helpful in keeping mosquitoes at bay.

“All of these steps may not seem like much but they can have a significant impact,” Redfearn said.

Both Kieschnick and Redfearn say this year’s wet weather has meant plants have responded with lots of seeds and fruits. This causes a boom in the mice population and also a boom in the things that eat mice.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife has answered numerous calls about wildlife including bobcats and coyotes all around the Metroplex,” Kieschnick said. “I just tell folks to adjust some of their behavior – cleaning up garbage and not leaving food out – and the animals respond.”

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