Wildlife visits local neighborhoods

Residents experience increase in critter sightings

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Freshman Elena Yan spotted a bobcat while walking home along Doubletree Road, across the street from Medea Creek Middle School.

“My first instinct was to stand still and record it because I’ve never really seen anything like this before,” Yan said. “It was a small and spotted cat and it just ran in front of me, so I didn’t really pay much attention to it at first.”

Ventura County residents are seeing a surge in wild animals roaming around residential neighborhoods after the recent Woolsey and Hill fires.

According to Matt Kouba, Park Superintendent for the Conejo Recreation and Parks District, there are two main reasons why residents may spot more wildlife.

“First, due to the recent brush fires, it has become easier to see them as a lot of trees and grass burned down,” Kouba said. “Second, they’re looking for food and are willing to come out further into our lands.”

Two bobcats had a run-in with junior Alina Tong as she walked to school.

“I was distracted while walking, so I heard them first, and at first, I just thought they sounded like dogs barking,” Tong said. “However, when I looked closer, they appeared to be bobcats instead. It’s not necessarily something that I would want to happen to me again as it was a bit scary too.”

Freshman Sara Tsai discovered a raccoon in the backyard of her Oak Park home.

“It appeared in between a couple of bushes in our garden,” Tsai said. “I’ve never seen a raccoon get so close to my house.”

Tsai continued to see the raccoon for the next couple of days.

“It disappeared the next day when I went to check on it, but then it returned soon afterward,” Tsai said. “It comes and goes as it pleases.”

Due to the recent fires, food supplies have run short for many native creatures.

“Typically, animals would be hiding and using the cover to move around, but once it’s wide open the animals are emboldened to be walking around,” Kouba said. “They’re pretty desperate.”

According to Kouba, the area is experiencing a rise in deer, bobcat and coyote sightings.

“It’s important to remember that animals don’t want to mess with you, so stay away from them and let them have their life,” Kouba said.

Some wildlife, such as coyotes, can also be a threat to pets.

“Always keep your pets on a leash when you’re out,” Kouba said. “This ensures both your pet’s safety and your safety.”

While many residents may feel the urge to call animal control or wildlife services, Kouba advises against it.

“There’s not really a need to call animal services, unless the animal is injured or in danger,” Kouba said. “Usually they leave quickly.”

Kouba said that the trend is likely to end soon, so residents should make the most of it.

“Enjoy the moment because it’s not very common to see animals up close,” Kouba said. “This year, the hills are greener than before, so soon the critters will have food again and disappear.”

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