Helping Our Wildlife

Article and photos by Jen Howard

Read Time: Three Minutes

Babies are being born. Animals, amphibians and reptiles are coming out of hibernation. How can we help?!

Turtles are coming back after a long hibernation, crossing roads, a bit drowsy and slow. If one is crossing a road and you can safely do so, please move them in the direction they are traveling. You can pick smaller turtles up, but if you have a large turtle, you can use your floor mat or shovel. Even just walking behind them should get them moving if all goes well.

Never pick a turtle, or any animal, up by the tail as this is part of their spine. Always wear gloves if you can, or sanitize after touching. If you see one hit, please stop and check for signs of life. Mark down where you are as turtles must go back to that location when recovered. Sometime a female will have eggs, call your nearest wildlife Centre for help. Eggs can be extracted up to a certain amount of time after death and eggs incubated.

Also, there are some turtles that hatch and over winter in the nest. They too are starting to emerge and are very tiny. Walking the trails near wetlands? Watch for these tiny turtles.

Rabbits nest in divots in the ground, surrounded by mothers’ warm fur. If you happen across one and you have pets, you can cover with a laundry basket, cutting an opening for mom to enter to feed. But as rabbits are ready to leave the nest at 3 weeks old, taking dogs out on leash is recommended if you find a nest. There have been so many casualties this year with dogs versus bunnies. And the bunnies usually lose. Crisscross string over the nest if you think Mom is not coming, she will move the string and you will know she has been back. Please keep cats indoors. They are responsible for over a million wildlife deaths a year, especially small animals, birds and babies. Before cutting your lawn, please check first for critters or nests.

Watch for frogs and toads on the roads on a rainy night, and snakes as well as bunnies in your grass before cutting.

Fox, coyote, skunks and raccoons are all nursing young right now, please be respectful and kind, never try to relocate. Don’t kidnap or orphan animals, this puts such a burden on wildlife centres. It also causes stress to a mother separated from her babies, and in some cases, also her mate. Wildlife are incredible parents and amazing to watch if you are lucky to have them nearby. Opossums are remarkable and so important since they love to eat ticks. They are our only marsupial; they carry their babies inside a pouch.

Baby owlets may be found on the ground but unless they are in distress, their parents are nearby and some will even go back to the tree and climb back up. Soon fawns will be appearing and same thing goes there. Mom leaves her fawn in a safe place to keep them secure, just like rabbits. Both babies have no scent. They come back to feed, so unless in distress, crying, or with ears noticeably curled, leave them be. In bear country now’s the time to pull in your feeders. Let’s learn to help out our wildlife to be safe, and learn to co-exist. The rewards are endless.

Jen Howard

Helping Our Wildlife
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