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Drought conditions linger, wildlife may become dangerous

By Sun Advocate

A 31-year-old Layton man died on June 3 after being bitten by what may have been a small rattlesnake in a yard in west Layton.
Rattlesnake bites in Utah are rare and deaths from rattlesnake bites are extremely rare.
There have been four known rattlesnake fatalities in Utah, two during the 1930s, one during the 1970s and one during the 1980s.
As the drought continues in Utah, Division of Wildlife Resources officials have noticed an increase in reports of wildlife coming down from the mountains to find water and food.
In some cases, wildlife are finding good habitat cover in overgrown yards and junk piles.
Homeowners are encouraged to be aware of the wildlife that are in their area and that might be attracted to their yards.
In most cases, people purposely attract wildlife, especially birds, to their yards. This is positive and enjoyable for property owners and is also beneficial for the birds. However, there are some cases when wildlife can create a public safety threat. In all cases, people are reminded that wildlife can be dangerous.
DWR conservation officer, Larry Davis has handled urban wildlife situations for decades and offers some sound advise for dealing with urban wildlife.
“Whether it’s a dry year or not, people are going to have wildlife in their yards. Animals are going to wander through, whether it’s a raccoon, a moose or a cougar,” Davis advises.
“Whether it’s a squirrel, bird or whatever, the first thing we tell people is to leave them alone. Let them go their way and the resident should go their way,” continued Davis.
“Utah residents may even stand back at a safe distance and watch the wildlife, observe, look at and enjoy them. If it’s a large animal, or an animal that presents some type of a public safety problem, such as a rattlesnake, moose or cougar, please give the division a call or call a local police department who’ll notify the DWR and we’ll relocate it to suitable habitat.”
Those recreating in the Uintas this year are reminded that the area is frequented by black bears.
The drought and habitat loss from last year’s forest fires may affect bear movements in Utah mountains this year.
Campers are encouraged to follow the preventative measures that are posted at all the campgrounds in the Uintas.
Anglers, hikers and campers are also reminded to pay attention to cool, grassy areas along stream sides that rattlesnakes may visit for relief from the hot, dry summer weather.
With a little bit of caution, Utah residents can prevent serious injury during the hot summer months.

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