Longtime residents of The Colony are no strangers to urban wildlife. The community boasts miles of shoreline along Lewisville Lake, with plenty of greenspace in between.
Many residents in Austin Ranch also live near Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. These conditions create numerous opportunities for humans and wildlife to cross paths. Fortunately, the City of The Colony boasts a well-prepared and highly-rated Animal Services Division that is here to help educate and assist the community when it comes to addressing urban wildlife issues.
Animal Services Manager Mark Cooper said his office has received numerous calls and emails in recent months from residents concerned about wildlife encounters in The Colony. Here’s his Q&A on the subject:
Q: What is urban wildlife? Here in The Colony, the majority of our wildlife issues consist of bobcats, coyotes and various hawks, owls and falcons. Since we have so much growth and new development within our city, including all the cities surrounding us, this has posed a serious concern for the wildlife being driven out of their natural environment. Our city in particular is a prime location for wildlife, because we have a lot of wooded area along with Lewisville Lake and in Austin Ranch near the nature preserve in Plano.
Q: What steps can residents take to protect their pets and homes from urban wildlife? The Colony Animal Services, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife, highly encourage people to NOT PANIC if they see a bobcat or coyote. These are two very skittish animals. They will simply run at the sight of humans or the slightest loud noise. If you have pets in your yard, it’s highly encouraged to use tools such as wind chimes around your home, or noise makers found at pet stores. These tools can deter wildlife from your yard. Also, please keep in mind: It is against city ordinance to allow pets to roam freely. If you have small pets, it’s best to be outside and present while they are outside.
Q: What should residents do if they encounter a bobcat or coyote? If you encounter a bobcat or coyote, again, don’t panic. These animals are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Just make a loud noise, such as clapping and yelling. They may not necessarily run away, but they will not come closer. If the animal does stand its ground and won’t scare off, you may be coming near its den. A protective mother will always stand her ground, but it is extremely rare for a coyote or bobcat to attack a human.
Q: What role does The Colony Animal Services play in managing urban wildlife? TCAS receives reports almost daily from residents pertaining to wildlife. Since there is little we can do to control the population and stop wildlife from coming into our neighborhoods, we simply educate our residents on the truth about bobcats and coyotes. These animals will NOT come into your yard and carry away your small child. In fact, they are very timid and can easily be scared away. Learning the behaviors of these animals is the key to understanding how to coexist with the wildlife population. Fear only makes matters worse.
Q: What resources are available for residents wishing to learn more about how to co-exist with wildlife in a suburban setting? We often reach out to Texas Parks & Wildlife or the DFW Wildlife Coalition as resources. Both are experts on the matter and list a lot of educational material on their websites (linked above). You may also contact the latter by calling 972-234-WILD.
For more information about urban wildlife in The Colony, visit the city’s website or contact The Colony Animal Services at 972-370-9250. The Animal Shelter is at 4720 East Lake Highlands Drive.