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Living with Wildlife
By Michael Pratt, Director of Wildlife Services
Have you ever had a friend who had a neighbor who was a nuisance? I’ll bet your friend didn’t trap the neighbor and have the neighbor relocated. So why do people do it with wildlife? Whether folks like it or not, no matter if they live in the city or in a rural area, they will have wildlife outside their residence and in their yard. Let’s start a trend and show others how we can coexist with our nonhuman wild neighbors.
In this article I’m going to give you some tips for living harmoniously with wildlife. I hope you’ll find the tips helpful and share them with your friends. Wild animals are not trying to be a nuisance or cause harm or discomfort. When animals and humans conflict, it is because the animals are simply following its instincts. All they want is to survive. They seek food, water and a place to raise a family.
We can all live together but it will take a little effort on our part. I understand that it is easier for some people to take the quick, cheap route and just kill the animal or have it trapped and relocate it. But when an animal is removed, another one will move in to take its place.
Wild animals want food and housing.
• If an animal is getting in your garage or house, create a better home for it outdoors, away from the structures. Do some detective work to find how the animal is getting in or what is attracting it.
• Identify the animal and learn about its needs and habits. This will help you find out what is attracting the animal and what its needs are. This is vital to resolving the problem.
Other preventative measures include:
• A screen over your chimney and attic vents will prevent wild critters from taking up residency in your home.
• Animal-proof garbage cans will stop a lot of headaches. In one place I used to live, I purchased bear-proof trash cans. I always got a laugh in the mornings when I got up to find a bear standing on the can, unable to get into it. He soon got bored and never returned, and I felt good that I outsmarted the critter. Remember that an easy-to-open trash can or cat food left outdoors is like a new restaurant opening in the neighborhood.
• Feed your pets indoors.
• Pet doors should be locked at night. If this is not possible, an electronic opener can be installed.
• Never use poisons. Animals that are poisoned will be eaten by other wildlife and by pets.
• A wildlife-friendly yard will provide the animals all they need and will keep them out of your house.
• Install bird, butterfly, and bat houses
• Grow plants and vegetation in your yard that attract the animals you want.
Humans are not the only species that want to see their babies grow up into adults. Wild parents spend a great part of their lives raising their young, and they do not want to see them abducted by well-meaning individuals. Before you pick up that baby animal, know the facts:
• Mother rabbits only come to the nest to feed their young 2-3 times in a 24 hour period. They stay away from the nest so that their scent does not attract predators to the nest.
• Deer leave their fawns alone for many hours, sometimes over 12 hours at a time. The doe does not want her scent to attract predators to the fawn.
• Fox and raccoon babies play outside the den. If left alone, the mothers will collect them and return them to the den.
• Many bird species end up on the ground for several days before being able to fly. During this time the parents feed them and teach them how to hunt. Unless they are injured or bleeding, leave them alone. If the bird is in the road, move it out of danger.
• If a bird nest is destroyed by a tree being cut down or by a storm, it can be put back and the parents will return even if the nest is as much as 15 feet from the old nest site. It is a myth that if you touch a baby bird, the parents will reject it.
• Coyotes in the Pacific Northwest are usually solitary. When groups are observed, it is usually mom with her young.
• Many baby animals out of the nest/den can be reunited with their parents.
A great book to learn more is Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest by Russell Link. This book has over 390 pages of how to prevent conflicts and techniques for solving problems and covers 68 wildlife species.
The West Sound Wildlife Shelter is happy to answer any questions that you have and help you and those you know coexist with our wild neighbors. Give us a call 206-855-9057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It can be fun and educational to find ways to coexist with our wild neighbors. Please help pass the word. Share your knowledge with friends, relatives and coworkers. And most importantly teach your children to respect, not fear, wild animals.