KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
April 21, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Spring weather, Earth Week, and the need for fresh air during the pandemic are encouraging Katy residents to venture outside of their homes. Yesterday, local parks, including outdoor Katy ISD fields and playgrounds, reopened to the public. However, locals need to remember that Katy’s many four-legged residents need to explore too, but they might not understand social distancing.
Photo courtesy Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal.
Katy residents share their neighborhoods with many wild critters.
“We try to educate people on the urbanization of wildlife so that people can appreciate these animals, stay safe, and avoid unwanted confrontation,” says Chris Williams with Urban Jungle Wildlife Removal. The group is known to remove and help local residents with a wide range of animal issues.
The greater Houston area has 34 different kinds of snakes. Of that number, about four are venomous and considered aggressive. However, any animal bite can result in serious infection and injury even without venom. If you see a snake, leave it alone unless it seems to pose an immediate threat. In that case call Animal Control.
“The best way to ward off unwanted animals is to control what they eat,” says Williams. “To avoid snakes, spray for bugs to ward off lizards, control rat and rodent population. Everyone has them but if you control the food source you’ll avoid those types of predators.”
Snake encounters in Katy are common especially as temperatures rise and families spend more time outdoors in the summer months. It's wise to know the local venomous snakes so added caution can be taken.
There have been many sightings of Katy gators in bayous and ponds over the years, but no reports of attacks. With Katy's growing population, gators and humans may cross paths more than they have in past years so awareness is important.
Katy's Sally Waterfield shared the video she shot with Katy Magazine of a gator that ventured into Cinco Ranch last weekend.
"A lonely alligator fed up of quarantining ventured in to our neighborhood," says Waterfield. "90 minutes later and it was captured!"
A Fort Bend County Constable assisted in the safe capture.
o Cinco Ranch last weekend.
"Most Texans in 'gator country' will live in close proximity to these native reptiles with no confrontations," according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Residents should take care when walking dogs near creeks and lakes as they could be seen as pray.
The TPWD says if the alligator is not bothering people or posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible - even up to a week - before contacting them. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find a new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.
If the gator is a nuisance, such as seen to be approaching people or is an obvious threat, the TPWD advises to call the law enforcement communications center at (713) 779-8977.
Lots of Mammals
Reptiles aren’t the only animals Katy residents need to be aware of. Katy has raccoons, foxes, hogs, and more.
“People don’t always realize the types of wildlife that are all around us in this area,” says Constable Wayne Thompson. “Yes, we have alligators, snakes, deer, fox, and in this case, a bobcat.”
Photo credit: Constable Wayne Thompson.
This past year, the Katy area has seen a rise of coyote encounters and Katy pets have reportedly been killed by these predators.
Larger wildlife such as deer and hogs pose a different threat than snakes and gators. Larger animals pose a problem on the roads.
"Drivers should me mindful of this when driving by wooded areas during periods of flood," says Major Chad Norvell with Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s Baby Season
Springtime brings about a lot of baby animals. They are cute but can come with problems to your home.
“Raccoons can be very aggressive this time of year because of breeding season,” warns Williams. “They are also very smart and destructive to homes.”
“After the trash guys left I went to drag up my cans and got a surprise,” says Courtney Lane from Katy’s Nottingham Country about her critter encounter.
Wild Rabbits Best To Be Left Alone
Each year, rabbits deliver litters of bunnies. Their nests are often found in backyards and care should be taken when mowing or raking to avoid injuring baby wild rabbits. If found, these rabbits should be left alone.
“Baby rabbits leave the nest when they're three weeks old and about the size of a chipmunk,” states the Humane Society’s website. “If you find a chipmunk-sized but fully-furred rabbit with eyes open, ears erect, and the ability to hop, they are meant to be on their own. As small and helpless as they may look, they are not an orphan and don't need your help.”
Wild rabbits that are truly orphaned are extremely difficult to wean and care for. If they survive, the Humane Society recommends turning them over to a vet or rehabilitation group to be released.
The best practice when encountering local wildlife, especially if they are stressed from inclement weather is to leave them alone. It's also important to educate and teach children how to stay safe around wildlife.
Always supervise children when they are playing outside.
Do not let children play in flooded rainwater. This water is dirty and dangers such as snakes, gators, and bugs can be hiding in it.
Teach children about dangerous wildlife and tell them to always notify an adult when they spot a creature that could be harmful.
Do not touch a wild animal.
In most cases, displaced wildlife are more afraid of us than we are them. Take caution and if you need assistance call your local animal control or a professional.
Harris County 281-999-3191
Fort Bend County 281-342-1512
Waller County 979-826-8033