A Bronx woman in her backyard was bitten recently by a wild rabid raccoon.

In the nation's capital, Dupont Circle residents share their neighborhood with raccoon, possums, woodchucks, beaver, deer and the occasional coyote.

Farm buffalo led police on a wild goose chase in a posh Pikesville, MD neighborhood Wednesday.

And police had to shoot a wild 80-pound mountain lion cornered in the back yard tree blocks from an elementary school in one of San Jose, CA's sprawling suburbs less than a mile from the foothills.

Those were just a few of the wild animal sitings that made the news this week among the thousands that occur every day around the nation.

It's a zoo out there.

No matter how much asphalt we pour from coast to coast, we live in a wildlife habitat. While that habitat has been diminished over time, wild animals continue to find ways to thrive.

More and more often they will pay you a visit -- sometimes right in your own backyard -- typically in a search for food or water.

Still, the potential for being attacked by wildlife is low compared to other hazards faced every day, but what you should do varies from creature to creature. You should become familiar with the wildlife in your area and learn what to do when you encounter each species.

Wildlife experts generally advise remaining calm. There's a good chance the animal is just as afraid of you, as you are of it. Do not approach the animal. Depending upon the animal, your behavior or the shape your body assumes in an attempt to interact with the animal could signal to the animal that you are either a threat or prey.

Whenever possible, call 911, your local humane society or the fish and game and wildlife specialists in your area.

Mountain lions have been a growing problem in the south San Francisco Bay Area in recent years and after the mountain lion (also known as a cougar, panther and puma) citing in San Jose this week, California Department of Fish and Game recommended following this existing advice.

  • Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up, if possible, so that they do not panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the lion.
  • Do not crouch or bend over. A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal.
  • Do what you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
  • Fight back if attacked. Some hikers have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

    Prevention, as always, is the best medicine.

  • Do not hike alone. Go in groups, with adults supervising children. Keep children close to you. Observations of captured mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with your children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
  • Do not feed wildlife. That means if you are in an area prone to wildlife sitings, keep your pet feeding inside and your pets and livestock penned or otherwise protected. Attract smaller animals like deer and raccoons and you will also attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
  • Likewise avoid plants that deer prefer to eat. Remove dense and/or low-lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for mountain lions, especially around children's play areas; make it difficult for mountain lions to approach your yard unseen.
  • Outdoor lighting should keep the perimeter of your home well lit at night, to keep any approaching animals visible.
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