Wildlife & Domestic Animal Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is urban or suburban wildlife?

A. Urban and suburban wildlife includes any wild animal that lives in an urban or suburban environment, such as the City of Southfield. Urban wildlife includes birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians. Some urban wildlife is native, like white tail deer or eastern grey squirrels, while some are non-native, like the spotted lanternfly or nutria. Domesticated and companion animals, like dogs, exotic pets, and farm animals are not considered urban wildlife. Domesticated but feral animals like pigeons and stray cats are also not considered urban wildlife.

Q. Why is there so much wildlife in Southfield?

A. Southfield, like many suburban communities, is a habitat designed for people, but the physical land itself is also home to wild animals that arrived or existed long before humans settled here. Humans and wildlife both require food, water, shelter, and space to survive. Southfield is fortunate to have an ample supply of green spaces and natural areas, tributaries of the Rouge River, and other environmental conditions that are favorable to a variety of species of wildlife. The presence of many diverse species of wildlife can be seen as a good indicator of the general health of the urban ecosystem, but like any system, conflicts with humans can arise and natural balances can be upset.

Q. Does the presence of wildlife in Southfield present a danger to me or my family?

A. Most wild animals will do their best to avoid humans and minimize direct contact. But some wild animals become used to seeing and being around people and may lose their natural fear of humans. The local deer and turkey populations are a prime example of this desensitization phenomena. Conflicts between people and wildlife often arise when the boundaries between the two groups begin to crumble or are not respected. However, unless an animal is injured, cornered, or ill with a disease like rabies, most wildlife in Southfield do not present a direct threat to residents. To avoid conflicts with wildlife, always remember to keep your distance, keep pets on a leash in natural areas, feed pets indoors, and make sure your trash and food waste is secured in a garbage can. If you are experiencing a problem with a rabid or aggressive wild animal, please contact Animal Control at (248) 796-5425 or the following link. You can also look up a local nuisance animal control company.

Q. Do urban coyotes pose a danger to my family or pets?

A. As scavenging predators, coyotes may appear more threatening than other wildlife that are seen in Southfield; however, they usually the do not pose a significant threat to humans. Coyotes naturally view humans as a threat and avoid them in the wild. There are rare occasions in which coyotes have attacked unattended children or other humans; however, such incidents have never been reported in Southfield, and such attacks rarely result in death (as few as two human deaths in the United States since the 1980’s). You have a much higher chance of being bitten by a domestic dog than being attacked by a coyote. However, coyotes will view small pets as potential food, especially if left outside unattended at night or near dawn or dusk. Pet owners who are concerned about their pet being eaten by a coyote (or killed by a car or another wild or domestic animal) should take precautions by not allowing their pets to roam freely at night.

It is also important to remember that some Coyotes which may have become habituated to human presence via direct (handouts) or indirect (pets, garbage, pet food, etc.) feeding may become more aggressive towards and less fearful of humans. Such animals require hazing (i.e. scare conditioning) to reestablish their fear of humans. Coyotes that become overly aggressive and/ or attack humans need to be lethally removed. Contact Animal Control at (248) 796-5425 or the following link. You can also look up a local nuisance animal control company

Q. What do I do if I find a wild animal in my house?

The Southfield Animal Control can help a homeowner remove a wild animal if it is in one of the main rooms of the property. Call (248) 796-5410 for assistance. Southfield animal control cannot assist with animals in the attic or walls of a property. In those cases, the resident must hire a private “critter control” company. 

Q. What do you do if you find a dead animal on your property?

The City of Southfield can only remove dead animals from public property. It is the responsibility of the homeowner or renter to dispose of any dead animals found on private property.  Dead animals on private property can be disposed by placing them in a plastic bag in your regular trash container that is no larger than 32 gallons.  If a resident needs assistance removing a dead animal from their private property, they must hire a private “critter control” company at their own expense.  

Q. What do you do if you find a dead animal on the street or public right-of-way? 

If a dead animal is found on the street or other public right-of-way, please call the Department of Public Works Streets & Highways Division at (248) 796-4860 or access the Southfield Solutions app or web portal to request assistance.

An animal assistance hotline has been established at (248) 796-5410. This line directs callers to areas of the police department that can best help them. The warden’s regular work schedule is Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If residents have an emergency situation, they should call 9-1-1, as this system has enhanced identification and locator capabilities.

Southfield residents may also call the City’s special Eyes on Southfield hotline, (248) 796-EYES, 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week to report dead animals or any code issues.

Q. Deer eat everything I plant in my yard and garden, what can I do?

A. Whether you love or hate them, deer and other wild animals are often a thorn in the side of gardeners everywhere. Unless you have the resources and ability to install a tall fence (at least six feet), there is no such thing as a deer-proof garden. But you can make your landscaping and garden less attractive to the animals. Although deer will eat anything if they are hungry enough, deer tend to prefer plants with lush foliage and high-water content (for example, Hostas, Tulips, legumes, and many vegetable garden plants). Deer are less likely to be attracted to the following: herbs and strongly flavored plants, plants with aromatic foliage, plants with fuzzy or hairy leaves, plants with thorns or other prickly defenses, ferns, and grasses. Other options include the using of natural or chemical deer repellants, installing motion-sensing sprinklers or noise makers, and using netting or cages to protect specific plants. The Michigan State University Extension (link 1 & link 2) and the City of Ann Arbor have both compiled lists of native and non-native deer-resistant plants that are less likely to be targeted by deer.

Q. What do I do if I see a fawn or other young wildlife away from its mother?

A. Fawns, baby bunnies, and other young wildlife have become a common sight in Southfield and surrounding communities in the spring and early summer. It is very important to keep a respectful distance from wild animals to ensure everyone’s safety. With deer, in particular, mother does will often leave their fawn(s) in a secluded spot for its safety while the doe forages for food, and fawns will instinctively hunker down and lie very still to avoid being spotted by predators. This is natural and intentional. Fawns are rarely abandoned and does will return periodically to nurse their young, and the same is true with many other wild animals too. For nearly all wild animals, their best chance of survival is to stay in the wild with minimal human contact. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may legally possess abandoned or injured wildlife of any kind. Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess or move a live wild animal in Michigan. The only time a baby animal may be removed from the wild is when it is known the parent is dead or the animal is injured; this still must be done by a licensed professional. Sometimes, the best course of action is to let nature take its course. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found here

Q. I love wildlife and do not want them to starve. Can I feed the animals?

A. Under a Southfield deer feeding prohibition ordinance and a Michigan Department of Natural Resources baiting and feeding ban, it is illegal to put out any substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruit, vegetables, hay or any other food material, whether natural or manufactured, on the ground or less than five feet above the ground that could attract deer. Many people enjoy observing wildlife near their homes, and absent a notice from the Michigan DNR, there is nothing wrong with putting out a bird feeder for songbirds, so long as the feeders are hung at an adequate height. However, removing bird feeders entirely is the only way to guarantee they will not act as bait for deer, and feeders may attract other wildlife (wanted or unwanted), such as squirrels, rabbits, ducks, turkey, skunks, raccoons, etc.

Q. I almost hit a wild animal while driving, what can I do to avoid this in the future?

A. While wild animals are often on the move, spring and autumn can present a heightened risk for animal-vehicle collisions. There are several reasons for this: (1) birthing and breeding seasons, (2) shorter periods of daylight but less harsh weather conditions, and (3) overlaps between animal and human activities during the dawn and dusk hours. Driver awareness is key, but there are other tips that you can keep in mind to stay safe. 

  • Be especially watchful, especially during and/or near the dawn and dusk hours when many wild animals tend to be the most active.
  • Heed wildlife or deer crossing signs and decrease speeds in these areas.
  • Remember that some animals, like deer and turkeys, often cross roadways in groups or single-file lines. If you see one, there might be more following.
  • At night, use high-beam headlights when you are able to, and look out for the reflection of light in a wild animal’s eyes.
  • Remember that headlights may “stun” a wild animal, like a deer, causing it to freeze in or near the roadway. Use your horn to scare the animal away if needed.
  • If you see deer, coyotes, or other wild animals in or near the roadway, consider using your emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
  • Do not assume you know how a wild animal will react or which direction it will go. Animals often bolt in unexpected directions. Slow down or stop if needed (and be safe). 
  • If a collision appears inevitable, brake firmly and attempt to stop. Avoid sharp jerking motions if you need to avoid a collision, and be mindful of weather and road conditions.
  • If you hit a wild animal and it appears to be wounded, stay away from it. A frightened or wounded wild animal can become aggressive and hurt you or itself further. Report accidents to local law enforcement and your insurance carrier as needed.

Q. The turkeys are becoming a nuisance, what can I do?

A. Sightings of and reported conflicts with wild turkeys have been on the rise in some parts of Southfield. While turkeys naturally tend to avoid humans most of the year, they can be territorial and might become bolder and more aggressive during their spring breeding season (February to May, depending on temperatures). During mating season, turkeys may respond aggressively to reflective surfaces (such as windows, automobile mirrors, or polished car doors), thinking that their reflection is an intruding male turkey, so you may wish to cover some of these surfaces or park your vehicles indoors. Hazing and establishing dominance can be an effective way to dissuade turkeys that have invaded your yard or neighborhood, and potential tactics might include making loud noises while making yourself look large, popping open an umbrella, throwing tennis balls or sticks, or dousing the birds with a hose or squirt gun. Leashed dogs can also be an effective deterrent. Be mindful of any birdseed or other food sources that might be accessible. Turkeys may also try to nest near your property. This can be discouraged by removing lower roosting limbs, brushy areas, and other preferred nesting sites near your home. If you are experiencing a problem with a rabid or aggressive wild animal, please contact Animal Control at (248) 796-5425 or the following link. You can also look up a local nuisance animal control company.

Q. I found an injured animal. What should I do?

A. Southfield Animal Control will respond to calls regarding sick or injured wildlife. They can be reached at (248) 796-5410. Injured birds such as geese or hawks are taken to a rehab center/nature center such as Howell Nature Center for treatment. Animals that can carry rabies such as adult raccoons or skunks are not taken for rehab, however babies may be transported for rehab. Rabies testing is only done on sick animals if the animal, including an owned dog, is involved in a human bite. Rabies is always present in our local wildlife. Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital handles the transport and testing of local animals. Rabies testing is done on brain tissue. Therefore, the animal must be euthanized in order to see if there has been human or domestic animal exposure.

If a wild animal is acting strangely such as foaming from the mouth, walking in circles, or otherwise acting abnormal, avoid all contact and contact the Southfield animal control office to respond. Never put your own safety at risk trying to help wildlife. 

If you can safely capture the animal, place it in an escape-proof box (with air holes) not much bigger than the animal itself. Do not offer food or water as it may harm or even kill the animal. 

You can also contact the Department of Natural resources at (313) 396-6890 for additional assistance.

Q. Are chicken coops allowed in Southfield? 

A. Yes. Just two chickens will supply about a dozen tasty eggs each week to a family home. In an urban setting, it is recommended to start with two or three hens.  

Per City Code Chapter 113 Sec. 9.76, It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any animal or fowl within one hundred seventy-five (175) feet of any dwelling other than the dwelling of the owner, or to permit any animal or any fowl owned by him or in his possession or control, to run at large in any street, alley or public place, or upon the premises of another without the express permission of the owner or occupant thereof, except such animals as are commonly housed in a human dwelling as household pets.

Southfield city code Chapter 5 Sec. 5.62B requires that chickens must be housed some distance from residences, as few as 50 feet or as many as 175 feet. Requirements also vary depending on whether the home in question is that of the chickens’ owner or of a neighbor. If you believe one of your neighbors is in violation of this ordinance, contact Southfield Code Enforcement at (248) 796-4140.

Q. Are Goats and Pigs allowed? 

Residents are allowed to have one pot bellied pig on their property. The pot bellied pig cannot be larger than 100 pounds in weight and 25 inches in height, measured at the shoulder. The pot bellied pig must be kept indoors at all times except for evacuation of waste materials or during exercise periods, during which times, the pig must be kept on a leash. The pot bellied pig must be vaccinated for rabies, leptospirosis, erysipelas and brucellosis by the age of four and registered with the city.

City Code Chapter 113 Sec. 9.75 states that it is unlawful for any person to keep live goats or swine on any premises within the city except in slaughterhouses or yards adjacent to them. Provided, however, not more than one (1) pot bellied pig shall be permitted within a residential dwelling unit within the city as a pet subject to the requirements and restrictions hereafter set forth. "Pot bellied pig" shall mean a domesticated Vietnamese, Chinese, or Asian or other domesticated pig, not exceeding one hundred (100) pounds in weight and twenty-five (25) inches in height measured at the shoulder, kept as a pet for personal enjoyment and human companionship and harbored inside of the residential dwelling unit.

Q. Are pet licenses required for domestic pets in Southfield?

A. Yes. Residents are reminded that City Ordinance requires all cats and dogs in Southfield to be licensed through the Police Records Bureau. 
Pet licenses expire on December 31 of each year.   After January 1, a $25.00 delinquency fee will be added to the normal license fee (per household, not per pet). If you have not licensed your pet, you may do so by mail or in person. If renewing by mail, please complete the Pet License Application Form (PDF).   

You must return the completed form to us with proof of rabies vaccination and a check payable to the “City of Southfield." In order to receive the discounted rate listed as S/N (spayed/ neutered) you will need to furnish documented proof of neutering from your veterinarian. Once the information is processed, a license will be mailed to you. The same information is required when purchasing at the Police Records Bureau. 

Pet License Fees:

Animals not Neutered Neutered Animals
1 YR Male/Female $20.00 1 YR Spayed/Neutered $10.00
3 YR Male/Female $50.00 3 YR Spayed/Neutered $25.00
Senior Owner - 1 YR $18.00 Senior Owner - 1 YR $9.00
Senior Owner - 3 YR $45.00 Senior Owner - 3 YR $22.50

For more information, call the Police Records Bureau at (248) 796-5580.

Other Helpful Tips & Reminders for Residents: 

  1. Common wildlife in Southfield includes deer, fox, opossums, raccoons, ground hogs, skunks, squirrels, rodents and turkeys. The Animal Warden does not respond to these type of wildlife complaints unless in a living area. They will offer advice for deterring these animals from private property.
  2. Coyotes are common in the area, please monitor all small pets when outside.
  3. Dead animals on private property should be properly disposed of in a sealed plastic bag that is placed in approved trash receptacle.
  4. Feeding of stray animals is discouraged.
  5. Feeding of deer is prohibited by City Ordinance No. 1748
  6. Southfield residents are reminded that City Ordinance requires that all cats and dogs be licensed through the Police Records Bureau.  For more information contact (248) 796-5580.
  7. If a wild animal is acting strangely such as foaming from the mouth, walking in circles, or otherwise acting abnormal, avoid that animal and please contact the police department for further assistance at (248) 796-5500. 
  8. If you find an animal you believe to be ill, injured or orphaned, please call Southfield Animal Control at (248) 796-5410 before intervening.

For further questions, please refer to the following contact information:

  • All Emergency Situations: 911
  • City of Southfield Animal Warden Office: (248) 796-5425
  • To Report Dead Animals (24 hours): (248) 796-3937
  • Oakland County Animal Shelter: (248) 858-1070

Further information about all City of Southfield Code of Ordinances relating to wildlife & domestic animals may be found at the following link:

Southfield Wildlife City Code