Yard irrigation and wildlife | Living the Country Life

Yard irrigation and wildlife

When water is scarce, your yard might be an oasis
Photo courtesy of Alabama Cooperative Extension

When the weather’s hot and dry for an extended time, many of us have irrigation systems to keep everything growing. The water is good for the plants, and it can also attract wildlife looking for food and drink.

Terry Messmer is an Extension wildlife specialist at Utah State University. He says anything that holds water during a dry spell sets the food chain in motion.

"In most cases a lot of the animals you might have come in are animals that are fairly innocuous, that you don’t really consider to be posing a harm or a threat," he says. "But in some cases, those animals that you attract to these areas also can provide prey sources for much larger species such as cougars, coyotes, and things along that line which will prey on them regularly."

Messmer says in times of drought, even urban areas are starting to see an increase in large predators, which can result in more conflicts between humans and wildlife. Depending on your situation and location, he says a lot of this can be mitigated. Fences, for example, will limit the critter activity. However, you also need to be aware of what’s going on around you.

"If there’s situations where the natural habitats are starting to dry out and you’re starting to see some concentrations of animals move in, just be wary about it," says Messmer. "If you’ve got an animal that does enter your yard, particularly a large animal, we talk about these large carnivores, don’t try to chase them out yourself. What you need to do is contact the proper authorities, the state game and fish departments, the local animal control."

This doesn’t mean you have to stop irrigating the area, but Messmer says to be conscious about how much water you’re using.

Tips for coexisting with wildlife in the neighborhood

Learn more about the impacts of drought on wildlife

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