By Charly SHELTON
In trying to keep warm, local furry rodents are taking up shelter in unusual places.
The recent winter storms hit Southern California hard, which is a very good thing for the drought but not fun for the furry little wildlife residents of the Crescenta Valley. With nighttime temperatures in the low 40s to mid 30s, the animals have found new and interesting ways to keep warm.
“Well, they’re Southern California animals, so [they get cold easily] too,” said Andrew Hughan, spokesman with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
Many residents have reported that mice and small animals have been building nests in the engine compartment of their cars, snuggling up on the battery to warm themselves overnight. This is usually a Midwest or eastern U.S. occurrence because it doesn’t often get as cold in So Cal.
“It happens. Animal behavior changes quite frequently depending on their situation,” Hughan said. “It has been six years of drought and now it’s raining once or twice a week, so they’re just changing their behavior temporarily to get out of the rain. You hear about that kind of nest building in really cold places. It does happen here but it’s usually pretty rare and luckily the animals survive most of the time.”
And as the cold and wet winter months slowly fade away into spring’s warmth, local residents will start to see more wildlife emerging. Bears, a common visitor to the Crescenta Valley, have been in hibernation since about Thanksgiving and are getting ready to emerge for spring. With their arrival precautions must be taken.
“About the middle of March, the bears will start to come out from their winter sleep and they’ll be very hungry,” Hughan said. “So we want to be sure that if you live in bear country, which is basically anywhere north of the 210, to be bear aware and keep your food locked up, keep your trash cleaned up and don’t put your trashcans out until the morning of collection.”
If residents do see bears around their neighborhood or their homes, it would be a good idea to get some bottles of ammonia and sprinkle it around trash and fences to deter bears from coming back. But hopefully, with all this rain helping the forest, that won’t be as much of a problem this year.
“The rain is excellent, of course, for the drought and it’s going to provide a lot more food, especially for bears as primarily plant eaters, so we should have some very good growth of plants in the spring,” Hughan said.