LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Heading into the backyard can be a walk on the wild side for folks in New Jersey, but residents in Bergen County say they’re seeing more raccoons, skunks, and foxes up close in personal than in years past.
Laurie Thorsen’s four-year-old dog, Brodie, loves running around her backyard in Lyndhurst, but it wasn’t all fun and games a few weeks ago when she was on the receiving end of a skunk’s fury.
“She was tearing so bad it looked like she was sobbing,” said Thoreson. “She had gotten sprayed by a skunk, and ever since then we’ve had a problem.”
It took Laurie more than three hours to fully clean her pup’s eyes, mouth, and fur. She says skunks have been back to her yard at least five times since the odorous ordeal.
“This is the most I have ever smelled skunks or seen them around, it’s crazy,” said Thoreson.
Brodie’s not the only dog in town to get sprayed this summer. The Blanchfields say their dog has already gotten sprayed twice since the weather’s turned warm.
“A lot of skunks, more than usual,” said Barbara Blanchfield.
Others say they need to use a flashlight and make noise to avoid getting skunked while walking their dogs.
On Monday, a family of raccoons climbed up a woman’s gutters in Ho-Ho-Kus to wreak havoc on her roof. In Fair Lawn, foxes have been roaming around town around the clock. Even CBS2’s own John Elliott spotted one last week in West Caldwell.
Officer Mark Byrnes from Bergen County Animal Control says this past winter could be the reason people are seeing more animals around the Garden State this summer.
“Because it was a warmer winter they started breeding earlier so we saw young wildlife earlier than we have in the past,” said Deborah Yankow from Bergen County Animal Services.
“Some actually manage to get a second and third little in the season when historically they would not,” said Byrnes.
Experts say it’s all cyclical, so when there are more raccoons and skunks around they attract more foxes, coyotes, and other predators in the area. To safely live alongside wild animals while keeping them away from your home, don’t let your backyard become their kitchen.
“The big thing is your garbage cans, make sure they have lids,” said Yankow said.
“If you have fruit bearing trees, pick it up,” said Byrnes. “Don’t let it sit on the ground, something will come for it then something will come hunting that.”
If you think a wild animal may be diseased, call your local animal services.