Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Helping Wildlife ~ Dana Hogg, DVM


Spring is right around the corner, or so the groundhog says! As you start heading outside to enjoy the warmer temperatures, here are few things we can do to make sure our furred, feathered, and scaled friends enjoy it too!


Turtles

These warmer temperatures mean that we will see an increase in turtle activity too!
  • Please help turtles cross the road in the direction they are heading if you can safely do so.  Oftentimes, females will be moving in search of nesting sites to lay their eggs. 
  • If you see a snapping turtle crossing the road, take special care when handling them. They have long necks and powerful jaws. Using gloves, you should place a hand on their tail base while sliding the other hand under them onto the plastron, also known as their underside. Avoid the first half of their body.   
  • Although we know turtles are cute, please do not keep them as pets. It is extremely stressful for wild animals to be brought inside our homes. There are plenty of captive bred reptiles available if you are interested in adding a reptile to your family.
  • Turtles have established territories and should remain in the area in which they are found. 
  • Be cautious and on the lookout for turtles, rabbits, and other animals while cutting the grass.

Orphaned Animals

Spring brings on new generations of baby birds, rabbits, squirrels and other animals. While some might appear to be alone at times, there is a good chance that one or both of the parents are nearby searching for food and watching over them from a distance. Assess the situation prior to intervening.  If any of these situations apply, the animal should be taken to a wildlife rehabber.
  • If there is any evidence of wounds/trauma, maggots, or broken bones
  • If the parents are known to be deceased
  • If you have seen the baby animal in the mouth of a predator, such as a cat
  • If the animal is cold, lethargic, has decreased responsiveness, or is not fully feathered or furred

Baby Bird (left) vs Fledgling (right)
Fledglings are young birds that are fully feathered and learning to fly. It is not uncommon to find them on the ground. Despite being on the ground, they tend to stay near the nest. The parents will stay nearby and continue taking care of them. Fledglings do not typically need intervention.

Littering

Littering is bad--we all know that. Animals can ingest foreign material causing several health complications. While throwing biodegradable items such as apple cores or banana peels out of the car window might not seem equally as bad, it has just as many negative implications. Food attracts wildlife to the roadsides, making them much more susceptible to trauma from vehicles. They do not understand what cars are or how to be safe around them. Additionally, if food attracts a prey species, such as a squirrel, it might additionally attract a raptor or other predator on the hunt, putting both the hunter and the predator at risk for life-threatening injuries.    

Feeding Wildlife

If you enjoy feeding wildlife, please be aware of their unique nutritional needs. Instead of throwing out bread and corn to feed, it would be healthier to consider sharing leftover lettuce, spinach, peas and other vegetables. Bread and corn are low in protein and essential vitamins. Over time, consumption of these foods will add up and can contribute to diseases such as metabolic bone disease and growth abnormalities in young animals.

Glue Traps

Avoid glue traps, as they don’t always just catch the intended animal. They often catch song birds, reptiles, and other small mammals who are attracted to insects on the glue traps. These animals are unable to free themselves, which is very stressful and can lead to severe injuries such as limb fractures, skin issues, mangled feathers, and death. 

Lead Ammunition

We see a lot of cases of lead toxicity in raptors, including bald eagles that unknowingly consume lead fragments in carcasses they scavenge. Switching to non-lead ammunition is the best way to prevent this problem.

Fishing Tackle and Lines

Improper disposal of fishing tackle and lines can negatively affect an animal that gets tangled, punctured, or swallows this equipment. Turtles often present with hooks in their oral cavity, or even worse, in their stomach. 

Waterfowl and other animals get entangled in fishing line, causing constriction injuries which can lead to infection, loss of limbs, and even death. Please be on the lookout for improperly disposed tackle and lines; this will also benefit human and companion animal safety.

Please be kind to wildlife. We share this beautiful world with them. If you feel that an animal is injured, please contact local wildlife rehabbers. When transporting an animal, it is important to remember the concept of warm, dark, and quiet. Being injured and handled by humans is a huge stressor for these animals. Do not interact with them or talk to them. Transport them in a box with appropriate ventilation, and keep them warm. Thank you for your help in supporting local and migratory wildlife this year!

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts. 

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