Wildlife Response

Wildlife Response

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Public Safety has responded to multiple calls from concerned students and staff regarding suspicious wildlife activity. This suspicious activity has consisted of animals, which are normally nocturnal, such as raccoons and skunks, whom make appearances during daylight hours.

Public Safety has also received several reports of juvenile wildlife, such as coyotes, around areas that are populated with humans. Keep in mind that nocturnal animals that suddenly become daylight dwellers are not necessarily sick or injured. These animals may be looking for food (most are very opportunistic hunters) for themselves or their young, especially in spring or early summer.

Sometimes these animals are simply moving from one place to another. Sick animals can be identified by staggering, falling over, biting at the air, having a seizure or walking in circles. There may even be a large presence of flies buzzing around the animal.

Avoid contact with wild or stray animals. Report animals behaving suspiciously to Public Safety or the Willamette Wildlife Rescue. Never attempt to feed, pet, or handle wild animals or strays.

There have been several wild animals in the Lane County area, recently (Oct 2014), who have tested positive for Rabies. Given our general wooded locale and frequency of wildlife on campus, it's important for individuals to be on the look out for affected animals.

The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

Symptoms in animals, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability, aggressiveness, disorientation and excessive salivating. Reports of erratic or unusual behavior in wildlife should be made to the State Department of Fish and Wildlife's toll-free hotline at (866)-968-2600.  Individuals are also encouraged to contact the Public Safety emergency line at (541)-463-5555. 

If you are bitten, scratched, or think you have been exposed to rabies, wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and warm water and contact your doctor or emergency clinic immediately. If possible, without further risk of exposure, capture or destroy the wild animal without damaging its head, and immediately report the incident to the local police or animal control officer. Note that treatment for rabies exposure is highly effective if administered promptly and consists of a series of six relatively painless injections.

Public Safety has also received numerous reports of unusual wildlife sightings, including several mountain lion (cougar) and, in one instance, a black bear.

Inherently shy creatures, cougars tend to be solitary animals and avoid being in proximity to humans, with few exceptions. In fact, it's rare to even catch a glimpse of one of these big cats in the wild. The mere presence of a mountain lion in a particular area does not necessarily mean that humans are in any kind of danger.

According to wildlife experts of Glacier Park in California, curious behavior by these big cats would include maintaining a distance of 50 yards away or greater, following, without trying to hide, frequent changes in position, but never to a crouching position and simple observation.
Aggressive cougar behavior would include stalking, hiding, "creeping" and crouching.
It's extremely rare for a person to see a mountain lion prior to begin attacked, with the exception of attacks involving children or pets.

If you see a predator animal on or near campus... Contact Public Safety immediately at (541) 463-5555. Be prepared to give the call taker a precise location where you saw the animal, a brief description and its last direction of travel.

Cougar in a field

Attacks by cougars and bears are extremely rare in this area, but there are steps you can take to help deter an attack or increase your chances of survival.

If you encounter an aggressive mountain lion, Find a weapon - Grab a rock or stick, take out a knife -- anything that you can use to defend yourself in the event of an attack.

1. Stand your ground - Running triggers a predatory response in the mountain lion and it will attack you.

2. Maintain eye contact - It shows you are knowledgeable of its presence and willing to challenge the mountain lion's aggression.

3. Make yourself larger - Pick your jacket over your head, wave your arms, group together with other members of your party.

If a mountain lion does attack you, fight back. Use anything at your disposal and go for its neck. Stab, smash, punch--whatever you do, do not lay still and fake death.

To avoid black bears in the wild:
• Avoid trails with bear tracks or bear signs
• Make noise when hiking to avoid "sneaking up" on a bear
• If you see a bear, leave the area immediately
• Stay far away from cubs; the mother is nearby, and bears tend to be extremely protective of their young
• Keep dogs on leash. Loose dogs may lead a bear back to you
• Don't hike after dark
• Consider carrying bear spray in areas known to be frequented by bears.

Black bears are generally shy creatures and tend to move away from humans rather than be in close proximity. They hibernate in winter, so should not be active during those months.

If you see wildlife acting ill or in a suspicious manner, please contact Public Safety immediately
at (541) 463-5555, or, if off campus, contact Willamette Wildlife Rescue at (541) 485-8440.