OCEAN CITY – The number of interactions between animals and humans has spiked dramatically in the resort recently, causing town officials to remind citizens of the potential dangers associated with confronting wildlife in otherwise developed areas of town.
According to a report released this week, the OCPD’s animal control officers have seen a sharp increase in the number of complaints about wildlife generating from within Ocean City. During the past year, Ocean City residents and visitors have seen a dramatic increase in wildlife throughout the resort, which has become a cause for concern.
The OCPD this week is reminding residents and visitors alike they should be aware wild animals such as marine mammals, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits, snakes and even white tail deer have been seen throughout the island community. Residents and visitors are reminded while it is normal to see wildlife in Ocean City and in the waters surrounding the town, some times the animals come into direct conflict with their human neighbors.
Often, the animals are discovered in trashcans, under houses, in attics and even inside homes. For example, baby opossums are often located in open pipes and holes that are present in almost every home, according to police.
Ocean City has always been home to a wide array of wild animals, and with few exceptions, the generally timid creatures have avoided their human neighbors. However, as the resort has built out over the years and more and more open space has disappeared, interactions between wild animals and humans have become more prevalent, according to OCPD Animal Control Officer Barb Wisniewski.
“The increase in human and animal contact can be directly attributed to the amount of development that has occurred in Ocean City over the past two years,” she said. “The animals have always been here. They were living in the undeveloped areas of the city such as Sunset Island and some of the coastal areas that have recently been developed. With the loss of the animals’ natural habitats, they have now taken up residence with their human neighbors.”
While many in the resort have grown accustomed to having wild animals in their midst to some degree, others are taking steps on their own to eradicate the wildlife. According to the OCPD, several concerned Ocean City residents have contracted commercial trappers to come into the resort and trap the animals. The OCPD this week is reminding residents while using a licensed trapper is not illegal, the town of Ocean City does require they be licensed to operate within its corporate limits.
While many of the wild animals seen in and around the resort are harmless, the OCPD is also warning residents contact with wildlife can result in injuries and the spreading of diseases. To that end, OCPD animal control officers are asking residents to contact them if they believe or know of any sick animals living near their homes. In addition, the animal control officers are reminding residents injured or sick wild animals potentially present a danger not only to themselves but to their pets as well.
The OCPD currently has two fully qualified professional animal control officers on staff including Wisniewski and Donald Spence. Residents in need of an OCPD animal control officer are urged to call the OCPD at 410-723-6600.