Wandering wildlife into city limits

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 7:06 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Cold winter weather is set to return on Thursday, which is sometimes when wildlife will wander into neighborhoods.

Shawn Schmidt and his brother recently took the picture below — it’s a coyote in a neighborhood in north Bismarck. Shawn said he’s lived in Bismarck his whole life and says he often sees wildlife near where he lives but thinks the city’s growing population simply makes sightings more frequent.

Coyote in a neighborhood in north Bismarck
Coyote in a neighborhood in north Bismarck(Shawn Schmidt)

“When I grew up on the south side of town, it was kind of considered rural, and now that area is not at all. But, with more people, you’re going to have more sightings, so I think it’s just numbers, statistical chance,” said Schmidt.

The blizzards we experienced in November and December were a harsh kick-off to winter. Wildlife at the time may have been prepared with extra fur or fat reserves, but now as temperatures go back below zero, they may be moving into neighborhoods to seek shelter, food or water. Those hoping to help by leaving out food for the deer and other animals may be doing more harm than good.

“The Game and Fish Department doesn’t recommend that you feed wild animals. It does a multitude of things. There’s a chance for disease transmission that you’re pulling them closer and closer together. You may actually be pulling more in than would normally be there,” said Casey Anderson, wildlife division chief for North Dakota Game and Fish.

Game and Fish says if animals are regularly coming in, it could point to a problem with their habitat landscape. Even though Schmidt says he sees animals regularly in his neighborhood and as he drives around town, the coyote he saw doesn’t concern him.

“I don’t think it’s anything I would worry about. I actually looked up the statistics of people that have been fatally harmed by a coyote. It’s only happened twice in history, so you’re 30 times more likely to die of a lightning strike, so it’s not anything I’m going to worry about,” said Schmidt.

From mountain lions to deer or moose, many neighborhoods in Bismarck and Mandan have had close encounters with wildlife. Game and Fish says the best thing you can do is let them find their way back to their habitat on their own.

Game and Fish said sometimes when too many animals are entering an area, it could mean the population has grown too large for the habitat.

Those wishing to help could consider donating to a wildlife conservation.