Wildlife in the White Mountains

Living With Wildlife

People who live in or visit Arizona can expect to see many species of wildlife. More and more often though, wild animals are venturing into areas where people live. Sometimes the wildlife becomes a problem, either by hammering on the side of the house, digging a den under the front porch, or eating all of your brand new landscaping plants. You can usually enjoy wildlife watching from a distance, but sometimes wildlife encounters involve conflict.

Preventing problems with wildlife is much simpler and less aggravating than dealing with the problems after they occur. Fortunately, taking a few simple steps can help you prevent many of the most common wildlife-related problems around your home. A number of proven methods can be used to solve the problem when it cannot be prevented. These web pages were developed to provide residents of Arizona with information about how to coexist with Arizona’s wildlife, especially in urban areas.


Description and Habits

Ursus americanus

The black bear is the only bear species still found in Arizona. It is the smallest and most widely distributed North American bear. It lives in most forest, woodland and chaparral habitats, and desert riparian areas. Black bears generally roam an area of 7 to 15 square miles.


Fur color varies, including black, brown, cinnamon, and dark blond
Weighs 125-400 pounds with males being larger than females
3 to 3 ½ feet tall when on all four feet
4 ½ to 6 ¼ feet long
Short, inconspicuous tail
Produces two to three cubs in January or or early February
Lives up to 25 years in the wild
Most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular)
Eats primarily acorns, berries, insects and cactus fruits

Signs of activity include large tracks with claw marks (the hind print is somewhat like a human’s footprint), somewhat round droppings, digging, large overturned rocks and logs, and garbage from dumpsters or cans scattered good distances
Threatened or stressed adults will make sounds, including woofing, hissing, popping of teeth and grunting
Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets
Conflicts associated with black bears include public safety concerns and possible property damage. Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage or bird feeders. They raid dumpsters, garbage cans and grills looking for an easy meal. They might enter a building by breaking screen doors and windows to look for food they smell. Although uncommon, black bear attacks on humans occasionally occur, especially in areas where they come into frequent contact with people and their food.

What Attracts Them?
Bears may visit areas of human use because they find food. Food can include unsecured garbage, birdseed, pet food, fruit trees and some gardens. Drought, wildfire and urban development can cause bears to roam farther in search of new food sources. Young bears sometimes travel long distances in search of an area not already occupied by another bear.

What Should I Do If I See a Bear?
Black bears should always be considered unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A black bear will usually detect you and leave the area before you notice, unless the bear has been conditioned to people and their food. If you live in black bear country, take responsibility for not attracting them. Always work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem situation, and keep in mind that doing a combination of things is better than doing just one.

To discourage a black bear, immediately:

Alter your route to avoid a bear in the distance.
Make yourself as large and imposing as possible if the bear continues to approach. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items. Make loud noises, such as yelling, whistles, and banging pots and pans.
Do not run and never play dead.
Give the bear a chance to leave the area.
If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away.
If a bear is in your yard, scare it away from inside the house, keeping the door closed.
In an emergency: Black bears usually avoid people, but if they start to associate people with food they may become aggressive. On the rare occasion that a black bear becomes aggressive, do the following:

If a black bear attacks, fight back with everything in your power – fists, sticks, rocks and E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray.
Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel remove bears that present an imminent threat to human safety or when they are in a situation where they cannot safely escape on their own. Call 911, your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office, or Arizona Game and Fish Department Radio Dispatch at (623) 236-7201.
Remember, removal is usually a last resort:
Bears can be common at high elevations where food is plentiful. Different bears will visit the same area if attractants are not removed. Bears that must be removed are relocated or may have to be destroyed if they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people. Removing any wild animal is traumatic for the animal, and usually can be prevented. Follow the tips below to allow bears and humans to coexist while avoiding negative interactions.

To prevent further problems:

Don't feed or give water to black bears. Be aware that human behaviors, such as feeding other animals, can attract black bears.
Feed your pets inside or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
Remove garbage regularly or keep in secure buildings.
Remove other enticing food sources, such as birdseed, hummingbird feed (sweet liquid), fruit from trees or shrubs located near buildings.
Remove brush and cover around homes and corrals, creating a 50-yard barrier.
Fences, lighting and dogs have not been found to be effective, long-term detterents. Bears are good climbers, so to reduce a bear's ability to get over a fence, it should be at least 6 feet tall and constructed of non-climbable material.
Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.
Possible Health Concerns
Canine distemper -- This viral disease consists of fever, loss of appetite, coughing, and eye and nose discharge.

Laws and Policies

Black bears are top-level predators capable of killing or seriously injuring humans, and the department is committed to public education to help people learn how to behave responsibly and live safely in proximity to bears.
Black bears are classified as big game animals. They may not be killed without a valid hunting license except in self-defense or where livestock has been killed. See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations.
State law prohibits firing a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building without the permission of the owner.
Check your local city ordinances, but most cities ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns, air guns, or bows.
Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation and Arizona Game and Fish DepartmentHunting Regulations for more information.

Though some people think javelina are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Javelina are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson, and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff. Javelina form herds of two to more than 20 animals and rely on each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel corridors. Javelina are most active at night, but they may be active during the day when it is cold.



Description and Habits

  • Peppered black, gray and brown hair with a faint white collar around the shoulders
  • 40-60 pounds
  • Approximately 19 inches tall
  • Young born year-round, most often from November to March
  • Average litter of two
  • Newborns up to three months old are red-brown or tan and are called “reds”
  • Live an average of 7.5 years
  • Very poor eyesight, may appear to be charging when actually trying to escape
  • Keen sense of smell
  • Will roll in water and mud to cool off
  • Scent gland on back; animals from the same herd stand side-by-side and rub each other’s scent glands with their heads; use scents to identify animals from different herds
  • Need a water source for drinking
  • Eat primarily plants, including cacti, succulent plants, bulbs, tubers, beans and seeds; sometimes eat insects, garbage and grubs

Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets 
Javelina will likely visit occasionally if you live in a semi-urban area near a wash or other natural desert. Javelina usually cause only minor problems for people by surprising them or eating a few plants. However, people should NEVER feed javelina. This can cause them to become regular visitors and lose their fear of people, creating problems for the neighborhood and often leading to the death of the javelina. Javelina occasionally bite humans, but incidents of bites are almost always associated with people providing the javelina with food. Javelina can inflict a serious wound. Defensive javelina behavior may include charging, teeth clacking, or a barking, growling sound. Javelina may act defensively when cornered, to protect their young, or when they hear or smell a dog. Dogs and coyotes are natural predators of javelina, and they can seriously hurt or kill each other. Javelina around your home may also inadvertently attract mountain lions, because mountain lions prey on javelina. 

What Attracts Them?
Javelina usually visit homes to find food, water or shelter.

  • Food for javelina can include lush vegetation and many flowers and succulent plants that people place around their homes. Birdseed, table scraps and garbage can also attract javelina.
  • Water can be provided through chewing on an irrigation hose or by drinking from a pool or other water source around a home. Javelina will also dig and roll in moist soil during summer days to keep cool.
  • Shelter can take the form of a porch, an area under a mobile home, a crawlspace beneath a house, or any other cave-like area. Javelina will seek shade during summer days and warmth during the winter, if these areas are not properly secured.

What Should I Do?
If javelina have become a problem or have caused property damage, see the suggestions below to deal with the situation. Do your part to keep javelina healthy and wild because their removal almost always means death. Work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem.

To discourage a javelina, immediately:

  • Scare off animals by making loud noises (bang pots, yell, stomp on the floor, etc.);throwing small rocks in their direction; or spraying with vinegar, water from a garden hose, or large squirt gun filled with diluted household ammonia (1 part ammonia and 9 parts water). The odor of the ammonia and the nasal irritation it causes will encourage the javelina to leave.  Avoid spraying ammonia in the eyes as it may cause damage even at this low concentration. Ammonia should not be used around wetlands because it is toxic to fish and amphibians.
  • If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave on its own. If it is still there the following day, contact a wildlife control business  or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • If you see javelina while walking your dog, avoid going near the javelina and quickly take your dog in a different direction.

In an emergency: If a javelina is acting in an aggressive manner toward people, is contained and cannot leave on its own or be let out easily, or is in human possession, please call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office during weekday business hours. After hours and weekends, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at (623) 236-7201.

Remember, removal is usually a last resort: 
Removal usually results in the death of the javelina. In some cases, the javelina cannot be moved to a different location because it may have a disease or attacked a person. Research shows that most javelina do not survive a move to a different area due to inability to find food, water and shelter; being separated from the herd; being killed by a car, predator or other javelina while defending its territory; or reaction to the capture. When property damage from javelina is severe and/or repetitive, and the possible attractants have been removed and other measures have been attempted and failed to resolve the problem, the Arizona Game and Fish Department may determine that a javelina should be removed from an area. Also,wildlife control businesses are authorized to use repellents to deter javelina.

To prevent further problems:

  • Don't feed javelina!
  • Feed pets inside or only what they can eat at one time. Don’t allow birdseed to fall to the ground and/or fence any bird feeding areas. Store birdseed, livestock feed, rodent bait and pet food inside. Do not leave quail blocks where javelina can access them. Pick up fallen fruit and nuts as quickly as possible.
  • Keep water sources above the reach of javelina or behind strong fencing.
  • Contain garbage and compost. Secure garbage cans with locking lids or by attaching to a fence or wall. Put garbage cans at the curb on the morning of pickup rather than the night before. Clean out cans with a bleach solution to reduce attractive odors.
  • Landscape with plants that javelina do not want to eat. Their favorite plants are cacti, succulents, bulbs and tubers, and any plants that drops fruit or nuts. They will generally eat most tender, new plants. Javelina resistant plants [PDF, 18kb].
  • Keep dogs on a leash and/or inside a fenced yard to prevent defensive attacks.
  • Use fencing to deny javelina access. Electric fencing is the most effective around gardens; try a single strand approximately 8-10 inches above ground level. It is fairly inexpensive and can be obtained at farm and ranch supply stores. Check local ordinances before installing electric fencing.
  • Use block walls or chain link fencing (4 feet tall) around the entire yard. Patch up defective fences and gates. Use a concrete footer buried 8-12 inches into the ground or electric fencing to prevent digging under. Check local ordinances before installing electric fencing.
  • Use block or solid skirting for mobile homes, decks and trailers, or use electric fencing for a temporary fix. Block entrance holes to any crawlspaces after the javelina have left. (Spread flour on the ground at the entrance to check for footprints.)
  • Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.

Possible Health Concerns 
Rabies - Javelina can catch rabies, although they do not generally carry it without symptoms.Symptoms of rabies can include foaming at the mouth; erratic, hyperactive behavior; and/or fearful, paralyzed and lethargic behavior. If you see any animal with rabies symptoms, call 911 or your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office right away.


Anyone bitten by a javelina must immediately seek medical attention from a qualified health care provider. Whenever possible, the animal should be captured or killed and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing.

Distemper - Javelina are known to catch distemper, which can be transmitted to pets. Distemper is a viral disease that consists of fever, loss of appetite, coughing, and eye and nose discharge.

Salmonella - Salmonella or other bacteria that commonly cause food poisoning sometimes take a toll on javelina herds. Symptoms include diarrhea, inability to walk, staying close to a water source, and death. 

Laws and Policies

  • The department will sometimes remove javelina that are causing extensive property damage or have become aggressive toward humans. However, this is a last resort, and measures must be taken to remove attractants to prevent problems from recurring.
  • Javelina are classified as a big game species. It is unlawful to injure or kill game animals, even if they are causing a problem, unless certain rigorous provisions under the law have been met. See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations.
  • It is unlawful to trap javelina.
  • State law prohibits firing a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building without the permission of the owner.
  • Check your local city ordinances, but most cities ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns, air guns, or bows.
  • Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation and Arizona Game and Fish DepartmentHunting Regulations for more information.

Many woodpecker species live in Arizona. Each can be identified by its markings. Signs of woodpecker presence include sounds, such as drumming, drilling and calls, plus holes in trees, cacti, utility poles and buildings. The drumming is a rhythmic pecking sequence used to make the birds’ presence known. It establishes territories and attracts or signals mates. Woodpeckers can be found throughout the state.urban_woodpecker2.jpg

Description and Habits

  • Often have brightly contrasting colors; most males have red on the head; many species have black and white markings
  • 6½ to 14 inches long
  • Breed from March through May
  • Incubation lasts about 15 days, and the young fly approximately 25-30 days after the eggs are laid
  • Northern flicker is the most widely distributed woodpecker species in the state
  • Flight is usually undulating, with wings folded against the body after each burst of wing flaps
  • Feed on a variety of insects, mostly wood-boring (termites, carpenter bees, etc.). They will also eat native berries, fruits, nuts and certain seeds

Possible Conflicts with Humans
Even though woodpeckers look for insects and roosting sites year-round, Arizonans are most likely to be disturbed by the birds from March through June each year. That’s when woodpeckers drum to announce their territories, create nest cavities and attract mates. Territorial drumming will stop on its own and generally causes little damage. However, the noise can often be heard throughout the house or neighborhood. Woodpeckers choose drumming surfaces that make loud noises, such as metal gutters, chimney caps, rooftop vents and cooling units. Ladder-backed WoodpeckerDrumming may happen several times a day and may go on for days or weeks.

Woodpeckers help people by eating damaging insects, including termites and carpenter bees. However, foraging activity can cause damage to siding and may be an early warning signal of an insect infestation. The hammering sound when searching for insects is often a bit quieter and more sporadic than the rapid-fire or loud banging of drumming. 
Nest cavities in trees or cacti can damage the plants, but one or two holes aren’t usually a problem. Nest cavities in homes and attics can not only damage siding, but can also create unsanitary conditions. Woodpeckers tend to come and go, so their presence is generally unpredictable.

What Attracts Them?
Woodpeckers may visit your home because they have found food, water or shelter.

  • Food can include wood-boring insects, flying insects, ants, flower nectar, acorns, seeds, fruit, berries, bird eggs and lizards. Hummingbird feeders and suet will also attract woodpeckers.
  • Water sources can include fountains, ponds, birdbaths and pet water dishes.
  • Shelter may be a hole or vent in a roof or attic or a hole that woodpeckers excavate in a dead tree branch or the side of a tree or cactus.

What Should I Do?
People can expect wild animals to repeatedly return to food, water and shelter opportunities they present. Homeowners should either accept wildlife or modify their situation to remove whatever is attracting the animals. Always work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem, and keep in mind that doing a combination of things is better than doing just one.

To prevent further problems:

  • Place padding behind or over the area where the drumming occurs to soften the noise. The drumming should stop.
  • Attach lightweight nylon or plastic bird netting or ¼-inch hardware cloth to the outer edge of eaves, and then angle it down and attach it to the wall siding. The netting must be at least 3 inches from the building, or the woodpecker might be able to reach through it.
  • Place metal sheathing or plastic sheeting over the pecked areas to offer permanent protection. Disguise with paint or simulate to match siding.
  • Protect trees or cacti by loosely wrapping ¼-inch hardware cloth around the trunk or limbs.
  • Provide an artificial nest structure, such as a bird box with an opening. In hotter climates, it’s better if the birdhouse is in the shade.
  • Hang strips of aluminum foil or Mylar tape (3-4 inches wide, 3 feet long), pie tins, or silver pinwheels (kid’s toy). These need to hang freely. The movement in the wind and reflection off the shiny surface will scare woodpeckers.
  • Suspend hawk or owl models or silhouettes of these birds in flight near the area of concern to scare the woodpeckers. Again, motion is important.
  • Use loud noises, such as hands clapping, toy cap pistols, etc., to frighten away woodpeckers.
  • Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.

If more help is necessary:
Contact your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office during business hours, if you have tried the above mentioned “self-help” methods and they have not been effective. 

Laws and Policies

  • Woodpeckers are classified as migratory, nongame birds and are protected by state and federal laws.
  • A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit is required when capturing, killing or possessing a migratory bird (any bird except upland game birds, house sparrows, starlings and pigeons).
  • Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation and Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations [PDF, 3.25mb] for more information.

Mountain lions can be found throughout Arizona and are most common in rocky or mountainous terrain. Because mountain lions are shy and elusive, people do not often see them. However, the Arizona Game and Fish Department estimates the state’s mountain lion population is robust and increasing at 2,500 to 3,000. Mountain lions are solitary animals with the exception of females with kittens or breeding pairs. Signs of mountain lion presence include large tracks (3-5 inches wide) without claw marks; large segmented, cylindrical droppings; food caches where a kill has been partially eaten and then covered with leaves, brush or dirt; and scrapes in soft dirt or leaf litter.




Description and Habits

  • Tan or reddish brown to dusky or slate gray coat; young have numerous black spots that mostly disappear with age
  • Long tail that is about 2/3 of body length, white underneath with a dark brown or black tip
  • 70-150 pounds (males usually larger than females)
  • 25-32 inches tall at the shoulder (similar to a German shepherd dog)
  • 5 ½ to more than 8 feet long
  • Average litter of three kittens, which are yellowish-brown with black spots
  • Kittens stay with mother for approximately 18 months
  • Live up to 13 years in wild with average of less than 6 years
  • Can jump 20 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally in a single leap
  • Rarely make vocal noises, unless during breeding season or when threatened
  • Territory sizes range from 10 to 150 square miles; males range more widely than females
  • Diet is primarily deer, but also includes javelina, bighorn sheep, elk, small mammals and occasional depredation on livestock and pets

Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets

Urban sprawl often results in shrinking habitat and increases the number of conflicts between humans and wildlife, such as mountain lions. Conflicts can occur when a mountain lion becomes too accustomed to the presence of people, often near where we live or recreate, and begin preying on livestock or other domestic animals. Although uncommon, mountain lion attacks on humans occasionally occur.

What Attracts Them?

Mountain lions most often pass through human-occupied space, but may stay longer if they have access to food, water, or shelter.


  • Food sources found near people’s homes includes deer, javelina, rabbits, unsecured domestic animals, or livestock.
  • Water for drinking can include a swimming pool, fountain, pond, or pet’s water bowl.
  • Mountain lions might use “cave-like” areas beneath sheds, unused buildings, and storm drains, or elevated wooden patios, for shelter.

Other factors that may contribute to mountain lions presence around humans include:

  • Drought - Wildlife will come into urban fringe areas to search for food and water.
  • Wildfires - Arizona wildfires damage vital habitat and force animals into new areas.
  • Habituation to humans through close contact, exposure, and increased development near wildlife habitat.

Humans feeding mountain lion prey (like javelina or deer), having livestock adjacent to wildlife habitat, and related activities create familiarity and habituation to humans.

What Should I Do?

Mountain lions are predators capable of seriously injuring or killing humans. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is committed to helping people learn how to behave responsibly and live safely in proximity to mountain lions, and to removing animals that are a potential threat to the public.

The risk of attack by a mountain lion is small, but real; children are most at risk. Mountain lions may return repeatedly if food, water, or shelter is available. However, mountain lions use natural areas, such as washes, to move through populated areas to more remote areas, and such movements are necessary to prevent problems with inbreeding and local extinction associated with habitat fragmentation. If food, water, and shelter are not available, mountain lions generally move on to other areas more quickly. If you live or recreate in lion country, remain aware of your surroundings and take steps to minimize risks to yourself, your family, and pets.

If you encounter a mountain lion:

  • Do not approach the animal. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly.
  • Do not run from a mountain lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase.
  • Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
  • Appear larger by raising your arms or opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not easy prey and that you may be a danger to it.
  • Maintain eye contact and slowly back away toward a building, vehicle, or busy area.
  • Protect small children so they won’t panic and run.
  • Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, and even mountain bikes. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.

Report all mountain lion attacks to 911. All mountain lion encounters and attacks, sightings in urban areas, property damage due to mountain lions or possession of a live mountain lion should also be reported to your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday excluding holidays). After hours and weekends, a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.

If you live in mountain lion country, you should:

  • Hike or walk in groups.
  • Make noise when you’re outside.
  • Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors, especially in rugged country between dusk and dawn. Talk with children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
  • Keep dogs, cats, poultry, sheep, goats, rabbits, rodents and other domestic animals indoors or in a secure enclosure with a sturdy roof. Always walk pets on a leash. Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions and coyotes. Do not feed pets outside and keep their food inside; the food can attract javelina and other mountain lion prey.
  • Avoid feeding wildlife. By feeding deer, javelina, or other wildlife in your yard, you may inadvertently attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
  • Trim landscaping around your home. Remove dense and low-lying vegetation that can provide good hiding places for mountain lions and coyotes, especially around children’s play areas.
  • Install outdoor lighting. Keep the house perimeter well lit at night, especially along walkways, to keep any approaching lions visible.

Remember that mountain lion removal is usually a last resort. Relocation is not a viable option because it often ends in the severe injury or death of one or both lions in that territory.

It is important to keep wildlife wild and remove whatever is attracting mountain lions. If people are regularly seeing a lion in a particular area, it may mean the lion represents a public safety risk. In some cases, the department may remove a lion that presents an imminent threat to human safety. A person may only harm a lion in self-defense or to defend another person (but see “Laws and Policies” section, below).

To prevent further problems:

  • Avoid using rodent poisons, which may poison mountain lions, as well as other animals.
  • Close or patch-up any potential mountain lion shelter.
  • Try using bright lights, flashing white lights, blaring music, barking dogs, and changes in the placement of scarecrow objects to temporarily repel mountain lions. Sprinklers and commercial motion-activated inflatable scarecrows startle animals when activated.
  • Always work with your neighbors for a consistent solution.

Possible Health Concerns

Mountain lions are at risk of getting a variety of diseases, including those common to house cats, but little is known about their rates of illness. They are also subject to death by secondary poisoning from common rodent poisons that contain blood anticoagulants.

Rabies - Symptoms of rabies can include foaming at the mouth, staggering, circling, and/or fearful, paralyzed, and lethargic behavior. If you see any wild animal with symptoms of rabies, call 911 or your local Game and Fish office immediately. Anyone bitten by a mountain lion must immediately seek medical attention for rabies shots unless the biting animal can be captured and tested for rabies. Notify the Arizona Game and Fish Department and your local health department immediately if any physical contact with a mountain lion occurs.

Laws and Policies

  • Mountain lions are classified as big game. A valid hunting license is required except in the case of depredation (killing of livestock) (ARS-17-302 and 17-239). See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations [PDF, 3.25mb].
  • The possession of a live mountain lion is illegal without Department approval and permit.  
  • State law prohibits discharging a firearm within a quarter-mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge, or building while taking wildlife without permission of owner or resident.
  • Check your local city ordinances, but most cities ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns, air guns, or bows.

Bobcats are common throughout Arizona at all elevations, especially in rimrock and chaparral areas, and in the outskirts of urban areas where food is readily available. Bobcats are generally seen alone, but groups may consist of mating pairs, siblings, or mothers with kittens. Bobcats are most active around sunset and sunrise, and it is not uncommon to find one napping under a shrub in a brushy backyard. Individual bobcats will defend a territory of one to 12 square miles.



Description and Habits

  • Tan with dark spots on coat
  • Short tail with black tip on top side
  • 15-35 pounds (males are larger than females)
  • 18-24 inches tall
  • 24-48 inches long
  • Mate February to March
  • Average litter of two to three kittens, usually born from April to early June
  • Kittens stay with the mother seven to 12 months
  • Live 10-15 years
  • Able to jump as high as 12 feet
  • Carnivorous, generally feed on small mammals and birds (includes domestic birds and rabbits); will also eat lizards, snakes, and small pets, including house cats

Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets 
If you see a bobcat near your home, there is no need to panic. Bobcats rarely attack people. However, if a bobcat does attack a human, it generally will have symptoms of rabies. Bobcats may be attracted to a yard that has abundant wildlife, domestic birds, small pets, water, and shade or other shelter. Small pets need to be protected from bobcats and other predators. Keep small pets indoors, in an enclosed area with a roof, or on a leash when outside. Domestic birds should be kept in an enclosed area with a sturdy roof (a 6-foot tall fence is not necessarily good protection), and do not spread seed that attracts other wildlife. Do not feed bobcats, as this can encourage them to become too comfortable around humans.

What Attracts Them?
Bobcats may visit an area to find food, water, shelter, or the space they need to live.

  • Food may include birds, rodents, rabbits, small unattended pets, poultry or other domestic birds, and other small livestock.
  • Water in pools, birdbaths, fountains, and pets' water dishes can attract bobcats. They will sometimes defecate in shallow water (such as pools and fountains).
  • Shelter for bobcats can include rooftops, attics, and the space underneath decks. Other small spaces can make attractive dens also, and bobcats will sometimes rest during the day or bask in the sun. This makes them attracted to thick brush, shade, and unoccupied yards.

What Should I Do?
You may choose to watch and enjoy a bobcat or bobcat family sharing your yard. However, if you have small pets or livestock, you may want to discourage the bobcat from coming onto your property. Remember, your neighbor may think differently, and it is always a good idea to keep wildlife wild.

To discourage a bobcat, immediately:

  • Scare off with loud noises or spray with a garden hose.
  • If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave on its own. If it is still confined the following day, or trapped inside a residence, contact a wildlife control business  or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • Check for kittens in the area, and if kittens are there, then consider tolerating them for a few weeks until the kittens are large enough to leave the area with their mother.

In an emergency: In the rare occasion that a bobcat bites a person or appears hyperactive, there may be some health concerns. Take the following actions:

  • Contact your county animal control office.
  • Fight back if it has attacked.
  • Avoid the area and stay indoors.
  • Call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office (8-5, Monday -Friday excluding holidays). Also, call Arizona Game and Fish if severe property damage has occurred, or if there is possession of a live bobcat. After hours and weekends, a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.

Remember, removal is usually a last resort: 
Bobcats tend to be abundant where food is plentiful, and different bobcats will keep visiting the same area if attractants aren't removed. Homeowners may trap and relocate the animal, but should contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department for an appropriate release location before transporting the animal. For a fee, wildlife control businesses will remove animals from the property. 

To prevent further problems:

  • Keep domestic animals (dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, rodents, etc.) in a secured enclosure with a sturdy roof.
  • Feed your pets inside, or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
  • Close or patch openings in fences.
  • Keep shrubbery, grass, etc. trimmed to deny bobcats hiding cover.
  • Deny access to bobcats by putting up fencing. However, since bobcats can jump up to 12 feet, a 6-foot fence may not deter them if they are attracted to something in the yard.
  • Work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the situation.
  • Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.

Possible Health Concerns 
Rabies – Symptoms of rabies can include foaming at the mouth, erratic, hyperactive behavior, and/or fearful, paralyzed and lethargic behavior. Bobcats rarely get rabies. If you see any animal with symptoms of rabies, stay away from it and call 911, your closest Arizona Game and Fish Department office, or a wildlife control business immediately.


Anyone bitten by a bobcat must immediately seek medical attention from a qualified health care provider. Whenever possible, the animal should be captured or killed and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing.

Laws and Policies

  • Bobcats are not considered a threat to human safety except in rare cases when they have rabies or are extremely aggressive. The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not routinely relocate bobcats.
  • Bobcats are classified as predatory and furbearing animals. A valid hunting license is required, except in the case of depredation (killing of livestock) removal. See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations [PDF, 3.25mb].
  • The possession of live bobcats is illegal.
  • State law prohibits firing a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building without the permission of the owner.
  • Check your local city ordinances, but most cities ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns, air guns, or bows.
  • Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation and Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations [PDF, 3.25mb] for more information.

Canis latrans

Coyotes are common in rural and urban areas throughout Arizona. Coyotes tend to travel and hunt alone or in pairs, but they can form groups where food is abundant.inline_urban_coyote.jpg

Description and Habits

  • Usually gray with a rusty color on neck and flanks
  • Black patches on base and tip of tail help distinguish from dogs
  • 20-30 pounds
  • 18-21 inches tall
  • 42-50 inches long
  • Average litter of 4 to 5 pups
  • Run as fast as 40 miles per hour
  • Diet includes fruits and vegetables, pet food, small wild and domestic animals, snakes and lizards, and garbage

Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets
Coyotes are curious, clever, and adaptable. They quickly learn to take advantage of any newly discovered food source, and are often attracted to yards with abundant fruit and wildlife to eat. Coyotes will eat pet food and knock over unsecured garbage cans, or may walk along the tops of walls around homes in search of unattended dogs and cats to eat. Coyotes may consider large or loud dogs to be a threat to their territory and become aggressive toward those dogs. Coyotes have lured free-roaming dogs away from their owners to attack, and bold coyotes may attack small dogs on retractable leashes.

What Attracts Them?
Coyotes may visit a home if they find food, water, or shelter there.

  • Food can include unattended pets, birds or rodents attracted to bird feeders, pet food, garbage, or fallen fruit.
  • Water sources can include a pet’s water bowl or a swimming pool.
  • Shelter can include a storm drain or any cave-like area beneath a shed or unused building.

What Should I Do?
If you see a coyote near your home, don’t ignore it. This may cause it to lose its natural fear of people, which can eventually lead to aggressive behavior.

To discourage a coyote, immediately:

  • Make loud noises.
  • Shout and bang pots and pans or rattle empty soda cans with pebbles in it (coyote shaker).
  • Wave your hands or objects like sticks and brooms.
  • Throw small stones or cans.
  • Spray the coyote with a hose.
  • Use a commercial repellent like Mace, if necessary, on bold animals that refuse to leave.

In an emergency: If a coyote is aggressive, approaching a person, biting, or growling and snarling unprovoked, then:

  • Continue and exaggerate the above actions.
  • Don’t turn away or run because the animal may view it as an opportunity to chase.
  • Keep eye contact.
  • Move toward other people, a building, or an area of activity.
  • Call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon. -Fri. excluding holidays). Also, call Game and Fish if severe property damage has occurred or if there is possession of a live coyote. After hours and weekends, a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.

Remember, removal is usually a last resort:
Coyotes will keep coming back to the same area if attractants are not removed. Coyotes do not usually become a problem where the guidelines listed below are followed. Homeowners may trap and relocate coyotes, but must contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department for an appropriate release location before transporting the animal. Homeowners can also hire awildlife control business to capture and remove coyotes for a fee.

To prevent further problems:

  • Remove anything outside your home that may be attracting coyotes. This includes garbage, pet food, water sources, and bird feeders that can attract rodents and birds for coyotes to eat.
  • Never feed coyotes.
  • Encourage your neighbors not to feed coyotes or leave anything out that might attract the animals.
  • Feed your pets inside, and never leave them unattended, especially at dusk and dawn when coyotes are most active. If it's necessary to leave a small pet outside unattended, keep it in a sturdy enclosure with a roof.
  • Keep poultry, rabbits, and rodents in secure enclosures.
  • Trim and remove any ground-level shrubs and branches that provide hiding places or den sites for coyotes or their prey.
  • Secure garbage containers and eliminate odors by cleaning trashcans with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Put out trash containers on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
  • Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.

Possible Health Concerns 
Rabies – Symptoms of this disease include foaming at the mouth, erratic or hyperactive behavior, and/or fearful, paralyzed, or lethargic behavior. Call 911 or your closest Arizona Game and Fish Department office immediately if you see any animal with rabies symptoms.

Anyone bitten by a coyote must immediately seek medical attention from a qualified health care provider. Whenever possible, the animal should be captured or killed and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing.

Canine distemper – This viral disease consists of fever, eye and nose discharge, loss of appetite, and coughing. It can be transmitted to and from dogs through bodily fluids. Symptoms can appear similar to those of rabies.

Canine heartworm – Coyotes can serve as carriers of this type of heartworm, which is spread among dogs by mosquitoes.

Mange mite – Coyotes may be a host for the itch or mange mite. Female mites can burrow into the skin. Coyotes with mange can lose their hair, which can make it difficult for them to control their body temperatures. Mange must be extremely severe before it disables a coyote. Most coyotes can survive with the disease for a long time.

Tapeworm – Coyotes can carry dog tapeworm, which can cause hydatid cyst disease in humans.

Laws and Policies

  • Coyotes are classified as predators and have an open, year-round hunting season. A valid license is required, except in a case where livestock has been killed. See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations.
  • State law bans firing a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building while taking wildlife, unless you have the owner's permission.
  • Check your local city ordinances, but most ban shooting firearms within city limits. Some cities ban using slingshots, BB guns, air guns or bows.
  • Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation and Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting Regulations for more information.

Birds of prey, also called raptors, include hawks, eagles, owls and falcons. This diverse group of birds has a huge range of sizes and behaviors, but the one thing most have in common is a tendency to catch live animals to eat. Some raptors are more likely to live near people than others. For example, red-tailed hawks, Harris’s hawks and great horned owls are common residents in Tucson, Phoenix and other urban areas of Arizona. Cooper’s hawks are also increasingly common residents in Tucson.

Description and Habitsurban_kestrel.jpg

  • Falcons are known for their incredible speed and agility, and usually feed on smaller birds, which they dive at and capture in mid-air. Commonly observed falcons in Arizona include the peregrine falcon, prairie falcon and American kestrel. The merlin and crested caracara are also in the falcon family.
  • Accipiters, such as Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks, have short rounded wings and long tails and are common forest-dwellers. They are expert at chasing small birds through trees and catching them mid-air. The larger northern goshawk is an accipiter, too.
  • Buteos, large broad-winged hawks, including the red-tailed hawk, common black-hawk, Harris’s hawk and zone-tailed hawk, often catch rodents and other prey on the ground. Buteos are usually perch-and-wait raptors that you will commonly see sitting on tall structures like telephone poles, trees, signs or billboards.
  • Most owls fly very quietly, have excellent eyesight, and hunt ground-dwelling or flying animals in low light conditions or at night. One exception in Arizona is the burrowing owl, which is often active during the day and lives in underground burrows that are usually created by burrowing mammals. Arizona’s owls include the large great horned owl and barn owl, as well as tiny elf, pygmy and screech owls.



  • Two types of eagles live in Arizona. Golden eagles are related to buteos, but are much larger with longer wings. They are found statewide and usually prey upon rabbits and ducks. Bald eagles are usually found near water and feed primarily on fish and waterfowl, which they hunt or scavenge.
  • Raptors nest in various places, including stick nests (most buteos and eagles), ledges (some owls and falcons), and cavities like woodpecker holes (smaller owls and American kestrels) or burrows (burrowing owls).
  • Raptors have extremely keen eyesight; the average raptor’s vision is approximately ten times better than a human’s. 

Cooper's HawkPossible Conflicts with Humans
Birds of prey are common in urban areas, and they can be beautiful and enjoyable to watch, as well as helpful for controlling rodents, rabbits and birds. Raptors can occasionally cause problems for people when they pursue small pets or domestic animals, nest in an inconvenient location, leave droppings or meal remains behind, or defend their nests when people get too close. Urban areas can actually be dangerous for raptors as many are injured or killed by running into power lines, being electrocuted by power lines, hitting reflective windows, or being disturbed within their nest area. 

What Attracts Them?
Raptors may inhabit an area to find food, water, shelter or the space they need to live.

  • Food items, including rodents, birds, snakes, rabbits and insects, are attractive to raptors. Large birds of prey may also hunt small domestic animals, including dogs, cats and chickens, especially during raptors’ winter migration period from September to April.
  • Water sources, such as fountains, pools and birdbaths, may attract raptors because a raptor’s prey (doves and pigeons) congregates around bodies of water.
  • Shelter for raptors can include high perches that offer a view for hunting. These perches can be located in a tree, on a building or tower, on a telephone or electric pole or line, or on any other tall structure. Some raptors build large nests of sticks high in trees, saguaros or power distribution equipment. Cavity-nesting raptors may seek shelter in birdhouses or holes in trees or cacti. Barn and great-horned owls may seek out large buildings, such as hangars or barns, for shelter.

Harris HawkWhat Should I Do?
Raptors can be found almost anywhere, but especially near bird feeders or farms because prey animals are attracted to those areas. Because raptors are protected by law, common solutions include tolerating small disturbances, staying away from nest sites until the young are able to fly, and keeping small pets inside or in enclosures with a roof. Attempts to keep raptors off your property may or may not be effective, and harming a raptor will result in a large fine. 

Solutions to common problems:

  • Diving at people or pets
    Raptors sometimes defend their nest or nestlings by swooping very close to a person or pet.
    • Avoid the area until the young can fly and put up temporary barricades or signs to warn residents in busy areas.
    • Cover your upper body with an open umbrella to keep the animal at a distance if the area cannot be avoided.
    • In rare situations, such as a nest in a dangerous or high traffic area, it may be possible to have the nest removed by approved experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Permit Office at (505) 248-7882. 
  • Bird on the ground
    Young raptors spend several days on or near the ground while learning to fly. The young birds may seem abandoned, but the parents are usually within sight watching the fledgling.
    • Keep pets away.
    • Leave the bird alone; the parents know where it is and will feed it on the ground until it is able to fly.
    • If the bird is sick or injured (fluffed up, shaking or unable to walk), call a wildlife rehabilitator.

  • Trapped bird
    If a raptor is trapped in a building, you can take several actions.
    • First, try leaving a door open and shutting the lights off. Have people leave the area for several hours or overnight.
    • If the bird still doesn’t leave, please call your local Game and Fish office for assistance.
    • A permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Permit Office is needed, if you wind up choosing to trap and remove the bird.

  • Pets and domestic animals
    Raptors may be attracted to small pets or domestic chickens because they are similar to the size of a raptor’s normal prey.
    • Always keep small pets and other domestic animals in a sturdy enclosure with a roof when outside to keep them safe, or stay outside with your pets when possible.
    • Arizona raptor populations typically increase during migration and winter (September to April) as northern birds arrive and some forest birds descend to lower elevations. Pay close attention to small pets during this time.

  • Electrocution/nests
    Raptors are often injured or killed on electric power poles.
    • If you find a dead raptor, don’t pick it up because of human health concerns. It is also illegal to handle live or dead raptors without a permit.
    • Also, report the dead raptor to the local power company (refer to your electric bill for contact information) and to your local Game and Fish office. In the Tucson area, you can help prevent electrocutions by reporting raptor nests near power equipment or power lines to Tucson Electric Power (520) 623-7711 or the Tucson Game and Fish office at (520) 628-5376, ext. 4446. If it’s an area supplied by the Salt River Project (SRP), call (602) 236-BIRD (236-2473). In an area covered by Arizona Public Service (APS), call (602) 371-7171 in the Phoenix region or (800) 253-9405 elsewhere.

Burrowing OwlRemoval is usually not an option:
Raptors are protected by both state and federal laws, and harassing, trapping, killing, or even possessing bones or feathers without the proper permits can result in large fines. Raptors are territorial, and moving a bird to another area may cause it to fight with the current occupants or just fly back using its excellent sense of direction. Most problems are short-term and can be resolved with tolerance or a few small changes. Learning about raptors is the best way to understand how to live with them.

To prevent further problems:

  • Avoid feeding doves and pigeons; feeding can attract large numbers of doves and pigeons, many with diseases that raptors catch when they eat the smaller birds or feed them to their young. Keep in mind that bird feeders can attract raptors because raptor prey, including birds and rodents, are attracted to bird feeders.
  • Feed pets indoors.
  • Accompany small pets outdoors, especially during the winter raptor migration months of September through April.
  • If small pets or other domestic animals are left outside unattended, keep them in a sturdy enclosure with a roof.
  • Report electrocutions to the local Game and Fish office and local electric companies.
  • Remove nests or their support structures only when necessary and if they do not contain eggs or nestlings. Doing so otherwise is a violation of federal and state laws.
  • Cover reflective windows with non-reflective cellophane, screen or a similar material to prevent raptors and other birds from crashing into them.
  • Appreciate raptors for their natural ability to control rodents.
  • Look for products that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.

Possible Health Concerns 
Raptors generally do not have major disease outbreaks because of their solitary nature; most diseases are likely to have been carried by the prey they ate.

  • Trichomoniasis - Raptors can become sick with trichomoniasis after eating infected doves or pigeons. The Trichomonas protozoa cause painful lesions in the mouth and throat area or in other organs, and can cause deformities, swelling and death. Nestlings are especially susceptible. Trich is treatable, but the medicine is expensive and not widely available. The disease is best prevented by not feeding birds or using birdbaths where birds can congregate and pass the disease from one to another.
  • West Nile Virus - This disease is passed to birds by mosquitoes and is fatal in most birds, but has not been thoroughly studied.
  • Aspergillosis – This is the most frequent fungal infection in birds and is commonly transmitted through the inhalation of fungal spores. Birds under high stress with lowered immune systems are most susceptible. Asper accumulates in the lungs and air sacs until lowered immune systems or stress triggers the chronic and often fatal disease.

Laws and Policies

  • It is illegal to harm, trap, kill or harass raptors, according to federal and state laws. However, certain Commission rules allow for the take of raptors for falconry with the proper permit.
  • Raptors are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to kill, trap, possess, trade, sell or harm them. Raptors are also protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Lacey Act, the Airborne Hunting Act, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
  • Licensees must also obtain the proper permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Permit Office. The Arizona Game and Fish Department issues licenses to qualified individuals for falconry, wildlife rehabilitation, education, and humane holding.

Order Chiroptera

Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, more than almost any other state. Bats are the only true flying mammals and are valuable human allies. Worldwide, they are primary predators of vast numbers of insect pests, saving farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually and helping to control insect-spread human diseases. For example, large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) eat hundreds of tons of moths each week, especially the moths that prey on cotton crops. Spotted Bat

Although bats play key roles in keeping insect populations in balance, they are North America's most rapidly declining land mammals. Declines are often caused by human fear and persecution, and each of us can help by learning how to live with these animals.

Description and Habits

  • Fist-sized or smaller, with short fur and thin wings, many have large ears 
  • Brown, gray, yellow, red, some with frost-tipped fur, spots or dark eye mask
  • Similar eyesight to humans
  • Many eat insects in flight and can eat more than 1,000 insects in an hour, including mosquitoes
  • Some species drink nectar and can drain a hummingbird feeder overnight
  • Use echolocation, emitting sound to locate solid objects
  • Hang upside-down to rest in dark, secluded “roosts” during daytime; leave roost to forage for food at night and may temporarily roost to digest food and groom
  • Some hibernate during winter (October through April), and some stay active year-round
  • Most have one or two live young each year, usually between May and July
  • Females nurse offspring and form maternity roosts that can contain hundreds or thousands of bats

Potential Conflicts with Humans and Pets
While some people appreciate bats and the ways they benefit us, others fear bats because a small percentage of them can expose humans and pets to rabies. Bats should always be kept out of places where people live indoors. Bat guano (feces) can present disease and odor problems. However, bats are generally harmless to humans and are extremely beneficial for controlling insects and mosquitoes and pollinating some plants. Bats are vulnerable to disturbances by people because of their roosting habits and slow reproductive rate.

What Attracts Them?
If bats are in an area, it is probably because they are finding food, water or shelter.

  • Food can include insects that congregate in areas near lights, agricultural or playing fields, ponds or other water sources. Nectar-feeding bats may be attracted to flowering agaves and hummingbird feeders.
  • Water sources can include any pool, pond or lake with a long flying corridor that bats can skim.
Lesser Long-nosed Bat
  • Shelter can include rough surfaces for hanging. A bump of only 1/16 inch is enough. Bats can squeeze into holes as small as 3/8 inch and are attracted to spaces inside buildings and attics, under bridges, in culverts, behind siding on buildings, in palm trees, and under eaves and porch or patio awnings.

What Should I Do?
Bats should never be allowed to remain in human living areas. However, bats roosting on the porch, in the yard, or in a bat house are far more beneficial than harmful, and the small amount of guano can be cleaned up or used as fertilizer, in exchange for the reduction in flying insects and mosquitoes. The following ideas can help you coexist with bats or exclude them if necessary.

In an emergency:

  • If a person or pet is bitten by a bat, immediately wash the wound, attempt to capture the animal while wearing leather gloves, and contact your local county health department right away. The bat may have rabies and must be tested to determine whether the bite victim needs rabies shots.
  • If a bat is in human possession, please call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office during weekday business hours. After hours and weekends, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at (623) 236-7201.

Solutions to common problems:

  • Bat inside a building

A bat inside a building is probably just lost.

    • Close the interior doors to confine the animal to one room or section of the building (making sure all pets and children are out of the area).
    • After dark, open all doors and windows to let the bat fly outside on its own.
    • Turn inside lights off to help bats find open windows and doors.
    • If the bat does not leave on its own after several hours, put on leather gloves, and then place a box, coffee can or glass jar over the bat when it is on a wall. Slide a lid or piece of stiff paper over the top; then release the bat outside while it is still dark.
    • Hold the bat up high to allow it to fly away, or place it on the edge of a tall building, fence or tree branch (otherwise it may not be able to fly up from the ground).
    • Handle bats gently to avoid injury to the bat, and never handle bats with your bare hands.
    • If a bat cannot leave an indoor space on its own or be let out easily, please call a wildlife control business.
  • Bat on a building during the day

Migrating bats may roost temporarily as they move through an area. This happens most often during spring and fall. Bats roost in cracks, crevices, beams or holes.

    • These bats will usually only be around for a few days, or maybe up to a week or so, and it is best to leave them alone.
    • After the bats move on, seal cracks or holes with foam, weather stripping or other materials if desired.
    • Never exclude bats between May and September unless you are sure no young are left behind.
    • Young bats are left alone all night while their mothers search for food and should not be disturbed. If the mothers do not appear by daylight, contact either the Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Center at Adobe Mountain at (623) 582-9806 or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
    • Bat on a building at night

      Bats roosting during the night are generally digesting insects caught nearby and will leave within a few hours. “Night roosting” bats are attracted to porches, patios and overhangs.

      • Clean up the guano during the day, and then check the area the next morning to find out if the bats are indeed night roosting or if a day roost is present.
      • Guano makes an excellent garden fertilizer; place sand beneath the roost to make cleanup easier.
      • Discourage unwanted night-roosting bats by:
        • Changing temperature - leave a light on in the area during the night;
        • Changing humidity - leave a fan on overnight to blow air directly toward the bat roost site;
        • Tying mylar balloons so they bump against the roosting area;
        • Covering wood, stucco or problem areas with metal or plastic sheeting.

  • Bat on the ground

    A bat on the ground that acts sick or unable to move may have rabies.

  • If a bat is on the ground and sick or unable to move, then leave it alone, keep pets and children away, and contact your local county health department immediately. 
  • Most bats cannot fly up from ground level. If a bat has been knocked down during a storm and does not seem sick or injured, then use a stick to gently raise it to a tree limb. At nightfall, the bat should fly away.

Western Red Bat

  • If a bat is injured or a baby bat is on the ground, then contact the local Arizona Game and Fish Department office for instructions. NEVER handle a bat with bare hands.
  • Bats under Bridges

At least seven species of bats roost in crevices under some bridges in Arizona.

    • Contact your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office or e-mail the Bat Project at bats@azgfd.gov for advice before maintaining or removing a bridge.

Remember, removal is usually a last resort:

Bats are protected by state law, and disturbing a colony of bats where babies are present can result in dead bats and large fines. Bats reproduce slowly compared to other small mammals, and their benefits usually outweigh any harm they might cause. Bats should never be allowed to remain inside human living areas, but bats outside can be tolerated and even encouraged.

To prevent further problems:

  • Remove bug lights and water sources, and turn off outside lights at night to avoid attracting bats.
  • Bat-proof your home – This is the safest, most permanent way of keeping out unwanted bats:
    1. Consider allowing the bats to remain if they are not inside the living quarters of the house or causing property damage.
    2. Never exclude bats during the summer months (May to September). This is the maternity period, when bats leave their young in the roost to forage for food, and young bats could be trapped inside and separated from their mothers.
    3. Find entry and exit points.
    4. If you cannot see into the opening to determine whether all bats are gone, then hang lightweight wire screening or hardware cloth over the entry and exit holes, attaching it on the top and sides, but leave the bottom loose and open. Bats inside can crawl out, but will not be able to re-enter.
    5. Wait a few days (or weeksduring winter when bats are less active) to allow all of the bats to leave. Then, permanently cover the entry hole with lightweight wire screening, metal sheeting or hardware cloth.
    6. When all animals are gone, and well after darkness has fallen, patch up entryways (remember, bats can squeeze though openings as small as 3/8 inch).
  • For help or advice with excluding bats from your house or property, please contact a wildlife control business.
  • Install one or more bat houses on your property as an alternative for bats roosting in your buildings. Plans are available online at batcon.org, or check with your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office to see if free bat houses are available. You can even monitor your bat house (click the link for “Research Data Form”) to help the department learn the best techniques for making bat houses most effective in Arizona.

Possible Health Concerns:

  • Rabies - Bats are one of the known rabies vector species in Arizona, although less than 1 percent of wild bats are likely to have rabies at any given time. Symptoms of a rabid bat include inability to fly, flying during daylight, lethargy and paralysis. Most bats, even if sick, will not attack a person, but bats may bite if handled. If a live bat is on or near the ground, then leave it alone, keep pets and children away, and contact the local county health or animal control agency. Anyone bitten by a bat should immediately seek medical attention. If possible, the bat responsible for the bite should be captured and tested for rabies.

  • Histoplasmosis – This disease is caused by a fungus (Histoplasma capsulatum) that lives in soil enriched by bird or bat droppings. The fungus is rare in dry Western climates, although it has been found in Arizona. It could be present in dry, hot attics of buildings. Infection is caused by inhalation of airborne spores in dust enriched by animal droppings. The vast majority of histoplasmosis cases in humans is asymptomatic or results in only flu-like symptoms, though a few individuals may become seriously ill, especially if exposed to large quantities of spore-laden dust. The disease can be avoided by not breathing dust suspected of being enriched by animal feces. (Text from Bat Conservation International Web site.)

Laws and Policies

  • All bats in Arizona are protected and cannot be collected or killed. Proper exclusions may be performed where necessary.
  • It is unlawful to use pesticides or other chemicals directly on bats.
  • Bat exclusions should be done only with the advice of the Arizona Game and Fish Department or a wildlife control business, and should not be attempted during the maternity season (generally May through September) to avoid separating mothers from their young.