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The World is a Stage

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Laurel Beechey - The World is a Stage

Even when we had all the snow last week, I could tell it was spring by looking at how thick the trees were getting with developing buds and the amount of phone calls I am now getting about wildlife.

‘There is a skunk in my back yard!’... ‘There’s raccoon in my shed!’... ‘There are squirrels in my attic!’... That means it is spring! That means your shed and attic need repairs, that is how the animals got in. If you don’t want a skunk or something else living under your shed or porch, you had better block them off. It is spring and all the animals are hungry and moving to summer digs.

There is only one reason you have wildlife in your neighbourhood; because there is food. Our neighbourhood is in a beech grove so there are a lot of nuts and this time of year they are all out digging and scratching trying to find a morsel. Now your neighbour may have people who feed their cats or dogs outside. Others don’t properly secure their garbage outside and as the days warm up, it will start to smell. It is like a neon sign flashing, “Free Food.” Add broken lattice around a porch and the sign flashes, “Free Accommodation!”

Did you know that you are responsible for the wildlife on your property? You, not the municipality or the Ministry of Natural Resource. What is amazing is the MNR is responsible for wildlife. The problem is they have no money and not enough staff to do much of anything anymore. So they have put the responsibility on the property owner. The problem with that is, you don’t know the rules about wildlife and you don’t have the equipment or know-how to deal with them. That puts many people in a bad, potentially harmful, situation.

Many municipalities have at least contracted their animal control company to pick up injured or diseased adult wildlife and put them down. That is not the ideal situation, but with little or no wildlife rehabilitators that deal with adult wildlife there are not a lot of choices. Does it make sense when you have a raccoon with distemper on your property to call the police and have them shoot it? Every time an office fires his gun he has to do paperwork, plus they are needed to respond to human problems, not animal. It is a complete waste of their time and our tax dollars.

I am a VOLUNTEER, Authorized Wildlife Custodian, and we have several others in our area, but we only deal with orphaned baby wildlife. We get paid nothing and all expenses come out of our own pockets. We have no caging or resources for adults. You can call us for suggestions on how to get the raccoon out of your chimney but we can’t do it. So unless the Town of Tillsonburg changes, you are on your own with your wildlife problems.

If you hire a nuisance animal control company you will pay hundreds of dollars. If you buy or rent a cage, you might want to learn the rules; like an adult skunk or raccoon can only be moved 1 km and no matter how nice you are to the mother with babies, moving them will kill them all. Mom cannot protect the babies, hunt for food and find a new nest all at the same time. And the other animals in the bush you just dropped them off in will kill them for being in their territory.

But not to worry, there is a simple, free, solution. Let the animals, especially if it is a mother, move themselves. It seems most wildlife do not like the smell of the original Pine Sol. Pour it at the entrance, or along the side of the shed that is open, full strength then leave them alone. If it is a mother it may take her a day or two, to ready a new nest and move the babies, but she will do it. Once the animal is gone you must be ready to repair and block the entrance. You can sprinkle flour at the entrance and see the foot prints coming out.

Most of these animals do not like light, which is why they choose attics, sheds and under porches etc. Put a safe utility light where they are for a few days, 24 hours a day and they will leave.

Springtime also brings tree and bush removal and shed cleaning. Check for nests first. Do not trap and remove any animal until you check to see if you have a lactating mother. Ninety per cent of the orphans we get are not orphans – they or their mothers are kidnapped and separated.

There are more orphans in Ontario than all the rehabbers can care for, so please, if there are babies, if at all possible let them stay there and enjoy the nature show. Mom will move them when they are big enough, or use the Pine Sol or light and let Mom move them out herself.

If you have any questions, call me at 519-842-9416.

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