By Cathy Hamilton-Wissmer, Directorate of Public WorksJune 25, 2018
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to many native species including coyotes, raccoons and black bears. Some wildlife species are potentially dangerous or can cause problems, especially as Washington's human population expands into traditional habitat.
The three top reasons for wildlife conflicts are:
- Bird seed
- Pet food
Family housing residents are encouraged to avoid leaving food - including dirty barbecue grills, trash cans, pet food and bird feeders -- outdoors overnight to discourage bears, raccoons, coyotes and other wildlife from entering housing areas.
Do not pet wildlife. A wild animal can inflict serious wounds or cause rabies, so its best to admire from afar.
Prevention is the best tool for minimizing conflicts with coyotes and other wildlife. Be sure and feed dogs and cats indoors.
Don't leave small children unattended where coyotes are frequently seen or heard. If there are coyote sightings in your area, prepare your children for a possible encounter by explaining the reasons why coyotes live there: habitat, food source and species adaptability. Also talk to kids about what they should do if one approaches them: don't run, be as big, mean and loud as possible.
By shouting "go away coyote" when they encounter one, children will inform nearby adults of the coyote's presence.
Personnel utilizing wilderness training areas are encouraged to familiarize themselves with black bear behavior and take appropriate precautions. Visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for black bear information and tips: wdfw.wa.gov.
Coyotes are curious but timid animals and will generally run away if challenged. Sightings of coyotes are most likely during the hours just after sunset and before sunrise; however, remember that any wild animal will protect itself or its young. Never instigate a close encounter.
A raccoon can be a nuisance. Feeding those cute faces can lead to undesirable situations for you, your children, neighbors and pets and the raccoons themselves. If a raccoon ever approaches too closely, make yourself appear larger to scare it off. Do not corner a raccoon, thereby forcing it to defend itself.
Black bears are native to wooded areas of western Washington and typically avoid human contact. They can attack defensively if surprised by humans or pets.
Bears that seek out human interaction due to accessible food scraps, trash, bird or pet food dispensers are a particular danger. If you encounter a bear in a populated area of JBLM, contact Military Police dispatch at 253-967-7112 or 253-967-7113.