Things You Can Do To Avoid Harming
The following is easy, simple ways to help wildlife
in the countryside, your garden even in woods & forests. If you care about
wildlife then please read on :)
Hedgehogs numbers across the country are down
dramatically. You can help by leaving a corner of your garden less tidy and
overgrown, making a perfect place for a hibernating hedgehog.
60% of the wild bird population has disappeared in the last 25 years.
Prevent your pet cats and dogs from attacking and/or "playing with" wildlife.
Don't allow them to run without supervision and raise your cats as indoor pets.
Many injured animals are brought to the clinic each year with terrible wounds
from dog and cat attacks.
Alert birds to large expanses of glass in your home, such as patio doors or
picture windows, by hanging streamers, putting bird silhouettes on the glass
surface, or allow the glass to be a little bit dirty. Reducing the reflection
should cut down on the number of birds who collide, often fatally, with windows
Educate children to respect and care for all wild creatures and their habitats.
Children need to learn that wild animals are not playthings and should be
allowed to go about their lives unmolested. Children should also be told not to
destroy nests, burrows and other wildlife homes.
Pick up litter and refuse that could harm wildlife, including six-pack
connectors (after cutting each circle to reduce the risk of entanglement),
monofilament fishing line, and watch batteries (if consumed by waterfowl they
can cause mercury poisoning).
Be alert when driving, especially near wildlife refuges and in rural areas, to
avoid hitting or running over wild creatures. Animals do not recognize the
danger from an oncoming vehicle. And please stop and move any turtles away from
the roadway or shoulder of the road.
As a general rule, leave infant wildlife alone, since they are not always truly
orphaned. A parent may be nearby or will return soon. Be sure they are in need
of help before you remove them from the nest area. If you find young birds on
the ground, attempt to return them to the nest.
Place caps over all chimneys and vents on your roof to prevent birds, ducks and
raccoons from taking up residence and becoming a nuisance or getting trapped.
Do not leave fishing line or fish hooks unattended or lying about outdoors. Try
to retrieve any kite string left on the ground or entangled in trees.
Before mowing your lawn or rototilling your garden, walk through the area first
to make sure no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in harms way. Remember, it
only takes a couple weeks for these babies to grow and leave the nest. Be
tolerant and give them the time they need.
Check trees to make sure there are no active nests or residents of cavities
before cutting them down. Even better, avoid cutting down dead trees if they
pose no safety hazard, since they provide homes for a wide variety of wildlife.
Use non-toxic products on your lawn and garden.
Motor oil should not be left in oil pans unattended. Birds often fall into these
pans and few survive.
Do not attempt to raise or keep wildlife yourself. Not only is it illegal, but
wild creatures do not make good pets and captivity poses a constant stress to
them. Young wild animals raised without contact with their own species fail to
develop survival skills and fear of humans, virtually eliminating their chances
of survival in the wild.
Other Ways You Can Help Wildlife
Always keep dogs and cats under control. Don't let them roam. Cats can disturb,
maim, or kill nesting birds as well as young birds just out of the nest during
breeding season. The bacteria transmitted in a cat bite will quickly cause
infection and become life threatening. If cats are permitted outside, put at
least two bells on their collar to help alert birds that danger is nearby,
giving them extra time to escape.
Before you cut down or prune trees and shrubs, check very carefully for nesting
birds. You could unintentionally destroy a nest by trimming too closely or
destroy the habitats provided in the tree. It is always best to leave dead trees
or snags standing. They provide food and shelter for many birds throughout the
year. As an added benefit, you can enjoy the wildlife attracted by snags!
Never feed wildlife. Natural diets are always more nutritious for wildlife than
human food. Bird feeders can be stocked with balanced mixes of different seed,
appropriate for the birds in your area. Old bakery goods do not supply
nutritional levels for good health, especially when birds are preparing for
migration or breeding.
Many birds depend on insects in and around our backyards. So, limiting the use
of insecticides can help protect the health of our wildlife and water resources
too. Instead of using dangerous chemicals, contact local conservation groups to
obtain ideas for environmentally safe alternatives.
If woodpeckers drum on your house it could mean several things: you may need to
have your house inspected for termites, the bird is displaying territorial
behavior and communicating with other woodpeckers or it is attempting to begin a
nesting cavity. You can try supplying a nest box for them to use.
Reflections from windows can confuse birds. This may cause them to fly into the
glass or repeatedly peck at what they see as their competition. Some simple
remedies include breaking up the reflections with stickers, decals, or aluminium
pie pans. Strips of coloured plastic flapping in the wind or balloons with big
eyes painted on them also break up the reflective pattern.
Never litter! All species of birds can become easily entangled in man-made
products such as plastic, fishing line, cans, and bottles. Struggling to be free
of such entrapments often results in serious injury or death. Help by disposing
of litter properly, and recycle whatever you can.
If you take a bird to a wildlife rehabilitator, you can help by taking a
donation of food, money, or volunteer your time and talents. Keep in mind that
most organizations rely solely on donations from caring people like you. Your
thoughtfulness will be greatly appreciated.
Humane Ways to Keep Animals Out of the Garden
Fencing: If you have rabbits or skunks, encircle the garden with an 18" high
wire fence. Bury your fence about 8" below ground as well to deter them from
digging beneath. For gophers and squirrels - who like to burrow and eat the
roots of vegetables (although ground squirrels will eat just about anything) -
bury your fence about a foot below the surface. Youíll also need to bury chicken
wire under all the beds and around trees and shrubs. For deer, install fencing
at least seven feet high, since they supposedly cannot jump any higher than this
unless they have an uphill advantage.
Scarecrows: Owl or snake scarecrows tend to work only temporarily, since animals
ultimately catch on when the scarecrow doesnít move.
Netting: You can drape netting over your garden until the plants are fairly
large, well-established, and can handle the occasional nibble from mammals. Some
netting can injure birds who get tangled in it, so make sure your deterrents
wonít harm other creatures. For example, if you kill insects with poison, you
may also kill the butterflies and birds who eat the insects.
Plants: You can also plant vegetation that you know certain animals will not
like to eat. Lavender and sage tend to keep squirrels away. And deer donít care
for such plants as calendulas, irises, lavender, basil, marigolds, and fleabane.
Check gardening books or call your local extension office for a specific listing
of plants that thrive in your area.
Alert birds to large
expanses of glass in your home, such as patio doors or picture
windows, by hanging streamers, putting bird silhouettes on the glass
surface, or allow the glass to be a little bit dirty. Reducing the
reflection should cut down on the number of birds who collide, often
fatally, with windows and doors.
Educate children to
respect and care for all wild creatures and their habitats. Children
need to learn that wild animals are not playthings and should be
allowed to go about their lives unmolested. Children should also be
told not to destroy nests, burrows and other wildlife homes.
Pick up litter and refuse
that could harm wildlife, such as six-pack connectors (after cutting
each circle to reduce the risk of entanglement) and watch batteries
(if consumed by waterfowl they can cause mercury poisoning).
Be alert when driving,
especially near wildlife refuges and in rural areas, to avoid
hitting or running over wild creatures. Animals do not recognize the
danger from an oncoming vehicle. And please stop and move any
turtles away from the roadway or shoulder of the road.
As a general rule, leave
infant wildlife alone, since they are not always truly orphaned. A
parent may be nearby or will return soon. Be sure they are in need
of help before you remove them from the nest area. If you find young
birds on the ground, attempt to return them to the nest.
Place caps over all
chimneys and vents on your roof to prevent birds, ducks and raccoons
from taking up residence and becoming trapped.
Before mowing your lawn
or rototilling your garden, walk through the area first to make sure
no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in harms way. Remember, it
only takes a couple weeks for these babies to grow and leave the
nest. Be tolerant and give them the time they need.
Check trees to make sure
there are no active nests or residents of cavities before cutting
them down. Even better, avoid cutting down dead trees if they pose
no safety hazard, since they provide homes for a wide variety of
Use non-toxic products on
your lawn and garden.
Motor oil should not be
left in oil pans unattended. Birds often fall into these pans and
Do not attempt to raise
or keep wildlife yourself. Not only is it illegal, but wild
creatures do not make good companion animals and captivity poses a
constant stress to them. Young wild animals raised without contact
with their own species fail to develop survival skills and fear of
humans, virtually eliminating their chances of survival in the wild.
If you enjoy feeding
ducks and geese near ponds, please remember that good intentions
could lead to botulism. The problem is common during warm weather
when water becomes stagnant. Bacterial toxin grows in still water
with low levels of oxygen. The bacteria build-up is caused by
rotting food, fecal matter and debris in the stagnant water. Tossing
bread into ponds turn foul, which could kill ducks and geese.
Look at the products your
family uses. Is there a lot of extra packaging that is not needed?
Tell the company by letter, phone or e-mail. They have offices set
up to handle such concerns. Don't buy from companies who refuse to
reduce unnecessary packaging.
Each year (especially in the
Spring), many people call wildlife agencys who have found a baby bird or
mammal. People usually think the animal needs their help and want to
bring it in. These well meaning individuals usually assume the babies
Most babies are still under the watchful eye of their parents and are
taken from them by people only trying to help. Unlike human babies, wild
babies are not constantly watched by their parents and spend large
amounts of time alone. (This is especially true of mammals.)
In most cases, wild animal babies should be left alone. The following is
what we recommend to do in specific situations.
FLEDGLINGS People often see baby birds that are partially feathered
sitting on the ground below a tree and automatically assume that they
fell out of the nest and need to be helped. At this stage in a birds
development, they are considered "fledglings". Fledglings NORMALLY will
jump or fall out of the nest. This is their "flight training" stage. The
mother bird will then continue feeding the bird on the ground until the
bird is able to fly (usually only takes a few days). Unless injured,
these birds should be left where they are. Efforts should be made to
keep cats, dogs, and curious children away from the bird so the mother
can continue to feed it.
Cat or Dog
If a dog or cat is
threatening the baby animal, do not instantly bring the baby in. Rather,
keep the pet restrained the short time the baby is there. However, if
the animal has already been attacked or picked up by the family pet and
is injured, please bring the baby in as soon as possible.
NESTLINGS Baby birds that are naked for the most part (featherless or
feathers just starting to come in) are considered to be "nestlings".
These birds stay in the nest and the parents come to feed them there.
These babies, when found, are usually on the ground directly below the
nest. This occurs either because the baby fell out, blew out (common
after wind storms), or was "pushed" out by a sibling. One must realize
that this last behavior is actually adaptive for some species. This way,
only the strongest of the brood survive and go on to raise young
What to do if you find a nestling that is out of the
The best thing to do is to try to place the bird back in its nest if at
all possible. If the nest cannot be reached for some reason, the
following works very well. (This is also the procedure to use if you
find the whole nest on the ground.)
Make a "makeshift" nest out of a clean Cool-Whip container or margarine
dish. Make holes in the bottom of it to allow for water drainage. Line
the bowl with paper towels. Then tack the makeshift nest back up in the
tree as close to the original nest as possible. Finally, place the baby
bird(s) into this and leave. The parents will usually come back in a
short time and will feed the babies in it just like it was the original
nest. (Often, you will see the mother going back and forth between each
"nest", feeding both sets of babies.)
The only time we recommend bringing the baby birds in is if you KNOW
that the mother is dead or if the babies are injured in any way. The
natural parents do a much better job at raising their young than we
could ever do. A baby bird that is featherless must be fed every 15-20
minutes from about sunrise to 10 pm! This obviously requires a large
time committment on the part of the foster parent.
What if I already touched the birds, the mother won't
come back, will she?
People often believe this to be true and therefore think they need to
keep the babies. This is simply NOT TRUE and is just an old wives tale.
Birds in general have a very poor sense of smell (vultures are one
exception) and will not mind the fact that you have handled them (but
will be bothered by your presence by the babies).
If you do find a REAL orphan or injured baby bird, please do the
Get it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator AS SOON AS POSSIBLE; the
longer the delay, the less chance it has of surviving
Keep the baby bird WARM and in a quiet, dark place until you can bring
it in (a small cardboard box works well)
DO NOT give the baby bird any liquids (they get all they need from their
food and very often will inhale any liquid)
These animals are usually found when the nest has been destroyed or
disturbed in some way. Mentioned here are the two most common species
animal shelters get calls about.
Rabbits make their "nests" in small depressions in the grass. The nests
are lined with fur from the mother and loosely covered with grass. They
are frequently disturbed by people when they are mowing their grass or
raking. In addition, dogs and cats find these nests and often kill or
injure the babies.
If a nest is found or disturbed, please do the following:
Replace the baby rabbits back in their nest and leave them there unless
they are injured or if you KNOW that the mother has been killed. Many
people just assume the mother is dead because they "have been watching
the nest all day and have not seen the mom come back at all". This is
normal. Female cottontails only come to feed their young early in the
morning and at dusk. This decreases the chance of alerting predators to
the nest's location. If you are not sure if the mother is coming back to
feed them, try placing a string over the nest. If the string has not
moved by the following morning, she has not been back. If the babies are
cool and appear very hungry, take them to a wildlife rehabilitator as
soon as possible. In the meantime, keep them in a warm, dark box in some
towelling in a quiet location.
It is crucial with cottontail babies to take them in only as a last
resort. Baby rabbits have a high death rate when hand raised, due in
great part to the stress of handling by humans. People are NOT doing the
babies any favors by attempting to raise them themselves. It usually
only ends in sadness and frustration. Again, they need special diets,
care, and antibiotics if they are to have any chance at survival.
Also, when baby rabbits are about 5 inches long, they are totally on
their own and away from their mother. These rabbits do not need to be
brought in unless they are injured. (If you have to chase the rabbit to
catch it, IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE RESCUED!!)
These are often found after a nest has blown down from a storm. They are
best placed into a box set at the base of the tree. The mother will
usually come retrieve them when people are not around. Keep dogs, cats,
and children away. It may be necessary to keep them overnight and try
again the next day. It is best to call your local wildlife rehabilitator
for instructions and advice as to if the baby needs to be brought in. If
you are requested to bring in the baby, make sure you keep it in a warm
and quiet area (usually in a box with towelling) until you can get it
Always remember the following:
A young animal's best chance for survival is to be raised by its
natural mother. It is important to make every effort to try to return
the young to its mother. ONLY after all efforts to reunite them have
been exhaused should the orphan be removed from the wild. DO NOT try to
raise the baby yourself.
All birds (except a few) and most mammals are protected by law and it is
illegal to have them in your possession without proper permits.
Proper care and nutrition are crucial to the survival of the baby and
any deficiency will more than likely cost the animal its life.
Baby animals easily imprint onto whoever is feeding them and steps are
needed to prevent this. An animal that is imprinted on people cannot be
released back into the wild and usually must be destroyed.