Surge in wildlife spotting are causing concern

Observing wildlife in nature can be a joyous occasion, but interacting with wildlife on your residential property can be a much different experience. Urbanization can displace wildlife, and development projects in Town have resulted in a surge of wildlife reports in and around neighborhoods. That includes properties near the Liberty Estates development around U.S. 30 and Whitcomb Street after several acres of property were cleared, homes in the Sedona neighborhood also have observed wildlife following the Commonwealth Edison project to replace power line towers and in Waterford Estates, again, near the above-mentioned utility project.

In both areas, residents have noticed gray foxes, opossums, raccoons, and other animals near their homes. Residents have expressed concerns that these animals could pose a health and safety threat to people or pets. The Town of Merrillville is sympathetic to these concerns, but Merrillville doesn’t have jurisdiction over the collection of wildlife. The state of Indiana has laws covering how landowners can address wildlife concerns, but the state and state-operated entities such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) don’t collect wild animals as a service to residents. However, the DNR does offer guidance on how residents can address wildlife concerns. These tips can be found by visiting the DNR’s “Living with Wildlife” website page at this link:

Among the information on the page is the type of wild animals that landowners or tenants can legally capture on their properties. If you need assistance removing wildlife from your property, the DNR suggests contacting a wildlife control operator. A database of such operators is available here:

If you happen to encounter wildlife on your property and feel unsafe, the DNR offers the following suggestions:

  • Bring pets and small children near you. If possible hold them in your arms. 
  • Do not approach an animal or corner it. Give it a way to escape. 
  • Do not run from the animal. Stand and face the animal, making eye contact.
  • Make yourself appear large. Raise your arms, stand tall and wide, and use clothing to appear larger. 
  • In a loud, firm voice, yell and make noise and shout at the animal. You can also stomp your feet, shake a can of coins, or use other items to make noise. 
  • Throw small items like stones or sticks at the animal. Do not throw food. 
  • If necessary, fight back and defend yourself. 

For more information on how to handle wildlife issues, contact the DNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife at 317-232-4200 or email using the address provided below:  

I hope this information can assist you. We have disrupted our wildlife friends. I hope to see very soon reports of wildlife sightings subside as projects are completed and wildlife finds new homes. Remember, they have always been there, we have come into their homes with development. -Rick Bella, Town Council President, Ward 5 Representative

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