Do NOT Use Poison

Do not ever use poison. Warning: there are some disturbing images in this post that may not be suitable for some readers.

As the temperatures drop and winter gets nearer, critters make their way through holes into our homes. Please remember that they are just trying to survive and we have provided a fantastic habitat for them. Safe, warm, food aplenty. Don’t punish them for taking advantage of the opportunity, especially not with poison. It is a horrifying, painful and long death for them, believe us, we’ve seen it. Blood comes out of every place it can including eyes and ears, and they suffer from repeated seizures. Continue reading “Do NOT Use Poison”

Birds, migration and your windows

a Black-capped Chickadee suffers from head trauma due to a window-strike

Originally published in the Budgeteer.

Migration. It’s a herald of change, a thing of mystery and beauty. A few years ago as I was walking along a trail in Gooseberry State Park, I heard quite a loud racket above me. I looked up and was awestruck by the number of robins flitting about the tree canopy. I’d never seen so many! A truly magical sight to behold. They were migrating south in search of more plentiful food sources.

During migration season Wildwoods suddenly sees an increase in the number of calls about window-strikes. According to a study published in The Condor in 2013, about 111 million collision-caused bird deaths occur every year at private residences. If a bird hits your window, what should you do? Continue reading “Birds, migration and your windows”

All About Bats

All About Bats

In the past, myth and superstition have caused humans to fear bats. However, the more we learn about bats, the more we learn to value them! Minnesota bats eat flying insects, and so offer excellent natural pest control. A single little brown bat can eat 1200 mosquitoes an hour, while big brown bats eat harmful crop pests, such as Cucumber beetles, June beetles, and cutworm moths.

bat02Below is some useful information for what to do if you come across a bat, or if a bat is inside your house.

Bats inside the House

Sometimes a bat finds its way inside your home.  It’s usually either a young bat that’s gotten lost, or an adult that’s come in through an open window or door.  Fortunately, it’s easy to get the bat back out again.

  1. Stay calm. The bat is trying to find its way out, and it is frightened too!
  2. Turn on the lights so you can see.
  3. Close doors to adjoining rooms to isolate the bat. Open doors and windows to the outdoors. If possible, turn on an outside light to help the bat see the exit.
  4. The bat will probably fly out an open door or window in a few minutes. If not, go to step 5.
  5. Put on a pair of work gloves, get a small cardboard box, and wait for the bat to land. Place the box over it and gently slip a thin piece of cardboard under the box, being careful not to damage the bat’s legs or wings.
  6. Take the box outdoors. Set the box on its side in a high place so the bat can swoop down from it to start its flight.

If the bat doesn’t fly away, see directions for ‘Injured Bats’.

NOTE: Do not release bats in winter, during the day, or in cold or inclement weather.

Injured Bats

If you find an injured bat, use heavy work gloves to pick it up and place it in a cardboard box with a few tiny holes for ventilation.  Tape the box closed, and place it in a warm, dark, quiet place away from pets.  Get the bat to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.  NEVER try to care for a bat on your own; bats require very specialized care.
bat-white-nose

White-Nose Syndrome

Since 2006, WNS has killed more than 5.7 million bats in eastern North America. WNS is caused by a  cold-loving fungus from Europe (Geomyces destructans).  It was first discovered in New York caves in 2006, when it killed half of the wintering bats. The disease’s name refers to the white fungal growth found on the noses of infected bats.

WNS is killing hibernating bats in 16 states and 4 provinces, wiping out 90-100%  of bats in affected caves, and spreading rapidly.  The fungus can be spread from cave to cave and bat to bat.  WNS does not infect humans.

Bats and Rabies

Fewer than 1 in 1000 bats carries rabies.  Rabid bats are usually not aggressive and soon die.  If you or your pet is bitten or scratched by a bat, or if bat saliva gets in your eyes, nose, or mouth, report this to your local health department and your doctor immediately.  If possible, capture the bat so that it can be tested.  Do not damage or freeze its head.

Having a Bat Problem?

Many people are uncomfortable sharing their house with bats.  Luckily, there are safe,  cheap, and humane methods for excluding bats from your home, though timing is crucial.  Exclusions can be performed in early spring after insects have appeared, and in the fall.  NEVER do bat exclusions during June, July, and August when young bats cannot yet fly.

Exclusion is the ONLY effective to permanently remove bats from buildings.

bat03

Steps for Proper Bat Exclusion

  1. At sunset, search the exterior of your house for the entry/exit point. Bats can fit through a hole the size of the tip of your thumb and move very quickly, so look closely!
  2. Mount a bat house close to the hole and wait 3-4 days until the bats are accustomed to it.
  3. On the afternoon of the 4th or 5th day, cover the entry/exit hole with a square piece of
    screen mesh. Using duct tape, secure 3 sides of the mesh to the house, leaving the bottom untaped and loose enough for the bats to crawl out. Bats will leave at dusk, will be unable to return, and will look for the nearest place to roost–the bat house!
  4. Leave the screen mesh up for at least 1 week to ensure that all the bats have safely left your house. After this, you may permanently seal the hole.

It’s cheap and easy to humanely exclude unwanted bats, and the time and effort you spend will be amply repaid by the moths, flies, and mosquitoes they eat. In addition, you’ll set a great example for others when you show them how to peacefully coexist with bats.

Lead & Wildlife

Lead & Wildlife

Ammunition

Lead is a potent toxin, and our lawmakers have removed it from paint, pipes, and gasoline to protect human health.

Despite this, we pump many tons of lead into our environment every year in the form of lead ammunition used for deer hunting.  Eagles scavenging deer carcasses and gut piles may consume small pieces of the lead ammunition.

Most of these birds will die, despite the heroic efforts of wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife veterinarians.  The best way to safeguard their future is to avoid using lead ammunition in the first place.

Good alternatives to lead ammunition are available and reasonably priced.  Though their cost is slightly higher, at about a dollar more a bullet, few hunters we know use more than a few bullets each season, and agree that sparing the life of our iconic national bird, the bald eagle, is well worth a few extra bucks.  We’re sure you agree!

Lead weights and Sinkers

Have you ever thought about what happens to the fishing tackle that we all sometimes lose on fishing trips?  If you’ve used lead weights, jigs, or sinkers, your relaxing day at the lake may leave behind a fatal legacy for the lake’s loons and trumpeter swans.  When these birds ingest gravel from the bottom to help them digest their food, they may accidentally ingest one of these items and then die from lead poisoning.

Bottom line…lead is a toxin.  Please don’t use lead ammunition or lead fishing tackle, and encourage your friends who hunt and fish to use lead-free alternatives.  Nobody wants to leave behind a dead eagle or loon as their legacy of that fun-filled day at the lake, or that memorable hunting trip.  Think ahead; don’t buy lead.

Resources

Pets & Wildlife

About your pets and their relationship to wildlife

Wildlife/pet interactions create problems for everyone. It’s far easier to manage the movement and behavior of pets than those of wild animals. Supervising pets and not allowing them to roam freely are the most effective ways to prevent pet/wildlife conflicts.

Cats

catWe’ve enjoyed a special bond with cats since domesticating them some 4000 years ago. Cats arrived in North America with the colonists, and since then, their numbers have swelled. Census figures showed 60 million owned cats in the U.S. in 1990, up from 30 million in 1970.

Cats are non-native predators, and every year, free-roaming cats kill and orphan millions of birds and small mammals. Cat predation hurts many species of native birds, as well as the native
predators that depend on them for food. Keeping pet cats indoors is clearly the right thing to do for wildlife.

Keeping cats indoors is also best for cats! Indoor cats live far longer, healthier lives than cats who are allowed to roam (17 years vs. less than 5 years, on average). Indoor cats are sheltered from the many dangers that shorten the lives of outdoor cats–cars, getting lost, parasites and diseases, as well as human and wildlife predators. Check out the links below for tips on how to transition your cat to a happy, healthy indoor cat.

If your cat has caught an animal, bring the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Even if you do not see an injury, there are likely tiny puncture wounds from your cat’s teeth, and bacteria from your cat’s mouth will kill the animal in a day or two if it does not receive treatment.

If you are not willing or able to transition your cat into an indoor cat, please consider purchasing a product called the CatBib. It reduces the number of birds your cat can catch and hurt.

Dogs

Whether she’s a pitbull or a poodle, your dog still has many of her wolf ancestors’ hard-wired predatory instincts. We often see adult squirrels, fawns, and other larger mammals that have been injured by dogs.

black-bearDangers to Pets

Sometimes pets become the prey. Predatory species such as foxes, owls, coyotes, and bobcats, or omnivores such as raccoons and bears may kill cats, rabbits, small dogs, and other pets who are allowed to roam. It is devastating to lose a pet, and this often leads to the killing of the suspected wild animal. So, when unsupervised pets are allowed to roam, both the pet and the wild animal may lose in the end.

Habituation

Wild animals may be drawn into close proximity to humans when they eat pet food that has been left outside , or when they begin to prey on pets. Such animals may lose their normal fear of humans. Several problems can arise when wild animals begin to associate humans with easily acquired food. Read more about the side-effects of feeding wildlife.

raccoons04In the case of large predators or large omnivores like bears, habituation may lead to human safety issues that will result in the animal being removed or destroyed. In the case of smaller animals, habituation may create “nuisance” animals. While one landowner may enjoy watching raccoons eating from the cat’s dish on the porch, his neighbors may not be as tolerant. Again, the end result is often the removal and killing of the animal.

What Can you do?

  • Turn your cat into an indoor cat or build an enclosure so your cat can be outside safely
  • Do not put bird feeders in your yard if you have free roaming cats on your property
  • When outside of a fenced yard or dog park, keep your dogs leashed
  • Feed pets inside, or if feeding outside, remove leftover food as soon as the pet has finished
    eating
  • Make sure that all outdoor caging for animals such as rabbits, chickens, and other pets is secure against predators

Feeding Wildlife

About feeding wildlife

Many people enjoy feeding wildlife because it allows for close contact, or because they believe they are helping the animals survive. While seeing wild animals up close is fun, providing wild animals with a constant, human supplied food source often leads to problems for both animals and humans.

There are many good reasons not to feed wildlife, including:

possum

Dependence

When young wild animals are taught to depend on a human-provided food source, they may not develop the essential foraging skills needed to thrive in the wild. Later, when they leave their parents’ territory and its human food source, they may not be able to survive.

Habituation

Wild animals fed by humans often lose their natural fear of people. These animals may approach people for food. They may then be mistaken as dangerous or even rabid, and killed for that behavior. They also become easy targets for people who mean them harm. Fear of people is essential to a wild animal’s survival.

raccoon-and-skunk

Poor Nutrition

Most times, the food offered is not nutritionally complete and can cause serious health problems for the animals, especially when they are young. When a constant human-provided food source is available, animals who would normally have a varied diet may only eat this constantly available food. Wild animals need a variety of foods in their diet, and if they fill up on ‘junk’ food they will not get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Disease

A constant food source attracts many more wild animals to the area than would normally be found there. If one animal in the group has a disease, it may spread quickly and destroy a large number of animals.

“Nuisance” Animals

We often receive phone calls from neighbors of people who have been feeding wild animals. The wild animals have become a nuisance to the neighbor, who now wants to kill or remove them. Many people do not think about the neighborhood impact when they start feeding wildlife.

If you want to help the wild animals on your property, give them habitat not handouts. Naturescaping is a great way to provide natural sources of food and shelter that will not put wildlife at risk like a human-provided food source. With naturescaping, you can enhance your enjoyment of the wildlife on your property, at a safe distance for both you and the animals.

Animals in the Attic

What to do when animals are in your attic

An animal is living in my attic/garage/porch…

Using lethal methods to control nuisance animals can result in orphaned babies. Live trapping and relocating of animals can cause the spread of disease, result in orphaned babies, and decrease an animal’s chance for survival. Instead, use deterrence methods. An adult animal that is effectively deterred will also move its babies to an alternate location.

How do you deter animals? Put yourself in their place…what makes their living space desirable to them? Raccoons, skunks, and other animals are drawn to den sites that are quiet and dark. If you want them to move, you have to change these conditions.

Raccoons

raccoons02If there are raccoons in a chimney, attic, or garage in spring, it usually means that babies are also there. If you want to encourage the family to relocate, place a radio turned to a talk radio station (music won’t work) in the area of the raccoons, turned up as high as you and neighbors can stand. Leave the radio on 24 hours a day for as long as three days to give the mother motivation and time to move her babies. Do not live trap and relocate the adult raccoon as you will be leaving the babies behind. Once you are certain all members of the family are gone, cap the chimney or repair the hole that allowed access.

Skunks

skunksSkunks often make dens under porches and sheds.  Skunks are great to have around, as they aerate lawns and eat lots of insects and grubs.  And, though adult skunks are usually nocturnal, juvenile skunks may explore their surroundings during the day.
If you have a skunk living under your porch or shed in spring, babies may also be there. It is best to let the babies mature and move away.  In the meantime, you can enjoy their antics! However, if you need to encourage a skunk to relocate, bring out your talk radio station again, and place it close to the den site.  You can also shine a light into the den site 24 hours a day to make the den less inviting.

Damage and prevention control

  • Cap all chimneys with heavy screen.
  • Repair holes in attics and building foundations.
  • Store garbage in a metal or strong plastic container with the lid closed tightly (wire, clamp, or tie shut if necessary). Tie garbage can to a solid object to prevent it from being tipped over, or put cans inside a garage or outdoor shed.
  • Feed pets indoors and/or only provide food during the day.

A Friendly Reminder

Baby season is in full swing here in the Northland and we just want to take a minute to remind everyone out there that there are a few rules to follow when you find a wild animal that may need help.

  1. Don’t panic. Call us at 218-491-3604 immediately. If we don’t pick up, leave a message and check out our handy “Does this animal need help?” page.
  2. Do not give any food or water to the animal unless you have called us and we have given you specific guidance. Doing so can result in the animal’s death, and will, at the very least, prevent us from being able to correctly assess the animal’s condition.
  3. Do not trust internet resources that tell you how to care for wild animals.
  4. Move the animal only if it’s in immediate danger (middle of the road), or remove the danger instead (kids, pets, etc.)
  5. The mother will not reject the baby if she smells your scent. This is a myth. Quickly put the animal back.
  6. Do not try to raise the animal on your own. Not only is it illegal, but you cannot find the tools and resources you will need for a wild animal in any retail store. Plus, wild animals make terrible pets and by the time they have ripped up your furniture, bitten you and others, and generally wreaked havoc in your life, it will be too late to release them back into the wild; they will not survive.

Baby animals do not take long to grow up. Consider keeping your dog leashed, or very closely supervised, and your cats inside for the next several weeks to keep them from harming a nest. It won’t take long, and the growing babies in your area will appreciate it.