Wildlife/Rabies Information

Living With Wildlife

If you or your pet has come into contact with wildlife, it’s important for you to know the correct steps to take to ensure your safety and the safety of your pet. Follow these important steps on the Mecklenburg County website.

Regardless of the type of wildlife in your area, the following tips can help keep you and your pets safe.

  • Make sure your pet is up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.  North Carolina law states that any owner of a dog, cat or ferret shall have their animal vaccinated by four (4) months of age and keep the animal currently vaccinated against rabies.
    If your dog or cat comes in contact with a wild animal, this could save its life.

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control holds a free rabies vaccine clinic on the second Saturday of each month for Mecklenburg County residents.

  • Make sure that your trash is secure.  Many wild animals are opportunistic and will go for an easy meal.  Put your garbage cans out only on trash collection day and secure the lid with bungee cords if necessary.

a raccoon stands in a field   

Do Not Feed Your Pet Outside

  • If you must feed your animal outside, remove any food that is left after your pet has finished eating.

  • Bird feeders often attract small animals such as squirrels and small rodents.  Larger animals will then prey on these squirrels and rodents thus attracting them to your property.

Do Not Leave Your Pets Outdoors Unattended

  • Dogs taken outdoors by their owners should always be leashed unless in a fenced yard, where they should still be supervised and checked regularly.

  • Dogs should not be tied outdoors, unfenced or unsupervised in areas where wildlife and rabies are prevalent.

  • Cats should be kept indoors unless trained to remain at home

  • Dogs and cats should not be left outside for any period of time unsupervised especially at night, even in a fenced enclosure.

  • Invisible fences do not protect your pets from predators.

Protect Yourself

If your pet comes in contact with or is injured by a wild animal, protect yourself first!

  • Wear gloves to handle your pet immediately after the encounter.

  • If there are any injuries to the pet and they are not life threatening, wash off your pet with a garden hose.  This will remove any of the wild animal's saliva from your animal.

  • If the injuries are life threatening, wrap your pet in a towel or blanket and transport to a veterinarian.

  • If you come in contact with a wild animal immediately wash any areas of exposure with soap and water and contact your physician.

  • If you or your pet come into physical contact with a wild animal, follow these important steps on the Mecklenburg County website.

  • Finally, consider removing a habitat that provides protective cover for wild animals or their prey.  This will dissuade wildlife from using the space as part of their territory or home range and will reduce the likelihood of conflicts.

Other great resources when it comes to wildlife:

We also get a lot of calls for baby wildlife from birds to rabbits, and deer. There are multiple resources for baby wildlife listed on NC Wildlife's website.


  • See a baby bird that needs to be in a nest? Put it back! Mom will not reject the baby.

  • See a baby that is not flying but has feathers? It's a fledgling and needs to be left alone. Mom and dad are nearby, and it will learn to fly soon.


  • Check your yard for baby rabbits before mowing. If you see a nest, you can move them out of the way that's close enough for mom to find.


  • See a baby deer that appears to have been abandoned by its mother? Leave it alone! Mom is nearby and she will be back by the end of the day.

  • See a baby squirrel that looks like it should be in a nest? Find the nest and put it back! Mom will not reject the baby.
If you have found a baby and it is injured or mom doesn't return for several hours, please contact a wildlife rehabber instead of calling ACC . The quicker the rehabber gets the baby, the better. Find local rehabbers.
See a raccoon, opossum, fox or coyote out during the day? That's normal! They don't always sleep during the day, especially if they have babies that they need to feed around the clock. If they are acting drunk or attacking inanimate objects or themselves then you need to call us. Otherwise, they are likely just passing through.




a coyote stands in a field

Coyotes in urban areas normally run in a family unit consisting of a female, a male and their pups.   A female may have four to seven pups in each litter and can reproduce twice a year.  Although they can live 13 years most coyotes in urban areas will die within the first three years of life.  Coyote sightings usually increase in the fall because the pups have matured, and they are moving onto form their own pack.

The urban coyote's diet mainly consists of small rodents, rabbits, snakes, squirrels, and even fruits and vegetables.  Coyotes are not predators that will normally attack humans and, in most cases, will become frightened and run away if they see a human.

Even though they don't pose a threat to people, their prey can include domestic pets.  Keep your pets indoors if you have seen a coyote in your area.

Coyotes range in size from 20-40 pounds.  They will have erect, pointed ears, a slender muzzle and a dropping bushy tail.  Coyotes are predominately brownish grey in color with red behind the ears and on the face and the belly is light grey to cream-colored.  However, color can vary among individuals from grey to black.  The coyote's eyes will be a vivid yellow with large pupils, unlike a dog's eyes which are brown or blue.

Coyotes fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.   NC Wildlife will not typically respond to a coyote sighting because they are indigenous to this area, and it is not uncommon to see them.  However, if you have questions or concerns, you may contact them at 919-707-0030.

Animal Care and Control will respond if you physically come into contact with any wild animal or if your domestic animal fights with or is wounded by any wild animal.  A report will be filed but that does not mean the animal will be caught or trapped especially if it is no longer in the area.  To file a report please call 311.

If you are having a nuisance wildlife problem, you can contact one of the many animal removal companies listed in the phone book.


Links of Interest:

NC Wildlife - Coexisting with Coyotes

For trapping information and trappers for hire, visit NC Wildlife - Trapping  

Canadian Geese

two geese swim in a pond

Geese are getting more and more used to the human and human environment. This includes new housing development, lawn and landscaping noises, and even domesticated pets. During the spring nesting season geese become extremely aggressive as they protect their eggs, nest and territory. Several people have been attacked by geese that are nesting.
Generally, the goose (female) will be on the nest, but the gosling (male) will be nearby, usually no further away than 20 feet, and will hurry back to the nest if he sees his mate and territory is being threatened.
The best thing to do is to avoid the nest and goose by going around it or maybe taking another direction. If there is a goose outside of a business that you work that refuses to let you get to the main door, then go in through another door to avoid confrontation.

If you encounter an aggressive goose, it’s best to do the following:

  • Do not turn your back on an aggressive goose. Maintain direct eye contact and keep your chest and face pointed at the goose.

  • Calmly and slowly back away.

  • Maintain a neutral demeanor, i.e., do not act hostile or show fear.

  • If a goose flies toward your face duck and move at a right angle to the direction of flight while maintaining your front toward the goose.

One way to deter geese from hanging out in your neighborhood is to make it unappealing for them.

  • Do not feed geese. When they are fed by humans the fear of humans diminishes and this will cause greater attacks from geese.

  • Don’t give them shelter. Geese won’t migrate to an area that has a lot of bushes and trees surrounding a pond or home. They’ll be too afraid that predators are hiding in the brush.

  • Reduce or eliminate their food source. They are mostly attracted to golf courses and airport yards; especially when they are freshly mowed. These areas give the geese an all-you-can-eat buffet. One type of deterrent is to use methyl anthranilate which is a grape flavoring in our food after your lawn is freshly mowed. This stuff tastes terrible to geese.

Geese are federally protected which means that it is illegal to harm geese, their eggs, or their nests in the US without permission from the US Fish and Wild Service. Geese can be scared away, humanely, using loud noises or by trained goose-herding dogs. However, trying to scare them away during their nesting season is a bad idea! They will become more aggressive and likely attack.

If there are any issues with geese nesting in a populated area or being aggressive, you can contact NC Wildlife for the best advice on how to handle or relocate them.


Links of Interest:

NC Wildlife - Coexisting with Canadian Geese

For hunting information, visit NC Wildlife - Hunting 

Goose Conflict Manual

More info from Carolina Waterfowl Rescue