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March 7, 2017 > Did you know?

Did you know?

By David Anderson, RVT CET

Spring is quickly approaching and we eagerly await its return and associated activities. Some people enjoy working in their gardens or renovating their homes and property. Others like outdoor activities that bring them closer to nature, like hiking, camping, boating, or going to the beach.

Wildlife also anticipates the return of spring. For many animals, this is a time of renewal. It is a time to search for mates, re-establish pair bonds, and build nests. Many will seek out a place to bear and raise their young, teaching them the skills and knowledge required for survival. Wildlife always faces natural obstacles, but for wild animals living among us, the greatest challenges are often created by humans.

Some well-intended people, for instance, might find an orphaned wild animal and attempt to raise that animal on their own or keep it as a pet. In the State of California, however, it is illegal to possess a wild animal or to attempt to raise that wild animal, unless you are permitted by the State to do so. Fortunately, there are many permitted facilities and individuals throughout the State and you can easily look up the closest organization or individual at:

Whenever possible, wildlife young should be raised or moved only by their parents. That is a young animalÕs best survival option despite the presence of predators or circumstances we may perceive to be dangerous. Wildlife Rehabilitation Facilities and individuals permitted to care for wildlife are allowed only temporary possession of injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife. If the parent animal is present, the animal is not orphaned and it should remain with its natural parent.

Any person involved in trapping wildlife in the State of California must abide by local and State regulations, and that includes property owners per California Department of Fish & Wildlife Code 4005; 1054.2. Not only is trapping and relocating Ònuisance wildlifeÓ illegal, Wildlife Rehabilitation Facilities and permitted individuals cannot accept ÒnuisanceÓ wildlife that has been trapped by a property owner. Discouragement methods, humane exclusion, and eviction are the most effective solutions to resolving any conflict with wildlife on your property or living in your home.

Due to urban sprawl, encroachment, and loss of habitat, some species have adapted to living among us, even benefitting from doing so. Relocating such urbanized wildlife is illegal because it is a guaranteed death sentence not only for the animal but, at this time year, perhaps even for its young. Urban wildlife has grown up in our neighborhoods, living off our waste; they are therefore not generally equipped to live to in the wild, where relocation is most likely to take them. Moreover, relocation spreads disease and upsets the balance of the Òcarrying capacityÓ of an individual ecosystem or habitat.

Furthermore, removing a healthy adult urbanized wild animal from its territory is a temporary solution at best. An animalÕs absence creates a vacancy that opens up the territory to all the juvenile animals that have been living on the outskirts of this territorial boundary. Simply stated, removing one problem results in its multiplication by anywhere from two to five times.

The first thing any property or home owner should always consider when faced with an animal situation is: ÒWhy the animal is coming to the property?Ó Answering that question identifies the attraction factor. Once a year (preferably in the fall and winter months) you should inspect your home or property. Consider the following:

¥ Look for items that require structural repair and maintenance, including trimming of trees and shrubs (which should be done prior to the nesting season.)
¥ Check, secure, repair and replace missing or damaged foundation vents, attic screens, chimney caps and fences.
¥ Eliminate any food sources. If you have domestic pets that you feed outside, make sure to bring in all food and water bowls at nightfall.
¥ Keep all trash contained and secured tightly with lids.
¥ Maintain your yards and yard waste by keeping fallen fruit and nuts picked up and off the ground. This will also eliminate hiding spots for wildlife, as well as mice and rats which raccoons, skunks and opossums eat.

Using poison is thoroughly discouraged for rodent and snail control; these poisons migrate up the food chain, claiming the lives of both wildlife and domestic pets, either through accidental ingestion or, secondarily, by eating animals that have ingested the rodenticide.

Most bird species are also protected. Trimming of trees and shrubs should be done prior to the nesting season, which is typically from late February until September. Cutting down, removing, destroying or disturbing an active nest is illegal per California Department of Fish & Wildlife Code 3503, 3503.5.

Wild birds and animals are a valuable resource because of their role in natural pest control; preserving this resource is in all of our best interests. Enjoy spring to its fullest; treat our wild friends with compassion and respect.

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