Coexist with furry critters

The directions in the daily paper recently for dealing with an aggressive coyote had been reassuring. Not long afterward, my neighbor across the back told me that her husband had seen one when he came home from his night shift at 2 a.m. A week later she reported seeing it herself in the daytime.

The only one I had seen before that was in a Los Angeles campsite, where other campers had fed it. I might have taken it for a dog if they had not assured me that it was a coyote.

Mistaking one for a dog is understandable, but trying to befriend it or feed it should be avoided. Not that I would think of feeding a strange dog, for that matter.

A coyote finally appeared in my own backyard a few weeks ago, looking like a medium-sized tan-colored dog, in very good shape. For some reason I had expected it to look mangy. Unfortunately, it disappeared before I could get my camera. Maybe next time.

It seems that foxes are also appearing in suburban communities, where they find that living close to humans helps them avoid confrontations with other predators, especially coyotes, according to an article in the latest issue of National Wildlife.

Six ways are listed there for keeping neighborhoods healthy for coyotes and humans, which should help foxes as well:

Do not feed wild animals by hand or by accidentally leaving lids on garbage cans open.

Clean up bird seed around bird feeders and do not feed pets outdoors.

Do not fear wild animals you see in the daytime; observe at a distance.

Block off access to spaces under decks and porches to discourage an animal setting up a den. If you do discover an animal den nearby, keep children and pets away from it.

Protect poultry with a secure coop surrounded by fencing that extends at least a foot below ground.

Avoid use of rodent poisons, which put other wild animals at risk.

Following these directions should make for a peaceful and healthy coexistence with wild furry friends.

Byrna Porter Weir was born and grew up in Houlton, where her parents, Ina and Porter, were portrait photographers. She now lives in Rochester, N.Y.

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