Increasingly, Wildlife Centres across Ontario and Canada are struggling with zoonotic diseases (zoonoses are diseases which can jump from animals to humans). Wildlife centres follow MNR rules which require that animal care workers are gloved and masked at all times when working with wildlife.
The article below is courtesy of Hobbitstee Wildlife Centre which discusses why it’s so important for children as well as adults not to handle or touch wildlife unnecessarily, certainly not without the appropriate precautions and advice from wildlife experts.
Article and photo courtesy of Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge
After various intakes related to this over the past couple of days…I’d like to suggest now is the time to have a talk with your children about touching/handling of wildlife.
We want our children to grow up to be compassionate and caring, but we need them to understand that touching of wildlife suspected injured/sick/orphaned or otherwise is not something that they should do without an adult present.
Not only do children often mistakenly remove baby/teenage wildlife from their environment, but they also risk getting hurt or catching sometype of illness from said animal.
Wildlife is awesome, but by definition wild and most are equipped with weapons that can cause injuries.
My concern also relates to zoonosis; diseases that can be given to humans by animals. Wildlife can carry many of these, some more lethal than others. They are in the form of viruses, bacterial, fungal or parasitical.
With the ongoing outbreak of Avian Influenza nobody and certainly not a child should be handling birds without knowing what they are doing, but zoonosis aren’t just restricted to birds.
Every year we have to euthanize bats, raccoons, skunks and other animals to send them for rabies testing because there has been human contact. I want to reduce this number of often unnecessary deaths.
Beside rabies and avian influenza there are so many other diseases and issues that can be transmitted some are very serious like Baylisascaris procyonis or leptospirosis some are less serious like e-coli or ringworm.
Teach your children young to love and admire wildlife, to help turtles cross a road when appropriate etc, but also teach them about the dangers and risks and the importance of not touching wildlife unnecessarily and the use of proper PPE, as well as the importance keeping themselves safe.