Spring in Full Swing

by Jennifer Howard

This Corona-19 pandemic is far from over, but Mother Nature is still continuing on, full speed ahead. Maybe even fuller speed ahead.

Orphaned babies, sick and injured are pouring out of the woodwork. Please, if you see a mother, give her space; it’s only a matter of time before she and her family will move on. You can also try to make it uncomfortable for her and she may just move her family on her own to a safer place. They do have more than one den site usually.

Remember, since so many of us are staying home due to the pandemic,  it’s much quieter. Wildlife is not used to this quiet and less people, so they are taking advantage of it; they do not know any differently.

Soon our busy society will be picking up again. Hopefully people will remember it’s not over yet so social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing still MUST be practiced. Staying home is still your best bet to stay healthy and keep others healthy. It’s not just about us, it’s about everyone and everything.

As for trying to make a wildlife mother move on from a nice dark quiet place to raise their young, put a light up and leave it on 24/7. Put a strobe light in the area or get coyote or fox scent, or even try fur from a good brushing of your dog or cat, both predators, or you can probably buy something like that from Cabelas or Pro Bass Shop. Put on the noisy talk radio; they don’t like it near the nest. But then leave them to it. If you keep hanging around and bothering them they may just leave a baby or two behind.

Right now Rehabilitation centres are at capacity, especially in the case of raccoons. Know that Procyon volunteers do check phone lines every hour and we do call you back ASAP. Depending on how many messages we have to answer it could take a little bit, but you will hear from us, so patience is important here. Do not feed any animal. Keep them in the dark and warm, this will keep them quiet. That’s what you want.

However do not be surprised if we can not take what you have right now. It changes day by day. You may be referred to go onto the ontariowildliferescue.ca website and start calling.

It is critical that we care for those animals we have already admitted, if we keep taking them in, they put a strain on volunteers, and then the animals don’t get the care they need. So we have to say no. And you will just have to spend some time on the phone to try to find another facility who will hopefully have room.

Please, unless you know for a fact that baby is orphaned leave it be. Mothers will come back if they can. That hungry baby’s cry will bring her in if she is able or around still. Wildlife mothers are amazing. We could all learn a thing or two from watching them at a distance. I personally can’t even imagine having 3, 4, 6 or even 8 little ones to care for or more. So please be certain, unless you know that mother is dead, wait and make sure; two days max. Generally within 24 hrs you will see her.

Don’t call pest control. The outcome is not what any of us want or think.  They may not tell you but let’s just say the animals will not see another day. Mom and babies. Relocating is not kind either. MNRF has put protocols in place for this reason. Relocating them may condemn them to starvation, they become homeless, introducing them into others’ territory, which can result in death. Rules and regulations are put out there for a reason. We must follow them and you need to as well. Do not live trap and relocate, call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre since babies will be left behind. This is baby season, you must assume there are innocent young nearby.

Remember, wild animals breathe, feel, get hungry, get scared and feel pain just like we do. They grieve at the loss of a young one or mate. They panic if threatened and will try to protect themselves and their babies. It’s normal.

Don’t feed them, they are perfectly capable of finding food if in their home turf. Leave your dead trees up to say 12 to 15 ft. Birds and animals will still use them for nesting and feeding from. And they will not be a threat to you if you leave some up. Win-win for all.

You may see fox, coyote, raccoon, skunks, all out foraging during the day now. Less people, less fear, all with hungry little mouths to feed. They need to keep their strength up too.

I have a pair of foxes here that come around frequently in search of food. They are incredible rodent control; they love mice. I have not had mice since they started coming around through late winter. And we did prior to that. It was a bad season, in fact. Foxes zeroed in on it and took care of it. As much as we don’t want to see things hurt, it is Mother Nature’s way. One must die for one to live in the wild. No matter how big or how tiny, that’s how it works.

For now, Procyon has 98 raccoons, some squirrels, two tiny baby porcupines, called porcupettes, baby bunnies and a flying squirrel family. Most are being fostered so social distancing is not a problem.

For the volunteers at the Centre, social distancing etc is being practiced. Meaning not many can be at the centre. We are small but mighty. We are doing our very best during this difficult time. For wildlife and for you.

As I mentioned in my last article, the centre is locked and the public is not allowed in at the moment for safety reasons. You must call first, do not just bring an animal over and never just leave it. It must be done by the book only. Hopefully this will ease up soon.

We are going to be in this pandemic for a while, however, if we all do our part, it will end sooner than later. I know I am not alone in saying we are all sick and tired of hearing about it. But it is a matter of life and death for some. And that is no joke.

Please keep your dogs on leash, don’t let them run in wildlife areas especially, in fact,  it is the law. If you know you have coyotes around watch for them and be patient. They are very curious animals, they are not stalking you or trying to lure your dog away. They are curious and they have a family right now. Since you know better than they do, you do the right thing. If you need to talk to someone about it, call Coyote Watch Canada. The experts on coyotes. Their hotline is: 905.931.2610. We will get through this together and in one piece.

For bears contact Bear With Us Sanctuary at: 1.866.514.2327. Again, bears are not a threat to you, they want nothing to do with you. Pull in your feeders if they are around, store garbage properly and safely, recycling the same, make sure it is clean.  I put lids on mine because no matter how clean wildlife noses are very keen. You keeping them safe will keep you safe.

For information about bears, this husband and wife team,  Mike and Ella, from Bear With Us Sanctuary are the experts. Leave bears alone, do not feed them. Take your feeders in if you see one or know they are around. They know no differently. We do. To be honest we humans are the number one predators of all living things. They want nothing to do with us.

Keep cats indoors, they are actually the number one killer of wildlife baby birds and bunnies and dogs kill many squirrels and raccoons. So keep them in and keep them on leash. It’s for their safety too.

Donate to your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centres because right now they are struggling. You can donate more than money. Go onto their web / fb pages and find their wish lists of what they need. Every little bit helps. Can you volunteer? Volunteers are always needed. But remember, you must be serious about it and be able to make all of your shifts. It is crucial to the care of these animals since they can’t look after themselves.

Life is hectic right now for all of us. Yes even wildlife. So think before you take action, make certain there is no mother. Because you may not find a place to take that baby.

Legality wise, you can keep a wild animal for 24 hrs which allows you the time to find a place to take it. But wildlife is not a pet, they grow up and are wild, they can scratch or bite, get sick and carry diseases. They do not make good pets. It is illegal. So call if you need help or advice and we will do our very best.

And if it is safe to do so, move turtles across the road, remember, your safety is first. Even if the turtle is dead please get it to the Ontario Turtle Conservation centre in Peterborough. It may be a female with eggs they can extract and put them into an incubator. All 8 of our 8 species are listed on the species at risk or “SAR” list, from special concern to threatened species. Give our turtles a helping hand to.

For now life goes on differently. Look after yourselves, your families, your pets, big or small and your wildlife. Look after the elderly, the farm animals, the sick and injured.

Most importantly, look after Mother Earth because in return, she will look after us. Let’s hang in a little longer and make sure Covid-19 gets under better control, so we can move forward.

So please, call us if you need assistance, or have any questions. We will get back to you. And we will do our very best to help. Thank you.

Jen Howard
Volunteer/ photographer
Procyon Wildlife

Remember.      “ Help is in YOUR hands.” Make that call! (905) 729-0033

Spring in Full Swing
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