Living with Wildlife

Feeding the birds may be a pretty popular past time, but we need to keep in mind that other wild animals are often attracted onto our property as well.  Bird seed, barbeque drippings, garbage, compost, and even our gardens are all very tempting to wild animals who may otherwise be scavenging around the forest.  In the summertime it is especially important to take precautions to keep wildlife such as bears, raccoons, and skunks at bay.

1. During the summertime bird feeders are not necessary to provide food for our feathered friends.  Seeds, grasses and berries are abundant, meaning that birds have plenty of food to fend for themselves.  Feeders can be attractive to both bears and raccoons, and therefore are best put away for the summer.  Try putting up a humming bird feeder during the summer months, instead – unless you don’t mind the additional visitors.

2. Ensure that your barbeque is kept clean.  Wipe it after each use, and clean the surface underneath where additional drippings may have landed.  Bears, raccoons, and skunks may be enticed by the tasty smells.

3.  Only take garbage bins out the day of removal.  Try leaving them inside a garage or large bin with a lock on non-pick-up days.  Bears, raccoons, and skunks can easily open the lid of a regular garbage bin, so it is definately best to keep them locked up.  If you don’t have anywhere locked to leave it, try securing the lid with a rubber bungee cord.

4.  Gardens are difficult to deter from animals, but it is always best to try to build a secure fence around them to save your plants.  Once the animals learn that they will not be able to reach your produce, they should move elsewhere.  If the animals do continue to enter your yard, try installing a motion-sensored light to frighten the animals away from the area.  (This may also work for your composter.)

5.  Composting matter is probably the most enticing to animals.  If you have a plastic or wooden composter it can be difficult to keep animals from opening the lid.  You may wish to do the same as with your garbage lid and strap it down with a rubber bungee cord.  This way, while the animals may still be attracted to the scent, they will not be able to make a mess of compost throughout your yard.

Also keep in mind that your pets’ food should only be available to them indoors.  Leaving pets’ food outdoors will quickly attract all sorts of wildlife.  This could leave your pet, wild animal, and yourself in danger.

Additional tips and information about wildlife can be found at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website: www.mnr.gov.on.ca

Or at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website: www.ontariospca.ca

The Ottawa Humane Society also hosts information and links about wildlife in Ontario: www.ottawahumane.ca

Distressed Wildlife

Living in the north, most of us have probably experienced frequent encounters with wildlife.  Most of the time the animal is living peacefully and doing well on his or her own.  However, there may be occasions when you encounter orphaned or injured wildlife.  There are some things to consider in these situations, especially if you are the first person to find them.

1. Check for visible injuries, without moving the animal.  If the animal cannot walk, there is visible blood, or visible breaks, then contact your local animal control or wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.  Some situations may require immediate attention.  Wild animals require care specified to their needs and having the advice of an expert is the only sure way to increase the animals’ chance of survival and to reduce the level of stress involved.

2.  Sometimes, the animal is not injured, but appears to be abandoned (juveniles).  In these cases it can be tricky to determine whether or not to help the animal.  Many wild animal parents will leave their babies for hours at a time, to eat and to go about their daily routine.
Leave the juvenile alone for several hours, or over night.  Return to where you found the animal and check for fresh footprints or droppings that would have been left by the parent.  If there are no visible signs of parental contact, then call your local animal control or wildlife rehabilitator.  Even healthy wildlife requires special care that cannot be provided from a home environment.  Do not give the animal any water or food.  If it is a small rodent or bird, place it into a towel lined cardboard box and shut the top to keep light and sounds out. (Ie. Baby sparrow, squirrel, rabbit, etc.)  This will help to keep stress to a minimum during transport.  Large birds, raptors, or large mammals should not be handled by the public, even in their juvenile state.  Call the authorities and wait for someone to come and pick up the animal. (Ie.  Herons, hawks, deer, foxes, etc.)

3.  Adult wild animals should never be handled by the public.  Even those who appear to be docile, or in immediate distress, should be left until a trained handler arrives.  Wild animals do not trust humans, and particularly those in distress will attempt to attack if handled.  Instead, call your local animal control or wildlife rehabilitator and keep an eye on the animal until someone arrives.  Handling them incorrectly could cause more damage to the animal as well as danger to yourself.

4.  Young birds are also often found on the ground, particularly during the spring.  Many people wrongly assume that they have fallen from their nest and are injured or abandoned.  However, young birds – with feathers they are called fledglings – often jump the nest in their first attempt to fly.  At this state, they can frequently fall to the ground, but remain uninjured.  Whether or not the bird has feathers yet, it is best to try to locate their nest.  If the nest is found nearby, then you can pick the bird up and return it to the nest.  Contrary to popular belief, the mother will return to the babies, whether or not you have handled them.

5.  Keep in mind the same tip for most infant wildlife: if you have handled the animal prior to discovering that it is, in fact, being looked after, you can still return it to the place where you found it.  Rabbits, birds, and other animals will return to their nest and to their infants, regardless of whether or not you have handled them.  Just be sure to place them in the nest, or as close to the nest as possible.

For any other questions or concerns regarding wildlife, please contact the North Bay Humane Society at 474-1251, or contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

Follow this BayToday.ca link for additional tips from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources:
They’re cute, they’re cuddly and they’re wild

*** Please be advised that the North Bay and District Humane Society is not obligated to pick up wildlife.  Under contract, we control the domestic animals residing in the North Bay and Area.  If we believe that a call concerning wildlife may be hazardous to our safety, we will not remove that animal.  In all cases we wish to help the animal to the best of our abilities, and in some cases this may mean offering our advice or referring you to a wildlife specialist.