Butte County Animal Control receives calls for service involving sick, injured, dead, rabies-suspected, trapped, or threatening wildlife. While Butte County Animal Control handles many of these calls, some of the callers are referred to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or the County USDA Trapper. Residents in Butte County coexist with a myriad of wildlife, including bats, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, opossums, deer, skunks, snakes, mountain lions, coyotes, and bears. Additionally, as the gray wolf has been recently rediscovered in northern California, there have been questions and unconfirmed sightings in Butte County.
Zoonotic disease monitoring (primarily rabies) is another function of Butte County Animal Control. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Regardless of whether you are an animal owner or not, everyone should have a basic understanding of how certain diseases are transmitted from animals to humans, which occurs in a variety of ways.
Common zoonotic diseases include rabies, west Nile virus, leptospirosis, salmonella, e. coli, mad cow, Newcastle, mange, and psittacosis. California Department of Public Health has declared the state of California, including Butte County, a rabies-endemic area. West Nile virus has also been confirmed in animals and humans in our area.
View tips for living with small wild animals (PDF), including raccoons, opossums and skunks.
Living with Snakes
Snakes hold a very important place in our environment and help to keep the rodent population at an acceptable level. Nonvenomous snakes you may find in Butte County are king snakes, gopher snakes, striped racer snakes, and garter snakes. The only venomous snake found in Butte County is the Rattle Snake.
Nonvenomous snakes should not be discouraged from living in your yard. Rattlesnakes can be a hazard around your home and outbuildings, especially if you or a pet or child inadvertently disturb one; however, they too are part of the environment. Rattlesnake vaccines for your dog are available through your vet. Local dog training is also available, wherein your dog learns not to interact with rattlesnakes.
Snakes are attracted to their prey. Occasionally, snakes enter homes, usually because of the presence of rodents. Keep rodent populations under control to limit attraction to snakes. Homes with small openings in foundations, walls, steps, porches, and ground-level vents attract not only rodents but snakes. Plug these holes and openings.
Overgrown grassy or weedy areas and outbuildings provide hiding places for snakes. Keep weeds mowed down and clutter under control inside and outside of outbuildings.
Living with Deer
Open areas surrounded by houses are common places for a small herd of deer. They adapt easily to small patches of wilderness in urban areas. Most problems with deer occur when they wander into roadways or graze on residential fruit trees, roses and vegetable gardens.
Adult deer can easily spring over a six-foot fence. If you have deer near your property, an eight-foot fence is recommended to keep them out of your yard. Make sure to check with your local building/planning office for fence height ordinances. To protect foliage and produce, you can individually fence off plants, trees, or garden areas. Another option is to research shrubs and trees that are unattractive to deer.
Deer appear harmless, but a buck in a rut or a doe with a new fawn can be aggressive to people and pets that are trying to interact with them. Deer antlers and hooves are very sharp. It's best to observe them from your window and resist approaching them.
It is illegal to feed wild deer in California, so do not provide them with treats.
Report an Injured Deer
Report any deer that has been hit by a car and cannot get up or has been caught in a fence or otherwise trapped. If the deer can walk on its own, even on three legs, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends not to intervene with it. Often, a deer hit by a car will lie quietly for a while, then get up and move on.
Finally, a deer is a prey animal and a deceased deer can provide several meals for other wild critters, such as buzzards, coyotes and opossums. You can report a dead deer to Butte County Animal Control, particularly if it is in a roadway, but always consider leaving a deer carcass where it fell to continue the circle of life.
Living with Coyotes
Coyotes frequent the plains and foothills in Butte County. They are dog-like mammals that have adapted well to living within human habitats.
Coyotes hunt and scavenge for their food. They will consume fish and meat, reptiles, rodents, and insects. They can also eat vegetables, grains and fruits. Coyotes have been known to go through garbage bins and cans, so keep lids secure. Coyotes are active day and night.
Coyotes have been known to hunt livestock, especially smaller livestock and poultry. To protect your livestock, they should be fenced in to keep coyotes out.
Small pets can also fall prey to coyotes and should have a safe area to shelter in, especially at night. Pet bowls should be removed promptly after feeding.
Injured, ill or deceased coyotes can be reported to Butte County Animal Control.
Nuisance coyotes can be reported to Butte County trapper at 530-552-4100.
Living with Mountain Lions
Mountain lions inhabit the mountains, foothills and valleys of Butte County. They are reclusive and not often seen by people.
Occasionally, mountain lions wander into urban areas of Butte County. Mountain lions prefer to hunt and eat deer, amongst other wild prey. Like most predators, if given the opportunity, mountain lions will hunt livestock and pets. If you live in a rural area within mountain lion territory, take precautions to secure your animals, especially at night. Goats and sheep can be particularly susceptible to a mountain lion attack. Keeping small livestock inside a secure outbuilding at night is a good way to protect them from mountain lions.
Nuisance mountain lions should be reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.