how to help wildlife in spring

Here’s a cut and paste from the recent Toronto Wildlife Centre  newsletter. Lots of good info on how to help urban wildlife this spring.
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TWC Hotline is already receiving calls about wild babies!

baby fox

While we’re still bundling up against
the cold, animals are starting to have spring babies. Baby animals may look helpless but mom is usually close by.

If you do find a baby animal that you think needs help, please refer to TWC’s website for guidance or call the Hotline at 416-631-0662.

 
How you can support wild animal families.
 
1. Check for nests before renovating or boarding up holes on your property. Raccoons and squirrels for example, find that attics, crawl spaces, chimneys and sheds are safe, comfortable spaces to have their babies. If an access hole is closed and the mother is kept away from her babies, the mother will do all she can to get back inside often causing significant damage in her attempts to reach her young. If she fails, the babies will die.
 
2. Do not trap and relocate animals.  It is illegal to trap and release animals outside of their home territory. Releasing animals outside of their territory can spread disease and the animal does not usually survive the relocation. When introduced to a new and unfamiliar area, a relocated animal has no idea where to find food, water or shelter, and has to contend with other wildlife defending the territory they already occupy. There is also a high risk that wild babies will be left behind. Defenceless without the care of their parents, orphaned babies will die.
 
3. Keep your cat indoors during the warmer months, particularly between April-September. Hundreds of wild animals are raising their young in your neighbourhood during this time, and wild babies are completely defenceless against cats on the prowl.

Many baby birds spend 1-2 weeks hopping around on the ground after they have left their nest, BEFORE they are able to fly. This is a part of their normal “fledgling” period, and though parent birds are still feeding and caring for their babies during this stage, they cannot protect them from cats.

May 9-08 379 3Many mammal species also nest on the ground or in places cats can easily access. Cottontail rabbits stash their babies in a ground nest (which are frequently built in urban and suburban backyards) and for 3 weeks will leave them unattended except when feeding them. The babies are unable to run or hop away if discovered by a cat.

Can’t keep your cat indoors?
Here are some alternatives.

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Note: I’m guessing the above piece refers mostly to an urban environment.

Still, the cat issue is a tough one, arguments for both sides. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have considered keeping my cat inside, then circumstances forced the decision (I moved into an apartment that was perfect in all aspects other than in/out access for my cat). She adapted and we lived happily ever after, acquiring other cats, which, because she was, became indoor ones also.

And though I’m in a house now, with a yard, I choose to keep them inside because we’re surrounded by roads and I don’t want to see them squashed beside one. Were we surrounded instead by boundless meadows where they could run about eating up mice and other elements of the food chain (all the while taking a risk at becoming part of the foodchain themselves) I may consider letting them out.

Or not.

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