by Jennifer Howard
Baby season is in full swing already with about a month’s head start this year. Our first baby raccoon arrived at the Centre March 13th; its eyes closed, followed by 7 more a few days later. Then they just kept coming. Baby squirrels as well. Then fox kits. By the end of March, we had 9 foxes in care, 5 adults and 4 kits. Since then, 3 adult foxes were released back to their homes in the wild. But more fox kits have arrived. I’m not sure if it’s because still so many people work from home, or people are just becoming more aware. More people know there is help out there for these animals as well.
Our phone lines, emails, and fb messages have never been busier. While on the topic of volunteering, Procyon urgently needs dedicated animal care volunteers for morning and evening shifts. And we are looking for phone volunteers to work from their homes from either 8 a.m. till 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. till 8 p.m.
Keeping in mind that looking after wee babies is not the only thing you will do in animal care. There is cleaning, sanitizing, laundry, dishes and food prepping for other animals as well. Shifts are 5 hours once a week. We can only admit animals into our care at the centre as long as we have enough volunteers to care for these animals. So please come join our team if you can and spread the word. It’s rewarding and when release time comes, well it fills your heart with so much love and sense of accomplishment. Training is provided for both positions.
To learn more about volunteering, visit https://www.procyonwildlife.com/volunteering-at-procyon/
Please, don’t be a kidnapper. Every year, Procyon admits baby wild animals that were separated from their parents by well-meaning, kindhearted people. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you recognize whether the baby really needs to be rescued.
Mother rabbits feed their little ones at dusk and dawn. They have them in your yard because they feel it is a safe place from their predators. But sometimes it’s not. You may have a dog or cat. These babies have no scent, but your pets often will find them, grabbing them, injuring or killing them. They are extremely delicate and easily stressed, often fatally.
If you need to bring a baby rabbit to us, please, just put him or her into a nice comfy secure container with holes for air, no food or water, cover the container and keep it in a warm dark area and call us. Do not handle or pet them. This is terrifying to them, not a comfort. If a baby has any marks on it from your pet or other animal, you must bring it in, especially cat bites which are very toxic; the baby will most likely die of infection if not put on antibiotics.
If the nest and babes are still okay, make sure the grasses are all nicely placed back on top and then you can cover it with a laundry basket when your pets are outside. Making sure it is removed for mom to come and feed them. Supervise your pet. It’s only for a short period before babies will be old enough to go off on their own. Please do not relocate the nest as mom may not find it.
A doe places her fawn where she feels it’s safe. Do not touch it or go near it. Mom will be back, however, she will not come if you are near. Fawns also are stressed very easily. If you know the mother has been hit by a car, then call us. Get the fawn into a comfy crate and cover the crate with a blanket. No food, no water. Call us immediately. All our wildlife has special needs, special diets and are stressed by your presence and handling. Some can die from stress (capture myopathy). Remember, they are wild.
Do not keep them, you may do more harm than good. They need trained hands. This we can never stress enough. Babies are cute but trust me they do not like you. You’re big and scary. And a predator. They can go downhill very fast if they are stressed and fed the wrong diet. We need to get them into our care asap for their best chance of survival.
All moms want a nice quiet place to raise their young. Do not trap and relocate. Call us for assistance in making the mother move on her own. She will. Then fix the entrance area. We are here to help. Making it noisy, using lights 24/7 will make her want to leave. Give her time to do so. Make sure no babies are left behind. Going over your home in late fall is a good idea to make sure there are no open spaces. Call us for instructions on making the move safe and easy for her and her babies.
They den under sheds, decks, etc. The best scenario is to be patient and let the mother skunk raise her young there, however, if this is not an option, please call us if. You will find it very educational and fun to watch them raise their young. We can learn so much from our wildlife, and about them. Once the family has been raised, and they are gone, make sure they can’t go back in. Making certain of course that no one is left inside. Skunks love to eat grubs and even mice so welcome them to help you out. I have spoken with so many people who love having them around and allow them to raise their little ones. They are very cute and important to our environment.
These poor guys are losing their homes left right and centre with trees (their homes) coming down all around them and out from under them. Development, clear cutting. In my area, I am devastated by how many trees are being taken down. Some must come down to stop the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, however, other trees are taken down just because.
A baby squirrel will seek out help if it is able to come out of its nest. It will come to you and climb your leg. It’s not wanting to be your pet; it’s scared and hungry and needs your help. Again, put it in a nice warm secure dark place and do not give it food or water. Call us asap. Another sure sign of no mom is that they will be covered in fleas, etc.… Mother squirrel will diligently keep her babies clean of all the creepy crawlies. All mothers do.
Please, if you see an opossum on the road, stop and check if it is a female, then check its pouch for babies. The little ones can remain alive for some time, even if the mother has died. If you are not sure how to check if the babies are alive, please call us and bring the mother to the Centre so we can determine if they are alive, and if so, extract her little ones.
Opossums are wonderful to have around in our yards. They absolutely love eating ticks. And that is one critter we do not want.
Please do not relocate. I hear this far too often. Oh, we relocated the raccoon, the mink, etc. STOP. Relocation is not the solution. We have protocols to follow when we release animals back to the wild. Why? First, there could be babies involved, they will starve to death if not found. Plus, if you relocate a wild animal, you risk putting it in harm’s way. Could be in another animal’s territory, which can lead to conflict between them. The newbie could be injured badly or even killed.
Can you imagine being taken from your babies? It’s horrible for them, these animals can’t help themselves, they are at our mercy. They grieve like we do over their losses. I’ve seen it firsthand, and it breaks your heart. The animal has no idea where it is, where water, food or safe shelter is. It also could have a condition it carries that can spread to this new area that was free of that condition. Causing horrible consequences. Remember. Wild animals have been here generation after generation long before we got here. It’s their home. We are the intruders. They have learned to coexist with us and now we must do the same with them. Keeping families together is the kindest thing you can do. It’s not for long and it feels good when you see the beauty that comes from doing it.
Please, please do NOT use or support this. Carnivores such as foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks, skunks and other predators, eat rats and mice as their main diet. When adult foxes and coyotes eat rat-poisoned animals their immune system may be weakened, leading to them being able to pick up mange easier.
These poisoned animals don’t die quickly and wander out in agony. It’s inhumane to get rid of these animals this way. And when they are wandering around dying, they are an easy target.
I picked up a little screech owl years ago huddled in a mantling position clinging to a dead mouse. The owl was already terribly emaciated. So, it didn’t have the energy to eat that dead most likely poisoned mouse. FYI, the owl recovered after months of treatment at the Owl Foundation, and I set her free. Oh, and by the way, for your outdoor cats, they too could ingest poisoned mice or rats. It’s not just wildlife at risk, but even your cats and dogs.
By the way. In Canada alone, cats are responsible for 250 million wildlife deaths per year. Mostly wildlife babies but also birds etc. Please keep cats inside for their safety and our wildlife.
Remember, help is in your hands, if you see wildlife in distress or have issues. Please make that call. 905 729 0033. We are here to help. Leave a message and we will get back to you or email us at: Info@procyonwildlife.com or you can contact us on fb, @Procyon Wildlife.