I would like to remind people that wild animals are extremely vulnerable at this time of year. Animals having and raising their young are particularly susceptible to human activities.Fledgling birds learning from their parents how to fly, feed and care for themselves are often mistaken as abandoned and ‘rescued’ by well meaning people. As long as these animals are not in immediate danger, they should be observed from a distance, so as not to frighten the parents, for a couple of hours before deciding if they need assistance. The best thing that you can do while checking to see if the fledgling bird’s parents are still caring for the young bird is to keep children, dogs and cats away from the area. Many fledglings require several days to learn the necessary skills needed to survive.
Wild animals who are injured or orphaned and who require human assistance should be taken to a qualified wildlife rehabilitator. If you are not sure if a wild animal needs help or if you need help finding a wildlife rehabilitator in your area contact The Humane Society of Canada at 1-800-641-KIND (5463).
A common situation where a bird does require human assistance is when a hatchling or nestling has fallen out of the nest. If you know where the bird’s nest is, you can gently put the young bird back. The belief that parent birds will reject a baby bird touched by a human is wrong. Birds have a poor sense of smell.
There are numerous other ways that people can help wild animals in a world that is often polluted and hostile:
- Wildlife-proof your home to avoid human/animal conflicts. Make sure that animals are not already using your home before you wildlife-proof it.
- Inspect your lawn before you mow it. Baby birds, rabbits, snakes and toads are just a few of the animals who may be in the grass that you are about to cut. (Rabbits as well as some birds like killdeer and meadowlarks nest on the ground.)
- Learn about when a wild animal needs help and when he/she needs to be left alone. If you’re not sure, call a wildlife rehabilitator or The Humane Society of Canada (1-800-641-KIND (5463)). Also learn how to rescue wild animals in need. By knowing who to contact and how to rescue animals ahead of time you will be prepared should such an emergency arise.
- Educate others about how they can help wild animals.
- Plant native trees, bushes and flowers.
- Don’t prune trees in the spring or summer – if at all. If you must prune a tree the best time to do so is in the winter or in the fall after the tree has lost its leaves.
- Avoid cutting down dead trees, unless absolutely necessary, as they provide food and shelter for many wild animals.
- Place falcon silhouettes (and similar items) in your windows to prevent birds from flying into the glass.
- Keep pets confined in your yard, on a leash or indoors and ask others to do the same. Each year, dogs and cats are allowed to run at large kill and injure (or are killed or injured by) many wild animals.
- Do not use pesticides, herbicides or rodenticides. There are safe, humane alternatives.
- Provide appropriate housing for birds, bats, toads and other animals. Besides sometimes needing assistance in finding good shelter in a rapidly increasing urbanized world, these creatures naturally control pests consuming vast quantities of insects.
- Don’t encourage wild animals (either intentionally or otherwise) by leaving out garbage, pet food or allowing them access to the garage, shed or other areas.
- Pick-up garbage. Besides harming the environment, animals can be become entangled and die in many items, like six-ring, plastic can holders.
- Drive safely and obey the speed limit. If possible, try to minimize driving at night when many animals are killed, and please for the sake of people and animals if you have to use your cell phone, pull over to the side of the road first.
- Learn about, respect and preserve natural areas and wildlife species – and encourage others to do the same
- Never try and keep wildlife as pets – many well meaning people are understandably caught up in the beauty and majesty of wild animals and birds, and all too often are also entranced by Hollywood’s portrayal of living with a wild animal or bird in your home. The sad truth is that you will be confining a wild animal or bird that should be thriving in his/her natural habitat and you may be breaking the law. Please, leave wildlife in the wild, where they belong.
As we become a more urbanized society, we need to stop for a moment and realize how lucky we are to be surrounded by the beauty of nature.