What are urban wildlife?
“Urban wildlife” include animals that utilize human-dominated ecosystems.
An urban environment exerts novel selective pressures on wildlife species due to habitat modification, natural habitat loss and fragmentation, and the surrounding human population. As we develop the land, we contribute to changes in food, water, shelter, and space for wildlife that occupy these areas.
Urban wildlife species will vary in their use and exploitation of developed areas. Some wildlife species respond well to urbanization and can thrive in human-modified landscapes. Others may avoid urban areas, but occasionally may find themselves in contact with people when attempting to disperse or migrate.
Wildlife that are successful in urban areas have many characteristics in common: a diverse diet, are highly opportunistic and may utilize human food sources, may have a higher tolerance of disturbance and are often strong competitors.
What are some of the most common wildlife living in Fairfax County?
Why manage wildlife in Fairfax County?
A carrying capacity does exist and determines the maximum number of animals a habitat or geographic area can support without damage to the environment.
It is the responsibility of wildlife managers, natural resource managers and environmental stewards, to preserve wildlife and to protect remnant natural habitats in all ways possible.
It is a chosen responsibility to address Human Health & Public Safety issues, mitigate wildlife conflicts, and protect property from actual and potential damage.
What is successful wildlife management?
Effective wildlife management resolves wildlife conflicts with the most comprehensive management techniques available to include the following methods, when possible:
- Humane exclusion & Repellency
- Population control
- Habitat modification
- Conservation & Research
A comprehensive approach to managing a wildlife conflict must strictly adhere to all federal and state laws, regulations and county ordinances.
Basic knowledge of the species ecology and behavior is necessary for successful wildlife management. A general understanding of what, why, and how resources are being used by wildlife is critical. Unless the resource attracting the wildlife has been identified (e.g. food or water source, den site or burrow) and modified or removed, the wildlife conflict will not be resolved.
Exploring humane long-term exclusion and repellency options should be the first step towards resolving most wildlife conflicts on private property:
- Non-lethal exclusion and repellency methods
- Wildlife exclusion and repellency tips
- Wildlife damage management
Lethal control methods should generally be considered a last resort for effective, long-term wildlife management.Lethal methods are appropriate as a first step or primary approach if there is risk to public safety or human health; significant or irreversible environmental damage; significant economic impact and/or permanent damage to property. All lethal methods should be carefully researched to determine what the most appropriate method is depending on species and wildlife conflict:
For more information about native wildlife and wildlife management please contact the Fairfax County Wildlife Management Specialist, Dr. Katherine Edwards at (703)-246-6868.
For information on managing wildlife interactions and resolving human-wildlife conflicts, the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline is available toll-free at (855) 571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday. This helpline is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services.