Have you spotted a raccoon in a tree or scurrying around during the day?

If so, you aren't the only one. The Dublin Police Department has received a few calls recently from residents who have reported seeing them.

All is well, according to Barbara Ray, Dublin's nature-education coordinator, as long as that raccoon seems to be doing something, such as resting, eating or traveling.

However, if the animal is loitering, moving funny or confused, Ray said, it might be sick or injured, and residents should call the Dublin Police Department's non-emergency number, 614-889-1112.

In an urban setting, spotting a raccoon, especially a young one, running through a yard or crossing a street isn't unusual, Ray said. And with breeding season in Ohio running from February through March, males are looking for females. They often are seen during the day on their way back to their dens, she said.

Inclement weather also could affect raccoon behavior.

Raccoons are a tree species, but they will come out of their dens on a tree branch to warm themselves in the sun, Ray said. Sun has been a rare sight lately in Ohio.

Raccoons sleep in their dens during a snowstorm or cold spell, but once the snow melts or temperatures climb, they will come out to find food and water and warm up, Ray said. And they might climb trees.

Skunks are another animal in their breeding season, Ray said, and residents might smell more skunk odor than normal because the males are marking each other or marking territory.

The best way to coexist with skunks, Ray said, is to prevent them from making dens under porches and make sure no food is outside to attract them.

Ray recommends mesh hardware cloth, similar to chicken wire, but sturdier. Animals can't dig or chew through it, and it must be attached to the top of the underside of a deck and buried in the ground a bit to prevent them from digging underneath it, she said.

A large-scale removal program for skunks isn't helpful, Ray said, because they then reproduce in larger numbers to make up for the population deficit, or other skunks come in to fill the open habitat.

Another animal that's often more visible in winter is a coyote, according to the city's website. This is because the lack of vegetation and harsher conditions sometimes force them to hunt during daylight hours.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife, coyotes are monogamous breeders and breeding occurs January through March. Gestation lasts about 63 days, and litters of one to 12 pups are born in April and May.

If you spot an aggressive or fearless coyote or you believe a pet is in danger, you should report it immediately to Dublin police by calling the non-emergency number, according to the city's website. In case of emergency, such as a bite or physical contact with a coyote, call 911.

To report coyote sightings to help the city track coyotes and monitor their behavior and movements or for more information on coyotes and other wildlife, call Ray at 614-410-4730 or email bray@dublin.oh.us.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

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