Possession of Wild Animals
- The possession of almost all wild animals is illegal in Wisconsin.
- Birds are protected by federal law. Mammals and other wildlife are protected by state law. You must have a permit from the proper government agency to keep a wild mammal or bird.
- Strange as it may seem, it may be perfectly legal for a pet store to sell you a wild animal but illegal for you to own it.
Keeping Wildlife Wild
- It's important to remember to keep wildlife wild. Stress from contact with a human can cause serious health problems. Wild animals can carry parasites and diseases, which can make humans and other animals sick. For more information on wildlife and health, visit CDC's wildlife page.
- Wildlife are enjoyed by many but can sometimes cause trouble. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for information about what you can do to deal with nuisance wildlife.
Concerns with Wild Animals
Removing Wild Animals
For help with removing a wild animal from your property, call a private pest control service.
How to Tell if a Wild Animal is Orphaned
If you find a young animal in the wild, it may not always be an orphan. A young animal's best chance for survival is with its mother.
- If you see an injured, ill, or "orphaned" wild animal, leave it alone.
- Please check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website for tips on deciding if the animal you have found is orphaned or not.
- If you determine that the animal is truly orphaned or injured, call the Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center at (608) 838-0413, ext. 151.
Coyotes are native to Wisconsin and live in both rural and urban areas in Dane County.
We have received reports in the past of coyote attacks on pets in urban areas of Madison and Dane County. Most have involved smaller dogs left unattended in backyards.
- Coyotes are generally more afraid of you than you are of them.
- When coyotes are fed by humans, they lose their fear of humans.
- Between January and March, coyotes are mating. During this time they are more territorial and possibly more aggressive.
- Between March and May, coyote pups are born and parents may act aggressively when near their pups or their den.
Learn How to Haze a Coyote
Our video, "How to Haze a Coyote, " gives solutions to safely co-existing with coyotes. It explains the process of hazing, or scaring away coyotes, so they do not feel comfortable being around humans.
Don't Attract Wildlife to Your Yard
- Don't feed coyotes. Feeding most wild animals is prohibited. See Wisconsin Deer Baiting and Wildlife Feeding Regulations for more information.
- Clean up fallen fruit and birdseed that attracts the prey of coyotes. Coyotes will also eat the birdseed or fruit.
- Make sure lids on garbage cans are on tight.
- Don't keep pet food or bowls outside.
Protect Your Pets
- Don't leave pets outside alone, either on or off a leash. If your dog stays outside, keep it in a secure outdoor kennel with a solid bottom and secure top.
- When walking your dog, carry a noisemaker, squirt gun, or sticks to throw toward (but not at) a coyote, if you see one.
- Always walk your dog on a leash.
Call Public Health Animal Services
- If you learn that someone is feeding coyotes,
- If a coyote does not respond to hazing attempts,
- If you see a coyote that is sick or injured,
- Record when you see a fox or coyote in Madison, UW-Madison Urban Canid Project
- Coyote Information, WI Department of Natural Resources
Every year we get many calls about the large population of turkeys in the City of Madison and surrounding areas. Most of the time, turkeys and humans can coexist. We only respond to calls regarding turkeys that are sick or injured.
If you have turkeys that are acting in an aggressive manner or damaging your property, there are ways to encourage them to move to a different area:
- Remove any food source, such as bird feeders, and make compost piles and gardens inaccessible.
- Spray them with a hose, make loud noises, or open and close an umbrella to scare them away.
- Remove or cover any reflective surface that male turkeys may be attracted to when they see their own reflection.
For rat infestations on your own property, contact a local pest control company to arrange for removal.
To prevent rat infestations, make sure your property is not friendly to rats.
Remove outdoor food sources:
- Make sure garbage can lids fit tightly.
- Put compost bins on a base and make sure the lid fits tightly.
- Pick up fruit and berries that have fallen off trees and bushes.
- Pick up pet waste in your yard.
- Don’t overfill bird feeders.
- If you have a chicken coop, don’t leave feed or water in it overnight.
Don’t give rats a place to nest:
- Stack firewood 18 inches off the ground and away from buildings.
- Keep grass and bushes cut short and your yard free of clutter.
- Clean sheds and storage areas regularly.
- Don’t keep upholstered furniture outside.
- Seal holes with steel wool and caulk.
If you are having problems with a rat population in your neighborhood, or if you live near a property that has a garbage or food accumulation that may attract rats, please call us at (608) 242-6515.
You might be surprised or afraid if you see a fox in your neighborhood. Foxes have become very good at living among humans. It's becoming more common to find them living under decks or sheds in populated areas. They eat small animals like mice and rabbits, and fruits and bugs, so any danger to your dogs and cats is minimal. We respond to calls of sick or injured foxes, but we are unable to trap and relocate healthy foxes. If you would like a fox removed from your property, you should contact the DNR, a private trapper, or a pest control company.
The most common call we get about foxes is about mange. A fox that is sick with mange can be rehabilitated, but they are notoriously difficult to catch. If you frequently see a fox with mange, and it does not run away or seem to be aware of you if you approach it, please call dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and ask to speak with an Animal Services Officer.
- Animal Services Officer Dispatch
(608) 255-2345 (urgent)
- Animal Services Office
(608) 267-1989 (non-urgent)