Forestry & Wildlife
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.— COVID-19 has altered nearly every aspect of day-to-day activity. Many changes to human habits were expected. However, many communities have experienced a surge in wildlife sightings as animals venture out in search of alternative food sources.
Rodent Sightings Surge
Urban areas, especially, have seen an increase in rodent sightings since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Less human presence due to lockdowns and social distancing has allowed rodents to move more freely,” according to Norm Haley, a forestry, wildlife and natural resources regional agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Quarantining, in addition to the closures of many restaurants and businesses have triggered a dip in the rodents’ normal food supply. These two factors led to an increase in rodent sightings, as well as aggressive behavior.
In order to take preventative measures, it is important to consider location and which wildlife species may be a cause for concern. Groups of raccoons, opossums or striped skunks that have become dependent on human food waste may turn to a yard or home due to restaurant closures.
“To help ensure these animals don’t become a problem, keep trash tightly sealed or only put out on the morning of pick-up,” Haley said. “Keep all pet food and bowls inside, as even the oils and grease left behind on an empty bowl will attract wildlife. Homeowners should also monitor the outside of their home for signs of wildlife presence or damage.”
Increase in Wildlife Sightings?
While reported rodent sightings have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Haley said many wildlife sightings are the result of humans having more time. The shift to working from home has allowed humans to see the coyotes, fox, deer and birds that typically appear after the work day begins.
“Many animals acclimate to human patterns and pressures,” Haley said.
So, as human patterns return to normal—wildlife patterns should, too.
For more information, visit Alabama Extension at www.aces.edu to learn more about protecting your home and yard against wildlife.
Additionally, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning about aggressive rats due to COVID-19.