Approximately 46,300,000 U.S. households own dogs, but the vast majority of those dog owners keep their pooches inside during the frigid winter months. Wildlife in the American West hasn’t been so lucky this season.
Wildlife accidents have been increasing in frequency across multiple western states. Idaho, in particular, has seen some serious loss of life. Approximately 500 pronghorn antelope attempted to cross the frozen Snake River earlier this month but crossed a slick spot where many members of the herd slipped and fell behind.
Idaho Fish and Game staff managed to rescue six of the antelope, but 10 had already been killed by coyotes, and another 20 had to be euthanized due to the severity of their injuries.
Another instance of antelope death occurred in a small Idaho city where the animals were forced into more urban areas as a result of food scarcity. Around 50 were found dead after they had grazed on Japanese Yew, a popular and toxic landscaping plant.
Arizona hasn’t been exempt from urban wildlife encounters, either. Residents in Pine reported that a regularly fed elk charged several people on separate occasions. One woman reported having to seek shelter in a local greenhouse to escape the elk’s antlers and hooves.
However, the most shocking animal encounter Arizona has seen this winter was last week in Sedona. A rabid bobcat attacked and injured four people in the resort town, sparking a wave of panic among residents.
Authorities killed the rabid cat only after it had already managed to injure four people in addition to a dog and a house cat. All of these attacks took place over the course of a week in three separate instances.
Authorities explained that the attacks serve as a reminder to people everywhere never to approach any wild animal in an urban setting, especially if it’s exhibiting strange behavior.
“In the future, if anyone sees an animal that’s acting unusual, somewhat more aggressive or a nocturnal animal out in the daytime, the best thing is to stay away,” said Arizona Game and Fish spokeswoman Shelly Shepherd.