Wildlife in Westerville

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Animal Control receives a number of calls regarding wildlife in the community. The most common calls involve foxes, coyotes, geese, raccoons, and skunks. More information about these animals and ways to prevent them from nesting on your property are below.

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Foxes

There are two types of foxes that are common to the area. Red foxes can vary in color, some are beige and others are a deep red with black legs, and white cheeks. Silver foxes range in color from silver to a black mixture. An adult fox weighs between seven and fifteen pounds.

It is not uncommon to see foxes within the city limits especially during their breeding season which is from January- March. During the spring you can expect to see young fox pups around their den or learning to hunt with their parents. Many residents find these four legged creatures a little alarming but these animals are more afraid of you, than you should be of them.

Do not feed foxes; be mindful of items like bird seed, garbage, and fruit trees. Just like raccoons and opossums, any food that is left outside can attract a fox.Trim thick landscaping. Like other animals, foxes do not like to be seen and will use thick shrubbery and landscaping to conceal their location. Furthermore, the rodents that the fox preys on often live in thick shrubbery and by removing the thick or overgrown foliage, one removes their food source. Motion activated sprinklers or “Water Scarecrows” and shaker cans are both easy and humane methods of deterring animals from entering your yard. Seal off potential den sites. These areas include porches, decks, and sheds. If you happen to see a fox walking through your yard or neighborhood, do not be alarmed, it is probably just traveling to its hunting ground.It is unusual for foxes to go after dogs or cats. However, a fox may give chase in order to protect food and their young. Additionally, young foxes are naturally curious and there is a chance one could be seen napping or playing in your yard. Young foxes may also be brave and not run from you at first but they will eventually take off.

If you would like a fox to be removed from your property, you can contact a professional trapper who is licensed by the State of Ohio to trap and euthanize the fox. Foxes, once trapped are not allowed to be relocated.

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Coyotes

Can be found in all counties in Ohio, coyotes are highly adaptable animals and can be found in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Coyotes are often spotted by residents during the winter months due to the animals extending their hunting grounds and the lack of leaves in wooded areas.Coyotes tend to appear larger than they really are. The average coyote weighs approximately 35 lbs. and their large coat is what makes the animal look bigger. Coyotes typically eat small mammals (rabbits and mice) but they will forage through garbage cans, bird feeders, and any pet food that is left outdoors. Coyotes are shy creatures and because of that they are not known to attack humans. In fact, a human is more at risk of being attacked by a domesticated dog than a coyote.Coyotes are extremely territorial animals and will go after cats and dogs if they see them as a threat. It is recommended that you carry a spray bottle, walking stick, or umbrella when walking your dog in an area where you have seen or suspect a coyote’s presence. Furthermore, you should never have your dog off leash in the presence of a coyote.

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Deer

Deer are also found throughout the State of Ohio. These animals were once eradicated from the state due to over hunting, deforestation, and farming. With increased regulation on hunting and little to no predators, deer have since made a significant comeback, particularly in urban areas. In Westerville, deer are often seen in backyards, parks, and crossing roadways. If you happen to see a deer near a roadway, you should reduce your speed. Deer tend travel together and if one deer is spotted crossing the street, there is a high probability that other deer are in the area or near the road. Deer tend to mate during the fall and that is typically when there is increased activity around homes and roadways. Residents should never feed deer. Remember, these are wild animals and it is safer for the deer to fear humans.


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Geese

There are several ponds and waterways throughout Westerville. These beautiful ponds and waterways tend to attract a variety of waterfowl. Geese and ducks are probably seen the most in Westerville. Ducks are migratory and tend to move from one area to another. Geese on the other hand will build nest and stay for longer periods of time. Geese are very adaptable and can build nest very quickly.  A natural way to prevent geese from nesting involves the planting of trees and shrubs, furthermore, allowing tall plants to grow in or around ponds and waterways will also prevent geese from nesting. Geese will relocate if their ponds are frozen during the winter. Other techniques for preventing geese from nesting (March-June) and removing nested geese from your property involves the use of frightening items such as flags, balloons, scarecrows, and sprinklers. These items scare the geese and make them uncomfortable, these methods should be used in the spring before the geese start to nest. Please do not feed the geese when visiting parks. Feeding geese will reduce their fear of humans, feeding geese also increases their population and can overpopulate the area.

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Raccoons

Raccoons are highly adaptable creatures and will live in trees, under decks, inside of attics, chimneys and holes in the walls. Raccoons will always come back to a readily available source of food and that is why we should not feed them. Keep pet food and watering dishes inside of the home. Make sure your trash is inside of a locked container. Removing tree limbs that provide access to your roof is a good way of ensuring raccoons do not become your next roommate. Cover all vents on your home including your chimney. 

Raccoons are mainly active at night, however, if you see a raccoon during the daytime hours it may be sick. Raccoons carry distemper. Distemper is a contagious disease that can be spread through the air. Many animals can transmit and receive distemper, including, skunks, foxes, coyotes and domestic pets. Humans are not affected by this disease. A racoon or animal displaying signs of distemper will walk in circles, stumble/fall, and may have a thick fluid discharge in or around the eyes.

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Skunks

Skunks are often seen at night foraging for food. Insects, small fruits, plants, rodents, and food discarded or left out by humans are all part of a skunk’s diet. Skunks are typically seen or noticed between February and March during their mating season. While skunks may not see humans as a threat, they will use their defenses against dogs and cats. A skunk can spray your pet multiple times from approximately 10 feet with increased accuracy. If a skunk is near your property, it is recommended that you step out of the door prior to letting your pet out. Be sure to make lots of noise and flash your porch lights to notify animals that something is coming. If a skunk is around your property, we recommend using a leash for your dog. Skunks are attracted to pet food, bird seed, and trash that is  left outside. Skunks are known to make their home in crawl spaces, sheds, and under decks/porches near homes. Because skunks are looking for a warm or dry space to live, we recommend ensuring that these types of spaces are closed off to skunks and other forms of wildlife.


Interactive Wildlife Map


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