Urban Wildlife: Situations and Solutions
Common urban mammals: squirrel, raccoon, opossum, skunk, rat
- Lawn and Garden damage -- use noise (loud rock music or an all news station on a radio), bright lights at night, and smells (ammonia, human hair, moth balls) to repel animals; and treat your lawn to kill the grubs that animals will go after.
- Unwanted "house guests" -- use noise, light, and smell repellents; close off openings where animals are getting in; put pet food away at night, close garbage cans tightly (use bungee cords if necessary), and eliminate other sources of food.
- Trapping and relocation -- this is considered to be ineffective because another animal will likely move right in unless food is eliminated and access is cut off; it is also considered inhumane because animals have less chance of survival in new territories.
- Tree trimming -- a frequent cause of orphaned birds and squirrels. It is best to schedule tree trimming (if at all) during non-nesting season.
Common urban birds: pigeons, doves, songbirds, ducks, raptors
- Cats -- 30% of the birds which are brought to us at Wildlife Rescue have been caught by cats. Cats can be kept in the house during prime hunting hours (dawn and dusk), and made to wear two bells. Well-fed cats are often the most successful hunters.
- Over-rescue -- a common problem at Wildlife Rescue. Fledgling birds need to spend up to two weeks on the ground waiting for their feathers to finish coming in, learning to fly, and learning what to eat. Their parents are usually not far away, but it is a vulnerable time for the birds. Many well-meaning people "kidnap" these young birds during this time by bringing them to the shelter. Such over-rescued birds should be returned to the place that they came from. Baby birds will not be rejected by their mothers as a result of human contact.
- Flying into windows or homes -- hawk cut-outs, ribbons, windsocks, and wind chimes help alert birds that it is unsafe to fly into windows.
- "Dive-bombing" pets and people -- defensive behaviour should cease in approximately two weeks, after nestlings have fledged.
- Problems with large flocks (ie: noise, droppings, crop damage, poisoning) -- Use mylar, slinkies and ceramic owls on swivel bases to discourage birds from roosting. Don't feed the pigeons!
- Unclean feeders -- salmonella and other avian diseases are spread through unclean bird feeders. Soak feeders in a 1:10 bleach solution weekly.
- Nighttime Singing -- male mockingbirds sing round-the-clock to attract a mate and warn away competitors.
- Ducks -- Float brightly coloured beach balls in swimming pools to discourage ducks from nesting in backyards.
Domestic -- cats, dogs, parakeets and other animals bred by owners and traditionally kept as pets or farm animals. Wildlife Rescue does not provide animal services for domestic animals.
Feral -- once domestic animals which have escaped or been abandoned by their owners. Even though feral animals may have been born in the "wild", Wildlife Rescue refers all domestic and feral animal problems to domestic animal agencies.
Wild -- animals which were born free, live free, and belong to the people of the state of California and are regulated by the Department of Fish and Game. It is the mission of Wildlife Rescue to rescue wild animals in distress, rehabilitate and then release them back to the wild.
Copyright © 1999 Wildlife Rescue, Inc. -- Illustrations © Deborah Melmon
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