We are surrounded by all kinds of wild animals, and this time of year, everyone needs to exercise additional caution.

Most people spend more time outside in the summer months than the winter months in Massachusetts. Obviously, the more time spent outside, the more likely a person is to encounter a wild animal.

During a recent interview with Terry Cripps, the Fairhaven Animal Control officer, he explained a person should never feed a wild animal because it causes the animal to associate humans with food, and that is bad for both the animal and the humans.

He also warned against leaving food outside, because it will draw wild animals to the home and possibly lead to an encounter with a domestic pet or a human being. Cats and dogs are considered a food source for many wild animals.

Some of the animals on the SouthCoast that can injure a person, a cat or a dog are foxes, coyotes and fishers.

The fisher (sometimes called a "fisher cat") is a member of the weasel family, and the males grow up to three feet in length. They have powerful jaws, sharp claws and a tremendous ability to climb. They are also carnivorous and stealthy hunters. They primarily eat mice, squirrels, porcupines, rabbits, birds and eggs, in addition to berries and other fruit. They will also eat your domestic rabbits, chickens, cats and small dogs, if they can get access to them.

You don't want a fisher associating your home with food, particularly if you have a cat or a dog that you are fond of having around the house. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife recommends you keep pet cats indoors, clean up the area around bird feeders and secure your garbage cans. Domestic chickens and rabbits should be kept in a strongly-constructed enclosure to keep out the fishers.

Fishers are an important part of nature, and their presence is a sign of a healthy environment here on the SouthCoast. But you don't want to lose your beloved family pet to their dinner table, so act accordingly.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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