Wildlife helpline to assist with critter conflicts

WASHINGTON – There are more and more stories of coyote sightings in the area. But it’s not just coyotes; it’s bears, raccoons and other wildlife as well.

Now there’s a new helpline to turn to if you’re having issues with wild critters, especially when they end up in your own backyard.

Lee Walker, the outreach director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, says the volume of calls to the department asking how to deal with encroaching critters is the reason behind the helpline.

“The number of calls over the last 20 years have skyrocketed,” he says.

Walker says more and more people are living in what used to be rural areas but have been turned into a suburban areas, and the animals are being pushed out. He says that the state’s human population has grown 28 percent over the last 20 years.

“Wildlife in Virginia is really resilient, and they are able to adapt to a lot of settings now that include people,” Walker says, adding that Virginia is not alone in having problems dealing with human-wildlife interactions.

He says some simple tips and techniques can lessen the human-wildlife conflicts and hopefully keep them from recurring.

The helpline is a joint effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services. The toll-free helpline hours are 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday) at 855-571-9003.

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