This time of year marks the point when game wardens begin receiving calls from concerned residents who notice wildlife frequenting their back yards. Game Warden Chris Dyer said foxes in particular become a more common sight as their litter of pups are born and they begin looking for a quick meal source, which can often be found around people's homes.

Dyer attributed the increase in the number of wildlife sightings around homes to a number of factors, including more people raising free-range chickens and the prevalence of bird feeders that are attracting mice and squirrels, which in turn attract larger predators.

In addition to foxes, Dyer said there are populations of bobcats, coyotes and fishers around the area. However, he said foxes tend to be seen more often and are the animals the game wardens are contacted most often about at this time of year.

One of the concerns people have when spotting a foxes in backyards is that the animal may have rabies, especially if it doesn't immediately run off when confronted by a person, Dyer said. However, he pointed out animals such as foxes that spend more time in areas also occupied by people become less afraid of humans.

“Just because [a fox] doesn't run away, that doesn't mean it's sick,” Dyer said.

If local wildlife become a nuisance, Dyer said residents can contact the Maine State Police through the Augusta dispatch center at 624-7076. Police will contact the wardens who can assist the resident in getting in touch with an Animal Damage Control Agent. Dyer said there is a fee for having an agent remove a nuisance animal from a property.

There are steps residents can take to deter animals from going onto their property in search of a meal, Dyer said, such as pouring ammonia on trash bags or around dumpsters, and by cleaning up around outdoor grilling areas. He also recommended residents maintain a safe distance from any wild animal that wanders onto their property.