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Wildlife near homes signals need for caution

Foxes. Deer. And bears. Oh my!

Anybody living in this region should not be surprised by the abundance of wildlife in Penn’s Woods — nor should they be surprised by an unexpected visitor that may show up in just about any neighborhood.

The occasional skunk or opossum that may get into a standoff with a pet dog in the backyard.

Deer roaming Hollywood Boulevard at night.

A mother bear and two cubs traipsing through a South Williamsport neighborhood.

And, recently, a gray fox that bit a Loyalsock Township woman one afternoon as she took her dog outside.

Fortunately for the woman, her husband was nearby and able to defend her against the wild animal with some sort of hammer. Of course, the concern then is rabies, frequently carried by wildlife. The state Game Commission collected the dead fox’s body and sent it for testing. We wish the woman, who has not been identified, well.

This incident serves as a reminder to be alert to the potential for human-wildlife encounters, and not only when taking a hike through the woods. Around here, bears have been known to come into close contact with residential properties, often because they are looking for a food source.

The Game Commission suggests removing anything that wildlife considers a food source from around a home. This could include bird feeders, grills that have not been burned off, compost and small livestock such as chickens, even just one or two.

The more often wildlife comes into contact with human activity, the more comfortable they become and less fearful of humans. Limiting the congregation of bears will help keep them wild.

And it just may help keep your loved ones safe.

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