Hurricane Katrina Update: New Orleans' Wildlife Residents

Citing the disruptive impact of Hurricane Katrina upon nutria, alligators, foxes, raccoons, and other animals living in or around the city, The Humane Society of the United States is asking New Orleans residents to adopt humane methods of dealing with their wild neighbors. The Society's appeal comes in the wake of reports that dislocated wildlife are causing problems for the human population of the city.

Natural disasters can dramatically change a landscape, according to HSUS wildlife experts. "Beyond the devastation it wrought upon the human population and physical landscape of the city, the hurricane also disrupted the daily ebb and flow of animal life. With such sudden environmental changes to the entire metropolitan area, it's to be expected," said Laura Simon, field director of the urban wildlife program at The HSUS. "However, these situations are usually temporary and natural, and there are humane ways to ensure that animals and humans can co-exist peacefully."

Trapping and relocating or killing wild animals, according to the Humane Society experts, will not solve residents' wildlife-related concerns. Instead, the Society offers these tips for peaceful coexistence:

Solving Problems with Alligators:

Avoid the alligator and call the LA Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries. Do not feed alligators and do not attempt to handle them. Even small alligators can cause a serious injury if improperly handled.

Solving Problems with Nutria:

Remove food sources. Be sure to pick up all ripe fruit that falls to the ground under trees Don't compost any food scraps.
Do not handle the animals. The young are especially curious and friendly, but will become more unpredictable as they age.

Solving Problems with Coyote/Foxes:

Remove food sources. Keep garbage in a secure container, and only put it outside on the morning of pick-up.
Trim and remove fallen brush. Cut back brush around property that provides cover for the animals and their prey.
Pick up fallen fruit. Foxes, coyotes (and other animals) can be attracted to this tasty treat.

Solving Problems with Raccoons:

Close off hiding places. Raccoons will often use uncapped chimneys and attics for denning, birthing and raising their young. Assuming the animals can leave on their own, appropriate harassment techniques can be used to encourage raccoons to move on.
Remove food sources. Discourage garbage raiding by placing cans, with secured lids, at the curb on the day of pick-up rather than the night before. Place cans inside a shed or garage between pick-ups.
Wait it out. This is particularly important when a mother raccoon with young is present. Raccoon cubs are unable to fend for themselves for a long period of time after birth, and usually do not even venture out of the den until eight or nine weeks of age.

Louisiana residents looking for humane ways to deal with their wild neighbors may call The HSUS' wildlife helpline at 203-389-4411. All residents should pick up open food containers and keep trash can lids secure. For additional tips visit

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