Homeowners cautioned to be mindful of nesting mothers
With the arrival of spring comes a time of renewal and new life, which means homeowners need to be cautious when dealing with animals finding shelter in order to give birth.
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The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre estimates that 1,000 baby animals are orphaned every year by homeowners who, unaware, kill or relocate the mothers.
Orléans’ unprecedented growth in recent years has inevitably meant a significant decrease in natural habitat, which leads animals to seek a temporary home closer to civilization. “As strange as it sounds females move closer to people when they’re ready to give birth. They need a quiet, safe, dark spot away from predators that might eat and steal their young,” said Donna DuBreuil, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre. That means sheds, porches, attics and even the grills of barbecues make the perfect nesting grounds for squirrels, racoons and rabbits.
The good news is that it’s temporary, DuBreuil indicated, noting the birthing season peaks from April to August. Afterward, the mothers and their young move back to a more natural environment in shrubbery and trees. “The safest option is to give a grace period until babies are coming out with mom before undertaking animal proofing,” said DuBreuil.
There are many ways to animal proof a house. Some of the major projects include wire-meshing weak spots on the roof, properly covering window wells and installing cap and spark arrester screens in the chimney to block access to racoons.
Following a higher volume of concerned calls to the Wildlife Centre, DuBreuil created a page on their website to inform homeowners how to handle their animal problems. “It’s all about education and prevention,” she said.
DuBreuil advised residents to be patient and not use traps or seal holes. In fact, under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, it’s illegal to trap and relocate an animal to more than one kilometre from the place it was caught, she said. Hiring an animal removal expert is also costly and not always the best solution.
In general, noted DuBreuil, people feel better when they were able to protect their property and save money without harming the animals in the process. “They are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ animals. Everything in nature is connected and there is a time for everything,” she said. For more information on how to animal-proof your house and how you can help animals, visit the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre at www.wildlifeinfo.ca -- By Sonia Morin