Resources for Living with Desert Wildlife
We often hear from folks looking for help or information about desert wildlife, injured animals, rescuing cactus, and other questions or issues that arise from living in the desert. There are many groups that are experts on these different topics. Here is a list of helpful local resources:
- Wildlife rescue, rehab, and release:
- Contact the Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-9453 (520-290-WILD) with wildlife questions or emergencies in southern Arizona. Wildlife hospital open 24/7.
- For bobcats, birds of prey, and medium to large mammals in Oro Valley: Contact Kathie Schroeder at 520-825-1076 during daytime hours.
- Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation located in Phoenix, AZ provides statewide assistance. Contact Kathryn Orr at 480-998-5550, 7am-9pm.
- If the sick or injured animal is a large game animal, such as a deer, javelina, mountain lion, or bear, or a potential danger to handlers, such as a coyote or large bird, call the closest Arizona Game and Fish Department office (Tucson office at 520-628-5376) or Radio Dispatch at 623-236-7201.
- For concerns about young hummingbirds, in or out of nests statewide, call Noreen Geyer-Kordosky at 520 240-2686. Noreen also offers a free PowerPoint program “Hummingbirds: Natural History” for both children (4th-12th grade) and adults (60-90 minute including time for questions) in the Tucson area. To schedule a presentation, email Noreen at email@example.com.
- Learn more about wildlife with rabies and rabies occurrences in Arizona. If you have been bitten or scratched, or had contact with an animal, wash the wound or area well with soap and water, and report it immediately to animal control or health officials.
- It is usually best to leave injured or orphaned animals where they are, not to handle them, and to call an expert first.
- Before you assume an animal is in trouble, wait and watch: young animals are often left alone for hours at a time while their parents gather food. Baby birds learning to leave the nest may be on the ground but are still being cared for by their parents.
- Wondering what to do? Here are answers to more frequently asked questions: https://tucsonwildlife.com/rescue-faq/
- Report roadkill sightings here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/csdp-safe-passages. You may need to create an iNaturalist account first. Reports can be made from your computer or using the phone app. It is helpful to know exactly where, when, and what you saw. Photos are also useful. These reports are used to monitor wildlife movement corridors and identify wildlife crossing needs.
- Arizona Department of Transportation will do regular roadkill clean-up on federal highways. For a fee, Desert Wildlife Services at 520-743-1411 in Tucson provides dead animal, departed pet, and roadkill removal services for situations when the county will not come out or when delays in pickup time are not an option.
- Check with the Southern Arizona Beekeepers Association who maintains a list of Beekeepers or hobbyist beekeepers who can remove swarms or established hives. You can also contact American Bee Control at 520-780-1831. Some beekeepers will be able to safely relocate the bees to their own bee farm. Expect to pay a reasonable fee.
- When bees are swarming (flying or landing in a large clump or group) it can be alarming, but they are usually not aggressive during this time. Call someone experienced in the removal and relocation of honeybees as they need to be dealt with in very specific ways to ensure safety.
- Learn more about Honeybee Safety and Africanization.
- Contact Mr. Packrat at 520-529-9191 or visit his website at https://mrpackrat.net/ for humane rodent and packrat nest prevention and removal in the Tucson area.
- Please avoid using rodenticides (rat poison) as this goes up the food chain and secondary poisoning harms and kills hawks, owls, pet cats and dogs, bobcats, coyotes, and other wildlife. Rodenticides are one of the causes of mange in coyotes.
- Rattlesnake relocation or removal can be done by your local fire department. In the Tucson area you can also contact Desert Wildlife Services at 520-743-1411. They can also help with habitat modifications and site inspections for snakes.
- Snake avoidance training for your dog is a great investment in the desert. Several places offer this service, including the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Desert Wildlife Services, Animal Experts, Inc., and Building Bonds Training. Check to see which services provide at-home training, and shock-free training, if that is your preference. A Google search may find you additional resources.
- Learn how Arizona Game and Fish Department is responding to drought for wildlife at https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/drought-and-wildlife-in-arizona/.
- Learn how to identify and live with mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, javelina, bears, bats, woodpeckers, and raptors.
- Except for birds and tree squirrels, feeding wildlife is against the law. Unlawful feeding of wildlife is defined as “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly feeding, attracting or otherwise enticing wildlife into an area.” Check your local HOA laws for other or more specific restrictions. Some places interpret this to include putting out water for wildlife.
- Contact the local Arizona Game and Fish Warden about habituated or problem wildlife, hunting laws, or other wildlife questions. Call AZGFD Radio Dispatch at 623-236-7201.
- To report a Game or Fish violation call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.
- Learn more about Wildlife Friendly Guidelines, including fencing.
- Concerned that a bobcat, coyote, or hawk will hurt your pet? Here is what the experts say:
The Tucson Wildlife Center says, “Bobcats generally tend to leave pets alone unless they feel threatened or cornered, but coyotes are opportunistic and can attack and seriously injure or kill a cat or small dog for a meal, though this isn’t common. This is one great reason to keep your cats indoors and to keep an eye on your dogs at all times when outdoors. You can scare these predators away with loud noises or sprays from a water hose.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department says, “Supervise small pets at all times when outside. Pets most likely to be endangered by coyotes are typically off-leash or smaller than 25 pounds. If you see a coyote when walking your dog, let the coyote know you are there. Either gather your dog in your arms or keep it as close to you as possible, while also using deterrents. Move toward an area of human activity. Keep cats indoors or in a secure outdoor enclosure to protect them from coyotes, other wildlife (owls, hawks, etc.) and from cars, domestic dogs and disease.”
Dr. Bill Mannan with the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona says, “Supervise your pets when they are outdoors and do not let them roam freely—they may end up as a meal for coyotes, hawks, owls, bobcats, and other predators, or come into conflict with javelina and skunks.”