The City of Shoreline boasts over 380 acres of park land for residents. Green spaces provide more than recreation and outdoor experiences, they also provide important wildlife habitat. Raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, beavers, mountain beavers, turtles and coyotes all make their homes in Shoreline. Highlands residents have reported seeing a cougar in their neighborhood in the past and Innis Arden is currently home to a pair of nesting bald eagles.
Urban wildlife plays an important role in our environment and, for the most part, Shoreline residents both human and wildlife coexist peacefully. Problems tend to arise when animals begin to regularly go in search of food or shelter on private property. The biggest nuisances caused by these animals are tipping over garbage cans, damaging gardens, denning in and under homes and attacking small pets.
The best strategy to prevent conflicts with wildlife is to avoid attracting them.
Eliminate food sources
- Keep small animals inside unless a human is outside with them. Fences are not enough to protect them from climbing wildlife like raccoons and coyotes.
- Feed pets indoors.
- Lock pet doors at night.
- Secure your garbage and green bin lids with bungee cords or clamps. Even better, keep bins inside the garage or a shed and put them out only on the morning of pickup.
- Compost in a secure container or compost structure. If composting in-ground, cover new food scraps with at least eight inches of soil.
- Promptly clean up any spillage from bird feeders.
- Clean barbecue grills and grease traps after each use.
Eliminate access to denning sites
- Close any gaps to common den sites (attics and spaces under houses, porches and sheds) with ¼ inch mesh hardware cloth.
- Install a commercially designed and engineered chimney cap.
- Keep trees limbs trimmed away from structures.
- Remove vegetation on buildings, such as ivy, which provide a way to climb structures and hide access points.
- Install metal or plastic spikes (available at some garden and bird-supply companies) on gutters to prevent climbing.
Raccoons are frequent visitors to most backyards in Shoreline. While they can look cute, please do not feed them. Raccoons can carry roundworms called Baylisascaris which can be transmitted to humans through dirt contaminated with raccoon feces. Baylisascaris roundworms can cause fatal brain infections in humans.
Aggressive or threatening animals
Most Shoreline wildlife will run away from encounters with humans. If a coyote or raccoon approaches too closely, restrain your pets, pick up small children and act aggressively in order to make the animal think that you’re a potential danger instead of prey. Throw stones, shout, wave your arms and make yourself look bigger by stepping up onto a rock or stair. At home, a spray of water from the hose can be a good deterrent.
If an animal continues to act aggressively or in an unusual way, contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (425) 775-1311. In an emergency situation, call 911.
Injured or young, abandoned wildlife
PAWS Wildlife Center is our area’s licensed rehabilitator for injured and abandoned wildlife. If you see an animal that is injured or potentially abandoned, call PAWS at (425) 787-2500 x817 for help in determining the proper course of action.
Use extreme caution around injured animals as they can be dangerous. Unless the animal is in immediate danger, e.g. on a roadway, do not approach it until you have spoken with a rehabilitator.
In some cases, baby animals that appear to be abandoned are either old enough to be independent or are waiting for their mothers to return from foraging for food. Keep people and pets away from the area as the mother will not return if a disturbance is present.
If a baby bird has fallen from its nest, wear gloves and gently place it back. If the bird appears injured or you cannot locate the nest, contact PAWS for instructions.
Note: It is illegal in the state of Washington to possess a wild animal without a permit unless you are transporting that animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
Harbor seal pups can occasionally be seen at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park in the summer and early fall. These pups are not abandoned, they are resting and warming themselves on the beach while their mothers forage for food. Do not approach! Disturbance by humans or dogs can cause stress in the pups and delay the mother’s return. Stay at least 100 yards away and keep pets restrained. If a seal reacts to your presence, you’re too close. Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and interfering with one could incur civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation or criminal prosecution. If a pup has been unattended by its mother for 48 hours or is clearly injured, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service at (206) 526-6733.
Dead wild animals
Contact the Customer Response Team at (206) 801-2700 for disposal of animals on public property. Dead crows, which are particularly susceptible to the West Nile Virus, should be reported to Public Health-King County and Seattle at (206) 205-4394. Always use gloves when handling any dead bird.