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Keeping Wildlife Safe – General
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Despite being grounded, this juvenile Great Horned Owl is still being cared for by its parents. Photo courtesy of USFWS.

There are things we can do (or not do!) everyday to protect wildlife. It may be as simple as an added degree of alertness when driving or a sweeping stroll of your yard before mowing. With a heightened awareness and careful choices, each one of us can make a difference in our own patch of the ecological quilt.

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  • Walk your lawn before mowing or rototilling to chase garter snakes, toads, baby birds and other wildlife into safe hiding.
  • Do not release helium balloons because both the string and balloon are hazardous to wildlife. Read more from Audubon Magazine (09/02): http://magazine.audubon.org/ask/ask0209.html
  • Stay away from bird nesting sites to avoid disturbing the birds but also to avoid leading predators to the nest.
  • Do not prune or cut down trees or shrubs during the breeding season (April – August). Always check trees and cavities for residents before taking action. If a dead tree poses no threat to people or property, consider leaving it up to provide natural wildlife habitat. Read more about the value of dead trees in this article from Pennsylvania State University (12/02): http://aginfo.psu.edu/News/december02/dead.html
  • If you encounter baby or injured animals, remove potential threats (dogs, cats, lawnmowers, etc.) and contact a local authority for further information. In general, it is best to leave wild animals alone. To find help in your region, go to: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~devo0028/#aa
  • Control all domestic animals (cats, dogs, ferrets, etc.) and do not allow them to roam freely, especially during the spring and summer when baby animals abound.
  • Other than birds, do not feed wildlife. Not only is it unlawful in many places, but it also creates dangerous imbalances (foraging patterns, wildlife interactions, population) and may cause animals to lose their natural fear of humans. Do not leave dog food outside and secure garbage with a locking lid. Wildlife Care of Ventura County (California) offers 8 great reasons NOT to feed wildlife: http://www.wildlifecareofventura.org/Animal Help Information Pages/Feeding Wildlife - Why Not.htm
  • Motor oil should not be left in open containers (pans, buckets, etc.) and freshly paved or tarred surfaces should be guarded to avoid wildlife contact.
  • In general, most chimneys should be capped and other entries into buildings should be blocked to prevent animals from becoming trapped. However consider that the off-season of your fireplace might be breeding season for chimney swifts that depend on the man-made structures for nesting sites. For information on maintaining your chimney for swifts, visit the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/birding/chimneyswift/chimneyswift-index.htm
  • Explore harmless deterrent alternatives to deal with nuisance deer that are eating your garden. The University of Vermont Extension offers information on scent repellants: http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/deerdeter.html
  • View the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s pamphlet on backyard bird problems at: http://library.fws.gov/Bird_Publications/prob.html
  • When driving, be alert for animals crossing the road. Turtles should be carefully helped to the other side.
  • Avoid using snap and sticky traps in locations where birds and other untargeted animals can come into contact.
  • Help children understand the value of living things and teach them to respect wild creatures and wildlife homes. The Connecticut office of the NRCS offers a list of resources and websites for school-aged children: http://www.ct.nrcs.usda.gov/teachers.html